First Cup: Thursday

  • Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "It's hard to remember a weirder day in Cavaliers history. The first half of the day was dominated by the job offer to Internet sensation Ted Williams, the homeless man from Columbus with the golden voice. Before the game came the news of his long rap sheet. Then came the horrendous defense against the Raptors, which really was a crime. It leaves you wondering about the future of the franchise. While the Williams story diverted attention for the day, the harsh reality is this is a terrible team that is getting worse. It's taking an eight-game losing streak on the road, where it could lose all five games. There's no pride in the locker room. Nobody seems all that upset with the losing. I've never seen anything like it, and I don't know how general manager Chris Grant goes about fixing it. I do know one thing. Hiring a homeless man isn't going to help -- unless he can play some D."

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "With the word 'distraction' routinely tossed around the underachieving Lakers, Lamar Odom felt the need to ask permission from Coach Phil Jackson and General Manager Mitch Kupchak before agreeing to do the show, which begins shooting this month. Jackson and Kupchak consented … with some boundaries. 'There's no access to the toilets and the showers in the locker room, things like that,' Jackson said. 'Coaches' offices, the video-tape room and [trainer] Gary Vitti taping ankles, those are things that we probably won't be showing.' Fine with Odom, who has been the Lakers' most consistent player this season, averaging almost 16 points and 10 rebounds a game while quietly accepting a return to sixth-man status last week. 'I respect their opinion and what they say and how they feel … but at the end of the day we always talk about how this is life and we have decisions to make,' Odom said. 'The Lakers make decisions that they need to make and Lamar does the same. This is the life that we live. This is entertainment.' The new show doesn't have a title yet, but Odom and wife Khloe Kardashian will give it a 'funny, sitcom-ish' flavor, Odom said."

  • Ronald Tillery 0f The Commercial-Appeal: "Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins has banned gambling on team flights following a physical altercation between O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen over an unpaid debt in a card game. The fight happened Monday on the team's chartered plane from Los Angeles to Memphis, and Hollins said he immediately informed the team that betting would no longer be allowed. 'We're in a confined airplane, and things get heated. I'm done with it. No more gambling,' Hollins said. 'I told my guys if they read a book, that would be good. They have to entertain themselves in a different manner.' Hollins said Mayo and Allen weren't disciplined by the team, and he preferred to treat the incident like he would a blowup during practice. The players received a lecture, apologized to each other and insisted the altercation was behind them."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "A report that former Celtics guard Tony Allen got into a fistfight with Memphis teammate O.J. Mayo on the team plane because of a debt from a card game (Mayo allegedly owed Allen money) prompted Doc Rivers to let out a long sigh. Allen, who was generally kept in check by his veteran teammates during his Celts career, was signed by Memphis for what Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace, at the time, called his 'veteran leadership.' 'It’s a shame that it got out, because there are times when players are going to get into stuff, but it just happens,' Rivers said. 'I tell them to play cards and enjoy it. They’re grown men. If at some point they get into a fight over a card game, then that’s silly, and then you have to do something about it.' "

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "In the wake of the brawl on the Memphis Grizzlies' team flight between O.J. Mayo and Tony Allen, Scott said he's never witnessed a fight like that between teammates either as a coach or as a player. ''From what it sounds like, O.J. got beat up pretty good,' Scott joked. The two reportedly feuded over a card game and a debt Mayo owed Allen. Incidentally, it was a card game that set off the gun controversy involving Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton in the Washington Wizards' locker room last season.'It's something that goes around in this league,' Scott said. 'It's something I don't condone, but it happens.' Mo Williams said the card games used to be prevalent on Cavs flights, but not this season. The card games just abruptly stopped. 'We don't really gamble anymore,' Williams said. 'We all did, but this year we decided not to.' "

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Perhaps this is the game that finally gets the Hawks on a roll. In what was easily their most impressive effort of the season, the Hawks dominated the Jazz for a 110-87 victory Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena. The Hawks finished their first extended Western Conference road trip with a 3-1 record and head back to Atlanta with victories in five of their last six games. The victory against Utah was surprisingly lopsided under the circumstances. The Hawks won for just the third time in nine road games against opponents with winning records and started a winning streak in a city where they once went 17 years without a victory. Atlanta's 105-100 victory at Utah on Feb. 22, 2010 ended a 15-game losing streak in Utah. The Hawks hadn't won in Utah since Feb. 13, 1993, when Dominique Wilkins scored 43 points to lead Atlanta to a 121-112 victory."

