First Cup: Thursday

  • Frank Dell'Apa of The Boston Globe: "Kevin Garnett passed the alley-oop test in the Celtics' 106-90 exhibition win over Toronto last night. Garnett converted two dunks off lobs from Rajon Rondo, the first time they have combined on the play since Garnett was injured last February. 'That was nice,' coach Doc Rivers said. 'Unexpected, actually, because Kevin got kneed in the calf in the first half, so I didn't think he was running well. And all of a sudden, out of nowhere, he becomes the old Kevin. That's the only thing, really, that you can see that he hasn't done. And to see that, that's really big.' Garnett, who had 16 points and six rebounds in 22:42 of playing time."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Allen Iverson joined the Memphis Grizzlies for $3 million late in the off-season, amidst plenty of media speculation and hoopla. Now the 34-year-old Iverson already is out of the Memphis lineup for an extended time due to a partial tear in his left hamstring. In a much quieter off-season transaction in National Basketball Association circles, forward Hakim Warrick signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Milwaukee Bucks, after the Grizzlies withdrew their qualifying offer to the former Syracuse star. Warrick's signing could be a steal for the Bucks, if he can continue the steady play he has produced over the first five exhibition games. He leads the team in scoring (17.8 points per game) and rebounding (6.8) and is shooting 59% from the field and 77% at the foul line, while taking a team-high 44 free-throw attempts. ... So it was a bit of a jolt when the Grizzlies let him become an unrestricted free agent. 'Just being in this profession, you always want to have something to prove, no matter what,' Warrick said. 'You look at the greatest, Michael Jordan. He always had something to prove, and he was the best player that walked the face of the earth. 'I definitely want to go out there and show that it was a mistake and I'm a really good player.' "

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: "One of the knocks on Kwame Brown has been his inconsistent hands -- frequently in the past he would fumble passes out of bounds or lose the basketball when going up for shots around defenders. But that hasn't been the case so far. I asked Brown if he is doing anything different. Is he using Stickum? Using contacts now? Using Velcro gloves? The secret is not so drastic. Brown said he's just concentrating on slowing down and making sure the ball is secured before starting his move. Really? That's it? But it does make some sense. Former Pistons coach Michael Curry used to tell the media all the time last season that Brown was fine whenever he would just slow down. Further reminders from Kuester has continued the reclamation project. And while Brown may never reach the heights his draft status says he should, Kuester thinks Brown can still have a huge impact in this league -- proving our skepticism dead wrong."

  • Chris Dempsey of The Denver Post: "George Karl hasn't seen much to write home about from his team during preseason games, but he's got plenty to smile about anyway. We're talkin' about practice. This team is taking the every day sessions with a professional approach Karl has never seen from a Nuggets squad during his tenure. And that has him practically giddy about the possibilities ahead. ... Karl said Carmelo Anthony has been particularly solid with his leadership in October. Anthony also scored 45 points in the Nuggets' last exhibition game -- a win over Indiana in Beijing. 'I think Melo is growing into that role, more so by his approach and his actions more than just his words,' Karl said. 'And the culture. Our culture of who we pick up and who we trade for, I think we're a little more aware of guys that like to be in the gym.' "

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Blake Griffin sent a second message, inquiring about DaJuan Blair's arrival time. This time the response left Griffin totally perplexed. 'He let me know he wasn't coming to New York at all,' said Griffin, the Clippers rookie and 2008-09 College Player of the Year who was the No. 1 overall selection of the draft. 'That confused me and surprised me.' In fact, Blair wasn't in the 'green room' at Madison Square Garden, awaiting an expected curtain call to pose with commissioner David Stern after being announced as a first-round pick. That was because the league had determined it wasn't likely that Blair would be taken in the first round, which turned out to be the case. Instead, the Spurs made him the 37th overall pick. Blair has vowed to make the 29 teams that passed on him regret the decision. Griffin believes he will make good on his promise. 'It doesn't matter that he didn't go (in the first round),' Griffin said. 'He got drafted where he was meant to be, and I know he's going to make the best of it.' The two power forwards became good friends at summer basketball. On Wednesday night, they went head-to-head at the AT&T Center in a preseason game. Griffin had 23 points and seven rebounds. Blair turned in his second double-double, with 11 points and 12 rebounds in Los Angeles' 93-90 victory."

