Craig Stouffer of the Washington Examiner: The fans were already coming to their feet. The Wizards were on the way to their biggest third quarter of the season, running away with a game they had momentarily let get away from them just before halftime. Then John Wall sent Ish Smith sprawling backward with a behind-the-back dribble, and the roars were everywhere. He completed the move by finding Kevin Seraphin for a buzzer-beating slam, and there was newfound euphoria at Verizon Center. The Wizards' third straight victory, a 120-91 dismantling of the lowly Orlando Magic before 14,658, became the latest evidence of a franchise transformed by the return of its star point guard. "[Smith] told me he wasn't going nowhere, and then I hit him with another move," Wall said. "All I heard and saw was just the crowd going wild."
Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: Glen Davis' return was supposed to help the Orlando Magic's defense. On Monday night it didn't. His return didn't even give them an emotional boost — or at least not enough of one to overcome the grueling effects of a lengthy cross-country road trip. Although Davis looked sharp in his return from a shoulder injury, the Magic played as if their sneakers had been cemented to the Verizon Center floor. The Washington Wizards seemed a half-step faster almost all night long and cruised to a 120-91 blowout win. "We just didn't accept the challenge on defense," Davis said. "They got too many layups. They had [almost] 60 points in the first half. We didn't come to play today." True. The Wizards produced 29 fastbreak points and shot 56 percent from the field.
Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: No Chris Paul for the Clippers. No problem for the Clippers. What figured to be a big challenge against the Memphis Grizzlies, even before Paul was ruled out of the game because of a bruised right kneecap, turned into a 99-73 laugher Monday night at the FedEx Forum. The Clippers won this game with astrong defensive effort in which they held Memphis to an opponent season low in points. They also won because of their quality depth and a collective effort that included Eric Bledsoe's replacing Paul as the starting point guard and scoring 14 points. The game was never close after the Clippers opened a 19-point lead in the second quarter, an advantage that would grow to as many as 27 in the fourth. … Because of the trash-talking and the history between the teams, Monday night's game had the makings of another thriller even with Paul sidelined and Memphis playing without starting forward Rudy Gay, who missed the game to attend his grandmother's funeral. It didn't turn out that way, in large part because the Clippers' bench, one of the best in the league, outscored Memphis' reserves, 54-26.
Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies hosted the hated Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night for the first time since last year's Game 7 loss. This time, the Griz were the only team that flopped. Boy, did they flop. The final was Clippers 99, Grizzlies 73. Not to say this was ugly, but the Grizzlies should try lining up an interview with Oprah to repair the public relations damage. Never before had a Grizzlies team shot this badly — 30.3 percent — at home. Not the Grizzlies of Blue Edwards or the Grizzlies of Gordan Giricek. Not the Grizzlies of Rodney Buford or the Grizzlies of Tony Massenburg. … This was supposed to be a big game for the Grizzlies, a chance to get a measure of revenge. Plus, Chris Paul was out with a bum knee. It was all lining up perfectly! Until the game started. And then, well, Marc Gasol said the Grizzlies had to flush Saturday's 21-point loss to the Mavs down the toilet. So does this mean it's time for a double flush? You don't get to blame Rudy Gay for this one, either. Gay has an ironclad alibi. He missed the game to be at his grandmother's funeral. Maybe the Grizzlies should trade everyone else?
Ryan Lillis, Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak of The Sacramento Bee: As two cities struggle over the future of the franchise, Sacramento Kings fans on Monday kicked off an intense effort to have a say in the outcome. A fan group launched a website asking people to make nonbinding commitments to purchase season ticket packages in a new Sacramento arena should new owners emerge here for the Kings. Meanwhile, a petition asking NBA Commissioner David Stern to allow a local ownership group the opportunity to match a bid by interests seeking to move the Kings to Seattle eclipsed 7,700 signatures. The Maloof family, which owns the Kings, is in talks to sell the franchise to a group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft executive Steve Ballmer. Hansen and Ballmer would move to the team to Seattle next season. Yahoo Sports, quoting NBA sources, reported Monday that the league's relocation committee was briefed last week on the broad outlines of a proposed sale of the team to the Hansen group.
Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Byron Scott and Omri Casspi share a special bond with this city on the verge of losing its NBA franchise. Scott’s first coaching gig was as an assistant with the Sacramento Kings and it was also Casspi’s first franchise. He has friends, both within the team and community, who welcomed him to America and introduced him to the United States when he first came from Israel. As a result, both have deep feelings over the potential sale and move of the franchise to Seattle. “This city deserves a team,” Casspi said. “They have a great fan base. It will be a very sad day for me and the NBA if this team is not going to be here anymore.”
Dwain Price of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: It was Dec. 23 and the Dallas Mavericks were in San Antonio getting ready to take on the powerful Spurs. As the game was nearing tipoff, word quickly began circulating that there was a new player in the pre-game layup line. It was Dirk Nowitzki. Nowitzki underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Oct. 19 and wasn't expected back until he was able to get in at least two quality practices. But with the practice schedule unforgiving and with the Mavs slipping fast in the standings, Nowitzki decided to come back earlier and work himself back into shape during games. "I don't think that he's 100 percent in top condition yet, but he's getting closer," coach Rick Carlisle said before Monday's game against Minnesota. "He's much closer than he was two weeks ago or three weeks ago. "But this is a different kind of thing when you have the surgery in October and try to work your way back in an unorthodox way by getting your conditioning back in games."
Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: Top assistant Terry Porter coached his fifth consecutive game for absent coach Rick Adelman, who remained back in Minnesota beside his hospitalized wife, Mary Kay. Porter said he expects Adelman to be involved in meetings when the team returned home late Monday night from its 0-4 road trip. But he said he doesn't know if Adelman would coach Thursday's home game against the Los Angeles Clippers.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: The Bulls finally found a cure for their home woes. Play a team that produces historically bad offensive basketball. Well, that and an intense and locked-in coach from the morning shootaround onward. The Hawks scored the fewest points in a regular-season game against the Bulls and narrowly avoided the lowest opponent field-goal percentage in the Bulls' 97-58 cakewalk, which pushed the Bulls' United Center record to 11-10. "Thibs was screaming at us early in the morning," Joakim Noah said, a playful smile forming. "It's not fun to be screamed at at 9 a.m. "What was he screaming about? That we were 10-10 at home. With a lot of F-bombs. A lot of F-bombs."
Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: This one wasn’t just bad. It was franchise-worst bad. The Hawks scored a meager 20 first-half points, including five points in the second quarter, in an embarrassing 97-58 loss to the Bulls Monday night at the United Center. The final, first-half and second-quarter point totals were the lowest in Atlanta team history. Following the game, Hawks coach Larry Drew promised lineup changes and said his team has mentally and physically “flat-lined.” … In a brief post-game address, Drew told his team would be changes. Then he left the locker room. Drew again promised changes in his address of the media. “This was a very, very embarrassing,” Drew said.
