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First Cup: Wednesday

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: With time running out to impress enough of the league's coaches to earn a selection as a reserve in the Feb. 16 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans, Pelicans forward Anthony Davis didn’t miss another opportunity to make his case. Davis dominated with eight blocks and 30 points to help Pelicans rout the Cleveland Cavaliers 100-89 on Tuesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the third 30-point performance of Davis' career. Davis dislocated his left index finger in the monstrous effort but doesn't expect to miss playing time. The Pelicans won for the third straight time and fourth time in their past five games. The Pelicans (19-25) conclude their two-game road trip Wednesday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "I'm just trying to get better each and every day," Davis said. "My teammates did a great job of getting me the ball and giving me a chance to score. That's what I'm trying to do."

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: Tom Gores shouldn’t escape criticism. The Pistons’ owner set this nonsense in motion, creating a playoffs-or-else ultimatum this season instead of realizing that an improved but still-flawed roster would require at least another year of tweaking. Gores told everybody what they wanted to hear last spring with his “we had better make the playoffs” declaration. Accountability’s necessary, but appeasing the torch-and-pitchfork crowd only offers short-term relief unless it’s followed up with a thoughtfully articulated strategy. I’m not sure that you can trust Gores to have that plan. He’s obviously a smart businessman. Dummies don’t build themselves into billionaires. But I’m afraid that Gores falls into that ego trap that claims many other professional sports owners who suddenly gain a fair measure of public attention they didn’t get while amassing their fortunes. Instead of blaming Dumars for not drafting either Michigan’s Trey Burke or Syracuse’s Michael Carter-Williams, perhaps that wrath should be reserved for Gores. If ownership’s demanding a playoff season, then you can’t really trust putting such responsibility in the occasionally shaky hands of a rookie point guard, can you? Gores’ ultimatum resulted in the Pistons finding pieces first and worrying if they’ll eventually fit second.

  • Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Sharing in basketball can be more than just teammates passing the ball. The frontcourt players for the Indiana Pacers often find themselves sharing space underneath the glass. There's an anomaly on the Indiana roster.Guard Lance Stephenson (7.0 rebounds per game) averages almost as many boards as 7-2 center Roy Hibbert (7.8). Stephenson's numbers have also trumped power forward David West (6.6 rebounds), but Pacers coach Frank Vogel explains this discrepancy. "Lance steals them all from Roy anyway," Vogel said. "Roy is ready to get them and Lance comes in from the 3-point line off two feet. We all compete for the glass. We have all five guys on the defensive glass." The Pacers rank just above the middle of pack in rebounding, averaging 53.3 per game compared to their league-best 54.5 average during the 2012-13 season. "This is indicative of the sacrifice of this team," Vogel said. "A lot of times, (the bigs), they're sacrificing themselves to wipe out the best rebounders on the other team while the guards come back and get the numbers. It's a sacrifice," Vogel continued, "more than anything."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: The Grizzlies didn’t yield a point for the first two minutes, 20 seconds of their game Tuesday night, and the defensive chokehold just got tighter and tighter. Memphis held the NBA’s highest scoring team well below its average and started a three-game road trip with a 98-81 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in the Moda Center. The Trail Blazers (33-13) entered the game putting up 109 points on 45.5 percent shooting per contest. But the Griz (23-20) held the Blazers to a season-low point total on just 34.5 percent shooting. “Our confidence is back,” Griz point guard Mike Conley said. “We believe we’re a good team. We believe we can beat anybody. We kind of lost that. But everybody feels comfortable again and we’re playing hard.” ... With his double-double, Randolph became the franchise’s all-time leader in that category with 190 in 301 games. Randolph passed Pau Gasol, who had 189 double-doubles in 476 games.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: John Wall carried the most dubious reputation as a three-point shooter among the four starting guards at Oracle Arena on Tuesday night. And his inability to consistently connect from the perimeter is one of the reasons he wasn’t chosen to join Bradley Beal, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson among the rising young players selected for USA Basketball’s 28-player pool for international competitions through 2016. But with the Washington Wizards and Golden State Warriors tied with 90 seconds remaining, it didn’t matter that Wall wasn’t a noted marksman or that he was struggling to connect from anywhere most of the night. Wall simply had the ball. And opportunity. After tracking down a Beal miss from long distance, Trevor Ariza slung a pass out to a wide open Wall, who buried a three-point shot that gave the Wizards an 88-85 victory over the Warriors that once again pushed their record back to .500. Wall finally claimed his first-ever win over Curry in six tries as the Wizards (22-22) snapped a six-game losing streak to Golden State dating back to Dec. 18, 2009.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: As much as the Rockets enjoyed two earlier wins in San Antonio - and they did love them - this was more significant. They hope it will prove telling, too. The Rockets would have enjoyed firing 3-pointers and lighting up the scoreboard again, but they needed to win another way. They could not shoot their way past the Spurs. With injured James Harden out, the Rockets probably could not have simply scored and scored until they outscored the Spurs. The Rockets could not ride a wave of early shot making to momentum and a confidence-building lead as they had in San Antonio. Instead, the Rockets rallied to beat the Spurs the hard way, 97-90 on Tuesday night at Toyota Center. For the Rockets, at least for a night and especially on this night, the hard way was the better way. "It shows a lot that we can do other things," forward Chandler Parsons said. "When it's a dogfight and when it's ugly and when shots aren't falling, we can still find ways to rebound, get stops and still get wins."

