Wednesday, February 5, 2014
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times: Carlos Boozers's comments Monday were teed up perfectly for Thibodeau to drive down the fairway. Boozer, of all people, upset that he wasn’t playing in the fourth quarter? Amnesty day can’t come soon enough. ... I wish Thibodeau had borrowed from former Bulls coach Scott Skiles, who didn’t miss a beat when a reporter once asked him how Eddy Curry could be a better rebounder. "Jump," Skiles said. And Boozer could be a better defender by defending. Boozer does one thing very well: shoot. He has a high-arching shot that hardly disturbs the net. He’ll get you rebounds, too. But he’s a liability late in games, when defense becomes especially important. We’ve seen it in the postseason. We’ve seen Boozer on the bench, where he belongs. Know this: The Bulls aren’t benching a player making $15.3 million this season out of spite.
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Earlier in his Suns career, Channing Frye would let a slump overwhelm him and be stubborn to change to get out of it. The rear-view mirror becomes clearer at age 30 and after being removed from the game for a year by heart issues. The undulations in Frye’s season are less exaggerated now, and the power forward is as proud of that as being a starter again or averaging 12 points per game. “I put so much pressure on myself,” Frye said of previous seasons. “I understood, but I didn’t put it into the mental effect that teams are playing me different, and it’s my job to continue doing what I’m doing, except they’re not going to let me get shots. “I’ve done a pretty good job of continuing to shoot and understanding that some weeks I’m going to average 12 points and others I’m going to average 20. Hopefully, I’ve been consistent in my energy and making sure guys are doing the right things. I’m proud that my downs haven’t been for too long.” Frye calls it his “sense of calm,” but his game also is still evolving. His post defense has picked up where it left off before the one-year hiatus, and he has worked more on post moves, runners and dives off screens to be more well-rounded offensively. His on-court rapport with point guard Goran Dragic has facilitated that, and coach Jeff Hornacek has encouraged it.
- Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: By NBA standards, the Wolves feel they’ll be going from relatively low-rent to high class when they move into their new practice facility across the street from Target Center in Block E. In addition to a partnership with the Mayo Clinic, the facility will have two courts — a primary court for both the Wolves and the WNBA’s Lynx — plus enhanced workout and training areas and a team classroom. The new facility will house team offices and have additional offices for coaches, scouts and staff “The present setup is clearly not ideal,” said Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders of the Wolves’ current workout facility, which is two floors below the team’s locker room, is shared by the Wolves and Lynx and is rather cramped. “The new practice facility and Mayo Clinic partnership will be great assets in attracting the top talent in the NBA." Wolves star Kevin Love had a rather large hand in both the deal with the Mayo Clinic and in the actual design of the practice facility. Love flew to Minnesota last summer to be a part of the original presentation to Mayo and, according to the team, had a say in the design process. Tuesday he touted the access to topnotch, on-site medical technology as a huge asset to players
- Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: Steve Nash finally played. Steve Blake too. But all the Steves in NBA history couldn't have fixed the Lakers' defense. Kevin Love and Kevin Martin each broke the 30-point barrier as the Minnesota Timberwolves took a 109-99 victory Tuesday at Target Center. The lack of defense wasn't the only unsurprising part — the Lakers quickly lost another two players after getting back their two injured point guards. Jodie Meeks left a minute into the first quarter because of a sprained right ankle and Jordan Hill was gone a bit later because of a headache and strained neck after teammate Chris Kaman accidentally struck him in the face. On a stranger note, if possible, Blake kept playing after his eardrum was ruptured in a second-quarter collision with Timberwolves forward Dante Cunningham. "It doesn't hurt, but everything sounds funny," Blake said. Everything hurts for the Lakers, really. Despite the personnel changes, the Lakers' thin defense remained. They gave up 100 or more points for a 15th consecutive game, their longest streak since 1988.
