Friday, December 27, 2013
First Cup: Friday
By Nick Borges
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks’ road woes are over — in dramatic fashion. Jeff Teague made a game-winner at the buzzer of the second overtime for a 127-125 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. It snapped a five-game road losing streak. Teague scored seven points in the final period. Kyrie Irving scored 12 points in the second overtime and four in the first for the Cavaliers, who lost their third consecutive game. There was some bad news for the Hawks as they lost two starters — Al Horford with a right shoulder injury in the first overtime and DeMarre Carroll to a sprained right thumb in the fourth quarter. Teague made a 3-pointer with 4.2 seconds remaining in the first overtime to tie the score at 108-108. A Cavaliers turnover gave the Hawks the ball with 2.4 seconds left. Teague’s final attempt failed, sending the game into a second extra period. The Hawks (16-13, 5-9 road) hadn’t won away from Philips Arena in more than a month.
- Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Dion Waiters scored 20 points and shot 9-for-14 in his return from a wrist injury. He had good looks and didn’t really force anything, although he also had five turnovers. Waiters said after the game one of the officials approached him and admitted he blew the call on one of Waiters’ traveling violations. I found it interesting that when Brown was asked about Waiters and the jolt he brings to the offense both before and after the game, Brown spun it and instead spoke of the team’s lack of a defensive mentality. Brown also conceded that this team defends better when shots are falling, hence, having Waiters back helps the defensive mentality. But he stopped well short of saying Waiters contributes to the Cavs’ defense. It’s clear, and Brown is quick to admit, the Cavs are a much better offensive team with Waiters on the floor. Not only because of the shots he makes, but Waiters is also an underrated passer. The Cavs shot 39 percent in the three games he missed and averaged 88 points in losses to the Bulls and Pistons. They shot 52 percent Thursday.
- Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: Los Angeles still is coming to grips with the perception that its All-Star forward has become a target. Griffin was ejected by the officials after he was issued a technical foul along with Golden State's Andrew Bogut after the two had become entangled with 10:43 left in the game. It was Griffin's second technical foul of the game, his first coming when the Clippers power forward and Golden State reserve Draymond Green were given double technical fouls at the end of the third quarter. Green, who was fined $15,000 by the NBA for not leaving the court in a timely manner, was ejected after he hit Griffin with an elbow. It's that sort of thing that Green did that makes some think Griffin has been targeted by some of his opponents. "Everyone is a target at some point in their career," Clippers Coach Doc Rivers said. "And you just play through it. Blake is starting to let his game show, like, 'You can keep bumping me and hitting me, I'm just going to keep dropping 20s [points] and 14s [rebounds] on you.' And eventually it'll go away. And that's what he's doing and it will."
- Erik Gundersen of The Columbian: The Blazers were sparked in the first half by Mo Williams, who hit three three-pointers in the first half to help the Blazers get going offensively. Williams scored 12 points and dished eight assists on the night in just over 23 minutes of play. While Williams' contributions can be vary from great to atrocious, he gives the game a different feel every time he is on the court and tonight he helped get the Blazers going early on. For Terry Stotts who coached Williams earlier in his career in Milwaukee, there isn't a better back-up point guard in the NBA. "That second unit was very productive in both halves and he (Williams) had a lot to do with it," said Stotts. "I think he's the best back-up point guard in the league and we're lucky to have him."
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Declaring himself home, Gersson Rosas officially returned to the Rockets on Thursday with “some unfinished work to do.” Rosas spent three months as the Mavericks general manager before stepping down. He returns for his 10th season with the Rockets as executive vice president, largely in the role he had before he left along with Gianluca Pascucci in scouting and player personnel. “At the end of the day, they know where my heart is and they know that I’m committed to this organization, so the opportunity to come back is special. “Being a guy who’s grown up in Houston and being around in the championship years , that was my passion to bring a championship team back. It’s going to take time and it’s going to take a lot of effort, but being in a position to impact it at that level is very special to me.” Rosas was a key member of Daryl Morey’s staff in putting together the current roster, including a central role in recruiting Dwight Howard.
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Zach Randolph put in another shift on the basketball court with a dominant, all-around performance. The Grizzlies’ power forward and demonstrative leader also let it all hang out in the locker room Thursday night following a 100-92 loss to the Houston Rockets in the Toyota Center. Randolph didn’t even take the time to get dressed before saying what everyone in the locker room was thinking. Randolph sharply blamed the officials for the Grizzlies’ two-game winning streak coming to an end. Houston attempted 40 free throws to 20 for Memphis. Rockets guard James Harden took a staggering 25 foul shots. “It’s obvious. It was the refs tonight,” Randolph said. “It was 8 on 5. In the second half, (Harden) was getting to the free throw line every time. We’re playing hard and they (the officials) were dictating the game. It can’t be like that. We’re out here playing too. It was a horrible game by the refs tonight. Awful.” Randolph’s remarks about how the referees handled the charity stripe likely won’t be free. It is against NBA rules to publicly criticize the officiating so Randolph likely will be fined.
- Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Danny Green was apparently introduced with the starting lineup before ceding the spot to Marco Belinelli for the third straight game and fourth time in the past six. The move apparently agrees with him as he’s shooting 68 percent (15 for 22) in those contests, highlighted by Thursday’s scorcher. In contrast, Belinelli is shooting 38 percent in five recent starts, a marked — although probably expected — cool down for a player who had been leading the NBA in 3-point shooting. For good measure, Green added three steals and two blocks to one of the most efficient scoring nights in recent NBA history. ... As it should have been all along, DeJuan Blair’s first game against the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft was rendered squarely to secondary status. He shined with 14 points and 11 rebounds for just his second double-double of the season. But Blair also sat for good with 8:32 left, not long after Green swatted his layup attempt. Never known for his D, he was powerless to slow either Duncan or Tiago Splitter. The former scored 21 points, while the latter drew 11 free throws to come within one of his career-high. The Spurs finished with 46 points in the paint while drawing a whopping 42 foul shots, well over double their season average.
- Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Before his team hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban gave his opinion on what Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones should do with coach Jason Garrett. “I think Jerry would be quite crazy to fire Jason Garrett, not that he would,” Cuban said. “If you’re going to fire a coach you better have something really good to go to before you even think about making a change.” Cuban said unless Cowboys players have lost faith in him, Garrett should return as coach next season even if the Cowboys lose to Philadelphia at home on Sunday and miss the playoffs. “Unless there’s something really fundamentally wrong in the way they play, it’s probably not the coach,” Cuban said. Cuban said Jones shouldn’t allow the media to influence him whether or not he fires Garrett following the season. “The last thing you care about is how the media responds,” Cuban said. “Maybe you come out after the fact and explain your logic so everybody understands. “He has his radio show, TV show, whatever, and he has a chance to do it there and he knows that, so what’s the rush?"