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First Cup: Tuesday

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: It took years to raise the steel and to arrange the glass panels, to create a billion-dollar basketball palace in Brooklyn, filled with hope and possibility. It took only minutes Monday night for the Minnesota Timberwolves to drain the life from the building. The second game in Brooklyn Nets history resulted in the first defeat in Brooklyn Nets history and, even worse for the franchise, the first catastrophic collapse of the new era. The Nets blew a 22-point lead in the second half, against a depleted and inferior team, and left Barclays Center with a stunning 107-96 loss. Minnesota rallied despite the absence of its two best players, Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio, and despite playing its second game in two nights, against a Nets team that was well rested and mostly intact. In another year, in another state, this might have been the accepted norm. But the Nets expect better now. “It’s definitely disappointing, definitely embarrassing, given who they’re missing,” Deron Williams said. The Nets (1-1) failed to score in the final 4 minutes 13 seconds, as their offense devolved into a series of one-on-one forays, botched plays and general confusion. It was an alarming sign, coming just two days before the Nets head to Miami to play the defending champion Heat.

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea learned before the team's game Monday night, Nov. 5, against the Brooklyn Nets that he had received a warning from the NBA office for flopping. Based on the league's new policy against flopping, players attempting to draw offensive fouls by falling to the floor, Barea can be fined for a repeated infraction. … "I don't know how anybody a thousand miles away can see on TV if somebody gets hit or not," Adelman said before Monday's game. "I certainly don't understand that play at all. The guy hit J.J. in the face and got called for a foul." Barea had a similar reaction. "I need to call somebody to see what's up," he said. "The guy pushed off. I remember taking two charges in the game. I have to figure this out." Adelman is hoping that Barea is not a victim of his "reputation."

  • George Willis of the New York Post: This time the call didn’t have to come from the rafters. When the sound of “Sheeeed” spread across the Wells Fargo Center, Rasheed Wallace had already checked into the game. A full 5:34 remained in the third quarter. This was not mop-up duty. Apparently, the BrianScalabrine minutes are over. Wallace logged 13:33 in the Knicks’ 110-88 dismissal of the Sixers last night, proof he’s rapidly rounding into game shape enough to provide quality minutes off the bench earlier than expected. After two years away from basketball, there was really no timetable for when the 38-year-old could be counted on to play extended minutes. Anything he contributed early on was considered gratis. But the Knicks haven’t gotten out of their first week of their season before Wallace is already making an impact. He scored 10 points, last night including an emphatic three-pointer at the buzzer to end the third quarter that gave the visitors an 89-68 lead that was never threatened. In what has become his signature celebration, Wallace pointed three fingers to his head as if pulling a trigger. “It’s three points. Take that to the head,” Wallace explained.

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: General manager Tony DiLeo and the 76ers liked what they heard from analytics expert Aaron Barzilai when they called upon him for a special project on Andre Iguodala’s and Lou Williams’ free agency. So when the Sixers were looking to add an analytics guy to the organization, they were already familiar with Barzilai. Friday’s news that the Sixers had hired Barzilai after he spent 3½ years as an analytics consultant for the Grizzlies shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. “He has a good combination of basketball and analytics,” DiLeo said prior to Monday’s game against the Knicks. “He played in college (at MIT) and worked for Memphis, so he knows what goes on in an NBA organization. He has a great background in statistics and analytics.” Barizilai earned his bachelor’s at MIT and a master’s in mechanical engineering from Stanford. He’ll give the Sixers a voice in tendencies and potential combinations like those featured in the movie “Moneyball.”

