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First Cup: Friday

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Well, it took several seasons but finally a player has emerged who is sick and tired of polishing the statue that has become LeBron James. His name is DeShawn Stevenson and tonight he not only helped the Wizards beat the Cavaliers 101-99, he then added some flame to an already hot rivalry with some choice words for the boy King. ... When he was leaving the building, Mike Lee was chatting him up and mentioned LeBron again. DeShawn has obviously heard enough of that. 'He's overrated,' DeShawn told Mike. 'And you can say I said that.' Wow. Bet the King won't like that one. Here's hoping that the Wiz manage to jump ahead of Toronto and grab that fifth spot so these teams meet again."

  • Jim Souhan of Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Heat, clearly, is playing dirty. The Wolves need to respond with their big tube of antibiotic cream -- The Talented Mr. Madsen. Madsen established his bona fides two seasons ago on April 19, 2006. The Wolves were determined to lose the season finale to Memphis. They flashed their Mad Dog Light against the night sky, assigned a surgeon to remove the towel from Madsen's right palm and watched him provide a Herculean effort (Hercules couldn't shoot either). Madsen went 1-for-15 from the field, including seven missed three-pointers. He and the Wolves made a farce of pro basketball that night but achieved their objective, getting beaten by the Jordanesque Brian Cardenal, who noted dryly: 'We were fortunate. Mark Madsen wasn't 'on' tonight.' Play Madsen the rest of the season and the Wolves will improve their chances of landing Beasley. But Madsen shouldn't be asked to provide all of the turnovers, missed shots and false hustle. No, the Mad Dog needs help."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "Lance Allred hopes it isn't his legacy, but he is now a part of history. The Cavaliers signed the 6-foot-11 center to a 10-day contract Thursday as he was called up from the NBA Development League's Idaho Stampede. He will provide depth in the frontcourt with both Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace fighting back problems. But there is more to his story. Allred is the first legally deaf player to play in the NBA. He's had about 75 percent hearing loss since birth but uses implants that allow him to be functional. 'It is an accomplishment. It's meaningful that I've made it to this stage,' Allred said. 'I want to be known for more than that, but it is an honor.'"

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "No NBA team gets its shots blocked more than the Bobcats. And only one player gets his shot blocked more than Bobcats big man Emeka Okafor. That info comes courtesy of retired Philadelphia 76ers publicist Harvey Pollack. In his 80s, Pollack continues to compile obscure statistics the NBA doesn't typically follow. Through Tuesday's games, the Bobcats had their shots blocked 379 times. Second on that list were the Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves, tied at 370."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Robert Horry has provided more than his share of playoff moments for the Spurs, part of a career-long legacy of clutch shooting that has earned him the nickname 'Big Shot Rob.' But Spurs coach Gregg Popovich admits he doesn't know if Horry, the grizzled 16-year veteran, has another spate of stretch-run heroics left in him. ... 'I'm not really sure where he's at physically,' Popovich said. 'He's definitely not in great shape, because he just hasn't played that much. Unless he's been stealing into the night at two in the morning to get on the treadmill, he hasn't been getting much work.'"

  • Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "The topic of adjustment is not currently in Josh Howard's Fave 5. It's been a month since Jason Kidd became a Dallas Maverick and Howard's game has been the most scrutinized, but he's grown weary of the attention. So after one of his best performances since Kidd's arrival, against Charlotte on Wednesday, Howard was asked if he finally felt comfortable. 'Please don't ask me that question no more,' he said. 'We're just playing basketball. We're loving the game. Those guys in here have been playing basketball a long time. We've learned to play with those guys throughout our career. It's just a game. At the end of the day, we need to win games and that's it.'"

  • Chris Tomasson of the Rocky Mountain News: "If an NBA team reeled off 33 straight wins today, satellite trucks would be lined up. The locker room would be overrun with bloggers. But in 1971-72, when the Los Angeles Lakers had the longest winning streak in major pro sports history, there was only one traveling writer. And even he packed up and went home after the Lakers' streak ended Jan. 9, 1972, on a snowy Milwaukee afternoon. 'I saw Mal Florence, the beat writer for the (Los Angeles) Times, leaving the hotel,' then-Lakers coach Bill Sharman said about the day after his team's legendary streak being ended by the Bucks. 'I said, 'Mal, where are you going? This road trip isn't over.' He said to me, 'Bill, we don't cover losers,' and he walked away. But then he turned around and laughed.'"

  • Ian O'Connor of The Record: "Patrick Ewing Jr. might be Georgetown's sixth man, but before the right set of NBA eyes he could be seen as a valuable specialist, a Bruce Bowen with a famous last name. 'I grew up in an NBA environment,' Patrick Jr. said. 'I know what it takes to get there.' He's a winning player with a winning approach, a prospect more than worthy of a second-round pick. Funny how things work out. Twenty-three years after Dave DeBusschere famously pumped his draft-lottery fist, the Knicks need a Ewing on their roster more than they ever did."