First Cup: Monday

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Ron Artest said he stopped drinking alcohol in January to focus on the season -- and then ceased his championship celebrations, alcohol-wise, at the end of July. Artest said he 'didn’t even have the stomach for it anymore' while celebrating, which included him consuming his infamous Hennessy scotch before the Lakers’ 11 a.m. championship parade. 'That’s something that paid off so much,' he said. 'I’ve been drinking alcohol since I was 17 years old, 15 years old.' Gotta love Ron’s openness, huh? Artest also volunteered something along those lines at the end of his chat with reporters Saturday: 'Even if they legalize marijuana, I won’t be smoking marijuana.' On the ballot currently in California is Proposition 19 to legalize marijuana under state law. Later Saturday night, Artest wrote via Twitter: 'are they really going to legalize marijuana? … i hope not!! … its not cool kids might think its cool.' "

  • Michale Lee of The Washington Post: "Gilbert Arenas's sullen disposition has been a topic of discussion ever since he showed up at media day sporting a scraggly beard and refusing to smile for photos. When he missed a few practices at training camp and showed up the FanFest wearing a towel over his head while his teammates scrimmaged, Arenas's behavior was again evaluated. Is he a martyr or an actor? But he opened himself up for more psychoanalysis last week, when he was speaking about his emotions about being back on the floor and said, 'I lost all feeling a long time ago.' CBSSports' Ken Berger took a crack at explaining Arenas's demeanor, and the need for him to have a fresh start somewhere else in a column on Saturday. Berger spoke with an Arenas confidant who explained how this latest incarnation -- sparked by the fallout from his gun incident last season -- goes against Arenas's natural inclination to smile and joke. The person told Berger that he is 'trying to hard to put a blanket over who he is.' Berger mentioned that Dallas had internal discussions about dealing for Arenas, while also breaking down trade scenarios in Orlando and possibly Cleveland. He surmises, 'the only way for Arenas to truly and completely come back from what happened is to do it in another city.' ... When he was asked last week if he needed to go elsewhere to have a more desirable role, Arenas said, 'I'm content on what I'm doing right now.' If you look at Arenas's numbers in the preseason, he has been more efficient than prolific. He is not trying to do more than he has to. He isn't forcing plays or drives. And, he is taking 'quality shots' within the flow of the offense. Being flanked by Wall and Kirk Hinrich has really worked to Arenas's advantage because he doesn't have to be burdened as the sole decision-maker. He has just one turnover and is able to showcase his shooting ability. Arenas is averaging 13.7 points, on 50 percent shooting (16 for 32) from the floor, with 3.7 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 26 minutes. But will that be enough?"

  • George Diaz of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Orlando Magic are playing with house money this season. They can pony up to the blackjack table, grab a couple of free drinks and let it ride. Nobody really cares. The Orlando Magic are feeling the squeeze of great expectations this season. They better put the freeze on the Miami Heat or Dwight Howard may have a hissy fit and become the second Superman to leave a franchise in disarray. Mark both scenarios in black ink as the Magic get ready for the long grind of an 82-game season and the playoffs, amid the snap, crackle and pop of a new downtown playpen. It's easy-peasy on the outside looking in, just like the Magic men toyed with New Orleans on Sunday night. Wow. Will every game be a 54-point blowout? There was a buzz in the air before the opening tip, when Magic coach Stan Van Gundy walked out in a new fitted suit and tie, saying goodbye to the mock turtlenecks. It was his homage to the new place and the people who made it happen. 'If it takes a new arena to get Stan to wear a suit, we might get one every year,' Howard joked afterward. This one will do just fine, thank you. The question is this: Will anyone outside Central Florida notice? Nobody cares about the Magic this season. They are the warm-up act, the acoustic guitar guy opening for the Eagles."