  • Scott Cacciola of The New York Times: Everything was open for the Knicks on Tuesday night: backdoor layups, 3-pointers, the lane. After Tyson Chandler converted an alley-oop dunk in the second quarter, he gave himself a good three seconds to stare menacingly at the crowd before retreating on defense. The Knicks’ lead over the Boston Celtics was expanding like a helium balloon, and Chandler had the luxury of showcasing his best mean mug in a 114-88 victory. All the dunking and the preening were the simple pleasures of a blowout against an overmatched opponent. It was one of the few times that the Knicks (18-27) could claim as much this season, and the game merely provided additional evidence that this team is impossible to figure out. Dreadful one game, terrific the next — the Knicks are allergic to consistent basketball. For now, though, and for the indefinite future, they will cherish their wins, even if they come against teams in tailspins. “I just think the guys are more committed now,” Coach Mike Woodson said. “We don’t have a lot of room for error.”

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: In a year where the Celtics are counting every penny spent to avoid being a repeat luxury tax offender, whether Chris Johnson stays beyond his second, 10-day contract remains to be seen. But for that kind of commitment, the Celtics need to see him thrive in as many different situations on the floor as possible - including as a starter. Now don't me wrong. By no means is Johnson a basketball savior or anything like that. He has been good, but not THAT good. And that's why starting him would be a logical next step in the evaluation process to see what his role would be now, and going forward. As much as he has proven himself worthy of at least being on an NBA roster, you have to wonder if there's another level or two to his game that hasn't been reached yet because he hasn't been given that opportunity. Putting him with the first group would indeed be a "sink-or-swim" situation for him, the kind of situation that he has seemingly been at his best thus far.

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: Before the season started, members of Jazz management repeated again and again one of the primary measures of team success this year — for the players and particularly the coaches — would be the kind of defense it played. That’s bad news for Ty Corbin. The Jazz coach is in the last year of his deal, with no public indication that he’s any closer now to being retained than when the season began. Nor should he be at this point. He’s a smart man, a nice man, a good man, but is he the Jazz’s best option to lead them into their future? It’s a tough circumstance for a coach to deal with. If management believes a guy is its guy, that business should be handled early. If it is uncertain — read: skeptical — it will talk about the need for players to show more, for coaches to show more, for everybody all around to produce in the effort/motivation department. Translation: Play better defense. It’s a code for … you’re in big trouble, bub.

  • Staff of the Chicago Tribune: Did the Bulls' official YouTube account spill the All-Star beans? A video congratulating Joakim Noah on being selected as an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve went up briefly on Tuesday night, but was quickly taken down. But not before BeyondTheBuzzer.com grabbed the video. Noah was an All-Star for the first time in 2013. This season, he's averaging 9.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. The reserves will be officially announced on Thursday night.