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "A trip, and maybe the season, was saved here Wednesday night, and the Trail Blazers can thank the most unlikely of heroes. Behind reserves Patty Mills, Dante Cunningham, and Rudy Fernandez, the Blazers overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit and a Toyota Center-record scoring performance from Kevin Martin to beat Houston 103-100, avoiding what surely would have been a tumultuous moment in an already turbulent season. The Blazers were up 13 late in the first half, but watched Houston score the first 11 points of the second half. By the time Chase Budinger hit a three-pointer with 9:32 left in the game, the Rockets were leading 89-76. In a season already littered with blown leads and feeble finishes, and with the stinging late-game collapse in a loss at Dallas one night earlier still fresh on their minds, it was beginning to look like the Blazers might have reached their breaking point. 'It was like, 'Here we go again,' veteran Marcus Camby said."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "LeBron James recently called the Miami Heat the 'Heatles' because the team fills opponents' arenas with fans and creates excitement, just like the Beatles did in their heyday. When asked about the nickname, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy didn't sound very entertained. 'They're pretty impressed with themselves,' Van Gundy said Wednesday. 'Maybe some places that's what turns out. I know here it's not. We're selling out no matter who we play, so we don't need to bring them in to get people in our arena. But other places that may the case.' Van Gundy later added: 'I'm not disputing that there are some places in the league where they don't draw well and they only come out to see the [Los Angeles] Lakers and the Heat and things like that. That may be true in some places, but it's not true here. They're not raising our attendance.' "

  • Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Winning the award for the top Eastern Conference coach in December should have been enough for the Miami Heat's Erik Spoelstra. Just in case there were doubters, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James jumped to their coach's side after Tuesday's victory against the Milwaukee Bucks. It was the Heat's 19th win in 20 games, but Spoelstra continues to fight the notion he is simply coaching a talented team led by James, Wade and Chris Bosh. Not so says the players. They credit Spoelstra for playing an integral role in the Heat's turnaround, going from 9-8 to the second-best record in the conference. 'One thing I always said about coach Spo is he's even, he's even keel,' Wade said. 'He never gets too high or too low. So speaking on November, he just told us the things we needed to do. Even in this win streak, he's been on us the whole time. Everyone knows his famous quote that he said about being humbled to be humble.' ... A Foxsports.com article appearing Tuesday suggested the tone of James' answer hinted he felt the success was more because of the players. James responded by saying Spoelstra has been just as key. 'Spo has been great,' James said. 'I think the one thing he did was when we were struggling in November, he just weathered storm. He kept us at bay and understanding that it's going to take a lot of dedication, it's going to take a lot of commitment and a lot of unselfishness to get this thing back right.' "

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: "Charlotte Bobcats coach Paul Silas, one of the NBA's premier rebounders during his 16-year professional career, had a gleam in his eye while talking about the rebounding success of Kevin Love, crediting the Timberwolves forward for reviving a lost art in the NBA. 'It's so gratifying to me that there's a guy out here today who's kind of old-school, who feels that rebounding is important,' Silas said of Love before Wednesday night's game against the Timberwolves. 'You don't see too many guys today taking pride in rebounding. He reminds me of me. I wasn't a great leaper either, but we both know how to get position.' Love entered Wednesday's game leading the NBA with 15.5 rebounds per game and extended his streak of consecutive double-doubles to 22 with 35 points and 15 rebounds. With Love's 20.6 scoring average, Silas made a case for Love earning a spot on the Western Conference roster in the Feb. 20 All-Star Game. Silas, who had a 9.9 career rebounding average, appeared in two All-Star games. 'There should be a place for Love as an all-star,' Silas said. 'He's averaging 15 boards a game and he can't get in? If they can find a place for a guy like him in the All-Star Game, more guys will see how important it is.' "

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "There are times Tyreke Evans reminds us he's young and still getting used to living on his own. The latest reminder came Wednesday when Evans admitted his diet had become a little heavy on fast food instead of home cooking. Evans said a recent visit from his mother, Bonita, and grandmother, Alice, for the holidays helped get him back on track, and the home-cooked meals have helped him drop some weight. Kings coach Paul Westphal said Evans looked as quick as he has seen him this season in Tuesday's loss to Atlanta. Evans credited soul food with aiding his quickness and keeping him from the drive-thru window. 'I lost a little bit of weight,' Evans said. 'I've been eating right since my mom's been in town. So I've been getting the speed, and the rhythm I had coming off the last game was pretty good.' Evans said his mother and grandmother left Wednesday. Last week, Evans said a talk with his mother helped him get back to playing with a clear head instead of thinking too much."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The Dallas Mavericks have had the Thunder's number this season, winning the first two meetings in runaway fashion in Oklahoma City. Dallas will be short-handed Thursday night after losing starting small forward Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury. The Mavericks also could be without leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki, who injured his right knee in their 103-93 win over the Thunder on Dec. 27. Durant remembered Dallas' defense, which smothered the Thunder and forced OKC into outside shots. 'We know they're a team that's going to zone us. So we got to work on our zone offense,' Durant said. 'We got to fine tune our defense, our transition defense. … We got to guard those guys to the best of our ability. We know they're a tough team. They score a lot of points, but we've got to try to offset that.' "

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Warriors rookie big man Ekpe Udoh grew up right before the eyes of his teammates in Golden State's 110-103 win over New Orleans. Up five Wednesday on the road against a winning team with fewer than six minutes left and four proven scorers on the court, the Warriors dumped the ball to a guy playing his 12th NBA game. And Udoh -- with Hornets big man David West at his back -- faked to his left, then quickly to his right, losing West just enough to drop in a right-handed hook. The move would've made Larry Johnson proud. 'Grandmama,' Udoh said with a laugh. 'I've just been watching the games. Watching how people like Kevin Garnett, LaMarcus Aldridge, Luis Scola, how they always get to their right hand with shimmies and shakes.' The basket by the rookie put the Warriors up 96-89 with 5:20 left, one of several key plays Golden State made down the stretch to pull off the upset. For a team starved for a low-post scorer, Udoh showed just how much he's developed in that area."

  • Kent Youngblood of the Star Tribune: "Turns out the story on that traveling call on Luke Ridnour at the end of Monday's game has legs. The Timberwolves were down a point with 10.3 seconds left at Boston when they inbounded the ball. Ridnour got the ball in stride and went to the hoop. His shot was blocked out of bounds by Ray Allen. But the Wolves didn't get another chance because Ridnour was called for traveling. Ridnour insists he didn't travel. Now President of Basketball Operations David Kahn wants the league to tell him whether it was a good call or not. Kahn confirmed he intends to send tape of the play into the league for a review. 'I don't think we've done it yet, but I'd like to,' Kahn said. 'I'd like the league to tell us, is it or isn't it [traveling]? I do feel that it was close.' Kahn said he isn't making any kind of a formal protest. He just wants to hear what the league thinks."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Behind the scenes, NBA officials have begun the process of putting together the field for the annual festivities held in conjunction with All-Star weekend. Though Spurs center Matt Bonner entered Wednesday’s game leading the NBA in 3-point shooting (49.5 percent), he says he has yet to hear from the league to gauge his interest in participating in the long-range shootout in Los Angeles next month. 'I don’t even want to think about it,' said Bonner, who was 2 for 3 in the loss. 'Every year, I get my hopes up, and I don’t get picked.' "