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "When this Celtics unit was first assembled, the operative phrase was 'three-year window.’ 'Yeah, we got ’em,’ says coach Doc Rivers, whose team defeated the Raptors, 91-87, in an exhibition last night at the Garden. 'I mean, we still don’t know what the expiration date is. It could be a year, it could be two years, it could be the middle of this season.’ This much we know: it was all worth it. The scoresheet after three years is one championship, one Game 7 loss in the second round (without Kevin Garnett), and one excruciating Game 7 loss in the Finals. What president of basketball operations Danny Ainge did by taking enticing young talent and draft picks (you’re free to factor in the largesse of Kevin McHale) and turning a 24-58 team that had lost 18 straight into an instant champion will go down as one of the great managerial maneuvers ever. Anyway, they’re back again, the basic core fortified by a cavalry that includes the old (Shaquille O’Neal, Jermaine O’Neal), the young (Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody), and the in-between (Delonte West). ... Year 4. Call it Bonus Year, call it Retribution Year, call it Geezer Year. Call it I Can’t Believe It’s Happening Year. But it’s here."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "A major development has emerged for the Thunder this preseason, and it could be the most important thing to track as the exhibition schedule marches on. Kevin Durant is now being deployed at different positions. In the final weeks before his fourth regular season begins, Durant is working to become more dangerous by developing his skills at multiple spots on the floor. It's a progression that could soon make the Thunder's offense a terror and its defense more dynamic. Against Miami on Friday, Durant played all five positions. He started at his customary small forward spot, ran point guard late in the first quarter and slid to power forward midway through the second quarter. 'Kevin's game is evolving,' said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. 'He, like a lot of our guys, is not a finished product. He's going to keep getting better. And there's ways that I'm going to challenge him to get better... He has the ability to do a lot of things for us and do them well.' "

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Much ballyhooed forward David Lee displayed Sunday some of reasons that the Warriors will pay him $80 million over the next six seasons. Lee finished with 13 points with 13 rebounds in 32 minutes of the Warriors' 95-86 win over the Sacramento Kings at Oracle Arena. He was active and aggressive on offense, though he was just 5 for 13 from the field. He and backup forward Jeff Adrien helped the Warriors outrebound Sacramento 62-59. Adrien had 15 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes. What's more, the Kings' big men -- rookie center DeMarcus Cousins and forward Jason Thompson -- combined to go 10 for 30 from the field. That wasn't solely because of Lee, but he was a link in the chain of a frontline defense that was noticeably more effective than in Friday's exhibition opener against the Los Angeles Clippers."

  • Tom Enlund of the Journal Sentinel: "After sitting out the Milwaukee Bucks' first three exhibition games with soreness and swelling in his surgically repaired right hand, center Andrew Bogut is dealing with his physical situation. 'I might not be 100 percent the whole year,' said Bogut. Bogut, a third-team all-NBA selection last season, suffered injuries to his right hand, wrist and elbow in a gruesome fall on April 3. He sat out the three exhibition contests after getting hit on the hand in practice on Oct. 1. With the start of the regular season a little over two weeks away, a general sense of urgency is starting to build as far as getting the entire team healthy. But Bogut is the biggest concern, since so much revolves around him. The Bucks will have three more days of practice before playing three exhibition games in four nights beginning Thursday in Washington, and Bogut remains unsure when he will practice, as he waits for the swelling to go down. 'I'm just trying to be a little careful before the real season starts,' he said. 'I'd like to start practicing probably this week, but I think it'll probably be another ... they said it would be about seven to 10 days from when it first happened. The elbow, finger, everything ... I won't be 100 percent, so I'll have to play through the pain through the season. Even once it gets better, I'm still going to be 90 percent for the year or 85 percent. I don't have my mobility and flexibility like I should, but I just have to adjust to it.' "

  • Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times: "In overseas games against Armani Jeans Milano and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Raymond Felton had 12 assists, but he turned the ball over eight times and missed 8 of 11 shots.'A lot of times in the N.B.A., once you give it up, you don’t see it a whole lot again,' Mike D’Antoni said of Felton’s low shot total. 'That’s kind of the nature of the business.' In landing with the Knicks, Felton is moving from one offensive extreme in Larry Brown’s deliberate halfcourt sets in Charlotte to D’Antoni’s preferred pace of organized chaos. 'We’ve got to find that medium where Raymond doesn’t go too fast,' D’Antoni said. 'There’s a time to push and a time to calm it down. I think we’re doing better on it, and that’s something we’ll learn as we go forward. A lot of that’s in Raymond’s head, and he’ll set the tone, the rhythm of the game, and push as fast as he can without getting out of control.' Push, but not too hard. Pull back, but not too much. Somewhere, there is a medium for Felton to locate. Amar'e Stoudemire should make that hunt easier. In five seasons in the N.B.A., Felton has yet to play with a multifaceted forward like Stoudemire."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Picture Hedo Turkoglu's dilemma. He heads downcourt, with a team moving at a faster pace than he has run, and naturally looks to take his left lane, only to find Grant Hill and Jason Richardson filling the wing alleys. He spots up for a kick-out from Steve Nash but uncharacteristically hesitates without a defender nearby. 'I'm so open,' said Turkoglu, who has made four of 21 preseason shots (including one of eight 3-pointers). 'I think, 'Damn, should I take this shot? It's the first pass. Or should I drive and kick?' As time goes by, I will learn that's a good shot because Steve drew my man and passed.' After a career of getting screens, he now sets them for Nash and learns the nuances of rolls and pops. Turkoglu will take more hits on screens and defense than in the past, when he had only spot duty at power forward. 'I'm learning the defensive rules -- showing, getting back, switching, denying, getting in front, pushing, getting the rebound, helping weak side, switching with the (big men),' Turkoglu said. 'Those kind of things, I never did before.' "

