First Cup: Monday

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "OK, knock those wacky grins off your faces. This is getting stupid now, and you all darn well know it. This whole uncharted Jazz-winning-five-straight-games thing -- the last four coming on the road -- after trailing in each by more than 1,000 points. Yeah, so that’s a lie. But it doesn’t feel like one. The Jazz have consecutively charged back from deficits of 18, 22, 18, 11, and 19. And, in the process, they’ve done something even more remarkable. The Jazz have come back from a dark, cold place in the NBA called … Nobody Gives a Crap. They were simply idling in near-anonymity, nothing more than another Chicago or Milwaukee or Houston or Phoenix or Portland or Oklahoma City or Denver or any other team that is OK to good but that has no overwhelming quality or characteristic about them to make them anything beyond weak sisters to the Lakers. Suddenly, the Jazz have what even Kobe’s team doesn’t: A weeklong string of regular-season miracles. These comebacks are not miracles, technically, at least not as front-line definitions go."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Suns Hall of Fame announcer Al McCoy has never uttered 'Shazam!' as much as he did Sunday night at Staples Center. The Suns made beating the world-champion Los Angeles Lakers a side achievement Sunday by setting a franchise record with 22 3-pointers in a 121-116 road victory. Phoenix sank 22 of 40 3-points, also breaking the Lakers' opponent record and coming within one of Orlando's NBA record of 23 3-pointers in a game. The Suns' previous record was 20, set in April 2006 against New Orleans/Oklahoma City and January 2008 against Denver. Phoenix needed them all, especially Hedo Turkoglu's fifth 3-pointer that gave Phoenix a 115-109 lead with 34.7 seconds to go, sending the Suns to their fourth win in five games to make them 5-4 this season. 'We really talked about trying to amp up the tempo a little bit, to play a little faster and see if we could get in the open court,' Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. The Lakers, who started the season 8-0, suffered their second consecutive loss with guard Jason Richardson leading the 3-point brigade with seven makes on 10 tries. Richardson scored a team-high 35 points, still second this season to his 38-point game against Memphis. 'I was feeling it,' Richardson said. 'It was one of those nights you have sometimes where you feel like every shot you have is going in.' "

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: "You say you want a devolution … Suggesting the West isn't what it was, the Lakers and Suns, last spring's conference finalists, met with less fanfare Sunday night. Actually, there was no fanfare at all. No talk of payback for last spring's 4-2 Lakers victory. No talk of a Western Conference finals preview. Also, no Amare Stoudemire, who doesn't play for Phoenix anymore. So if Steve Nash, Jason Richardson and vaguely familiar people showed up wearing Phoenix uniforms, it looked like the end of the Suns' world as they've known it. Of course, whoever they were, they put on a fireworks show that broke even the Suns' team record, making 22 three-point shots in a 121-116 victory over the Lakers. That made two losses in a row after the Lakers' 8-0 start, suggesting their midseason ennui has kicked in early. Remember when they ruled the West? After three No. 1 finishes, they're going to have to come from behind this season. Well, not too far behind yet, but they're now No. 3 behind 8-0 New Orleans and 8-1 San Antonio. Even that is a novelty. Two seasons ago, the Lakers led wire-to-wire after starting 21-3."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "It was a historic night for the Spurs at Ford Center on Sunday, so it was fitting that it will be remembered for one of the greatest shooting performances in club history. Never in club history has a Spurs team opened a season better than this season’s version, which is off to an 8-1 start after extending its win streak to seven games with a 117-104 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Matt Bonner, off the injured list and playing just his third game of the season, was a perfect 7 for 7 on 3-point shots, one of only three Spurs who made at least as many shots as he missed. Only once, when Steve Smith made all eight 3-pointers against the Trail Blazers, on Nov. 3, 2001, has a Spur had a better night beyond the arc. .... Bonner said he was surprised how open he was all night, each shot seeming to be easier. 'I always think every one of them is going in, but this was just one of those nights when all of them did fall,' he said. 'You hit the first one, the second one, the third one, and then the hoop just keeps getting bigger and bigger.' "

  • Jonathan Abrams of The New York Times: "The Knicks’ last winning season was a decade ago. New faces cycled in and out. Then at his signing this summer, Amar'e Stoudemire proclaimed, 'The Knicks are back.' They are back, but to the familiar state of losing. Houston, without two of its primary scorers, Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, handed the Knicks their fifth straight loss. It is their longest stretch of losses since an eight-game streak last February, long before the roster makeover. The Knicks are 1-4 at home this season and 3-7 over all. They depart this week on a trip that will further test them, against Denver, Sacramento, Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers. 'I don’t understand why we’re not playing with the urgency,' said Stoudemire, who scored a team-high 25 points. 'I’m not used to that. We’re not playing like we’re on a four-game losing streak, now five. We don’t have that sense of urgency. It’s almost as if it doesn’t matter.' After reporters had moved on, Stoudemire remained at his locker, gazing down. Both knees were wrapped in ice, and Stoudemire said he had been hit on his thigh twice."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace didn't win Defensive Player of the Year four times in his career because he doesn't know a few tricks. That's something Kings rookie DeMarcus Cousins learned during the Kings' 100-94 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday at Arco Arena. Wallace, who is in his 15th season, knows how to get away with 'a lot of holding,' Cousins said. ... Wallace offered Cousins some encouragement after the game, telling him to relax and have fun. 'The sky is the limit,' Wallace said. 'He has a lot of talent, and he is going to have every opportunity to be a star in this league. He just needs to keep working and not get frustrated.' Patience is key for a rookie, Wallace said. He noted that the game can be frustrating, but it is for most young players. 'The boys that can settle down, control their emotions and continue to approach the game with a positive attitude are the ones that usually take off the fastest,' Wallace said."

