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First Cup: Friday

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "Kevin Martin leaned against the wall in the Kings' practice facility Thursday afternoon, still very much in shock, his damaged left wrist dangling at his side. Hours earlier, an MRI revealed that the league's third-leading scorer -- and the Kings' best player -- sustained a hairline fracture Monday night in a collision with the Memphis Grizzlies' Allen Iverson. Martin was presented with three options, all of them terrible: He can wear a soft cast and attempt to play, risking further injury and possibly a complete break. He can undergo surgery and have a screw inserted to stabilize the bone, with recovery projected at six to eight weeks. Or he can have the arm casted and hope that the wrist heals itself during a comparable six- to eight-week rehabilitation period. ... Thursday's announcement dampened an already somber mood at the practice facility. Hours after the Kings dropped a tightly contested game with the Atlanta Hawks, team officials learned that veteran forward Andres Nocioni had been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence."

  • Mike Fratto of The Washington Times: "In the wake of losing Mike Miller for seven to 10 days with a sprained left shoulder, Washington's depth will be tested even more. But Randy Foye said the team is equipped to handle such a situation. No announcement regarding the lineup has been made, but the fourth-year guard made a start against New Jersey when Caron Butler sat out and is the most likely candidate to step into Miller's spot in the starting lineup. 'At the guard positions, we are really deep,' Foye said. 'No matter who goes down or who goes out, we have someone there who can do just as much as the guy who was in that position.' "

  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "Chuck Hayes' teammates love him, too. He's likable, decent and funny. The Rockets love Hayes because of who he is and what he is. He's an NBA center. He's also 6-6, 238 pounds. ... These first few games of a new season have amounted to a coming-out party for Hayes. The Rockets no longer have Yao Ming and Dikembe Mutombo, and so Hayes is averaging 29 minutes a game. That's around 10 more a game than he has gotten in the other four years of his career. No Rocket is doing more with his minutes. No Rocket is more indispensable. Hayes is averaging 8.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. He's out there because of what he gives the Rockets defensively, but when teams ignore him on offense, his teammates have begun to look for him. His 64.7-percent shooting percentage is the NBA's fifth-best. He's seventh in the league with 2.4 steals a game. He does not fly like Kobe Bryant. He does not have Dwight Howard's size. He doesn't have Tim Duncan's slick moves. All Hayes proves is that guys who care and work hard can still do special things."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Ron Artest said his former Rockets teammates were 'definitely trying to get me ejected' by throwing elbows at him, and he acknowledged he might've indulged the notion if not for a little NBA commissioner/angel appearing on his shoulder. A jolt from Ariza just minutes into the game -- after Artest said Luis Scola already threw one -- nearly sent Artest, suspended 72 games by Stern in 2004, back into arrest. 'I wanted to (choke Ariza) because he hit me with the elbow,' Artest said. 'But then I thought about David Stern, and I thought I wasn't going to do this. I got hit with three or four elbows. It's just not fair. I don't want to fight.' Did I clearly articulate that Artest did think about it, though? Let me clarify: He mentioned that he thought in the moment how certain he was that he was stronger than Ariza and contemplated his interest in making someone his 'punching bag.' Yet with Kobe Bryant interceding and shepherding Artest away, the match didn't light – and Artest was able to joke (I think he was joking) about it all. He basically invited anyone else to come hit him and said: 'I'm not fighting anymore. I'm tired. I give up. I'm not fighting anymore.' "

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "What will LeBron James tell the media in New York on Friday? LeBron: 'There will be a lot of intensity, the fact that we only play there once. July 1 is right around the corner, so it will be exciting. I'm looking forward to winning an NBA championship here. It is going to be a long season and I can't think about what is going to happen July 1 or after that or what I'm going to do. We'll see what happens, I've never given any indication I'll leave Cleveland or be somewhere else. It doesn't matter where I'll be, I'm good enough to help a team win basketball games.' "

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "Everyone who watched Ty Lawson blow by defenders, sprint the ball upcourt and hit 3-pointers that New Jersey's defense conceded in order to keep him out of the lane came away impressed. And a scene that is sure to be repeated this season followed the Nuggets' Wednesday night blowout victory. Denver coach George Karl was peppered with questions about his rookie point guard from a media contingent that seemed shocked at what it witnessed. Odd, because Lawson led North Carolina to the NCAA title a year ago. But Lawson figures to turn heads all season long in his NBA debut, including that of his coach, who detests the reputation he has for not playing rookies, although three weeks ago he defended his right not to play Lawson. 'Just remember, there's not a lot of rookies that have helped teams win 55-60 games,' Karl said then. 'Our job is probably to win 55-60 games this year. There's a difference between being good and being a player that produces winning. There are players that are good but don't know how to win in the NBA, and rookies are usually a lot of those guys.' "

  • Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News: "Detroit visits Orlando tonight, which on the surface shouldn't be a good thing. The Magic are among the top teams in the East. But the Pistons have won 20 of their last 25 regular-season games against the Magic, including Tuesday at The Palace. 'I can't explain it,' Rodney Stuckey said. 'It's one of those things.' He said the Pistons try to focus on imposing center Dwight Howard and make his life difficult, but other than that, there's nothing out of the ordinary."

  • Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel : "Tuesday night in Chicago, Lindsey Hunter, who has been in the league just three years less than the kid has been on the planet, was letting the rookie have it from his catcall perch on the Bulls' bench. Slow down, young fella, come on, slow down! Apparently, that's not the way it's going to be for Brandon Jennings. Three games into his NBA career, and already the kid's governor has been disconnected. When was the last time the Milwaukee Bucks had a player with this much natural ability and personality in one package? Probably Ray Allen, and you saw what he did for the organization. If there was ever a right player at the right time for a franchise starving for success and attention, Jennings just might be it."

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "Might I suggest three words to those who have clearly drawn lines and are firmly on one side or the other inBeasley-action this Michael Beasley/Udonis Haslem debate. Pipe down. Please.Don't get me wrong. Passion this time of year, just two weeks into the NBA season? Perfect. But outright rage in some corners after just five games? Ridiculous. Here the Heat sits, off to a solid 4-1 start entering Friday's game against the Denver Nuggets. And here many in Heat nation stand, picking apart who sits in crunch time at the end of games. While coach Erik Spoelstra's rotation decisions cost him in Tuesday's loss to Phoenix, there was no price to be paid Wednesday in Washington."

  • Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun: "It's obvious that Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo did not sign point guard Jarrett Jack this summer because he's a big fan of alliteration or because Jack is a buddy of Chris Bosh. Colangelo acquired the former Georgia Tech star (he played with Bosh during the 2002-03 season) because Jack gives the Raptors a second, quite able, ball-handler at the point, something extremely valuable if Jose Calderon is out or having an off day. That was exactly the situation in Toronto's 110-99 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Calderon struggled, managing nine points and just one assist in almost 32 minutes of play. But Jack, along with others on the bench, including Antoine Wright and Amir Johnson, gave the team a lift en route to the win. Jack finished with nine points, six assists and three rebounds in 31 minutes and played hard on defence."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "For those of you who think NBA teams piece together and establish their identity through the summer, training camp and the preseason. ... Consider the 76ers, 2-2 as they enter tonight's game against the 0-5 New Jersey Nets, the league's only winless team: 'Right now, we're just in between, really trying to find our identity,' veteran guard Willie Green said after practice yesterday. 'But guys are coming to practice working hard, and we're running our offense, but it's still taking a little bit of time. It's one of those things where we're going to have to turn our practice play over into our game play.' Green said they have been comfortable working against one another. It's those pesky opponents who somehow get in the way."

  • John Canzano of The Oregonian: "Blazers front office executives talk positively about their mandatory team-building experience. And maybe they're slapping backs and working more efficiently because they went on desert hikes, climbed walls and sat around afterward talking about what it was like to overcome obstacles together. There's real value in bringing people together. We all know that. And the Blazers understand that better than most professional sports organizations that haven't navigated the field of broken glass that lies behind this franchise. Sure, fans are concerned about the 2-3 start. The Spurs are next. And we're coming to the realization that the expectations for the team weren't out of whack, but the circumstances certainly were. If Miller and Roy are still struggling to play together in December, you can start talking trade of the new guy. And if McMillan continues to dabble in a way that prevents the Blazers from finding comfort, we can begin the dialogue about whether he's the right coach to lead the team into the future. But all that talk today is insanely premature. It makes you want to climb a pole and jump off it."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "The retooled Grizzlies don't seem to have a problem sharing the ball. Concentrating without the basketball enough to avoid making the Grizzlies an embarrassment on defense? That's another story ... That's the story behind the Grizzlies' 1-4 start to the regular season. Memphis ranks no better than 28th out 30 NBA teams in five key defensive categories. The Griz are dead last in two areas: points allowed (115.2) and opponents' field goal percentage (.505)."

  • Jeff Rabjohns of The Indianapolis Star: "Ten years after Conseco Fieldhouse opened its doors, this shrine to Indiana basketball -- part museum, part arena -- remains one of the most revered basketball venues in the nation and has altered the idea of what an NBA arena should be. The retro-styled home of the Indiana Pacers -- a modern venue soaked in history -- has influenced other teams to rethink nondescript multipurpose buildings and embrace designs tied to basketball's past. Charlotte, Dallas, Memphis and San Antonio are among franchises that modeled specific elements of their new arenas after what they saw at Conseco. New Jersey, which has a new arena in the works, also is aiming in that direction."

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "In the trade that shook the NBA world 21 months ago, the Lakers sent Marc Gasol, Kwame Brown, Javaris Crittenton, Aaron McKie, and first-round draft picks in 2008 and 2010 to the Grizzlies for Pau Gasol. McKie never played for Memphis and Crittenton has had an unremarkable career and is now with Washington. Remarkably, the Lakers have not lost three consecutive games since acquiring the elder Gasol.'

  • Jordan Godwin for the Houston Chronicle: "It remains to be seen whether the Rockets' sizzling start will translate into a playoff appearance this season, but tonight they'll look every bit the part of an NBA champion. Trevor Ariza, Luis Scola, Aaron Brooks and the rest of the new-generation Rockets will pay homage to the franchise's storied past when they play their first regular-season game in their new alternate jerseys. Look out, Oklahoma City Thunder: The ketchup and mustard is back. 'The feedback has been great, and fans are very fired up,' said Chris Dacy, the Rockets' chief strategy officer. 'They're happy to see the traditional look from the championship days.' Unveiled in September, the jerseys will serve as an occasional alternative to the team's current red-and-white combinations. The Rockets' creative marketing team started designing the jersey more than a year ago when the NBA granted permission to proceed."