First Cup: Wednesday

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Jim Boylan is getting another chance at leading a team. And the Milwaukee Bucks new coach is convinced he will do better the second time around. Boylan succeeds Scott Skiles for the second time after doing it with the Chicago Bulls during the 2007-'08 season. Boylan went 24-32 in the final 56 games that year but said he learned from the experience. Now he has been named Milwaukee's coach for the rest of the season after Skiles and the Bucks parted ways Monday after four-plus seasons. "I think the last time from a personal standpoint, I was too worried about trying to keep the job," Boylan said Tuesday before leading the Bucks against the Phoenix Suns. "It kind of restricted me as time went on. I made the determination when this happened last night that I was going to enjoy this and do what I like to do. Get the guys to play hard and compete and let the chips fall where they may at the end." Boylan did not get the Bulls job on a full-time basis. But after four more years assisting Skiles in Milwaukee, the former Marquette University guard thinks the Bucks can achieve their goal of reaching the Eastern Conference playoffs. … Earlier in the day Bucks general manager John Hammond addressed any franchise instability by saying he is in discussions with team owner Herb Kohl about a contract extension. Hammond is in the last year of his contract, while Brandon Jennings will become a restricted free agent and Monta Ellis holds a player option on his deal at the end of the current season. "I will say the Senator (Kohl) and I are in discussions involving an extension for me at this point," Hammond said. "I am willing to discuss that (an extension)."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: The Suns need a scorer and have cap space. Memphis has been perusing trade options for swingman Rudy Gay’s huge contract for a while. This trade talk was bound to happen at some point. As first reported by Yahoo!, the Suns and Grizzlies held trade discussions about Gay with Memphis’ interest in Suns swingman Jared Dudley and draft picks. The Suns do not comment on trade reports. The Suns have considered Gay in the past as they have gone through a three-year stretch without a go-to scorer. Talks are far from fruition but would net the Suns a young scorer, albeit in his worst season and at a hefty price. Gay, 26, is shooting 40.8 percent this season for a good Memphis team and is owed $17.8million next season and $19.3million for 2014-15. Gay is long and athletic at 6 feet 8 and adds 5.8 rebounds per game to his 17.8 scoring average. The Suns own six first-round picks over the next three seasons but would need a sweet deal to sacrifice one in the rebuilding process. Gay would improve a team, which currently would have the fifth-best odds in a draft lottery, but maybe not enough for a playoff run. Dudley said trade talks are a compliment.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: Like milers and racehorses that rely on a late kick, the Rockets had to fall behind before they could make the customary run. The Rockets wasted little time getting their double-digit deficit out of the way rapidly, falling behind by 14 points before much of the Toyota Centercrowd could shake the rain out of its hair. Then they went to work. Of the sure things in the NBA, Kobe Bryant ranks near the top, and he did get some of his usual offense going. But while he leads the league’s players in scoring, the Rockets lead the league’s teams. The Rockets chewed through the deficit and kept on scoring. They rolled through a third-quarter run to the lead and kept scoring. When the Lakers took even a step toward a late move, the Rockets kept scoring, pouring it on until the benches were cleared and pushing their winning streak to five games Tuesday night with a 125-112 blast past shorthanded Los Angeles. The Rockets kept Bryant in check, holding him to 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting. They limited Steve Nash to two second-half points after he hit them for 14 in the first half along with five assists, including one to make him the fifth player with 10,000 assists in a career. But mostly, the Rockets adjusted their offense and rode it to their 10th win in 12 games.

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: Dwight Howard's labrum isn't really torn the way you might think, and him being out "indefinitely" is not as bad as it seems, either. Howard on Tuesday clarified his injury status and suggested he would be back in a week despite a lot of gloom and doom coming from the Lakers' announcement Monday about the severity of Howard's right shoulder damage. Asked how they'll gauge it in a week whether he can play, Howard said: "It's gauged in a week to see where my pain level is. If there's any pain, hopefully I can play. I'm going to continue to do the rehab and strengthen my shoulder. I have a lot of strength in it now, but like I said, they want to be super cautious nothing bad happens." Asked if he was confident that he'd be back in a week, he said: "I'm not going to put a timetable on it. Just hopefully that in a week or so, I'll have enough strength so that when they test it again, I'll be in pretty good shape."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel was still all smiles almost 24 hours after signing his multiyear contract. Vogel, a humble person, acknowledged that he wouldn’t be in this position if not for his assistant coaches. Former Pacers President Larry Bird told Vogel that in order for him to get the permanent head coaching job in the summer of 2011 that he had to hire experienced assistants. Vogel hired Brian Shaw as his associate head coach, Jim Boylen and retained longtime assistant Dan Burke. “They deserve as much credit as I do,” Vogel said. “I run my coaching staff more like a team coaching staff. I utilize my assistants probably more than any coach in the NBA. I have three of the best in the business. Three guys that all have head coaching futures, and when you have that type of support, it’s easy to be successful.”