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The Hawks are 7-4. There are a couple of ways to look at that. One is that 7-4 really isn’t bad. The Miami Heat – they’d love to be 7-4. (Maybe they need to make a splash in free agency.) The other way to look at 7-4 is the Hawks could be better. They should be better. They followed an impressive six straight wins to open the season with four straight losses. That streak came to an end Sunday at Philips Arena with a sloppy 111-105 win over 3-8 Minnesota. Don’t celebrate too much. The Timberwolves are the equivalent of the gum under your shoe among NBA teams. ... If this continues, the issue of whether the Hawks can take the next step as currently built will linger. Do they need a tough guy on the front line? Do they trade popular Crawford, who’s in the final year of his contract? Do they explore dealing Smith (which seems rumored every other week)? At 7-4, it’s too early to draw conclusions. But it’s not to early to conclude that they should be better."

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "They are the widest and the thinnest players on the Celtics. They reside at different levels of the height spectrum, as well. Yet these opposites attract, and the combination is becoming even more attractive. Shaquille O’Neal and Rajon Rondo are a poster waiting to happen, the juxtaposition jumping from the photo. Or maybe they could star in one of those buddy movies about two detectives who see crime from different angles. On Saturday in Memphis in the 116-100 victory, O’Neal had five authoritative dunks among his 7-for-10, 18-point night. Rondo, the lightning to Shaq’s thunder, is always looking his way. Rondo and Goliath have found a groove. 'He’s definitely adding assists to my game, and that’s going to increase,' said Rondo. 'If his man’s off his body, all you’ve got to do is throw it toward the rim. He’s going to finish it.' O’Neal returns the salute, saying, 'All I have to do is work to get space and he’ll find me. I play my game and he gets me the ball.' 'Yeah, it goes both ways,' said Rondo. 'I love playing with him, and vice versa. I think he enjoys playing with me, as well.' It is a measure of Rondo’s burgeoning greatness that his locker was not surrounded with media after he delivered 17 assists (and 11 points) at FedExForum. Seventeen? Yawn."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "If a show of hands was requested from those who had the New Orleans Hornets as the last remaining undefeated team in the NBA, all it would do is reveal who the fibbers are. Nobody had this, not even Tyson Chandler, who has good friends there from when he was a Hornet from 2006 to 2009. Like everybody else, the Mavericks' center is surprised and impressed that New Orleans comes to American Airlines Center at 8-0 tonight. He also figures it's up to him and his new teammates to introduce the visitors to their first loss of the season. 'Trust me, it's definitely on my mind and I made it known in the locker room that it would be huge for us,' Chandler said. 'They're the only undefeated team in the league and everybody's got to lose at some point, and it would be good for them to get that loss here.' The Mavericks will have two cracks to do it since they visit New Orleans on Wednesday. It's one of those rare scheduling quirks that teams don't like because it's hard to beat a team two games in a row. The Mavericks found that out against Denver during a home-and-home pair a couple of weeks ago."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Kevin Love apparently set a high standard for himself Friday when he produced the NBA's first 30-point, 30-rebound game since Moses Malone did it in 1982. On Saturday night, NBA TV whisked Love away to its Atlanta studios for an interview with Cheryl Miller and Dennis Scott as soon as the Wolves arrived from Minnesota. On Sunday, the Hawks paid extra attention to him and held him to 22 points and 17 rebounds while he played 40 minutes in consecutive games for the first time in his career. 'He never did that before?' forward Michael Beasley asked. 'I did that once or twice. It's very tiring. And I'm pretty sure he's going to play 40 minutes tomorrow [Monday in Charlotte]. He still had amazing numbers, 22 and 17. How many assists? [Zero.] Oh. ... He still had great numbers. Getting 31 and 31, that's just an out-of-body experience.' "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "Gilbert Arenas, who made seven three-pointers and scored a season-high 30 points against the Bulls, spoke to John Wall in the locker room afterward to ask him what he had learned playing against Derrick Rose. Arenas said he talks with Wall after every game to make sure he is taking notes and making progress. Arenas said he could see Wall improving each game. When asked who was faster between Wall and Rose, Arenas said: 'John Wall's faster. But at that speed they're going, it really doesn't matter.' Wall said after the game that there is a simple explanation for why the Bulls have been successful. "Look at the point guard. You got a point guard that's that talented, he puts a lot of pressure on the defense. He can score, and he does a great job.' When told that the same description could work for the Wizards, Wall chuckled and hobbled out of the locker room. He understands his team has some room for improvement -- and needs to get healthy as well."

