Wednesday, February 26, 2014
First Cup: Wednesday
By Nick Borges
- J. Michael of CSN Washington: In a move that was expected, Drew Gooden will sign a 10-day contract with the Wizards on Wednesday morning and practice with the team before heading to play the Toronto Raptors on Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed to CSN Washington. Gooden, who hasn't played in the NBA this season, is a 6-10 forward-center and spent the last three of his 11-year career with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Memphis Grizzlies and will have played for 10 teams when he suits up for Washington. He has averaged 11.8 points and 7.6 rebounds for his career, but only 3.3 and 1.9 with Milwaukee last season. Gooden has trained at Verizon Center as a free agent. The Wizards (28-28) are in need of size after losing Nene for six weeks to a left knee ligament strain and Kevin Seraphin's recurring issue with swelling in his right knee.
- Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Three weeks after he hoped to be back, Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic remains out because of bursitis in his right ankle that caused him to miss his 13th consecutive game Tuesday. Injured teammate Kevin Martin (thumb) remained out, too, while the Wolves played the third game on a five-game Western road trip in pursuit of the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, beating the Suns 110-101. Wolves coaches and training staff worked out Pekovic hard at Arizona State on Monday — an off-day for the rest of the team — and he tested the ankle before Tuesday’s game and wasn’t ready to play yet. He left a Jan. 27 game at Chicago after only six minutes, and the next day the team announced he would be miss the next seven to 10 days, after which his bursitis would be re-evaluated. “It’s just tough, going through all this stuff, trying to make it better,” Pekovic said. “I try to work really hard and I can’t really play. All of a sudden, you feel pain and sometimes you don’t feel pain. Sometimes I don’t know what’s really right or what’s not. It was supposed to be like seven to 10 days and it has been like four weeks. It’s one of those things that is really frustrating. I really want to play.”
- Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Coach Tom Thibodeau likes to judge his players on how the team functions rather than on individual performance. So when it was pointed out that the Bulls were 5-10 without Jimmy Butler, there seemed to be a contradiction. ‘‘Well, I think you’ve got to look at it deeper than that," Thibodeau said Tuesday. "The beginning of the season when [Butler] was out, you’re looking at Luol [Deng] being out and Derrick [Rose] being out along with him. We have more than enough to win with, so to look at it that way is incorrect." Not really. Butler first was sidelined Nov. 21 to Dec. 11. Deng didn’t go down until Dec. 7. As for Rose going down, the Bulls lost the game in Denver — before Rose’s injury in Portland — with Butler sitting on the bench with turf toe. Besides, without Rose and Deng, the Bulls have played some of their best basketball, going 16-8. Butler missed his second game with a rib injury and didn’t sound much closer to a return. "There’s been a little bit [of improvement], but with your ribs, it’s just tough," Butler said. "You can’t move. You get hit, and it’s hard to breathe at times."
- Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Evan Turner, whom the Pacers received in a last-minute trade deadline deal last week for Danny Granger, took as many shots as starter Lance Stephenson. He played 26 minutes of mostly offensive-oriented basketball while still working through the details of the Pacers' league-best defense. However, as seven Indiana players finished in double digits – led by Paul George's 20 points – Turner fit right in with a bench unit that produced 50 points. ... Turner was admittedly nervous before the game, and even when he heard the applause from many of the 18,165 fans – in spite of their team's woeful record, many Lakers (19-38) fans still showed up. And he started out looking like a new kid in class. In his first action, Turner set a solid screen that aided in the Pacers' score off the inbounds play. Then on his first run through a half-court set, Turner stretched the floor and raced back on defense even before a shot went up from the inside. A West moving screen foiled his first touch, then Turner grew confident. Of all people, Turner understands Indiana's offensive principle – the man with ball creates the score and when help comes, he shares it – because with the 76ers, his role was to be that man with the ball. "In Philly," Turner said. "I could (pass) the ball at the rim." So, yes, Turner knows how to shoot.
- Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com: Thomas Robinson suffered a knee injury in the first half of Tuesday’s game between the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets. The team is listing it as a left patella strain and says he is day-to-day. Robinson, 22, sustained the injury when he went up for a dunk attempt. Something occurred on his way down. He was only able to play three second half minutes due to severity of the pain. “I tried to go back in there but I couldn’t,” he told CSNNW.com. “It was something I’ve never experienced before on this knee.” ... Portland is already without LaMarcus Aldridge (groin), Joel Freeland (MCL) and Meyers Leonard (ankle). The Trail Blazers host the Brooklyn Nets Wedmesday night and Robinson is a game-time decision.
