First Cup: Thursday

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: Something weird happened Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena. Some weird things, actually. For one peculiar thing, it was mighty strange how a guy named Diante Garrett played the entire fourth quarter for the Utah Jazz. More odd things included 16,717 fans cheering, one team celebrating for the first time, and an awful losing streak ending. Two weeks into the 2013-14 season, the Jazz picked up their first win with a 111-105 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. It took rallying out of a 16-point hole, but Utah became the final NBA team to earn a W. “It’s about time,” Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hawyard said. “It’s exciting for us to finally get off that losing streak. We’ve still got a long ways to go, but it’s good to finally have a win in that column.” That might come as bad news for masochist fans who were hoping for an 0-82 tank job and the best shot at drafting Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins or one of the other enticing potential stars in the 2014 NBA draft.

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: After Clippers backup small forward Matt Barnes was ejected from the game with 6.2 seconds left in the second quarter after an altercation with Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka, Barnes took to Twitter to express himself. Barnes tweeted: "I love my teammates like family, but I'm DONE standing up for these ... ! All this ... does is cost me money." A little skirmish broke out in the second quarter after Thabo Sefolosha fouled Blake Griffin, who then became entangled with Ibaka. That’s when Barnes stepped in and pushed Ibaka, who pushed Barnes back. The two were separated, and the officials reviewed the tape to decide what actions to take. Barnes and Ibaka were ejected from the game and Griffin was issued a technical foul.

  • Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News: If Mikhail Prokhorov were around to guarantee a victory Wednesday, he would’ve been wrong and likely embarrassed by his prediction. The most expensive team in the NBA looks like a contender on paper, as multiple Nets pointed out in the locker room Wednesday, but on the actual basketball court they’ve just been slow, lackadaisical and mostly on the wrong side of the scoreboard. It was all on disgraceful display in a 107-86 defeat Wednesday to the Kings. “For us right now, this is desperation,” said Jason Terry. “Everyone that steps on the floor (in the next game Friday against the Suns) should feel desperation and come out and play with a sense of urgency. If you don’t you’ll be looking at another loss. It’s what it is.” ... “I feel like it’s around the corner, to be honest,” Garnett said before the game, referring to the moment the Nets start playing well. Apparently Brooklyn turned down the wrong street in Sacramento. Garnett continued his month to forget, scoring just six points while missing seven of his nine shots. He is averaging six points this season, and was benched for the final 20 minutes.

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: Knicks coach Mike Woodson and Kenyon Martin spoke Tuesday after Martin expressed displeasure about not playing against San Antonio on Sunday because of his platoon with Amar’e Stoudemire. Woodson said he will break the platoon rules for this back-to-back. Martin played 17 minutes in Wednesday’s 95-91 win over the Hawks, and Woodson said he hopes to give him action against Howard on Thursday. “Maybe he’ll have a little left in his tank [Thursday],’’ Woodson said. “Kenyon and I are at a good place. I don’t mind him being upset. It means he wants to play and he’s hungry to play. That’s fine. It’s healthy.’’ The Knicks have put Martin, who scored two points with three rebounds against the Hawks, in a platoon because of his chronic ankle issues, but Martin keeps saying he is fine. “That’s not the case,’’ Woodson countered.

  • Tom Moore of The Intelligencer: The rebuilding Sixers went into the game 4-4, having lost four of five after winning their first three (including victories over the Heat and Bulls). "I think we’ve played like what we are — one of the youngest teams in the league that can surprise on the upside and surprise in other ways sometimes,” Hinkie said. “I think we’ve seen some of our young players take some steps, but it’s a hard league. It’s not about taking a step or two. It’s about taking steps day after day after day and knowing you can’t be successful every day, but knowing you’re trying to move forward.” Sixers coach Brett Brown said he’s onboard with Hinkie’s approach of getting younger and trying to land a star in next June’s NBA Draft or via free agency in July. “I believe the path he’s trying to put us on is going to be an intelligent one,” Brown said. “We’re going to have to have some luck. But I get it. I know what I signed up from on Day 1. To Sam’s credit, he’s stayed true to everything he said he was going to do. We’re going to have to live through, at times, some pain and keep building.” So far, Hinkie has especially been pleased with the play of rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who sat out against Houston with a sore left foot, and leading scorer Evan Turner.

  • Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried is simply trying to tune out the noise. On Wednesday, his name cropped up in trade rumors with New York newspapers reporting that the Knicks and Nuggets were engaged in talks regarding a swap of Faried for up-and-coming guard Iman Shumpert. "No comment," Faried said. "No comment on all of that. I just play basketball and do my job, and that's it." By the end of the day, Nuggets officials had talked to Faried's representatives, letting them know there was no trade. But coach Brian Shaw was taking no chances on sitting back and watching what kind of effect the rumors might have on his young star. Shaw talked to Faried about it, hoping to keep the forward's focus where it needed to be: on the court. Shaw said the reality of the situation is that trade rumors are a constant in the NBA.

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger spent Wednesday night like he has most of the regular season. Searching. With lineup rotations as unpredictable as when they would actually play defense, the Grizzlies suffered a 103-87 loss to the Toronto Raptors in FedExForum. Afterward, a visibly drained Joerger struggled to find reasons why the Griz (3-5) continue to struggle to give sustained effort on both ends of the floor. This much he does know: “People don’t fear us anymore,” Joerger said. That spoke to the Raptors (4-5) and the command they had the entire game after taking a lead midway through the first period. The fourth-quarter boos that rang out from those who remained among the announced crowd of 15,971 spoke to a growing dissatisfaction with the Grizzlies’ inconsistent and uninspired play.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: As Jeremy Lin returns to the scene of Linsanity, he brings a run he never had in those heady days. Even with that monthlong burst with the New York Knicks, he never scored as much in a two-game stretch as he has the past two games. Nor did not score as much or shoot as well as he has this season. With a 123-116 overtime loss to the 76ers following a narrow escape against Toronto in double OT, Lin also returns with little interest in celebrating. Lin scored 34 points Wednesday in Philadelphia, giving him 65 over the last two games. Lin, who started with James Harden out with a bruised left foot, is averaging 18.1 points. His shooting (54.2 percent overall and 51.4 percent on 3-pointers) not only leads the Rockets but could be gratifying given the work Lin has put in to smooth his shot. “Everybody works on their shot,” Lin said. “Obviously, I’ve been trying to get better at it. To be honest, it really dampens the mood if you don’t win the game. I’m just going to keep playing. This is my worst defensive game of the season, so I want to make sure the next game is my best defensive game of the season.” Lin hopes to have the spotlight elsewhere.

  • Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press: My goodness, if games like that became the rule rather than the exception, the Timberwolves might turn out to be something special. As it stands, it was a wonderful game to watch. And if we don't see another one like that for a long time, well, we got to see that one. There's no question that NBA basketball is a scientific endeavor, with intricate patterns, defensive switches and intelligent positioning. But sometimes, on the rarest of occasions, it's reduced to its simplest form. That's when it's almost like being in the driveway at twilight, firing running hooks and behind-the-back passes, laughing and enjoying every minute. On Wednesday, it was as if we were all gathered along the driveway.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Tim Duncan’s frustration was evident as he barked at Tony Parker to hurry up on the aforementioned Four Down play. Little wonder he bolted from the locker room immediately after the game. (To be fair, he does this after great games, too.) Duncan’s poor start — he is now shooting 38.6 percent from the floor — can be spun into a huge positive. The Spurs got virtually nothing from him on the offensive end against the Wizards, and absolutely nothing as he sat out against Philadelphia on Monday, and they still won by a combined 37 points. Then, of course, there is the necessary caveat that it’s still ridiculously early. Given his mileage, however, it’s fair to wonder if this might be the season that Duncan, five months from 38, after more greatness than anyone could reasonably expect, finally starts to show his age.

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: The Magic entered Wednesday ranked 25th in the NBA in turnovers, averaging 17.9 giveaways a game. In its three prior games, all losses, Orlando turned the ball over 20, 19 and 20 times. “That’s something that we do need to address,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “That puts more pressure on your defense, because those guys are getting easy buckets. They’re getting out in transition, and now our defense isn’t set. That’s an area where, really consciously, we have to do things simple. “A 3-on-1 break should be a conversion for us. When we’re in our set offense, making the simple pass is good enough, and we just need to continue to repeat that simplicity.” In their first three wins, the Magic committed just 16.3 turnovers per game. In their five losses, they committed 18.8 turnovers per game.

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: It's "Roaracle" vs. "Loud City." Thursday's game between the Warriors and Thunder at Oracle Arena is a matchup of two of the Western Conference's most talented teams, but it's also a matchup of two of the league's most passionate fan bases. "Golden State and the fans at Oracle remind me a lot of the Seattle Seahawks' fans. They're loyal to a fault. Even when the team was bad, they always showed up. They've always been a raucous, loud crowd," TNT NBA analyst Reggie Miller said in a phone interview. "Having been in a small market for 18 years, I know how rabid those fans were in Indiana. That's exactly what you get in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are the only show in town, and their fans are loud. "I get how both fan bases could claim to be the best."