  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Derek Fisher's streak of consecutive games played stands at 413 going into the Lakers' regular-season opener Oct. 26 against the Houston Rockets. He last missed a game because of injury or illness during the 2004-05 season. It's become a badge of honor to show up and play game after game. 'I think it's my mindset overall,' Fisher said recently when asked about the significance of playing every game for five consecutive seasons. 'Every chance there's a chance to help my team win a game, I want to be available no matter what.' Fisher, who turned 36 in August, also said he only became aware of the number of games in his streak last season. He said he has no desire to reach a specific number of games played in a row before he might decide to take a break. 'It's been more of a mentality of when it's time to go to work, it's time to go to work,' he said. 'That's the way I'm going into it this season. I don't plan on missing any nights. If I play 30 minutes or 15 minutes, if I'm out there, I'm doing something to help us win. That's the most important thing to me.' "

  • Tony Jones of The Salt Lake Tribune: "When the Utah Jazz face Portland on Monday night in the Rose Garden, they’ll see for the second time in less than a week what their front office surrendered in July when it chose not to match the five-year, $34-million contract offer extended by the Blazers. On Thursday, Matthews led all scorers with 21 points. He made jumpers, went to the basket and played the same defense that earned him a starting spot last season in Utah as a rookie. And yet, he wasn’t happy with himself. 'There were things that I could’ve done much better,' said Matthews, who made the Jazz last season as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Marquette. 'I thought that I could’ve played better. I’m always going to have an edge, I’m always going to go hard. There are some players who play this game to be financially secure. Then there are some players who play to be financially secure, yet want to be the best at what they do. I want to be the best at what I do.' It’s that hunger, that belief in himself that defines Matthews as a player. And even when he signed his big deal, the questions still persisted. What role would he play in Portland? How many minutes would he get on a team that features Brandon Roy, one of the NBA’s best shooting guards? If the first week of the preseason is any indication, the answers are substantial and plenty. Matthews isn’t a starter, but he’s a solid sixth man, and is alternating between both wing positions. He’s leading Portland in scoring, and he has showcased an expanded set of skills."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Griz coach Lionel Hollins doesn't fashion himself as the NBA's point guard resuscitator but his approach with Acie Law will remind you of how he's dealt with Mike Conley. The Griz are going to find out if Law can be a consistent contributor. That means Law is slated to receive meaningful minutes for the first time since his rookie season after the Atlanta Hawks drafted him 11th overall in 2007. 'I see a kid who has been around the league and doesn't seem to have been given a real good look,' Hollins said. 'He's just been thrown in deals and nobody has taken a look at him to see if he can play or not. That happens sometimes. Hopefully, he's found a home and he'll be that backup point guard that solidifies the second unit. We're hoping it works out. If it doesn't then at least he would have had an opportunity.' Don't put too much stock in the Tony Allen experiment at point guard. The backup job is Law's to lose. ... Bottom line is Law doesn't want to be labeled a bust. Beale Street provides a road toward redemption. 'This is what I've dreamed of, especially not getting an opportunity last year,' Law said. 'Now I'm about taking care of business, doing my job and being a pro. I'll take no day for granted. I think I've found a home here. I just feel like if I work hard every day it'll work out for me.' "

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Did you see Michael Beasley walk forward after missing a free throw in each of the team's first preseason games, tilt his head and glare at the rim? Well, here's the story: 'That's a college job,' said Beasley, who played one season at Kansas State. 'Luis Colon was my college center. He's a big Spanish guy and when big Spanish guys get mad, they start speaking Spanish real fast. Every time he missed, he'd look at the rim and curse the rim out. So every time I miss, I'm trying to get the gremlin off the top of the rim.' "

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Veteran big man Matt Bonner showed up at Sunday's practice session with a do-it-yourself wrap and brace on his left hand to protect the left thumb that he sprained in Saturday night's preseason game against the Miami Heat. Bonner had said he was counting on head athletic trainer Will Sevening to fashion a protective device for his thumb similar to the brace Sevening invented last season for then-Spurs guard Roger Mason Jr.'s injured right thumb. The wrap Bonner used at Sunday's practice was basic, but effective. 'It was self-invented,' Bonner said. 'Now I know what 99 percent of the animals feel like without having a thumb, but it works.' "