John Rohde of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant (41) and Russell Westbrook (36) combined for 77 points against the Suns. The last NBA tandem to combine for 77 or more points in a game? Um, that would be the same two players with Durant (43) and Westbrook (35) combining for 78 against in a 115-110 victory at Minnesota on April 14, 2012. With 2:23 left in Monday’s game, Durant blew past Phoenix forward Michael Beasley at the top of the key. Suns center Marcin Gortat stepped in to help out defensively and appeared ready to take a charge until a high-flying Durant threw down a tomahawk dunk, fell to the floor and was fouled on the play. Durant’s dunk resulted in this all-world quote from Poland’s Gortat: “Well first of all, I was looking for my car keys under the basket. I was trying to find my car keys because I lost them over there so I was just looking for them. And Michael Beasley is going to get Krispy-Kreme for the rest of the season for sure, from me. I mean it happens. The funny thing is that when (Kendrick) Perkins was standing under the basket he looked at me and I looked at him and he said, ‘I know how it feels.’ “
Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: So should the Suns pursue a deal for Gay? Absolutely. Should they close it as soon as possible? Well, not so fast. First, there is the cost. Reportedly, the Grizzlies want Jared Dudley and a draft pick (or picks). That doesn’t make sense for the Suns unless Phoenix can also unload a contract. Michael Beasley’s comes to mind. And the Suns, who have stockpiled picks, cannot give up one that has the potential to be in the lottery, including their own pick this year and possibly that of the Lakers. Memphis, presumably, would get Dudley and enough cap relief to get the Grizzlies below the luxury-tax threshold and a future asset or assets in the draft. But would it help the Suns? While statistics geeks will point out that Gay is a 45 percent career shooter and a 34 percent 3-point shooter, those numbers never reflect what a player faces from opposing defenses. He is a scorer, not a pure shooter. And few players beyond the league’s elite stars are as proven as Gay when the ball is in his hands with a game on the line. He can create his own shot and make it with the clock running down in big situations. In other words, he’s exactly what the Suns need. Let’s be honest. This is a team of complementary players who need a star to make the game easier for them.
Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: Any defeat of the Heat is monumental for the Jazz, even if the NBA’s defending champions have lost more than half of their road games and are only about a top-five team at the moment. The victory came at a nice time for the Jazz (21-19), with a brutal schedule finally turning in their favor as they approach the season’s halfway point. Yet the accompanying story is what could have happened in a fourth quarter when the Jazz were crumbling, the Heat were attacking and the scoreboard clock was ticking very, very slowly. "It was intense, man," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. Yeah, and just try being in the seats, on the couch or anywhere else that fans were watching helplessly as the Jazz’s 19-point lead to begin the fourth period was steadily dwindling. On a night when other NBA games were decided by 39, 29 and 26 points, the Jazz were threatening to do something similar to the Heat — as unrealistic as that may seem.
Ethan J. Skolnick of the Palm Beach Post: Ray Allen has now played for the Heat for nearly three months but, still, there are questions about him that call for answers. Such as this one: Why is he wearing small circular bandages on his calves? And what are they? “Aqua titanium,” Allen said. “They promote blood flows in the areas that you put it to on your body. My tightest areas are always my calves, so that’s where I put them.” Allen began using them in Milwaukee, and his trainer had them when he played for Seattle. In Boston, he had to find them himself, so he would wear them at home but not on the road. Now he has a sizable stash. “I keep them in my bag now,” Allen said.
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: Doc Rivers has occasionally been a voice in the wilderness regarding Avery Bradley’s shooting, but in his latest comeback from injury, the young guard is starting to make his coach sound downright prophetic. Bradley came within one bomb of tying a career high for 3-pointers in his 16-point, 6-for-10 shooting performance during the Celtics’ 100-89 win against the Charlotte Bobcats last night at the Garden. Included in the shooting numbers was a 4-for-6 performance from downtown, and specifically from his favorite spots in the corners. Rivers will gladly say that he told you so. “He missed a lot of games. And when you miss games, you can play defense when you come back,” Rivers said. “Everything else is timing, and he’s starting to get his timing. He’s getting point-blank looks.” There’s a good reason for those looks. It’s called a reputation that may need some updating.
Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: So I write the following sentences not as a fan of the Tar Heels but as a fan of the NBA. The Indiana Pacers will play the Bobcats on Tuesday night at Time Warner Cable Arena. One of the players sliding toward the back edge of Indiana’s rotation, and perhaps oblivion, is former North Carolina star Tyler Hansbrough. The Bobcats ought to trade for him. He won’t cost much. He can’t. And Charlotte’s front line could use an infusion of hustle and energy. If the Bobcats’ little men don’t beat you, the Bobcats don’t beat you. Charlotte’s top four scorers are guards. … Indiana is deep and talented and has a nicely constructed roster. Charlotte doesn’t. The Bobcats are as good as we thought they’d be and the season is playing out the way we thought it would. So explore. If you can add a nice piece, add it. What would Hansbrough cost? And what’s there to lose?