First Cup: Tuesday

  • Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: Brian Shaw was asked if the Nuggets had reached out to Andre Miller for a possible return, given the team's dire need for a reserve point guard with Nate Robinson out for the season after ACL surgery. The short answer? No. "There won't be any reaching out from our end," Shaw said. "I think we've operated and done everything that we're supposed to do. So, if there's any reaching out that needs to be done, I think the reaching out has to come from him to us. But at this point, we're still trying to evaluate the situation. The guys that are here are going to be our concern. That's something I've kind of completely taken myself out of and let whatever happens be dealt with between him, his agent and the front office."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: Mark Cuban has been very open about the number of teams, particularly in the Eastern Conference, who appear to be more interested in racking up losses to improve their chances of getting a high pick in the fertile draft that will take place this summer. His Dallas Mavericks will not be a part of that strategy, he said, and he also believes that the way things are going in the East could stifle some of the trade talks around the league. ... Cuban was adamant that his outlook going into the last 16 days before the trade deadline will not change from the way it always is. But he also doesn’t plan on being a seller this trading season, either. ... By the way, Cuban said he would be a proponent of moving the trade deadline up. He believes half the season is plenty of time for teams to figure out what they have and whether they want to dump assets and build for the future, or not.

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: Kevin Durant doesn't like the nickname “The Slim Reaper.” “I'm here to shine a bright light,” Durant said. “I'm not here to be a guy of, I guess, death. I just like KD better.” But what about capitalizing on the popularity of the nickname and collaborating with Nike once again on a special edition colorway of his signature KD line of shoes? Durant has done this several times in the past with “The Weathermans,” a nod to his affinity for weather, the “Maryland Blue Crabs,” which pay homage to his home state, the “Peanut Butter & Jellys,” his favorite sandwich as a kid and the “Aunt Pearls,” in honor of his late aunt among others. Could a “Slim Reaper” be next? “To be honest, it's not really up to me,” Durant said. “If Nike wants to come out with something, then they're going to come out with it. They're going to ask me, but at the end of the day if they want to do it they're going to do it.” Durant, however, acknowledged the potential demand for such a shoe. “It's always opportunities for quick hits like that in the marketplace,” he said. “So you never know. But I never really thought about it.” For now, Durant sounds appreciative of admirers tagging him with a nickname but maintains this one misses the mark in his book. “That name is what it is,” Durant said.

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: The drought began as the Washington Wizards tried to squeeze out one final run with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler and continued through an embarrassing fall and a painful rebuild around John Wall. It had become such a nagging obstacle this season that players tried to avoid the question and Marcin Gortat openly wondered whether a “curse” was holding them back. But after all of that misery and frustration, a moment more than four years in the making arrived Monday at Verizon Center, where Wall gleefully dribbled around in a circle and pumped his fist as the closing seconds wound down and a sparse crowd stood to applaud a 100-90 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Wizards (24-23) have a winning record for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009 , and are above .500 this late in the season for the first time since the 2007-08 season — the last time the franchise reached the playoffs. Wall scored a team-high 22 points and heard “MVP!” chants as he made the final free throws of the game. “It’s a humbling experience,” said Wall.

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: It all started out so well for Derrick Williams. Williams stole a pass in the fourth quarter of the Kings’ 99-70 win over Chicago and had an uncontested look at the rim. Williams tried to throw the ball off the backboard for a dunk. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Williams said of the kind of dunk he was attempting. It ended badly. Williams fumbled the ball and missed the dunk with 3:08 to play. By the way, the Kings were up by up 28 points. Williams’ teammates laughed. Kings coach Michael Malone was not amused and removed Williams from the game. “Derrick’s a good kid so there’s nothing malicious in that but I don’t want to disrespect the Bulls,” Malone said. “I don’t want to disrespect (Bulls coach) Tom Thibodeau, I have too much respect for him. At that point in the game when you’re up big, just lay the ball in. Derrick wasn’t trying to showboat or disrespect anybody but I told our guys, be good to the game.” Williams’ teammates were amused. “The hardest part was trying to find something to say to him after making that play,” said DeMarcus Cousins. “I don’t know. You’re going to have to ask D-Will about that.” Williams managed to poke fun at himself over the mishap.

  • Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Pacers coach Frank Vogel was probably among the few Indianapolis residents who enjoyed what he saw from Sunday night's Super Bowl. But Vogel wasn't necessarily in tune with former Colts quarterback Peyton Manning; his eyes were focused on Seattle's swarming defense. "I was inspired by it," he said. " see a lot of us in the Seattle Seahawks. A dominant defense." The Seahawks had the NFL's No. 1-rated defense; that's where the Pacers rank in the NBA, too. But that was the obvious part of what Vogel saw. He noted another connection between the teams, and he relayed it to his players Monday. "(The Seahawks) won with their defense but they had no turnovers," he said. "They didn't beat themselves on the offensive end. That's the area we have to get to." The Pacers entered Monday's game ranked 19th in turnovers, tied, ironically, with Miami at 14.7.

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: They have been gritty and gutsy and never give up on a game, and for that the Raptors are being rewarded with almost unprecedented road success this season. Even after losing their floor leader with more than a quarter to go, the Raptors found a way to win another one away from home, beating the Utah Jazz 94-79 at EnergySolutions Arena. They have 14 road victories this season — after winning 13 away from home the entire 2012-13 season — and are 2-1 on a five-game trip that continues Wednesday in Sacramento as they chase franchise history. The 2000-01 team was 20-21 on the road, the gold standard for the Raptors franchise. This group has snapped years-long road droughts in Denver (nine games), Los Angeles against the Lakers (10 games) and Milwaukee (eight games) already. It’s an impressive performance.

  • Josh Walfish of The Miami Herald: LeBron James refused to answer a question about Miami’s upcoming road trip before the Heat took on the Pistons on Monday night. He said he wanted to focus on the opponent at hand and start worrying about the 19-day trip westward after the game. It was a good mind-set to have on a night when the Heat couldn’t pull away from the Pistons, instead making small runs to push the lead into double digits for brief spurts. Yet, when Miami did go on its runs, James was in the middle of the action. The forward came up just shy of his first triple-double of the season, scoring 24 points, dishing out 11 assists and collecting eight rebounds. “It’s not meant for it to happen,” James said. James entered the game as Miami’s leader in all three categories. “He played with a real good tempo, not only on the perimeter, but also in the post,” coach Erik Spoelstra added.

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: Having already respectably guarded the likes of LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Love, among others, Boris Diaw burnished his reputation as a defensive stopper — OK, defensive container — with a quality performance against Pelicans pogo stick Anthony Davis. The budding young star scored just 17 points on 6-for-21 shooting with five turnovers, much of which came with Diaw handling the front-line work. The backup work fell to Matt Bonner, who also held his own. Tim Duncan overcame a miserable start to finish with 21 points, seven rebounds and six rebounds. Having shot just 2 for 8 in the first half, Duncan — less than two months removed from his 38th birthday — was 8 for 12 in the second for 16 points with five boards and five blocks. He and Parker combined for 53 points on 22-for-44 shooting. The other nine Spurs who suited up: 49 on 16 for 37. Monday’s game marked the 18th different starting lineup for the Spurs this season.

  • Matt Velazquez of the Journal Sentinel: For one night, there were no signs of the doldrums that have haunted the BMO Harris Bradley Center during Milwaukee Bucks games this season. Instead, there was life. There was raucous cheering. And there was a Bucks victory. The party reached a head when, with 1.4 seconds left in a tie game, Bucks point guard Brandon Knight swished a three-pointer to lift Milwaukee to a 101-98 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night. "They had been switching on pick-and-rolls all night and the shot clock was winding down, so I just didn't want to get into a situation where they could trap me or just switch," said Knight, who led the Bucks with 25 points and seven assists. I walked it down, got into a rhythm and was able to knock down the shot." The Bucks (9-39) played the final 2:59 with no timeouts after their last was used when Larry Sanders fouled out. Coach Larry Drew had to draw up plays during timeouts that the Knicks called while also preparing his team to try to stop Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith, who scored 36 and 30 points, respectively. It wasn't the ideal situation, but the Bucks made it work, scoring on five of their last six possessions.

  • Tim Bontemps of the New York Post: Sometimes, simply winning isn’t good enough. That was the case for Paul Pierce Monday night after the Nets managed to snap their three-game losing streak with a 108-102 victory over the 76ers at Barclays Center. But a much-needed triumph wasn’t enough to satisfy Pierce, who wasn’t happy with the way the Nets played — and particularly with the way the team’s short-handed bench did — and wasn’t shy about saying so. “You know, a win is a win, but you can’t be happy with the way we closed the game,” Pierce said. “We gave up lay-ups, 3’s … we were up 19, and let them back in the game a couple times in this game. “If we play like that come Thursday [against the Spurs at home], then we can’t expect to walk away with a win. There’s a lot you can learn from a win, and today we learned something. When you have a team on its back, put them away when you can.” Pierce has a point.