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First Cup: Friday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: In late January, when Luol Deng made his bold decision to skip surgery and play through a torn ligament in his left wrist, he knew there would be nights like this. Nights when he felt like a one-handed player. Nights when the pain no longer seemed manageable. That's why the Bulls' 99-94 defeat at the hands of the Magic, which ended the Bulls' eight-game winning streak, might not be the only loss from Thursday night. After missing 8 of 9 shots, Deng, in more resigned than frustrated tones, admitted he might have to rest his injured wrist for a couple of games. "I hate talking about my wrist, but I'm going to talk with the medical staff and Thibs," Deng said. "The past few games, it has escalated a little bit. We have to kind of bring it down again. I've been trying to avoid it and everything but it's a tough one." Deng, who has made only 14 of his last 41 shots and even was replaced by seldom-used rookie Jimmy Butler, again emphasized he will not opt for surgery.

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: The NBA’s trade deadline arrives next Thursday and that’s not soon enough for Derrick Rose. Before facing Orlando, Rose said he’s had enough of answering questions about whether Magic center Dwight Howard could have his trade request satisfied with a move to Chicago. “You get sick and tired of hearing it. Like I said, the city speaks for itself,” Rose said. “I’m cool with the teammates I have. We have a winning record; don’t think we need to change anything. But it’s not up to me, it’s up to the front office.” Rose insisted the only time he pays much attention to NBA trade rumors is when reporters share a story or ask about it. “I just try to live my life where if it’s not about the Bulls, I really could care less about it,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going on, who’s talking to who. Y’all know more than I do.”

  • Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel: Did you see the sadness on Peyton Manning's face? Did you see him choking up and fighting a losing battle to hold back the tears? Did you see his eyes misting? Hear his voice cracking? And how he literally bit his lip like a little boy to keep from totally breaking down and sobbing? I hope Dwight Howard watched Manning's news conference Wednesdaywhen the iconic quarterback said an emotional goodbye to Indianapolis. I hope Dwight watched for this reason: Because the way Peyton left Indy is the reason Dwight should stay in Orlando. You see, Peyton didn't want to leave; he was forced to leave. Four neck surgeries, 14 years of NFL wear and tear and an uncertain future caused the Colts to make a cold but understandable business decision. They saved $28 million and chose soon-to-be-drafted No. 1 pick Andrew Luck over Manning — arguably the greatest passer the NFL has ever known. Manning, as you would expect, took the high road. He didn't rip the organization, team management or the media. In fact, he thanked all of the above and said he understood why the Colts had to do what they did. And then he cried. "As I go," he said, his voice breaking up, "I go with just a few words left to say — a few words I want to address to Colts fans everywhere: 'Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart. I truly have enjoyed being your quarterback.' " That, LeBron, is how you say goodbye to a city. And that, Dwight, is why you should never say goodbye to Orlando.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: It seems the Bulls had their invite revoked because of weather concerns. “Nah, it’s pretty cold here,’’ Howard said when asked about the Bulls rumors. Nothing says warrior-poet like a player who doesn’t want to chase a ring because of lake-effect snow. As far as playing alongside the league’s 2010-11 MVP, Howard again couldn’t help but let his true colors shine through. “I don’t think there’s a player in the NBA who wants to be a nobody,’’ Howard said. “I think everybody wants to be that guy to take the last shot, be that guy that everybody is leaning on for whatever reason, and I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting to be that guy. I’ve been that guy for this team since I’ve been here.’’ Let’s pause here and take time to watch all the clutch moments from the Dwight Howard collection. Done yet?

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Going into Thursday night's game, Suns guard Steve Nash was shooting 54 percent. If he can boost it to 55 percent by the end of the regular season, Nash would be the first NBA point guard to shoot 55 percent for a season since John Stockton did it in 1987-88. Stockton was 25-years old at the time. Gentry said that in his mind Nash is the best pick-and-roll player in the history of the league. And he likened teams defending Nash in the two-man game to teams trying to defend San Antonio's Tim Duncan in the low post. "There's not anything that Tim Duncan hasn't seen and can't deal with," he said. "It's a little bit of the same thing with Steve. We've seen everything from switching to trapping, hard show, there's been a lot of things he's seen and does a great job of adjusting to it. "

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: It's not easy being coach Rick Carlisle right now during late-game situations. He's looking for anybody who can make clutch plays and in the past, that's normally been Jason Terry, who has been as good as anybody in the NBA not named Kobe Bryant at scoring late in games. Lately, that hasn't happened with enough consistency and Terry would be the first to admit that. But he's also the first to admit he wants to be on the court at crunch time, no matter what. So when he played less than three minutes in the fourth quarter against the Suns Thursday night and was not on the court for the possible game-tying (or winning) shot, Terry was understandably ticked off. "What do you think my thoughts are about not being on the court? Are you kidding me?'' Terry said when asked about the move of Rick Carlisle. "You know how I feel if I'm not on the court when it's time to win the game. "I can't check myself in and out of games. You got to ask the person that didn't have me in the game. Ask him his thoughts. What I think don't matter, really. I'm not trying to be a smart aleck. I'm just telling you the situation. I root my teammates on and wish we could have come out with the victory. It didn't happen.''

  • Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: Mark Cuban said the fact that a big deal has been made about him yelling at forward Lamar Odom during this past Tuesday's 95-85 win over the New York Knicks is a sad commentary about the sports writing business in New York City. This is the one-liner New York Daily News reporter Frank Isola had in his Wednesday story about an exchange between Cuban and Dallas Mavericks forward Lamar Odom during the Mavs-New York Knicks game. "Lamar Odom exchanged words with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who was upset over the forward's failure to hustle,'' wrote Isola. Both Cuban and Odom took exception to the remark. "Frank did what all nyc media does,'' Cuban said today via e-mail. "He tries to create a story where there is none.'' Odom, who felt Cuban's wrath after he didn't hustle back up the court on a play, took to his Twitter account to voice his opinion. "Me and Marc Cuban are cool!,'' wrote Odom. "Frank u can't lie 4 a story. Unethical bro.'' Cuban yells at his players so much during games that no one hardly pays attention any more. Everyone from Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, Shawn Marion, Vince Carter, Shawn Bradley, Steve Nash, Michael Finley, Erick Dampier, etc., has gotten an earful. And it's never going to stop. That's just how passionate Cuban is about his team and his players.