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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "The Celtics had to sign Rajon Rondo long-term, didn’t they? He’s far too good to be allowed to slip away, and what was their alternative? They have nice backup guards, but no true backup point guard. If one of their veteran big men went down for a while, they could do some clever rotating and get by, at least during the regular season. But if Rondo were incapacitated, they would be in very serious trouble. He may not be their best player, but he’s their most indispensable, which is simply a function of the way Danny Ainge has constructed his team."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Doc Rivers might want to be nice to Rajon Rondo now that the point guard has a contract extension and, as the coach joked, could loan him a few bucks. But he still made sure to express his displeasure with Rondo’s postgame verbal shots Sunday at Hornets counterpart Chris Paul. 'We’ve got to avoid that stuff,' Rivers said. 'It’s good to get into it with guys, but then when the game’s over the game’s over. Let’s move on. This was more personal stuff. You just can’t allow it. You don’t go anywhere with it. I don’t know what you gain by it.' Rivers said his message to Rondo was, 'You don’t have to measure up. You’re on the stage. Just play. That’s all you have to do.' "

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "An NBA spokesman says the league is reviewing the postgame incident which took place during in Boston involving New Orleans guard Chris Paul and the Celtics' Rajon Rondo. Paul pursued Rondo toward the Celtics' locker room and had to be blocked by Boston assistant coaches after the Celtics' 97-87 victory on Sunday night. The point guards had been assessed matching technical fouls in the second quarter after they got tangled up under the basket. The tension between Paul and Rondo began in the second quarter when the two got tangled underneath the basket and exchanged words as both were assessed technical fouls. 'I understand the situation I'm in -- a guy is going to try and come at me, night in and night out,' said Paul, a two-time All-Star and widely considered the best point guard in the NBA. 'I'm going to get his best shot.' "

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Times: "The Cavaliers won all three series, but the clashes still produced plenty of sparks. Last season, for example, Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson engaged in a feud with LeBron James that even prompted rapper Jay-Z to pen a song dissing Stevenson. (The feud still reverberates: In Cleveland last month for a preseason game, Stevenson received a special message from an airport attendant: 'I hate you.') Even last season, when the injury-plagued Wizards won just 19 games, the matchups with the Cavaliers still made for competitive basketball. But James says he doesn't view the Wizards as rivals, but his counterparts beg to differ. "He's the golden child. He's going to say that. He has a lot of stuff to lose. I don't. I don't care,' Stevenson said. 'As long as I'm on the court, yeah. As long as I'm on the court, Gilbert's on the court, Caron, Brendan, Antawn. Until we all go away, it's going to be a rivalry. You can tell, just the fans. And watch the tipoff - don't nobody say 'what's up' to each other. No handshakes. Any other team we always give handshakes to everybody. But it's a rivalry. I know it's going to be hard fouls and the fans booing. It's a rivalry. It's going to be a tough game.' "

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Mo Williams doesn't know what he was missing. When jokingly asked whether Soulja Boy would be in attendance for Tuesday's renewal of the sometimes-heated rivalry against the Washington Wizards, Williams smiled and said, 'I wasn't here during the Soulja Boy era, so I don't know.' A couple of years ago, when the Cavs and Wizards were regular playoff opponents, rapper Soulja Boy was a fixture in the non-stop war of words between the teams, fueled in large part by guard DeShawn Stevenson. ... 'I think they would say it's a rivalry' Williams said of the Wizards. 'I think it's a big game, obviously, for us, without question. We know they're a very good team. They've got Gil back at 100 percent. He's playing well. They have a talented ball club. We look at it as a big game. Probably there's a little more edge to it than a regular game. They're going to be more intense. We're going to be more intense because we want to win. But rivalry? I would say Boston is more of a rival, in my opinion.' ... As far as talk is concerned, we don't talk, we play. There's nothing to talk about, to be honest. It's a basketball game. It's the fifth game of the year. I think we're more concerned about ourselves than Washington.' "

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Spurs guard Manu Ginobili has been placed on a precautionary regimen of rabies vaccinations after his now-famous run-in with a flying bat during a game Halloween night. The shots are purely preventative. Because the bat could not be found after the game for testing -- team officials say it survived and flew away -- doctors recommended that anyone who came in contact with it be vaccinated. Ginobili took four shots Monday in the hip and arm, and he is scheduled for four more such sessions over the next month. 'It was pretty funny at the time,' Ginobili said Monday, two days after his bat encounter. 'Now it's not. I got like a million shots for rabies.' ... Ginobili, who was not bitten, showed no signs of illness Monday and was expected to participate fully in practice. CDC guidelines advise anyone who has physical contact with a bat to be vaccinated for rabies, unless the animal can be tested. 'It wasn't so much fun,' said Ginobili, wearing a bandage on his right shoulder from his first round of injections. 'But the bat survived. I'm fine. I'm not going to have rabies.' "

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "Something has to give. And if things go according to plan for the Heat, its defense would prevent Steve Nash from being the guard that keeps on giving Tuesday when the two-time league MVP leads the Phoenix Suns into AmericanAirlines Arena. In addition to owning identical 3-0 records, the Heat and Suns statistically are the NBA's best teams at their contrasting styles. The Suns bring the league's best shooting team and highest-scoring offense to face the NBA's stingiest defense in field-goal percentage allowed. 'He'll test our defense in so many different ways, and they can stretch us out with their shooting,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Nash and a Suns offense averaging 117.3 points and shooting 52.4 percent from three-point range. 'It will be a challenging night for our defense. But the fundamental things we've been stressing in training camp, our guys have taken to heart.' "

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "As Bulls practice ended Monday, veteran Lindsey Hunter stepped up and directed some pointed advice toward Tyrus Thomas in front of all his teammates and coaches. It's the kind of behind-the-scenes leadership that occurs countless times throughout an NBA season. This instance stood out for two reasons. It came on the heels of Thomas, according to team sources, taking exception to coach Vinny Del Negro harping on him for failing to rotate defensively. And it followed Thomas again falling out of the fourth-quarter rotation. Thomas has played just 92 seconds in the fourth quarter through three games, sitting the entire final quarter against Boston -- because of the blowout loss -- and again Sunday during a close loss to Miami. For the second straight day, Del Negro insisted he rode a small lineup that featured Luol Deng at power forward to spread the floor with shooters, not to punish Thomas. 'We were just spreading them out and getting good looks with the high pick-and-roll and the side pick-and-roll,' Del Negro said. 'Lu was shooting pretty well, so we picked and popped him a little. With Kirk (Hinrich) out there defensively, we were a little better and had some offensive people out there as well.' Nevertheless, it's clear Thomas continues to struggle with earning the trust of Del Negro. 'We were a step slow defensively on our rotations, and that's something we've been working on a lot,' Del Negro said generally."

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "Another point guard is making a play to win NBA rookie the year. Well, maybe two games is a little soon to make a judgment, but Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings is definitely the early leader. He's averaged 20.5 points and 6.0 assists, shot better than 50 percent and carried the Bucks to a 16-point comeback win over Detroit last Saturday. 'That would be great if he could win it, especially because he's in our conference,' said Bulls guard Derrick Rose, the reigning rookie of the year. 'It would be more great if J.J. (James Johnson) or Taj (Gibson) could get it.' This could be an interesting matchup tonight when Milwaukee visits the United Center. Jennings, listed at 6-feet-1, is in the mold of Indiana's T.J. Ford - a lightning quick, smaller guard. Rose is taller, stronger and an explosive athlete. 'In AAU, we played against each other like three times when he played for SoCal, him and Kevin Love and all them,' Rose said. 'They beat us all three times, but they were real competitive games. He's a good player, there's no doubt.' "

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Lou Williams leads the team in scoring at 20.3 points per game, has made 63.6 percent of his shots and has averaged 35.3 minutes a game. He played a career-high 42 minutes at New York on Saturday and pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds. But those aren't the numbers the affable Williams wants to discuss. 'I just concentrate on my turnovers, I'm not really worried about anything else,' he said, following yesterday's practice. His concentration on not throwing the ball away has been rock solid. In his 106 minutes of play, he has just two giveaways and has dealt 15 assists. 'He's been good, man,' Eddie Jordan said. 'It's my responsibility that everything works. It's not on him. It's equal distribution of the ball, equal responsibility to run the offense by the guards. He's going out there with a great attitude; I like that. He's keeping us organized a lot more than I thought he would.' Said forward Elton Brand: 'I think that the offense bodes well to his style. It helps him get open shots, flash to the rim, help him finish because he is so athletic. I knew for a while that he would flourish in the offense.' "

  • Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star: "The truth is Jose Calderon's best defence is balancing out the ledger with his shooting stroke and minimal turnover rate. But if his play doesn't improve Jay Triano might be forced to make a change. It's just an idea, but Jarrett Jack, as poorly as he has played adjusting to his role in Toronto, might eventually make more sense as a starting point guard. Jack is more defensively minded, physically stronger, a little bit quicker. And Hedo Turkoglu is just as capable at running the top-of-the-key pick and roll with Chris Bosh or Andrea Bargnani. And Calderon, don't let anybody kid you, has had his best NBA moments playing against second-string players. Swapping the point-guard batting order wouldn't lead to a replay of Toronto's 2007-08 who-should-start controversy -- Calderon and Jack are exponentially better team players than T.J. Ford ever will be -- but it might help plug one of a defensively challenged club's biggest holes."

  • Ailene Voisin of the The Sacramento Bee: "It began 25 years ago, these Kings in Sacramento. Gregg Lukenbill in his red sneakers. David Stern arriving in his limousine. Jerry Reynolds in the old, old, old Arco Arena, holding the assistant's clipboard and leading the cheers. It was loud. It was sold out. Just like Monday night. Those Kings of Reggie Theus, Mike Woodson and Larry Drew went on to secure a playoff berth, which Paul Westphal's squad will do this season only if the rest of the Western Conference slides into the ocean. That doesn't mean debacle, though. That doesn't mean awful. This year's home opener – the thriller of a 2009-10 Arco tipoff that ended with the Kings outlasting the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime – was about Kevin Martin's health, about the ability to crawl out of last season's 17-65 cubbyhole, about the development of Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson, Omri Casspi and Jon Brockman, and about whether Tyreke Evans is precocious enough to skip a few grades."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Last week, the Thunder signed Thabo Sefolosha to a four-year extension believed to be worth $13.8 million. Kevin Durant called him the 'heart and soul' of the team because of how he sets the tone defensively from the opening tip. 'He’s our leader in that area, and we’re very fortunate to have him,' Durant said. 'He’s a guy that basically can lock down a premier scorer in this league.' Sefolosha will get his chance to earn his keep tonight as Bryant and the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers roll into the Ford Center. Bryant, fresh off a season-high 41 points at Atlanta on Sunday, ranks third in the league in scoring at 26.8 points. Bryant and newly acquired Lakers forward Ron Artest top an elite list of defenders Sefolosha someday wants to crack. It includes Houston’s Shane Battier and Trevor Ariza and Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince. Given the fact that each of those players, with the exception of Ariza, will be at least 30 by season’s end, Sefolosha’s time seems to be now. 'I’d love that,' Sefolosha said. 'It’s not really a goal, but I’d love to get there.' "