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Those concerns about Dwyane Wade having lost his way? Never mind. Ray Allen reached 23,000 career points with his 12th Monday. Is he already the Heat's second-best shooting guard ever? Mario Chalmers got back to passing, similar to his opening night. LeBron James got back to rebounding. Of course the Suns lack the length of the Nuggets. Chris Bosh? Steady again. As, seemingly, always. Udonis Haslem showed life. That's significant, what with Kenyon Martin seemingly willing to work for food.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: For all their success over the decades, the Spurs had never gone 4-0 to start a season. They eclipsed that modest threshold on Monday, overcoming a brief lull near the end of the first half to blow the Pacers off the court. Defensively, the Spurs allowed their lowest point total in 36 games dating back to last season by forcing Indiana to miss nearly two of every three shots (34.2 percent). They also enjoyed an overwhelming performance from their bench, and not just because Manu Ginobili is back. He had more turnovers (four) than points (three), yet the reserves still outscored the starters 57-44. … It’s been a challenging six months for DeJuan Blair. A starter for most of the past three seasons, the undersized power forward saw his role evaporate in last spring’s playoffs before reportedly spending the offseason on the trading block. Then came DNPs in two of the Spurs’ first three games, leading to an ambiguous comment on Twitter about not being what “dude” – presumably Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich – is looking for. But we suspect playing time might not be an issue if he continues to play like he did against the Pacers, racking up 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two steals in a team-high 29 minutes.

  • Staff of The Dallas Morning News: Mark Cuban said a national NBA writer contacted him Monday about yelling trash talk to former Maverick Brendan Haywood when the Charlotte Bobcats were in town Saturday. “I want to be very clear what I did,” Cuban said. “Every time he touched the ball, I yelled, ‘Shoot!’ And every time he made one, he looked over and I smiled at him. I do that to a lot of guys.” By the way, Cuban said his favorite trash-talking sparring partner is Kobe Bryant.

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: The NBA can be a big, cruel world sometimes, as the Blazers’ sensation found out Monday during the Blazers’ 114-91 loss at Dallas. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is one of the sharpest defensive coaches in the league, a mastermind who is meticulous in devising and executing a game plan. The prey for the championship coach on Monday was Damian Lillard, and he spun a web earlier in the day, telling the media that he was “an early candidate for the Rookie of the Year” while raving about his shooting ability. Once the game rolled around, he sent an aggressive defense at the point guard, blitzing him with a double-team to force the ball out of his hands. It was the first time in four games a team so aggressively tried to get the ball out of Lillard’s hands before he could turn the corner and get to the basket, or have enough space to unleash his silky jumper. The result was Lillard’s first stinker of the season: 2-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-8 on three pointers. He finished with 13 points, five assists, one steal, and one turnover. The boxscore left off one important statistic: One lesson learned. “It’s part of my growth,’’ Lillard said, unfazed.

  • John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant's expanding role as a playmaker this season was not a result of reserve guard James Harden being traded to Houston on Oct. 27. Durant handling the ball more frequently has evolved a bit each season, particularly during last year's run to the NBA Finals. The primary objective is for OKC to get into transition more quickly when Durant gets a defensive rebound. This has happened more frequently so far this season with Durant averaging 12.7 defensive rebounds per game (14.3 total). The usual sequence was for Durant to get the ball quickly to point guard Russell Westbrook, who would then have to hesitate a bit to give Durant some time to fill a lane on a fast break. Now Westbrook fills the lane immediately and the entire break already is positioned in front of Durant as he brings the ball up court. “That was always in the mix,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said of Durant's increased role. “That was always in the plan. I think it's in more now because he's rebounding a lot more. Russell has to make an adjustment and I think he's running the lane much better. Kevin with the ball in the middle of the floor is a good offensive set for us, because he demands so much attention and he can see over the defense and he's passing the ball so much better.”

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies wanted to make a good first impression on their new owner. Admittedly, they didn't. The opening quarter wasn't exactly a clinic on offense and resembled very little in terms of Grizzlies basketball on the defensive end. New Griz owner Robert Pera was looking at team grisly. "We were amped up. Especially myself," forward Zach Randolph said. "Some guys had too much energy. … Hopefully, we made a good impression." The Utah Jazz believe they did. With Pera sitting courtside among an announced of crowd of 17,401 for the home opener, the Griz exploded in the second half Monday night and ran away with a 103-94 victory in FedExForum.

