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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Phil Sheridan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "If the 76ers sign Allen Iverson, they might as well skip ahead a few moves and make him coach and general manager as well. Just turn the whole franchise over to Iverson, because bringing the former Sixers star back now, after everything that has happened, is acknowledging the failure of Ed Stefanski and, by extension, coach Eddie Jordan. The logic is pretty simple. If Stefanski had a plan with a prayer of working, he would not sign Iverson. If Jordan had any intention of developing a young team to play the game his way, he would not want Iverson. Ergo, they might as well give Iverson their jobs, as well as the $3 million or so it will take to sign him. Iverson will be deciding how much he plays and with whom, so the Eddies won't be necessary anymore, anyway. ... This is the Buffalo Bills signing Terrell Owens -- a cynical move made for the sole purpose of bringing a little attention to a team that has proved itself incapable of earning it the proper way, by winning."

  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer: "Dear Mike Brown, You blew it. That's all I can say about your decision not to play Zydrunas Ilgauskas for a single second in the Cavaliers' 111-95 victory over Dallas at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night. You had to know Ilgauskas would set the all-time franchise record for games played the next moment he steps on the court. You also should have been aware that your 7-3 center told reporters a few days before the game that the record 'is more valuable than the rebounds and blocked shots (which he also holds). ... With everything that I went through, to know that I put on a uniform more than anyone else in the 40 years [with the Cavs] is pretty good.' If you missed that story, someone on your staff should have told you about it. You know Ilgauskas is one of the finest men in the NBA. He rarely complains about anything. He has been here 723 games over 11 years with seven different coaches through five major foot operations. ... You should not be surprised that LeBron James was upset when you benched Ilgauskas. Yes, the small, quick lineup was effective in the Dallas game. But Mike, you had leads of 35-26 at the end of the first quarter. And 68-55 at the half. Sources told The Plain Dealer Ilgauskas was so upset about not playing in the first half that he asked to sit out the second half. Probably not a good move by him, but Mike, you started this."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Monta Ellis claims he scored 42 points against San Antonio on Wednesday because his mother asked for that kind ofoutput. His wife demanded even more points before Monday's game. 'She asked me to get 50, and I was going for it,' Ellis said. 'When I fouled out, she threw her thumb in the air and said 45 and a win was good enough.' Ellis scored a career-high 45 points and added five rebounds and five steals in another franchise-carrying effort that led the Warriors to a 126-107 win over Indiana in front of 16,574 fans at Oracle Arena. Ellis topped 30 points for the fourth time in the past five games and eclipsed 40 for the second time in three games. He kept the Warriors in the game by scoring 16 straight in the first quarter and put the game away with seven straight to open the fourth. 'I was born to do this,' Ellis said. 'It's not impressive to me. I've been doing this all my life.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis' blank, unknowing stare refuted the rampant rumor that he would have faced a NBA Players Association grievance had he denied his players the right to practice Monday afternoon. In a glum locker room late Wednesday night, Timberwolves players greeted word of a Thanksgiving morning practice with shrugs at best. After the Wolves ended a 15-game losing streak Sunday in Denver one loss shy of a franchise record, forward Al Jefferson's voice boomed when he suggested he and his teammates get back hard at work in practice the next day. 'It was a pleasant surprise that, right after the game, they were already thinking about preparing for today,' Rambis said after practice Monday. 'That was terrific. Al's voice was the loudest of all, and everybody agreed with him.' Funny what one victory will do."

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "Since that basket in New York, Kevin Garnett’s production has skyrocketed. He has averaged 18.3 points, 4 more than his season average. And he is taking those elbow jumpers with confidence, unlike earlier in the season when he was hesitant. 'Physically I feel really, really good,’ he said. 'But you all have no idea of the [stuff] I go through to come in here and be Grade B, Grade A. So I’m a work in progress. I don’t even think twice about my leg. There’s nothing about this game I second-guess. As a basketball player you have to react. When I am reacting and [stuff] flows, I’m a better player like that. I’m trying to find timing in what [coach] Doc [Rivers] wants and making it come together.’ Garnett said he is so focused on defense that he almost ignores his offense because the Celtics have so many scorers. His early-season struggles have encouraged opposing coaches to allow him open jumpers. On Sunday, Garnett drained two elbow jumpers within 94 seconds to help seal the victory. Both were created from dribble penetration, once from Paul Pierce, who is constantly encouraging Garnett to unleash himself offensively."

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings entered the game averaging 22.3 points, and coach Scott Skiles was asked if he had to temper expectations after Jennings' fast start. 'His last five games should be reining in expectations,' Skiles said. 'He's struggled. The short answer is, no, we haven't had to do anything. He came out with such a great start, and now it's a little more realistic. We'll see how he responds.' "

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "This was supposed to be the season Tim Duncan took it easy, backing off a bit and letting his superior supporting cast carry more of the burden. With more scorers on the roster, the Spurs planned on leaning less on Duncan and his sore knees. Instead, with injuries to key players and on-court chemistry issues slowing his team's retooling effort, Duncan has had to be the lighthouse at the eye of the Spurs' storm. 'He's done that for 13 years,' Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. 'It doesn't matter who we've traded for, who we've signed, who we've drafted. Tim Duncan is the common denominator that makes everybody feel comfortable.' "

  • Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The vinegar was still lingering from Sunday's loss in Detroit at the Hawks' practice Monday. With a full roster, the Hawks lost 94-88 to a Pistons team that was without guards Richard Hamilton and Ben Gordon and forward Tayshaun Prince, a trio who last year averaged a combined 53.2 points. Detroit then lost starting forward Charlie Villanueva in the fourth quarter. The Hawks were still out-rebounded 53-27 and 24-6 on the offensive glass, allowing the Pistons to break a seven-game losing streak. 'It gets me frustrated because we have a talented group of guys,' forward Josh Smith said. 'We're coming to a situation like that, where pretty much all their core scorers are gone. It's kind of disheartening to lose a game like that because when you're going into the postseason and you're fighting for position, you look back at these games as games you should have won.' The tenor of the practice reflected a team working out its frustration. 'We felt like we got outplayed and outworked yesterday, so we really came in here and really had a good practice,' center Al Horford said."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "This was the fifth time that the Mavericks have followed a loss with a win. They still don't have a losing streak yet this season. But that brings up a bigger question, Rick Carlisle said. 'I think it's a dangerous cycle to get into because then the question becomes, 'Why are you losing in the first place?' ' he said. 'We're trying to get better every day and get more consistent. In our wins, our points per possession defensively ranks No. 1 in the league, by far. In our losses, we rank last in the league by far. That's something we're trying to reconcile. We want to be good every night. We don't want to have the lapses. We don't want the wild highs and lows that we're going through.' "

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Rockets forward Carl Landry did not know how he would feel but looked forward to finding out. With Luis Scola out Wednesday because of the swelling and a seven-stitch gash in his right eyelid left by a meeting with Etan Thomas' left hand, Landry will do something he never has in the NBA. He will start Wednesday in Los Angeles against the Clippers. And as much as he has been a solid rotation player for several years and a go-to scorer this season, this is different. 'Growing up as a kid, your dream is always to play in the NBA and to put on an NBA jersey,' Landry, 26, said. 'Having the opportunity to start in the NBA, that's another level. I'm going to be psyched up. I've never started a game since I've been here. This is my third year. I'm going to try to roll with the punches, go with the flow and see how things work. I'm going to stick to my same routine, stretching and doing the things I did before every game coming off the bench. There's a first time for everything.' "

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "The Mount Rushmore of the Trail Blazers convened Monday for a private meeting -- star players Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden along with coach Nate McMillan -- to assess where the team is heading after blowout losses in the team's last two games. At the top of the agenda was airing out simmering issues about the team's offense, while discussing ideas on how the team can blend the offensive talents of Roy, Aldridge and Oden. Later in the day, McMillan refused to divulge the specifics of the meeting, saying only that this is part of the maturation process of the three young players. 'It's going to take those guys some time,' McMillan said. 'This is not going to happen overnight.' The players are in no way at odds with each other. Roy said he and Oden are 'cool -- real cool' and that he and Aldridge, already close friends, are 'better than we have been any other year. There's nothing among teammates,' Roy said before the meeting. 'Guys are perfectly fine. We just have to find a way to get it on the court.' "

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "Having lost six of its past nine games after a 6-1 start, the Heat takes its search for consistency out west in hopes of regaining its rhythm. Home has been hard on the Heat (9-7), which plays its next four games on the road after having 11 of its first 16 at AmericanAirlines Arena. That's why coach Erik Spoelstra hopes to find a remedy on the road, with the first stop in Portland, Ore., to face the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night. Miami looks to draw from its modest success on the road, where its 3-2 record this season has included rare wins at Indiana and Orlando. 'There is nothing better right now for this team [than for a trip], when you're going through adversity and tough times,' Spoelstra said before the team's five-hour flight to Portland. 'Out there, there's not going to be anybody but ourselves. We're going to have to lean on each other and trust each other.' "

  • Bill Bradley of The Sacramento Bee: "Yet if you venture to any Kings message board on the Web or look at the comments on our recent Kings stories at sacbee.com, you'll see lots of postings from fans fretting about the return of Kevin Martin and Francisco García. You see, the Kings were 1-4 before Martin was injured. Since then, they are 7-4 without Martin. And García has missed the season. That has some fans wringing their hands. However, the Kings will play at least 17 more games until Martin, who broke a bone in his wrist, is expected back. And there could be as many as 20 more games before García, who broke his arm in October, might be available. How about enjoying a few more weeks of this team's energy before worrying how Martin and García will transition back into the lineup? Then, you can bring out the scenarios for playing or trading K-Mart and 'Cisco."

  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Pau Gasol might appear calm, cool and collected on the surface, but there is a raging fire burning inside. He said Monday afternoon the flames have grown higher and hotter since he and the Lakers won the NBA championship in June. 'Maybe I'm a little bit more confident,' he said. 'Maybe I feel a little better and stronger about my game. I think that's part of it. It's also maturing. I'm getting close to 30 now. It kind of puts you in a good spot in your career.' In five games since returning to the active roster after sitting out the season's first 11 because of a right hamstring injury, Gasol has taken his game to a fine place. He is averaging 18.4 points and a team-leading 11.4 rebounds plus 4.2 assists."