  • John Jackson of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The word 'potential' is a dangerous adjective in sports when applied to a young player. Sometimes it means that player is a future star; other times it's simply a euphemism for ''hasn't accomplished anything yet.'' With that caveat, I must say I love the potential of the Bulls' young frontcourt players, particularly Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and James Johnson. All three, especially the rookies, surely will have moments when they struggle this season, but each will produce many more positive than negative moments."

  • Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "I have to say I was flabbergasted by the amount the NBA fined coach Larry Brown and the Charlotte Bobcats Wednesday. The league is charging Brown and the franchise $60,000 each for Brown's behavior in Atlanta on Monday and for what the league perceives as Brown criticizing the referees after the game. I was there in Atlanta on Monday night and again Tuesday after practice when Brown first talked publicly about his ejection. I was within feet of Brown on both occasions and certainly within earshot of what the principals said. It's true that Brown 'verbally abused' (the league's term) the refs, getting himself ejected in the third quarter of the preseason loss to the Hawks. It's also true that Brown refused to leave the court in a timely manner. That accounted for the first $35,000 of Brown's fine. But to say Brown criticized the officials after the fact is at best an overreaction to what happened. And at worst, an injustice."

  • Marcus Thompson II of The Oakland Tribune: "Stephen Jackson initially expressed disappointme
    nt at the coaching staff for keeping him in the game and not backing him when replacement referees whistled him for five fouls and a technical in the first quarter. Wednesday, Jackson also elaborated on his beef with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. The two were locked in a heated matchup that got Jackson the five fouls and his blood boiling, which led to his two-game suspension. 'I'm not a fan of Kobe,' Jackson said. 'I'm not somebody who looks up to him. I'm a grown man myself. So when I go out there and play the game, I play the game. I feel like I'm just as good as him. I might not get the publicity or notoriety he gets, but I feel like I can play with anybody in the NBA any given night.' Bryant reportedly called Jackson 'young fella' during the game, and Jackson complained of Bryant throwing elbows. Jackson perhaps expected his teammates to mix it up with Bryant in his defense. Their failure to do so might have played a part in Jackson relinquishing his team captaincy Tuesday."

  • Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times: "Ron Artest speaks his mind on just about any topic, and this afternoon was no different when he was asked about Golden State guard-forward Stephen Jackson. Jackson and Artest were with the Indiana Pacers when the infamous 'Palace Brawl' took place in 2004. Artest stood by his former teammate when asked about Jackson's recent demeanor, which included a two-game suspension on top of a demand to be traded. 'The greatest did it before -- Kobe, the greatest to ever play the game -- and he won a championship after that' demand, Artest said. 'He wanted to win. He didn't want out; he wanted to win. Stephen Jackson probably isn't as talented as the greatest, but he has got as much heart.' "

  • Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel: "Marcin Gortat certainly is backing up his claim that he's one of the league's best centers. If he were unhappy about the Magic matching Dallas' offer, he hasn't showed it in his play. He averaging 8.0 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 22.8 minutes per game. He is the only Magic player to appear in all five preseason games."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel: "A team-wide session on Ustream led to an awkward moment for forward Michael Beasley, as the Miami Heat prepared for Wednesday night's 96-91 exhibition loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder at the BOK Center. Following up on a session initially put together by Heat guard Dwyane Wade, Beasley found himself responding Tuesday night to a posted comment relating to his substance-abuse issues this summer. As he read the comment on the live video feed, teammates Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers, who were in his room participating in the live Internet stream at the time, grew quiet. In response to a snarky comment of knowing how to hide his stash, Beasley playfully responded about how true that was. Comments from those viewing the stream followed ripping the initial commenter about trying to lure Beasley into such a response. Before Wednesday's game, when asked if he would have been better off simply avoiding a reply, the second-year forward acknowledged with a smile, 'you're right.' "