Thursday, December 5, 2013
First Cup: Thursday
By Nick Borges
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The streak lives – in record fashion. Kyle Korver returned to the Hawks lineup and wasted no time in extending his now NBA-record to 89 consecutive games with a 3-pointer. After missing four games with a rib contusion, Korver opened the scoring for the Hawks with a 3-pointer just 30 seconds into Wednesday’s game against the Clippers at Philips Arena. Korver tied the mark of Dana Barros which has stood since Jan. 1996. He can own the record outright with another Friday against the Cavaliers. The record-tying basket came in an impressive 107-97 Hawks win over the Clippers. Korver finished with a season-high 23 points. The Hawks (10-10, 6-3 home) snapped a two-game losing streak and won for the second time in the past seven games. ... “I was just trying to get that one out of the way," Korver said. "I’m just trying to be aggressive. A lot of other teams have focused on it. It’s been hard for me to get shots the last couple of games. I wanted to be aggressive. I was glad it went down and we could just play the rest of the game.”
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: For now, Doc Rivers said he wasn't looking to make any roster moves because he likes his team. The subject about keeping this current Clippers team together came up Wednesday night even though the trading deadline is not until Feb. 20. But teams usually begin discussing deals around Dec. 15, which is sort of an arbitrary date set by the NBA that allows free agents signed last summer to be traded. Rivers said "I wouldn't mind" keeping the same 14-man roster. "Obviously, you're always looking," he said. "But I like our team. So, I would be fine. I don't even think about that right now. It's too early in the year." Rivers not only is coach of the Clippers, but he is the senior vice president of basketball operations, meaning he's in charge of making any moves. If the Clippers do make a move soon, it'll probably be to sign free-agent forward Lamar Odom, someone Rivers has said he will be monitoring. ... Rivers remains one victory shy of 600, which would make him the 23rd coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games and only the third active coach with that many victories.
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: You could hear the joy through the glass doors of the Trail Blazers locker room at their home arena late Wednesday night. Coach Terry Stotts was down the hallway, addressing the media as he's obligated after Portland's 111-104 win over Oklahoma City. The moment inside the locker room now belonged the Blazers players. So here was point guard Damian Lillard, standing in the center of the locker room, slapping his hands and gesturing and shouting, "I was like, 'Shoot the damn ball!!!'" There was laughter everywhere. LaMarcus Aldridge shook his head and laughed until he buckled over. He'd just scored 38 points, and did so despite passing on a couple of wide-open shot attempts in the final minutes. The Blazers had answered yet another in a line of seemingly endless questions. Can they win on the road? Can they win at home? Can they beat good teams? How about great ones? How about the Spurs? The Pacers? The Thunder? Yes, to all. The evidence was everywhere on Wednesday. This isn't necessarily a hot team anymore. It's no longer a team playing a soft schedule. The Blazers aren't experiencing a small early-season uprising, or a cute little winning streak. Portland is 16-3 -- best record in the Western Conference.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: Throughout a physical second-half, Russell Westbrook had a few rough falls, barreling into the teeth of the Portland defense with his kamikaze style. And toward the end of the game, Westbrook was seen limping, a scary sign for Thunder fans who know his recent injury history. But postgame, although Westbrook didn't talk to the media, he didn't look injured and a Thunder spokesman said he was fine. ... Same story, different night: The Thunder starters had a combined plus/minus of minus-35, while the bench played relatively well, keeping their plus/minus at exactly even. That has been a recurring trend of late, with the Thunder continually looking better when it has at least a couple bench players on the floor.
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Either the Indiana Pacers still need to develop a consistent second scorer or stick to the current plan and maintain the equilibrium. Heading into Wednesday’s night matchup with the Utah Jazz, the Pacers led the NBA with the biggest difference in points-per-game averages between the team’s top two scorers. Paul George led the team with 24.9 points per game and the next highest scorer, David West, came in at 12.6 points for a 12.3 difference. Coach Frank Vogel views the stat as indication of Pacers basketball. “I think it’s great. It’s who we are,” Vogel said. “We’ve got five guys who can guard their own man and we’ve got five guys who can score and one who is capable of exploding — a lot of them are capable of exploding but one of them is doing it at a level that’s besides anybody in the league.”
- Trevor Phibbs of the Deseret News: All season, the Utah Jazz have searched for consistent production on the interior block. Both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter have displayed glimpses of dominance, but have struggled to work cohesively together in the starting lineup. In Wednesday’s 95-86 loss against Indiana, however, the Jazz witnessed the potential they’ve expected from their two young post players. For only the third time this season, and the first time against a quality opponent, Favors and Kanter both reached the double-figure plateau in points and rebounds. Favors finished with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, his eighth double-double, while Kanter added 20 points and 10 boards, his fourth double-double. “There were some things there that you can grow from,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “You look at numbers and they’re a great game, but there’s still some improvement. We’ll break it down and we were glad to see them give us the effort (we) were looking for.”
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Suns small forward P.J. Tucker sat in the Toyota Center visitors locker room late Wednesday night with his worn-out feet submerged in an ice bath, talking as he held two cellphones precariously above the bucket. They were in good hands, just like the Suns were in turning All-Star guard James Harden over to Tucker’s defense during a 97-88 victory over the Houston Rockets. There have been plenty of games where Tucker’s dogged defensive effort almost looks fruitless in the box scores against the endless stream of top opposing scorers that he defends each game. Not Wednesday. Harden, the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer, felt every bit of Tucker’s physical, relentless, intelligent defense for a 3-for-17 shooting game. Following a five-game defensive decline, the Suns (10-9) emerged with a gem against the NBA’s league-leading offense and No. 3 shooting team, albeit missing two main offensive weapons in injured players Chandler Parsons and Jeremy Lin. Houston (13-7) shot a season-low 35.2 percent and scored 21 points below their average. It started with Tucker’s work on Harden, who missed all 10 of his 3-point attempts, matching a career-worst game from four years ago. “He’s one of the toughest people to guard in the league,” Tucker said.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: As he took care of a few last preparations before Thursday’s trip to meet the president at a White House reception, Rockets forward Omri Casspi admitted to some building nerves. That did not stop him from imagining the game of basketball with President Obama that will not be part of the itinerary. “I wish we had some time to play, too,” Casspi said. “It could have been fun.” Casspi, however, said if they could play, he knew he would not have blocked an Obama shot. “I don’t want any Israel-United States drama, more drama,” Casspi said. “Let him shoot. Let him score. Let him feel good. We need that support.” Instead, he will represent Israel to mark the end of Hanukkah. “My mother is more excited than me,” Casspi said. “It’s going to be fun. It’s a dream come true to be in the White House. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Some people don’t ever experience that. To be able to go there and be able to tell my kids whatever year I’ve got kids that I’ve been there it’s awesome.”
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: Booed throughout the first half, Brandon Jennings struggled in his return to Milwaukee. But Andre Drummond had his back. Drummond’s monster 24-point, 19-rebound night was the main difference in the Pistons’ 105-98 victory over the Bucks Wednesday night. ... Drummond is quickly turning into one of the league’s best centers. According to ESPN Stats & Info, Drummond is the first player with 18-plus rebounds in three straight games this season and is the first Pistons player to do it since Ben Wallace did it nine straight times in March 2003. After a slow first half, Monroe finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds. ESPN Stats says the last time any Pistons teammates accomplished this rebounding feat was in 1990 when Bill Laimbeer grabbed 20 rebounds and Dennis Rodman went for 17.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Larry Drew said before the game that he would have no comment on the municipal citations issued to center Larry Sanders for his part in a nightclub brawl Nov. 3. Sanders, who suffered a torn ligament in his right thumb in the incident, was fined $185 for a disorderly conduct ticket and $366 for an assault and battery ticket. "I don't want to comment on it," Drew said. Asked when he hoped to have Sanders back in the lineup, Drew said, "ASAP. We're hoping, and I know Larry is hoping as well, once he gets the cast off and once the thumb is examined again, he will be able to rejoin us as soon as he can." Initially the injury time frame was determined to be four to six weeks, which could put Sanders back before Christmas if all went well with his recovery.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Mark Cuban did everything but light up a cigar to signify one of those I-told-you-so moments. The Dallas Mavericks' owner was asked about the mess that the Brooklyn Nets have created, and was basking in the glory of the moment. Cuban knows the Nets have the highest payroll in the NBA at $102.2 million, and knows that Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov is in a position were Mavs' fans wanted Cuban to be in two years ago. Strapped by the salary cap. The Mavs won the NBA title in 2011 and decided to allow several key pieces to walk via free agency, including Tyson Chandler, JJ Barea, Caron Butler and JJ Barea. And the following season Jason Terry and Jason Kidd left the Mavs' stable. Had Cuban adhered to the wishes of the players -- and the Mavs' fans -- and re-signed all those players, he would have been in the same position the Nets are on right now. Handcuffed with a bunch of bloated salaries tied to a bunch of old guys on their last legs -- save Barea. That scenario would have prevented the Mavs from having any salary cap flexibility going forward, because Cuban would have been fighting a massive luxury tax bill with an aging team like the one the Nets have. With luxury tax responsibilities, the Nets' will have to fork over $190 million in salary this season. "It's not just you're stuck for a week or you're stuck for half a season, you're stuck,'' Cuban said. "Now the rules have gotten worst you're even more stuck."
- John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Several hours before the New Orleans Pelicans played the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, second-year forward Anthony Davis didn’t hide his frustration about the possibility that he could be sidelined until mid-January because of a broken left hand. But Pelicans coach Monty Williams is hoping they can keep things together until his eventual return. New Orleans had their three-game winning streak end on Wednesday night after a 100-97 loss to the Dallas Mavericks at the New Orleans Arena, despite a career-tying 20-rebound effort from forward Al-Farouq Aminu and 26 points from point guard Jrue Holiday. Before the injury, which occurred Sunday night against the New York Knicks when he hit his hand on the rim trying to catch a lob pass, Davis had emerged as one of the top power forwards in the league. He was averaging 22.6 points, 10.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks after 16 games and appeared to be on his way to making his first NBA All-Star Game appearance in February at the New Orleans Arena. "It’s hard to replace those numbers," Williams said.