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First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The biggest news to come out of Conseco Fieldhouse wasn't T.J. Ford tying his career high of 34 points, it was Danny Granger's knee situation. Granger said his right knee has been bothering him for the past six or seven games, and it even caused him to miss some workout time during the summer. 'I'd go into the timeout (during games) and ice it,' he said. 'I needed it to be numb because I couldn't jump on it. The other night in Orlando, by the time the second quarter came around and I was done. I'm hoping this doesn't last long.' Coach Jim O'Brien said he's not sure if Granger, the fourth-leading scorer, will play against the Miami Heat on Friday. The Pacers might as well start jockeying for draft lottery position if Granger's injury is going to linger."

  • George M. Thomas of the Akron Beacon-Journal: "There are enough storylines running through tonight's game between the Cavaliers and Orlando Magic that director Martin Scorsese just might be able to craft a serviceable script and movie. LeBron James vs. Dwight Howard. Mike Brown and Stan Van Gundy vying for the honor of coaching the Eastern Conference All-Star team Valentine's Day weekend. The sheer spectacle of two teams at and near the top of the conference jockeying for position for home-court advantage in the playoffs. And Brown cares about none of them. Playing the right way and getting a win is what Brown is focused on. If they do the former -- play defense -- the latter should follow."

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "If you had to start a franchise, would you take Magic all-star center Dwight Howard, 23, or the Cavs all-star small forward LeBron James, 24? 'Uh, oh, wow. ... I played with Shaq, but that's a tough one,' said former NBA veteran Dennis Scott. 'I would, um, go with. ...' The fact that Scott even paused speaks for the spell LeBron has cast. Scott concedes that, as a shooter, he's partial to taking the side of the big men. Even as good as LeBron is, 'finding a seven-footer with skills is so rare. Traditionally, I'd have to go with the big guy -- Dwight. At the end of the day, you need that inside presence ... for defense, rebounding. He opens everything up and makes the game easier. Not to discredit LeBron, but as good as he is, I think it's easier finding another LeBron than a Shaq or a Dwight.'"

  • Don Seeholzer of The Pioneer Press: "If Kevin Love seemed to come out with a little extra fire Wednesday night, there was a good reason. The Timberwolves' first-year forward was steamed he wasn't selected for the Feb. 13 NBA rookie-sophomore game that will precede this year's All-Star Game in Phoenix two days later. Love was still hot after the Wolves' 98-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons, despite notching his ninth double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. 'That rookie-sophomore (bull),' Love said. 'I'm sorry to say, but that's what it was. I was pretty upset today about it, but I'm not going to let that drag into the future at all. There's always next year. Pardon my French, but that was just (bull).'"

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "With teammates Mario Chalmers and Daequan Cook snubbed Wednesday for berths on the rookie and sophomore teams, respectively, Beasley said he will fly in for the game then immediately head to Manhattan, Kan., for the Kansas State-Kansas game the next day. ... Asked why he would put himself on such a tight schedule that has him in Chicago that Thursday for a game against the Bulls, in Phoenix the following day on Feb. 13 for the Rookie Challenge, and then immediately out that night to get to Kansas, Beasley said, 'Because my friends aren't going to be there.'"

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "It is generally understood that the Knicks are conserving salary-cap space for 2010, also known as the Summer of LeBron. Spending tens of millions on David Lee, a restricted free agent in July, would seem to run contrary to that goal. But Knicks officials believe they can retain Lee, and there are forces working in their favor: a poor economy, a deep free-agent class and a small pool of teams with significant cap space. ... A Western Conference executive said that Lee would be 'one of the more sought-after guys' this summer, because of his youth, his production and his rapid improvement. 'He's someone you could make one of your top four players,' he said. The Knicks think so, too, which is why -- contrary to conventional wisdom -- they will do everything reasonably possible to keep him. LeBron James needs good teammates, after all."

  • Roderick Boone of Newsday: "Joe Johnson, whose average of 21.5 points per game leads an up-and-coming Hawks team that took the eventual champion Celtics to the brink of elimination in the first round of last year's playoffs, is among the best to be had in the second tier of the Class of 2010. The Knicks don't have a true shooting guard and Johnson would fit perfectly in coach Mike D'Antoni's up-tempo scheme, one that he's very familiar with because he played for him while in Phoenix. ... So could there be a New York reunion between the two? 'I don't know,' said Johnson, who is earning $14.2 million this season and has one more year left at $14.9 million on his five-year, $70-million contract. 'I can't really answer that because like I said, I don't know what's going to happen. He was a great coach and I enjoyed the time that we were together.'"

  • Jim Reeves of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "As we contemplate what the Dallas Mavericks may or may not do in the next three weeks leading up the NBA trading deadline, it's important to remember one thing: Everything must be viewed through the prism of the Dirk Window. The Mavs have cast their lot, for better or for worse, with the big German. They will ride that horse until he develops saddle sores, and then ride him some more. So as we discuss what the Mavs might do in the next three weeks to separate themselves from the lower-echelon playoff teams in the Western Conference, keep that in mind. It's all about Dirk and that's not likely to change in the next three to five years."

  • Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald: "Here's some more outrage: When players do not treat their league's All-Star Game with respect. Look, if you're hurt, you're hurt. If you're not hurt, and you are chosen to play in an All-Star Game, be a gentleman and go. Which brings us to Celtics guard Ray Allen, a 12-year NBA veteran who, one might guess, would probably choose resting his ankles for a couple of days over playing in the All-Star Game. But no. 'I've never really understood guys who
    've said they didn't want to go, because it's an honor,' Allen said last night. 'It's a privilege, not a right. I remember the first year I was chosen,' he said. 'That feeling will always be in my mind. Being one of the best is always in my camp.' Does he want to get chosen to play in next month's All-Star Game? 'Of course,' he said, and then he said it again. 'Of course.'"