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: The Heat can talk over and over, in many different ways, about needing to fix its rebounding problem. But identifying the problem and solving it are two very different things. And solving it remains elusive, especially against teams with above-average size and skill at the power positions. For the second time in a week, the Heat allowed a playoff-caliber team to pummel Miami on the boards in a demoralizing 87-77 loss to the Pacers on Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. “It’s got to stop,” coach Erik Spoelstra said after the sixth game this season in which Miami has been outrebounded by at least 15. “At some point we’ll get pushed to the brink.” There were myriad factors that left Miami with just a 7-7 record on the road, compared with 16-3 at home: There was the 55-36 Pacers domination on the boards, including a 22-7 margin on the offensive boards, which resulted in Indiana outscoring the Heat 23-6 on second-chance points. That explains why the Pacers won on a night they shot only 36.3 percent.

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: When Timberwolves assistant Terry Porter took his head coaching assignment Tuesday night, Jan. 8, it reminded Atlanta Hawks coach Larry Drew that he interviewed Porter for an assistant's job on his staff when Drew was hired by Atlanta before the 2010-11 season. Porter was the Wolves' acting head coach Tuesday night while Rick Adelman was away from the team for personal reasons. Drew said the call to Porter, a head coach with Milwaukee and Phoenix, was one of the first he made to set up interviews. The two worked together as assistants with Detroit. "Terry's experience is one of the reasons I brought him in," Drew said before the Wolves' game against Atlanta. "He's been around this thing a long time. He's a guy who's well respected." Drew passed on Porter in favor of Lester Conner, leaving Porter available to join Adelman when Adelman was hired by the Wolves before the 2011-12 season. "It wasn't anything that Terry didn't do," Drew said of his decision. "You choose a guy who you feel works best for you."

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks picked up right where they left off – and that’s not a good thing. After a dreadful second half of a loss to the Celtics Saturday prompted a team meeting, the Hawks started slow in a 108-103 defeat to the Timberwolves Tuesday at the Target Center. In their first game after the meeting, the Hawks never led. Hawks coach Larry Drew labeled his team’s start “soft.” … When asked who specifically needs to be held accountable for the poor starts, Drew responded: “Everybody. Everybody. I played quite a few people in that first half. Everybody has to be held accountable.” The Hawks (20-13) have lost a season-long three straight and four of five. They are losing their grip on third place in the Eastern Conference. They are now tied with the Pacers and just a half-game ahead of the Bulls.

  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: The question came, strictly as a joke, to the Nets’ Reggie Evans, the ultimate party animal on the backboards. So what happened in the second quarter, Mr. Evans — take one look at his 6-foot-8, 245-pound bulk and you will call him “Mister,” too -- you missed two rebounds? “Crazy that you said that, because Coach [P.J. Carlesimo] said the same thing. When the game was over, he said, ‘You missed two damn rebounds,’” Evans said Tuesday night after the Nets ripped the Sixers, 109-89. Evans didn’t miss much else, besides those two rebounds — and the joke. In just 27 minutes, Evans hauled in a career-high 23 rebounds, bettering his personal best by one. He was four shy of the Nets’ all-time mark of 27 by Buck Williams in 1987, and Evans became the first Net with 16 in a half since Jayson Williams in 1997. Through three quarters, Evans outrebounded the entire Sixers team, 23-22. He sat the entire fourth quarter. Slacker. “Reggie was ridiculous on the boards,” Carlesimo said. None disagreed. “Crazy, 23 in 27 minutes?” Brook Lopez said.

  • John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News: Can anyone see the Sixers, as currently composed, winning 10 of 15? Collins has already done all the tweaking he can possibly do to get the most out of this roster. What I see is the Sixers' being nine to 19 games under .500 at the All-Star break. And only 31 games will remain. Then it won't matter what kind of lift Andrew Bynum, if he is playing, will give, because the Sixers won't be able to win enough games to make the playoffs - not with 18 of their final 31 games on the road, not with four games with Miami, three with Atlanta and ones at New York, Chicago, the Clippers and Denver. We've seen that the Sixers are a bad team without Bynum. They may actually become a good team when/if Bynum gets on the court and stays there, but by the time that happens, it's going to be too late to do anything but wait for the NBA draft lottery.