Wednesday, February 12, 2014
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: Rookie Anthony Bennett drilled a 3-pointer and threw his arms up into the air to celebrate late in the Cavaliers 109-99 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night at The Q. "I was just having fun," said Bennett, who registered his first double-double with career highs of 19 points and 10 rebounds in 29:45 as the Cavs avenged a 124-80 loss in Sacramento on Jan. 12 and improved to 19-33, winning three in a row for the first time since Dec. 7-13. When was the last time he had fun on the basketball court? "I don't remember," Bennett said. "Today?" The timing was bittersweet as Bennett, whose selection as the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft has been widely criticized, and his slow start undoubtedly contributed to the firing of general manager Chris Grant last week. "I'm sure Chris Grant is smiling at home, and deservedly so," said Sacramento coach -- and former Cavs assistant under Mike Brown -- Mike Malone, whose team dropped to 17-35.
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: The consensus on ‘‘The Return II’’ has been that there wouldn’t be one. But Noah’s comments came on the same day Rose was going through shooting drills with reporters watching, and the story gained legs again — little ones. ... Thibodeau said Rose was running on the treadmill, but when asked if that was a new development, he quickly said no. "Still nowhere close to practicing or anything like that,’’ he said, ‘‘but he’s doing well overall.’’ And that really is the main hurdle for Rose: practicing again so he can take some momentum into the offseason. A source told the Sun-Times last month that Rose was ahead of schedule and that he’d be ready to play for USA Basketball later in the summer. No one in the Bulls’ camp or Rose’s has given any indication that a return this season is realistic.
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Rod Higgins wants to trade. He wants to improve. He goes so far as to say that he hopes “a trade pans out.” Higgins is tired of losing. They all are. They won fewer games in 2011-12 than some teams win in two weeks. They won seven. Last season they won 21. The Bobcats’ impressive 114-89 victory against Dallas gave them 23 victories. They’re in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and 1½ games behind seventh-place Brooklyn. Obviously, they don’t want to finish eighth or seventh and open against Indiana or Miami. They’re six games below .500. Going into Tuesday’s games, only four teams in the conference were above .500. Atlanta was one game above and Toronto three. With center Al Jefferson (30 points Tuesday) playing like an all-star and the Bobcats creatively and consistently and, against Dallas, beautifully finding ways to get him the ball, they can be pretty good. Of course the Bobcats can’t give up a player and undermine the progress they’ve made. But how long do they wait? The season is their 10th. They made the playoffs once, and they were guests, swept by Orlando. And they made the playoffs only because of two veterans who, as talented and as versatile as they were, had peaked. They were never as effective again.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: There was a lot of chirping, a little flopping, a lot of bumping and plenty of physical play. It was a fun night — an emotional game — that capped a competitive season-series between two of the league’s elite (2-2 split). And after it was all over, there seemed to be a tad bit of animosity between the (budding?) rivals. Kevin Durant on the Blazers: “We respect this team, they respect us. But we don’t like this team and they don’t like us. That’s point blank.” LaMarcus Aldridge when told of Durant’s comment: “We don’t care to like them. We’re not trying to make friends out there. We’re trying to win games.” I wouldn’t mind six or seven of these come late May.
- Randy Hollis of the Deseret News: Trey Burke is averaging 12.7 points, 5.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game and is the first player in Jazz history to win the monthly rookie award more than once. In fact, Karl Malone is the only other Jazzman to be so honored, and he won it just once — back in December 1985. ... Burke will represent the Jazz in a pair of events during the NBA's annual All-Star weekend being held this coming weekend in New Orleans. He'll play in the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge for "Team Webber" on Friday, when rookies and second-year NBA players will square off, and then he'll join forces with the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, the former Weber State star, for the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday.
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Sometimes it's not about the flash. Sometimes it's about the grit. That ultimately was the story of this one. At times, it's as if LeBron has hit some sort of a wall, settling for the jumpers that he wasn't settling for earlier in the season. And making high-risk passes that he wasn't making earlier in the season. But when he had to make plays, he turned into a free safety on defense and made those plays. What he could use is the All-Star break off. Instead, beyond potentially limiting his playing time during the actually All-Star Game, LeBron assuredly will have his typically hectic All-Star Weekend. ... This was not a game or a pace that set up well for Greg Oden. It is becoming more and more apparent that Oden is viewed more as a specialist than a rotation player. ... The fact that Michael Beasley again was held out, even when Dwyane Wade was missing and the offense was uneven, says all that needs to be said. The faith simply is not there.
- K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: Kyle Korver extended his NBA-record streak to 119 games with at least one 3-pointer when he sank his second attempt. Korver entered leading the NBA in 3-point percentage for shooters with at least 100 3-point attempts, connecting at a 46.3 percent clip. He’s now 30 games higher than Dana Barros’ previous NBA mark. “He has been doing it for a long time, so you have to give him a lot of credit,” Thibodeau said. “He keeps getting better and better every year. That’s a mark of his preparation, his drive, his intelligence, work ethic and determination. That’s why he has been a winning player throughout his career.”
- Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Griz (28-23) play at Orlando Wednesday night in their last game before All-Star Weekend. They don’t want to go on vacation early as Griz forward James Johnson put it after Memphis beat Washington for the ninth straight time at home. Memphis moved to within two games of seventh and eighth place in the Western Conference playoff standings after Phoenix and Dallas suffered defeats. “(Playing Orlando) is nine games in 16 days. It’s the last one and we just have to leave it all out there,” Joerger said, adding “maybe the sunshine and 80 degree weather will help us out.” With one eye on the standings, Joerger hasn’t had to worry too much about his point guard play. Calathes has proven to provide more help than harm. He helped hold Wall to a season-low five points on 2 of 10 shooting.