  • Bill Oram of The Salt Lake Tribune: On Monday, the Jazz blew a 12-point first-half lead to limp to a 103-94 loss against the Grizzlies in front of 17,401 at FedEx Forum. "It’s too early to get down," Mo Williams said. "We just want to take the positives and continue to do the things we need to do and get a win." Monday was a carnival in Memphis. It was the Grizzlies’ home opener and first game with new owner Robert Pera in his courtside seat and NBA Commissioner David Stern on hand. While the Jazz initially stole the show, jumping out to a 19-7 lead, there would be little celebrate for Utah. Marvin Williams continued to struggle, and Alec Burks was ineffective in his most significant minutes of the season. The big lineup, featuring Paul Millsap at small forward, did not have the desired effect, as the Jazz (1-3) were outrebounded 51-42. A team that entered the season with high hopes to improve on last year’s first-round playoff exit, and thumped Dallas 113-94 in its season opener, continued to look pedestrian.

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: Let's say that again. DeMarcus Cousins was DeMarcus Cousins. He grabbed 15 rebounds, blocked two shots, challenged everything around the basket and established a physical, formidable interior presence in the opening moments. And those 23 points he scored? Where would the Kings have been without those 23 points? Here's a hint: The Kings were winless on their recent trip partly because their third-year center was immersed in an immense funk. Either that, or he was suffering from a sudden identity crisis. Within a matter of days, the 6-foot-11, 270-pound bruiser went from launching jumpers like a shooting guard to dribbling like a point guard to forgetting that, at his best, he grabs rebounds like one of the league's best rebounders. Which is what he is – one of the league's best rebounders.

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: Andrew Bogut totaled 18 minutes, 55 seconds in his return to action. Still recovering from left ankle surgery, he sat out Saturday's win over the Clippers because his rehab precludes him from playing back-to-back games. He was fairly productive, converting 5 of 7 attempts for 12 points to go with three rebounds and a block. But at times he looked to be limping and in pain. "I'm not really going to comment on (my progress) right now because I have a lot more work to do to get to a level where I play 40 minutes," Bogut said. "Conditioning wise, I don't feel too bad. That's getting better every game. But the ankle is still a work in progress."

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: If this works, if this slow and steady plan to build through the draft actually works and the Cavaliers eventually become an Eastern Conference power again, this will be remembered as the night it all started to fall into place. Dion Waiters making seven 3-pointers and scoring a career-high 28 points, Kyrie Irving sticking the dagger 3-pointer in the final minute and strutting toward the Cavs’ bench with his arms outstretched. As the stunned Clippers staggered to their bench following a timeout, the two young Cavs’ stars met at halfcourt and celebrated with a leaping chest bump. Irving and Waiters, two young stars with a combined age of 40, teamed up to score 52 points in the Cavs’ 108-101 victory over the Clippers on Monday. There were times Waiters ran the offense and times he deferred to Irving. … This night, however, was about Waiters’ explosion and his growing comfort level playing alongside Irving. More growing pains will surely come, but for one night, the two guards played as if they’ve been teammates for years.

  • Dan Woike of The Orange County Register: Clippers forward Blake Griffin is playing through a burst bursa sac in his right elbow, Griffin said after Monday’s loss to Cleveland. Griffin said the problem happens nearly every year, though “never this bad.” Through four games, Griffin is averaging 16.3 points on 45.1-percent shooting. Both numbers are below his career averages. Bursa sacs are small pouches filled with fluid that cushion and lubricate joints. While the injury is painful, Griffin is expected to play through it. Before Monday’s game with Cleveland, Griffin showed discomfort on his face as he warmed up, missing his first few shots well short. Griffin shook his right elbow, which was revealed to be heavily taped, and kept shooting. Against the Cavaliers, Griffin scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds.