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First Cup: Friday

  • J. Michael of CSN Washington: In their first triple-overtime game since 1975, the Wizards went 2-for-1 Thursday by beating the Toronto Raptors for the first time in four tries and surpassed their win total from 2012-13. Marcin Gortat scored a career-high 31 points, forced overtime with a putback with five seconds left in regulation, Bradley Beal had what appeared to be the game-winner at the buzzer waived off in the second overtime, and John Wall made two steals late in the third overtime to pull it out. The victory extended the season-long winning streak to five games and the Wizards (30-28) are two games over .500 for the first time this season. ... The Wizards are 5-1 since the All-Star break, despite not having Nene and backup center Kevin Seraphin for the last two games.

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: Ankles were sprained and fouls piled up and fatigue hung over them like a dense, thick fog. And the Raptors finally ran out of gas — and almost out of players — as one of the most delightful games of the NBA season dragged on at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night. Terrence Ross left early with a sprained ankle, Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson fouled out and, just to make sure he cemented his role as one of the team’s leaders, Kyle Lowry both sprained an ankle and fouled out in a 134-129 marathon of a triple-overtime loss to the Washington Wizards. “Our deck wasn’t full and it hurt us,” was the understatement of the night from coach Dwane Casey. The loss notwithstanding, the most significant result of the night will be how Ross and Lowry feel in the next 48 hours.

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: New York has the most overpaid player in the league in the ghost of Amare Stoudemire and his creaking knees. They have Raymond Felton, who got arrested this week for threatening his girlfriend with a loaded gun. They have, of course, J.R. Smith, too, the sulking comedian who unties opponents’ shoelaces and grabs their headbands when not too busy running afoul of the league’s substance-abuse policy. They have an apparently clueless owner in James Dolan. They are sinking fast out of the playoff chase. If this is the grand strategy to convince Anthony to re-sign, better call rewrite. By contrast, the Heat understands as a franchise what the Knicks do not. It isn’t just about talent. It’s about people. The Heat is eyeing available Caron Butler to sign instead of younger Danny Granger. Why? Because Miami players know and like Butler, while the mouthy Granger had irritated Heat players in past meetings. Miami had a chance to trade now-seldom-used Udonis Haslem (along with Toney Douglas and a draft pick) to Philadelphia last week for promising young Evan Turner, probably a smart move from both a basketball and financial vantage, but didn’t. Why? Miami was repaying Haslem’s loyalty. On Sunday, the Heat will host their annual Family Day at the arena, with adoring fans mingling, eating and laughing with appreciative players. If New York had a Family Day right now, they might want a metal detector there. Not just for Felton. For angry Knicks fans.

  • Al Iannazzone of Newsday: The Knicks' blowout loss to the Heat dropped them to 21-37 and 51/2 games out of the last playoff spot in the East. But just making the postseason -- and the way the Knicks have been playing, that is a long shot -- might not be enough to keep Anthony, who said, "Everything that can go wrong for us is going wrong." Anthony has said he wants to meet with Knicks officials after the season and see what their plan is about building a team that can consistently contend. "I don't think about it like that, that I want to make the playoffs before I make that decision," Anthony said. "That decision is going to happen regardless. That time is going to come. Me making the playoffs is something that I want to do, something that I never experienced before, not making the playoffs. That's a different motivation. "Coming into this season, we felt like we could make the playoffs and we could do something. Unfortunately, we're in this situation we're in right now, fighting for our lives, fighting for a playoff spot. But us making the playoffs and then that decision don't even have anything to do with it." Anthony said during All-Star weekend that he still wants to retire a Knick and would be willing to take less than a maximum contract if it helps the team sign other free agents. That means he also would be willing to take less to go elsewhere, and this week he doesn't sound as convinced about his future as a Knick.

  • Justin Felisko of The New York Times: Jason Collins trotted onto the court with 8 minutes 2 seconds left in the fourth quarter Thursday night, the way he had done many times during his 13-year N.B.A. career. However, this instance was different. Among the fans at Pepsi Center who applauded Collins, a 7-foot Nets center, were the parents of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who was murdered in 1998. Collins wears No. 98 in Shepard’s honor. Collins, the league’s first openly gay player, planned to meet privately with Judy and Dennis Shepard after the Nets’ 112-89 victory over the Denver Nuggets. Collins, 35, said before the game that it would be an honor to meet the Shepards and that he was looking forward to a “very special meeting.” Collins played the game’s final 8:02 and finished with 3 points for the Nets (27-29), who recovered from a 124-80 loss at Portland on Wednesday. ... After the Nets’ victory, Collins was preparing for the second half of his evening. As he finished an interview, he grabbed a black autographed No. 98 jersey from his locker. It was a gift for the Shepards. Collins laughed. “I did not want to give them a sweaty jersey,” he said. “This is a backup.”

  • Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: When it was all said and done, there really wasn't much to talk about. So Nuggets coach Brian Shaw didn't. He mentioned Friday's practice time, and that was pretty much it. Players showered up and went home. The locker room felt like a library. None of them had experienced anything like they'd just endured — a 112-89 smack down at the hands of the Nets. But Brooklyn guard Joe Johnson insisted he had. At the rec center. "This felt like a pickup game tonight," Johnson said. "It didn't even feel like a real game." It didn't look like a real game. It didn't even look like a video game. It didn't resemble much of anything. Nothing good, anyway. It started with the Nuggets shooting 3-of-18 in a historically low-scoring first quarter (just eight points). Then it sank from there.

  • Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: Andrew Bynum practiced three-on-three Thursday, and Vogel said he was optimistic the 7-foot center would be ready to play soon. Soon doesn't mean a week from now, the coach said. "The goal is to get him to the point where he's able to play every night," Vogel said. "We don't want him to play one game and sit three games." Bynum signed with the Pacers as a free agent Feb. 1. Vogel has said a priority is improving the condition of Bynum, who missed the entire 2012-13 season with knee injuries and last played Dec. 26 for the Cleveland Cavaliers. "We know what we can expect from him when he's healthy and in shape. He's one of the best centers in the NBA," Vogel said. "We've seen flashes of that in practice that he's shown here."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Plenty of good things were spotted in the Milwaukee Bucks' 101-96 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night. The Bucks' improved chemistry and energy were evident. And again the revamped bench made a big contribution. But the Bucks could not seal the deal in the fourth quarter, while the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers could depend on all-stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert. George showed off his closer skills by making a clutch shot in the lane in the final 2 minutes, and the 7-foot-2 Hibbert added two free throws and muscled his way for a basket. That was enough to hold off the Bucks (11-46), who played well for the third straight game, although two have been defeats at the hands of the Pacers. "The last few games have been a much better effort," said Bucks forward Khris Middleton. "It's just the little mistakes we make carry over sometimes. At this point we really can't have those mistakes."