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "Rodney Stuckey had 17 points, seven assists and three rebounds to help the Pistons win their fourth in five games after starting 0-5. ... Stuckey gets knocked because he isn't considered a true point guard by the fans. And more eyebrows were raised earlier this season when he had to sit out a game as a disciplinary measure. But he has played well since, averaging nearly 18 points and six assists since he missed the Nov. 5 victory over Charlotte. 'I don't even think about it, to tell you the truth,' Stuckey said when asked about his play since his issues with coach John Kuester. 'That's the past. That (stuff's) over.' "

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "Coach Byron Scott has been harping about J.J. Hickson's lack of rebounding. The other day at practice, he was asked how someone who jumps so high isn't a better rebounder. 'I was wondering the same thing,' Scott said. If Hickson paid as much attention to hitting the boards as he does scoring, he could be on the verge of an All-Star selection. But he doesn't, and until he does, he's going to have some problems with Scott. 'Rebounds are about desire and effort,' Scott said. 'Just go get it.' "

  • Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Rookie Evan Turner has started the past four games. In his two starts with Andre Iguodala sidelined with an Achilles' injury, Turner averaged 14.5 points and shot 12-for-24 from the field. With Iguodala back the past two games, Turner has five points total and is 2-for-9 from the floor."

  • Kate Fagan of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "Andre Iguodala has not formally requested a trade, and the Sixers are not actively trying to deal him. There is no 'For Sale' sign in front of Iguodala, but the Sixers would listen if you fell in love with the place and knocked on the door anyway. If you ask those around him, Iguodala "just wants to win." That's the answer to any number of questions: Might he ask for a trade by the all-star break? He just wants to win. But wouldn't it be nice, having a fresh start? We don't care about that, just winning. How happy is he in Philly? He just wants to win. Well, the Sixers aren't winning. If you walked into a vegetarian restaurant and made it clear only a steak would satisfy you, the easiest remedy would be to leave, not wait until they changed the menu. Right now, the Sixers aren't serving winning. But that's what Iguodala would like to order. The temperature on this situation is rising, but it's nowhere near the boiling point. So we could continue on like this for another few months, possibly into the off-season, but players tend to carry more value when they aren't pressing the phone into your palm and demanding that you find them a new home."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Stan Van Gundy already has had a heart-to-heart with Rashard Lewis, so he got to him before the rest of us. Remember that scene in the movie, 'Airplane,' where all the passengers line up to smack another who loses it because the flight is apparently doomed? I got a feeling a lot of fans might want to, uh, help Rashard snap out of it. Something's amiss. Van Gundy says that it's simply Rashard's shot. 'My only concern with Rashard, as I told him, is he lets something as minor as a shooting slump affect his energy and enthusiasm for playing,' Van Gundy said. ... This is a guy who led the NBA two seasons ago in 3s attempted and made. Lewis takes 3s when he steps out of his car. Hey, Rashard: Maybe you need to take another trip to GNC for some human-growth goodies. I'm kidding. If you're wondering whether Van Gundy would bench Lewis, the answer is no. Not now, anyway. If Stan didn't sit Vince Carter through a horrid January last season, I don't think he'll turn Lewis into a sixth man."

  • Fred Mitchell of the Chicago Tribune: "Repeat after the Bulls: 'This is not a road trip, this is not a road trip, this is not a road trip …' The Bulls will travel to Houston to face the Rockets on Tuesday and will be out of town through Nov. 27. After Houston, the Bulls head to San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles (Lakers), Phoenix, Denver and Sacramento. 'We can't think of it as a road trip,' said Bulls forward Luol Deng of the team's two-week odyssey. 'It's just a bunch of away games. We've just got to focus on one game at a time.' Coach Tom Thibodeau has also convinced Derrick Rose that this circuitous 'circus trip' is nothing to fear. 'We're just thinking about Houston,' said Rose, who scored 24 points and handed out eight assists in the Bulls' 103-96 win over Washington Saturday night that capped a three-game winning streak at the United Center."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "Toronto’s trip through Florida on the weekend was something of a coming out party for DeMar DeRozan, who laid waste to both the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat on back-to-back nights. He had 21 points against the Heat on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor in Saturday’s loss after pouring in a career-high 26 points on 8-13 shooting in Friday’s win in Orlando. The most significant statistic was his ability to get to the free throw line: He was 7-for-11 in Miami and 10-for-12 at the line against Orlando. That was in stark contrast to his previous three games when he was a pedestrian 7-for-21 from the floor and hadn’t attempted a single free throw. ... Part of his emergence can be attributed to a decision by the coaching staff to give him more responsibility down the stretches of close games. On a team starved for someone to take control in those one-possession games that come up so often, allowing DeRozan to learn what it takes to make those significant plays is one of the major goals of this season. ... At just 21 years old, DeRozan is still very much a work in progress and his ability to win close games in the dying seconds is certainly not a given. But the wishes the coach expressed last April are starting to come to fruition in a Raptors season that’s as much about development as it is anything. 'He’s getting better,' said Triano. 'He’s still a university basketball player (but) he’s starting to get it, yeah.' "