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Before the Philadelphia and Cleveland washouts, new Indiana Pacers center Andrew Bynum was an All-Star with the Los Angeles Lakers. Working with him during the 2011-12 season was Darvin Ham, now an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks. “He has talent through the roof,” Ham said Tuesday. “It’s unfortunate that he’s gone through the issues that he’s gone through with his body, but I’m happy. I was happy to see someone went in and went ahead put themselves out there for his services. In the right environment, not saying anywhere else was a wrong environment, but when he’s locked in, he’s locked in. During the pregame moments inside Philips Arena, Ham recalled his short time with the center, dispelling some of the baggage that Bynum has carried. ... Ham also described Bynum as “an intelligent guy,” who’s into Formula One racing and creating radical workout regiments. “He has these ideas about some new ways of training. Some stuff he threw at me,” Ham said. “We had an opportunity to talk this summer and he just blew me away, man, just the level on which he thinks.” And what were these new training techniques? Ham has been sworn to secrecy. “It is a ninja workout that few have seen,” Ham said with a smile.
- Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Paul Millsap had another tough offensive night against the Pacers. He made just 2 of 11 shots. In the two games, both at Philips Arena, against the Pacers this season he is a combined 3 of 21 with 11 points. Millsap was harassed by David West much of the night and when he got inside he was met at the rim by Roy Hibbert. Millsap's attempt to stretch the Pacers' defense was hindered by 0 of 4 shooting from 3-point range. He did pull down 12 rebounds and had four steals but his offense was again missing in action. "Roy Hibbert in the paint using the rule of verticality and he was contesting shots," Elton Brand said. "It’s just tough to score on that team. They are the number one defensive team and it showed."
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: The Charlotte Bobcats completed a 3-1 West Coast trip Tuesday with an impressive 91-75 victory over the Golden State Warriors. The Bobcats swept the Warriors in this season series, after winning their home game against Golden State in December. The Bobcats played exceptional defense Tuesday, holding the Warriors to 57 points over the first three quarters and building a lead of as much as 22. The Bobcats (22-28) got 30 points and 13 rebounds from center Al Jefferson. Point guard Kemba Walker returned to the lineup after missing a little over two weeks with a sprained left ankle. Walker finished with seven points, seven assists and six rebounds. The Bobcats won games against the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Lakers on this trip, losing only to the Phoenix Suns.
- Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: The Warriors are working on the third revision of the new arena. Even though fixing up the decaying piers will cost $180 million, double the initial projections. Even though the project eventually might be forced onto a ballot since it exceeds waterfront height restrictions. Even though 2018 may not even be possible, which could lead to another concession. The Warriors are bent on fulfilling this dream of theirs. Welts said the delay is the result of the Warriors being amenable to the community. The timeline has been pushed back because they can't complete their environmental impact report and other requirements until they finish their final design. But their final design isn't done because they have been incorporating input from the various relative entities. Yet another public meeting was scheduled to take place Monday. So the Warriors are just victims of the process, about which they were forewarned. And it will become further protracted if the voters are forced to get involved, or if the Warriors are forced to switch gears and find another spot. That reality doesn't seem to give them pause, though. It's 2018, full speed ahead.
- Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: The transaction, rumored for more than a week and officially announced on Tuesday while Luke Babbitt was practicing with his new teammates at the Pelicans' Airline Drive practice facility, is yet another perplexing move by this team. In November, we had "Desperate" Dell Demps signing a pair of out-of-work free-agents who'd been on the market for several months, added absolutely nothing, and were then cast aside before the end of December. Now, this. Certainly the Pelicans have needs; a look at the lengthy injury list clearly spells that out. But an undersized, 6-foot-9 power forward, who says he could also play the three spot, and who carries a career 37 percent field-goal average despite being considered a shooter when he arrived in the NBA as the 16th overall pick in the 2010 Draft, is not going to make the difference between a break-even season or another trip to the lottery.
- Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: It was a moment the Milwaukee Bucks rookie had been waiting for all season. Giannis Antetokounmpo looked up in the BMO Harris Bradley Center stands Monday night and could see his dad, Charles, and mom, Veronica. And his younger brothers, Kostas and Alexandros, also were cheering wildly for the Bucks. Better yet, when the game was over, Giannis could go back to his apartment with his family. His parents and brothers arrived from Greece on Sunday and were here to stay, thanks to a lengthy but successful round of diplomacy led by JoAnne Anton, special assistant to Bucks owner Herb Kohl. How excited was Giannis to see his family? Let him tell it. "Everything together...I'm really excited that we're back together and they get to see me," he said. "My dad was a footballer, so he worked with me on my footwork a little bit. And he coached me mentally to stay in the game and continue what I'm doing, just to play hard. I don't have to worry about nothing anymore. Not what I'm going to eat. Nothing. Or what I'm going to wear. Nothing."