First Cup: Friday

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: The story of the game for Oklahoma City’s sake was Steven Adams. He scored 10 points with a game-high 15 rebounds. He played a game-high 34 minutes and was as impressive as we’ve seen him. After the game, Scott Brooks credited Adams’ performance but seemed to focus more on how much more learning the rookie has left. “He had a great game,” Brooks said. “It’s going to be hard to duplicate 10 points, 15 rebounds. Those are All-Star numbers.” The last time a Thunder center had a double-double was Nov. 26, 2012. It was the only one last season. “He has to continue to understand all the details of the game, and that’s going to work itself out with all the work that he puts in with our staff,” Brooks said. Maybe Adams is narrowing the gap for minutes this season. Maybe I’ll be wrong about how many meaningful games he’ll see as a rookie. But the way Brooks spoke about Adams after the game confirmed my suspicions. He just doesn’t trust young players to do the little things consistently. One double-double is not going to change that.

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: First an opinion: No one has definitively said this, but I’m getting the sense Andrew Bynum could return to the court for the season opener Oct. 30 against the Brooklyn Nets in a limited role. If not in time for the opener, soon after. Of course, that’s assuming Bynum doesn’t suffer any setbacks. He hasn’t yet. The Cavs keep giving Bynum guideposts in his recovery and he keeps hitting them. Team personnel seemed pleased to sort of show him off to the media Wednesday by allowing him to play in a 3 on 3, half-court scrimmage in front of reporters. I wasn’t there (smashed up the car driving home from Tuesday’s game in Canton, took the day to talk to 147 people from the insurance company) but from all accounts, Bynum looked great. He's down to his playing weight, as I wrote during the game, so the last step seems to be a return to practice. The Cavs have internally discussed the merits of playing him in the preseason, but that seems unlikely. ... If the Cavs had a home preseason game closer to the start of the season, I think there would be a greater chance Bynum could make an appearance. Instead, his debut will likely come when the games matter.

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: Carmelo Anthony clarified that just because he wants to experience free agency this summer, it does not mean he wants to bolt New York. “I don’t want to go anywhere,’’ Anthony said Thursday before scoring 22 points in a 98-89 preseason victory over the Wizards at Baltimore Arena in his return to his hometown. However, he gave hints if there was another team to consider, the Lakers would be the franchise. Speaking after the morning shootaround at Baltimore Arena in his return to his hometown, Anthony said of the Lakers chatter, “What other team would they say? I don’t think they’d say another team. That’s the only team they’d possibly say.’’ Then he quickly added, “I’m in New York. This is not something I want to keep going on. At the end of day, I don’t want to go anywhere. But when that time comes, I’ll deal with that situation.’’ Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Anthony has to concentrate on this season and not his free agency.

  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: Kevin Garnett thinks LeBron James should mind his own business. After James criticized Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry Wednesday for leaving Boston a year after criticizing former teammate Ray Allen for signing with the Heat as a free agent, Garnett took the opportunity to shoot back at James. “Tell LeBron to worry about Miami,” Garnett said after the Nets beat the Heat 86-62 in front of a sellout crowd of 17,732 at Barclays Center Thursday night. “He has nothing to do with Celtic business.” As for Pierce, when the question was posed to him, he answered with one of his own: “I left Boston?”

  • Shandel Richardson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: Miami Heat center Greg Oden missed two days of practice this week because of swelling on his left knee. That hardly meant Oden had days off from the job. Not a day goes by where he isn't doing some activity to continue his slow recovery process. Oden still remains a long-term project despite recent signs of improvement. "I don't really take a day off," Oden said. "For me, it's maintenance to this knee and maintenance to my body, because some days I'm not able to do the up-and-down stuff that they are able to do. I've got to be in the weight room, riding the bike, lifting and doing all the things I can." Oden began experiencing the swelling on his left knee after completing his first 5-on-5 workout in more than three years. The Heat decided to hold him out of practice rather than risk further injury. The minor setback for Oden caused little concern considering what he's been through. He hasn't played since Dec. 5, 2000 after suffering a series of career-threatening knee injuries. "I'm fine," Oden said. "It's been 3 1/2 years for me so a little bit of swelling … as long as there's no surgery, I'm OK. It's going to be a long season so I'm going to get there. It's just one day."

  • Nate Sandell of 1500ESPN.com: Almost exactly one year ago, Kevin Love watched his once promising season start to unravel before it had begun, spoiled by a broken right hand that would cause him problems all year. Love doesn't want to talk about last season anymore, and one really can't blame him for that. Yes, his bum hand is no longer an issue. Yes, he is healthy and ready to go. The Timberwolves All-Star forward certainly appears that way. From brief glimpses during practice and in the Wolves' first four preseason games, Love is putting memories of his injury derailed 2012-13 campaign in the rearview, replacing them with reminders of the potential he and the Wolves showed one year earlier along with an equally healthy Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic. "Give me a full 82-game slate-plus, I'm ready to play," Love said Thursday after practice. As the Wolves' starting-five has begun the slow climb towards establishing an efficient chemistry with each other, Love has had arguably the best preseason showing so far, despite the early signs of rust shown by the entire squad.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Carlos Boozer, 31, knows he’ll never receive the thunderous welcome Derrick Rose enjoyed Wednesday at the United Center. He’ll never be a fan favorite. If anything, he’s the fans’ built-in excuse, the consolation prize during the summer the Bulls were unable to land LeBron James or Dwyane Wade. Some consolation prize. Boozer has averaged 16.2 points and 9.3 rebounds during his three-year stay and averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 rebounds in the playoffs last season. He has been a model of consistency, but he’s also the player Bulls fans target when they’re frustrated. Here’s a little secret: Boozer couldn’t care less about what fans say about him. Sociology was his major at Duke, but he minored in “not giving a dang what you think about me.’’ “You’re either loved or hated playing Duke basketball,’’ Boozer said. “I’ve been at the highest level of basketball at every level, and going to Duke, you learn that right away. It isn’t like there are fans that kind of like you.”

  • Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times: Two rare or unprecedented sights to look for during the Clippers' upcoming season: DeAndre Jordan's image on the cover of the team's media guide with franchise players and acknowledged leaders Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, a statement about what will be expected of the 25-year-old center in his sixth season. DeAndre Jordan, in person, on the court during the fourth quarter of tight games. New Coach Doc Rivers' imprint is on both moves. On the first point, Rivers made it known he wants to promote a "big three" concept rather than focusing on All-Stars Griffin and Paul. On the second point, he believes Jordan is capable of playing during crunch time, even though Jordan was mostly a spectator during that stage last season. Jordan, who was inconsistent defensively and hit only 38.6% of his free throws last season to rank last among full-timeNBA starters, played in all 82 regular-season games but got into the fourth quarter of only 30 of them. He played in two of six fourth quarters in the Clippers' first-round playoff loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. To Rivers, who replaced Vinny Del Negro this summer, that's ancient history, not a guideline to future success.

  • Michael Pointer of The Indianapolis Star: It’s still October and preseason games don’t count for much, yet Chris Copeland admits he’s been pressing a bit. “I’m going to be totally candid with you,” the Indiana Pacers’ forward said. “When you get out there, you want to be everything they want you to be, the organization and the fans. I would like to be everything and more in terms of what they thought they got in me. I missed one or two (shots) and it got to my head early.” Copeland is just 8-for-30 from the field (26.7 percent) in his first four games with the Pacers (0-4), who play at Chicago in an exhibition game Friday night, including 5-for-25 (20 percent) from 3-point range. That’s not what the Pacers envisioned when they lured him away from the New York Knicks with two-year, $6 million contract over the summer. The 6-8, 235-pound Copeland, who shot 42.1 percent on 3-pointers last season, was expected to provide a deft shooting touch in a power forward’s body. The good news is that the Pacers don’t open the regular season until Oct. 29; Copeland has four more exhibition games to work it out.

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Starting rookie Gal Mekel in the preseason is one thing. But depending heavily on him or fellow rookie Shane Larkin in the regular season would signify that something has gone very wrong. If everybody stays healthy, that shouldn’t be a problem. But with high player-turnover in the backcourt, that’s going to be a concern for the Mavericks. … This season, quality will be stressed over quantity in the backcourt. Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon — set to see his first action of the preseason Saturday against Charlotte — are the starters and figure to roll up big minutes. Behind them? Carter will be there, and so will Wayne Ellington and … that’s about it in terms of proven NBA helpers until Devin Harris gets healthy. That’s what makes staying healthy so important for the Mavericks’ guards. There aren’t a lot of proven options if any of them miss time. … Clearly, there is playing time to go around. If there are more injuries, however, it will put a strain on the Mavericks in the form of unproven guards having to learn on the fly. And those kind of gambles don’t pay off often.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Even as their efficiency has skyrocketed over the past few seasons, the Spurs have never been known as a particularly flashy offensive team. Indeed, even after instituting a motion-based offense that most knowledgeable observers have praised as one of the league’s more entertaining, some would (incorrectly) argue that the AT&T Center is still the place where fun went to die. There’s a lot more to NBA basketball than dunks, but at least stat would seem to support the premise: According to NBA data sorted out by Deadspin in the following graphic, the Spurs threw a grand total one lob pass during the 2012-13 regular season. That’s down from a comparatively All-Starish four in 2011-12.

  • Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe: Celtics players have raved about assistant coach Ron Adams since training camp, noting his basketball IQ and hands-on approach. “Every player I’ve seen him work with, they’ve always got something to say about the little things that he’s talked to them about, or the little details that they can add to their game from him,” said forward Brandon Bass. “He’s been a great addition.” Adams has also been a steady influence with head coach Brad Stevens. The two constantly chat during practice and on the bench during games, where they sit side by side. “What I love about Ron is he understands the process, he understands the big picture, but he challenges you to be great every day,” Stevens said.

  • Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon-Journal: Mike Brown sort of slipped prior to the game when he revealed Anthony Bennett has sleep apnea. The Cavs diagnosed him with it over the summer and gave him a CPAP mask to wear at night. “It’s just something I have to get adjusted to because I never knew I had it before,” Bennett said. “I just found out.” Bennett took a sleep test for the team after he was drafted and that’s how it was diagnosed. Bennett was trying to keep it a secret. “This is something I have to take day by day,” he said. “I just started using it, so it’s not going to work right away. I just have to get a routine and keep using it.” Bennett already was diagnosed with asthma and Brown revealed he, too, has sleep apnea. ""We have a couple guys who may have it," Brown said. "I think it’s a common thing. It’s not that big of a deal."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: Building off the buzz created during their trip to Beijing and Shanghai, the Warriors have a special Chinese New Year jersey in the works that the franchise hopes to get approved by the NBA in time for the midwinter celebration. The Warriors' ownership has made concerted efforts to reach into each of the Bay Area's cultural centers and has made strides among Chinese fans. The Warriors have celebrated the Chinese New Year and hosted an Asian Heritage Night each of the past three seasons, and they recently launched a Chinese team website and a Weibo social-media account.