First Cup: Friday

  • Marc Berman of the New York Post: A large portion of the pro-Knicks crowd at Barclays Center stood up and cheered as Andrea Bargnani walked off the court with 8:23 left after his first NBA ejection for jawing with trash-talk king Kevin Garnett. More impressive was as the 7-foot Italian headed for the tunnel after his second technical, the Knicks players on the court and bench were on their feet clapping too. Bargnani had stood up to Garnett, and all seemed right again in the Knicks’ world. It was another bonus to Thursday’s 113-83 destruction of the Nets. Bargnani had set the tone of the evening with a monstrous driving dunk down the right baseline and then ended it in style with an ejection that earned him major kudos in the giddy Knicks’ locker room. “We need him to get upset like that," J.R. Smith said. “We need him to get engaged. He played great but it was the wrong referee [Joey Crawford] making the call."

  • Fred Kerber of the New York Post: At the grizzled old age of 25, Brook Lopez has endured a 12-70 record, an All-Star selection and a broken foot that reduced a season to five games — after three consecutive seasons in which he recorded perfect 82-game attendances. Yes, Lopez has seen a lot so far. But he admits he hasn’t seen anything like this current Nets campaign. “I thought I got the craziness out of the way early, I thought I’d be done with it,” said Lopez, pointing back to the nightmare of his second season, the nauseating 12-70 record in 2009-10 when the Nets were a mere 29 games out of the playoffs. “This is definitely more bizarre than that, though.” Yeah, tumbling to a 5-14 record after a 113-83 embarrassment against the now 4-13 Knicks Thursday at Barclays Center could be considered bizarre. Coaches and players spoke of defensive systems being inserted on the fly. That’s sort of different from the championship aspirations both teams espoused in the offseason. Now add various injuries, the hiring of a future Hall of Fame player but unproven coach, the most widely reported demotion of an assistant coach in memory to all those thus-far failed expectations and you have REALLY bizarre. “It’s been tough,” said Lopez.

  • Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: Mike Woodson had his first win since Nov. 13, a ridiculously easy 113-83 rout of the Nets, and now he was headed out to the team bus at the Barclays Center.In the tunnel that leads out to the court, a buddy handed him a victory cigar, and there were back-slaps, handshakes, hugs and happy faces surrounding the embattled Knicks coach. “You needed this win,” said one well-wisher. You think? Woodson still might not be out of the proverbial woods, because who’s to know exactly what Jim Dolan is thinking, even after the Knicks crushed their rivals from across the East River. You hear all this talk about Allan Houston being the next in line to follow Woodson, absurd and crazy talk, and you want to jump off one of those Chase Bridges over at the Garden. Woodson might not have totally saved his job when his Knicks took out a Nets team that is depleted and is currently coached by a guy who is in way over his head. Not a good combination, unless you’re Mike Woodson needing a win in the worst way. He didn’t make any big speeches in the locker room after he lived to see another game. “He said, ‘We just go get the next one,’ " J.R. Smith said. “This one feels good. But tomorrow is the most important game as of right now. You can’t get too happy or satisfied."

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: Not only did the Bulls (8-9) outscore Miami 44-34 down low, but outrebounded them 49-27, led by Joakim Noah’s 15 rebounds and 17 points. “The people in this city, there’s something about when Miami comes to town, you know you wake up in the morning and you feel it," Noah said afterward. “People in this city don’t like the Miami Heat, we don’t like the Miami Heat, and it always feels good to beat them." Asked why the hatred for the Heat, not only did Noah explain it, but again opened up about still dealing with the Rose injury. “A lot of battles, a lot of scars, a lot of tough losses, a lot of seasons ending because of them,’’ Noah said. “I think that our team needed it. We’ve been through a lot the last couple of weeks, and even for me I think it’s really hard to play without Derrick. I want to win with Derrick Rose. What Derrick represents to the city, there’s not a lot of players that have that. He brings a lot of hope to the city, and I feed off that. I feel really privileged to play in that position, so him going down is just, it’s really hard for him, hard for us, but we have to move on and it’s not easy. We’ve been going through a lot of adversity, losing the little homie, Derrick. It’s been really hard on us."

  • Rohan Nadkarni for The Miami Herald: On May 26, 2011, the Heat sent a gust through the Windy City when they used a furious rally to knock then-MVP Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls out of the playoffs en route to the NBA Finals. The series was over, but the rivalry was just beginning. The stage was set for Rose and LeBron James, the last two regular season MVPs, to battle each year for conference supremacy. Instead, on Thursday night, Miami played a Chicago team again without the services of Rose, who missed all of last year with an ACL injury, and will miss the rest of this regular season with a torn meniscus. ... The Heat-Bulls rivalry has been bubbling for years. In three of the four Finals trips in franchise history, Miami defeated Chicago along the way. In 2007, Chicago swept the defending champion Heat out of the playoffs. ... As for the Heat-Bulls rivalry, which may never live up to its potential as an annual battle deserving of its own place in NBA lore, players just want to see teams at full strength. “I worry about [Rose’s] health,” Haslem said. “As a competitor, you never like to see anybody hurt. I hate that he has to be out, because he’s an incredible player. Rivalry or not, I hate to see Derrick Rose go down.”

  • Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times: It has become apparent that the Memphis Grizzlies look forward to playing the Clippers anywhere, any time. And it has become apparent that the Clippers and Grizzlies aren't fond of each other. "I think our guys get up to play them too," said Clippers Coach Doc Rivers. "The difference is they've beaten us. If we would have beaten them, they would have said the same thing. They beat us last year in the playoffs." The Clippers and Grizzlies have met the last two years in the playoffs, with Memphis knocking the Clippers out in six games last May and with Los Angeles beating the Grizzlies in seven games in the 2012 playoffs. ... As if on cue, Memphis center Kosta Koufos was called for a technical foul against Clippers forward Blake Griffin and Jerryd Bayless was called for a flagrant-1 foul for pushing Griffin during the Clippers' 101-81 victory Thursday night. Memphis Coach Dave Joerger, like Rivers, is in his first season as a head coach in this rivalry, but he was an assistant with Memphis for six seasons. He said the dislike between the teams was born out of two former Clippers. "I do think so it was more Reggie [Evans] and Kenyon [Martin]," Joerger said. "Those two guys made that series nasty."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph stood at his locker after spending the last two hours tangling with the Los Angeles Clippers. He was antsy, practically pacing in a confined space with an unmistakable scowl on his face. Randolph was fuming Thursday night after the Grizzlies’ 101-81 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers in FedExForum. “I hate losing to those guys,” Randolph said. Randolph returned to the lineup after missing two games because of an ingrown toenail. He went from one painful situation right into another. The Clippers simply put a hurting on the Griz by dominating the second half with an aggressive defense and crisp offensive execution. “We missed a lot of open shots and I thought we settled a lot,” Griz coach Dave Joerger said. “We didn’t execute. We didn’t screen. We tried hard. We played hard. That is an elite team in the (Western Conference). They can really score. And once they really got into us and pressured us in the second half, we kind of hesitated and got out of whack.” FedExForum has suddenly turned into unfriendly confines for the Griz, who have dropped five of their past eight games at home.

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: OK, so this DeMarcus Cousins/Derrick Rose situation has been blown way out of proportion. The whole incident began late Tuesday when I approached Cousins, who was seated alone in the locker room after missing the Kings-Thunder game with a sore ankle, and asked if he planned to play Friday against the Lakers. We were having a casual conversation; this wasn’t an interview. I mentioned that Kobe Bryant was expected to return following an eight-month recovery from Achilles surgery, adding another layer to an always entertaining rivalry. Cousins laughed. “Kobe’s not the story,” he joked. “The big story is my return. Maybe I’ll get a commercial out of it.” We chatted a few more minutes .... about Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Derrick Rose was never mentioned. If anything, I interpreted Cousins’ comments as a humorous reference to the number of professional athletes (including Robert Griffin III) who through the years have used their comebacks as themes for their commercials. ... I feel really bad that DeMarcus Cousins is being accused of slamming Derrick Rose. I dont think anyone who heard him say it took it that way.

  • Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The Hawks are planning an in-game acknowledgement should Kyle Korver breaks the record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer on Friday. Korver has made a 3-pointer in 89 straight games and is tied with Dana Barros for the NBA’s all-time record. He can own the mark outright with a 3-pointer against the Cavaliers. The team did not offer details as to how it will celebrate the mark. “What Kyle has accomplished to date is significant and we plan to acknowledge the streak,” Hawks Vice President of Public Relations Garin Narain told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • Joe Freeman of The Oregonian: Every team in the NBA uses video for scouting in one way or another. For years, organizations have housed video departments and employed video coordinators — Jonathan Yim fills the role for the Blazers — who have been instrumental in helping coaches make in-game adjustments. That used to be relegated to halftime meetings, when coaches would show clips on screens in locker rooms and tweak defensive coverages or offensive sets. But the NBA altered its rules prior to the 2012-13 season. Now, teams are allowed to review video from any game — including the one they are playing — on the bench as long as it does not feature a live video feed. Aldridge and Matthews are the Blazers players who most often take advantage of the rule change, and they regularly peruse clips in-game on iPads. During the first half of Wednesday night’s victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Aldridge was pulled from the game and, about two minutes later, an intern from the video department left the video room with an iPad and delivered it to the bench. Aldridge went on to have a monster game, recording a career-high 38 points, 13 rebounds and five assists, perhaps aided by a tip he picked up from the iPad. “I use it mostly to see how teams are double-teaming me,” Aldridge said earlier this season. “Because I get double-teamed a lot, so I like to see what guys are open, who I’m going to hit (with a pass) if I get double-teamed, where the defense is double-teaming me from and where my shots are going to come from.”