First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger has asked Mike Miller to be more selfish on offense all season. The veteran swingman continually made no apologies for his reluctance to simply chuck shots. Miller has paid more attention to playing within the system than his number of field goal attempts most nights. Fortunately for the Griz, their 98-93 victory over the New York Knicks Tuesday night didn’t come on an ordinary evening in FedExForum. The beefy and post-oriented Griz were forced into playing a drive-and-kick, small ball style. Miller also returned from the NBA’s all-star break with a slightly different outlook. “I came in with the mindset to be more aggressive,” Miller said. “We’ve got (29) games left and every one of them is important.” So the veteran who uses “Let it Fly” as a mantra for his off-court interests did just that against the Knicks. Miller’s 3-pointer with 45.9 seconds left gave the Griz a 94-93 lead, and then the defense sealed their third straight win.

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: Third-string point guard Jannero Pargo didn’t play a minute of Tuesday’s 108-96 road victory over the Detroit Pistons, but that doesn’t mean Pargo failed to contribute. When nine-season veteran Pargo heard center Al Jefferson promise to at least stay on the stationary bike over All-Star break, Pargo challenged him to go the next step. “He’s our guy. He’s our horse. So I said, ‘Don’t just run. Get in the gym and dribble the ball. Get some shots up,’ ” Pargo recalled post-game. “I felt like the way these two games (against the Pistons) would play out, whoever put in the most work (during the break) would win.” Pargo’s prediction is halfway home. Jefferson totaled 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. The Bobcats built as much as a 19-point lead and cruised the rest of the way past a Pistons team chasing them for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: The rumor propagated by former Nuggets coach George Karl that Tim Duncan has made up his mind to retire at season’s end was shot down by the Spurs captain after he helped the Spurs score a 113-103 win over the Clippers at Staples Center on Tuesday night. Citing “whispers” and phone calls, including from San Antonio, about Duncan’s plans, Karl told ESPN on Tuesday he had heard of Duncan’s plan to exercise his player option to walk away from the final season of his three-year deal with the Spurs and retire after this season. “I’d like to know who he talked to,” Duncan said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do so I don’t know how he knows what I’m going to do.” Duncan said he has given no thought to his future plans. “I don’t worry about that stuff,” he said. “It will take care of itself.” Duncan had 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists against the Clippers, his ninth double-double in the past 13 games.

  • Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald: With 42 points, LeBron James reached 40 points for the 50th time in his career. Since he entered the league in 2003-04, the only player with more 40-plus point games than James is Kobe Bryant with 93.... This marks the first team as a member of the Heat that LeBron has scored 35-plus points in three games in a row. Last time he did that? Four straight, for Cleveland, in January 2010. "I'm in a zone right now," LeBron said. "Hopefully, I can continue it. I'm tired but my body's feeling good." He said Dallas' "bench was telling me I couldn't shoot the ball." He said he shot a three the next time down and naturally made it... LeBron reiterated afterward that the 2011 Finals loss to Dallas is "the reason I am who I am today."

  • Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer: Kyrie Irving winning the MVP in the All-Star Game makes for a fun weekend for Cavaliers fans. But here's what was more meaningful -- how Irving has played in the five-game winning streak. He is averaging 20.1points, 6.7 assists and shooting 49 percent from the field. That's winning basketball, especially because he did it taking only 14 shots per game. He is an outstanding 31-of-33 at the foul line. But can they keep it up? They being both the Cavs … and Irving. It looked like it Tuesday night as the Cavs romped over the Sixers, 114-85, to make it five in a row. The opponents are Washington, Philadelphia and Detroit on the road, Memphis and Sacramento at home. Not great teams. Memphis is the only one with a winning record. Washington would make the playoffs if the season ended today. But fans also know their team is capable to losing to terrible teams any time, any place. It's up to Irving to set the tone to change that

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: After some coaxing from his coach, DeMar DeRozan challenged his teammates to come out of the all-star break strong. DeRozan and Dwane Casey chatted on the plane ride over, with Casey making it clear what he expected out of the face of the franchise. The message was heeded from DeRozan and from the others. While John Wall put on a one-man show at the other end, Toronto continued to play as a complete team — a trend since a season-defining trade with Sacramento was made back in December — and the latest result was a 103-93 win in D.C. “We talked last night as a team about the next 30 games, what to expect as a team and DeMar followed up this morning with a talk,” Casey said. “Now we’ve got to follow it up with action.”

  • Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: On the topic of Andrew Bynum, the center has progressed nicely during his workouts with the training staff, according to Vogel. Over the All-Star break, Bynum stayed behind to work on strengthening his legs. "He's working his tail off. He's absolutely killing it two hours a day in the weight room," Vogel said. Bynum participated during the team's Tuesday morning shootaround – from full-court warm ups to shell defensive drills. Even on Monday, Bynum stayed after practice to work one-on-one with assistant coach Popeye Jones, attempting an array of post-up moves and shoots on the perimeter. However, Bynum will not work alongside teammates this week during practices. "He's doing things," Vogel said. "It's just a matter of we're not going to have any crazy, intense practices this week so the plan is still to focus on those core exercises."

  • Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: Carlos Delfino is expected to join the Milwaukee Bucks shortly. Delfino has been rehabbing in Argentina after undergoing surgery on his right foot in December. It marked the second time the 31-year-old Delfino had surgery on the foot in the last seven months. He originally hurt the foot last season while playing for the Houston Rockets. While some league observers didn’t expect Delfino to play until January of this season, the Bucks nevertheless went ahead and signed Delfino to a three-year, $9.75 million contract. Delfino is expected to be with the Bucks the remainder of the season, although it’s highly unlikely he’ll see any action. The NBA has granted the Bucks a disabled player exception for Delfino, meaning they will get $1.75 million to use either in a trade or free-agent signing. As such, it’s quite possible that Delfino’s next court appearance won’t be in a Bucks’ uniform but rather an Argentinian national uni. Acquaintances of the veteran swingman claim Delfino, if healthy enough, wants to be a part of the Argentina national team this summer and, at least play on a limited basis.

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: Like nearly every other team, the Suns have a better home record than road record. To the team, it just does not feel like they have been as good at home as they have been on the road. “We’ve been better on the road than at home,” Suns guard Goran Dragic said. “We have to correct. We have to play better at home. We’ve got our fans behind us. We’re not traveling. We’re sleeping in our beds. That helps a lot. We have to win all the home games if we want to be contenders.” The perception is mostly because the Suns have exceeded their own expectations as a road team to have a winning record that includes some of the season’s more-memorable wins, including two remarkable wins at Denver, a rout at the Los Angeles Clippers and an end-of-trip upset at Indiana. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek’s constant mantra about playing the same way, with tempo and aggression, has worked on the road. But as the Suns head into a four-game homestand starting Wednesday night against Boston, the Suns are only 6-5 at home since Jan. 1. With a 17-9 overall record at US Airways Center, they still remain on Hornacek’s target to win at least two of every three home games. “We’re doing decent at home,” Hornacek said. “We’re doing pretty good on the road.”