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: After waiting much of the season for his signature shoe to be ready, Rockets forward Chandler Parsons forward wore his Anta shoes for the first time this season. Though his deal with the Chinese manufacturer was complete early in the season, Parsons had not made the switch until the shoe designs were complete, including the No. 38 inside the tongue as a private reminder of his draft position. “The deal is done,” Parsons said. “It was a process. Obviously to design a shoe and get everything you want to have it absolutely perfect for your foot is going to take awhile. It took longer than they expected, but I’m glad I can finish the season in these shots and I’m excited for the partnership with them.”
- Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: They sat about three metres from each other in the corner of the locker room, ice bags cooling various joints, another NBA game blaring on a hand-held device — the two leaders of the team, the two difference-makers on the night. Kyle Lowry, who couldn’t make a shot to save his soul, had perhaps saved a 99-93 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers when he drew a charge on Kyrie Irving in the dying seconds. He wore a look of satisfaction matched only by that on the visage of DeMar DeRozan, who’d anticipated a cross-lane pass that he intercepted in another game-saving defensive moment. The two big guns, the two big scorers, the two best offensive players on the team had gone all defensive to help Toronto pull out another victory. “Those are winning plays,” said Lowry.
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: Though Danny Ainge plans to talk to Rajon Rondo about the guard’s decision to celebrate his 28th birthday in Los Angeles last Saturday while the team flew to Sacramento for a game against the Kings, the meeting might not take place for a week. Ainge departed on a college scouting trip before the team’s return to Boston. Though the president of basketball operations still plans to discuss the issue with Rondo, he won’t return until next week. A team source stressed that “it’s not that big a deal around here,” though Ainge hasn’t ruled out fining Rondo for not receiving official permission. The guard, who still is not playing on the second night of back-to-back games as he returns from ACL surgery, was not scheduled to play Saturday night in Sacramento. ... Unless that conversation takes place by telephone, though, the two probably won’t meet face-to-face until next week.
- Tom Moore of The Intelligencer: Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams has accumulated more turnovers than assists in five of the last nine games in February after doing so just twice in the season's first 36 outings. He has 43 assists and 43 turnovers this month. Carter-Williams insisted Tuesday that he's not trying to do too much by himself as the losses pile up and veterans leave late in his first pro season, pointing out that he only took 11 shots in the Milwaukee drubbing. “I wasn't out there jacking up shots because we were down,” Carter-Williams said. “I'm just trying to let the game come to me and make winning plays.” Brown said he wants everything done with the playoffs in mind. “We have to coach bold and he has to play bold,” Brown said.
- Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: Jason Collins didn’t even have to wear his No. 98 jersey for it to become a hot commodity. According to a league spokesperson, Collins’ jersey was the top seller at the NBA Store and its website on Tuesday, the first day it was made available. Collins wears the No. 98 as a tribute to Matthew Shepard, who was brutally murdered in a gay hate crime in 1998. Collins has said it’s a symbolic and important number in the gay community, and his lone gesture of solidarity as he tries to keep the focus on basketball. Collins wore No. 46 in his season debut Sunday because the Nets couldn’t accommodate him on such short notice. Collins will wear No. 98 Wednesday night against the Trail Blazers. The Nets do not benefit from the extra sales of their players’ jerseys at the NBA Store or on the website. Half of the revenues are split up evenly among league owners, and the other half is split evenly among all players. The jersey is also not available at Barclays Center or any team stores. At least not yet.
- Terry Foster of The Detroit News: Imagine pulling up to a Wendy’s drive-thru and giving your order to “Mr. Big Shot.” That’s possible if you go to one of 30 St. Louis area Wendy’s owned by Pistons guard Chauncey Billups and former NBA player Junior Bridgeman. Bridgeman, whose net worth of $240 million exceeds that of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal, has had a profound influence on Billups. Not so much on the court as off it. “I was in my prime, but I started thinking about what am I going to do (after basketball),” said Billups, who entered this season with hopes of being an everyday starter before “Father Time” started catching up. (He has played in 18 of 41 games, averaging 3.9 points and 2.2 assists.) “I just don’t want to sit around and play golf all the time. I have to be involved in something and feel like I am being effective. That is just the way I am.” Billups began thinking about life after basketball when he was 31. He earned his business degree from Colorado, and met Bridgeman during a charity basketball game in Denver. The two talked shop and formed a friendship. Now, Billups has something to fall back on.