First Cup: Tuesday

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: Unlike Sunday night’s game against the Brooklyn Nets, New Orleans Pelicans swingman Tyreke Evans played Monday night against the Toronto Raptors. And he finished with a game-high 23-points on 10-of-14 shooting in the Pelicans' 108-101 loss to the Raptors. But for the second-straight day, Pelicans coach Monty Williams would not elaborate other than to say it was an unspecified internal matter on why Evans was benched the previous night. Evans declined comment before Monday night’s game about not playing against the Nets. But he did say there is not a communication problem going on between Williams and him as been speculated. "I just want to help the team anyway I can," Evans said. "The media can put whatever they want to put. But I know what was said and here for my teammates. I want to help them win. I'm still hurting, but I'm out there still battling and fighting." Evans said he's still experiencing pain from a cartilage tear between his ribs.But a team source said, Evans' injury had nothing to do with why he was benched Sunday night.

  • Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun: Dwane Casey had been thinking about starting surging forward Patrick Patterson for a while now. An injury to mainstay Amir Johnson forced the hand of Toronto’s head coach Monday and the switch worked out well for the Raptors, 108-101 winners over New Orleans. Patterson paced the Raptors in scoring with 22 points, including 10 in the crucial third quarter. DeMar DeRozan added 22 points of his own and Kyle Lowry had 19 points, falling three rebounds shy of a triple double as Toronto snapped a two-game losing skid. Lowry, the smallest player on the court, grabbed five offensive boards. “Those were huge, huge offensive rebounds,” Casey said.

  • John Niyo of The Detroit News: The Pistons will continue to listen to offers for Greg Monroe, or at least offers of offers for Monroe, who’ll be a restricted free agent this summer. But it doesn’t sound as if they’re actively shopping him, and they’ve made it clear to other teams they’re not trading him for expiring contracts or picks. Then again, there’s a decent chance Monroe’s agent, David Falk, will find another team willing to force their hand with an offer sheet for a max-level contract in July. So what if there’s a blockbuster deal to be made that could bring back, say, Arron Afflalo from Orlando? A long shot, I realize, but who’s making that call, and at what cost? And who’s deciding what to do with those expiring contracts — Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Charlie Villanueva? Whose agenda is it now, as the Pistons try to end this season on a different note, for a change. “There’s a chance,” Billups said, “for us to write a pretty good story here.” Maybe so, but who’s writing it?

  • Dan McCarney of the San Antonio Express-News: It obviously didn’t matter on Monday as the Pistons romped in their first game under interim head coach John Loyer. But check this fascinating stat from Fox Sports Southwest: There have been 11 coaching changes in Detroit, and 188 in the NBA overall, since Popovich fired and replaced Bob Hill in 1996. He explained the secret of his longevity before tipoff: ”I have information on everybody.” That, and Tim Duncan.

  • Candace Buckner of The Indianapolis Star: When the Indiana Pacers came together again on Monday, the stench of "last night" lingered in the locker room like a hamper full of dirty socks. Not enough time had passed to shake off the bad loss in Orlando — a good thing for a team with a long memory and high aspirations. While they may never truly forget, the result on Monday night helped to refocus the Pacers. Indiana snapped back to reality by destroying the Denver Nuggets 119-80, setting a season-best victory margin. David West played mean, the defense played together and most of all, the team played for an entire 48-minute game. "We were disappointed with how last night ended," West said. "That was a game we let get away from us because we didn't play the right way, we didn't honor the basketball gods and (they) made us pay. So we lost the game and we talked about that today." Yes, there were a few too-cute passes and messy turnovers after the Indiana starters opened a big second-half lead. But unlike Sunday night, when they lost a 17-point, second-half lead to one of the worst teams in the NBA, the coasting did not cost the Pacers (40-11).

  • A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com: Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has seen the impact of trade speculation from all the vital vantage points - player, coach and front office executive. Ainge acknowledges it can be challenging for some players to maintain their focus if they start thinking too much about possibly being traded. "Everybody has to do it," Ainge told CSNNE.com. "It's the business we're in. When I was a young player, it was an awakening when I was a rookie. But you sort of go through it." Brandon Bass has had his name tossed about in trade rumors a number of times during his NBA career. Charlotte, Golden State and Phoenix are reportedly teams that have interest in Bass. "You can't let that affect your game," Bass told CSNNE.com earlier. "You just have to go out and play your game, do what you do and whatever happens, happens." Said Ainge: "Most guys that have been around this league, if you're worth anything you're involved in trade rumors, you're involved in discussions. It's just part of the world we live in. I don't know what you can do except just play." And for Ainge, he fully expected there to be more speculative talk surrounding his team than past seasons.

  • Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post: Sunday and Monday were among the most painful days Nuggets guard Ty Lawson can remember. He'd never had a broken rib. Now, he does, after suffering the fracture Saturday in the Nuggets' 126-109 loss at Detroit. And the healing process is going to extend into the all-star break. Lawson's broken rib kept him from playing against the Indiana Pacers on Monday night and will prevent him from competing in Wednesday night's game at the Minnesota Timberwolves. When he returns after that is anyone's guess, but he'll have the all-star break to get it figured out. The Nuggets' first game after the break is Feb. 18 at home against the Phoenix Suns. "I would imagine it would be a little while," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said.

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: Bucks center Larry Sanders is out indefinitely with a fractured right orbital bone suffered in the game Saturday night against Houston. It's the latest in a series of blows this season for the 6-foot-11 Sanders, who signed a four-year, $44 million contract extension in the off-season. Sanders suffered his latest injury while contesting for a rebound in the first quarter when he was inadvertently elbowed by Rockets guard James Harden. "It's really unfortunate because the kid had been playing well," Bucks coach Larry Drew said of Sanders. "He was starting to play with a rhythm and had played two of his better games this year." Sanders had eight points and 11 rebounds against New York one week ago and followed up with a career-high 25 points and 15 rebounds in the Bucks' loss at Denver on Wednesday. A Bucks spokesman gave no timetable on Sanders' return and indicated he would see a specialist on Tuesday. Drew said Sanders still was suffering from blurred vision.

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: Neither head coach Mark Jackson nor Andrew Bogut knows how the Warriors' center incurred a left shoulder injury, a condition that has sidelined Bogut for three games. Jackson didn't do Bogut any favors Monday with one possible explanation. "As far as I know, it wasn't on the court," Jackson said before the Warriors faced Philadelphia. "It wasn't in practice. It wasn't in a game. I'm not really sure. It may have been sleeping, and I say that in all seriousness." That remark didn't sit well with Bogut. "I just wanted to address that the sleeping comment is absolutely ridiculous," Bogut said. "I don't know where it came from. I don't know if I should read between the lines with it. The frustrating thing is: I don't know when I hurt it against Utah (on Jan. 31). I just know after that game, it was a little sore. It hasn't gotten better." ... Bogut said he'll decide in the next couple of days whether to get a cortisone shot, and he planned to talk to Jackson about his comments after Monday's game.

  • Michael Kaskey-Blomain of The Philadelphia Inquirer: After a hot start to the season, Evan Turner has cooled off considerably. At the start of the season, Turner served as a scoring machine for the upstart Sixers, who came out of the gate running at the league’s fastest pace, and thus providing Evan ample opportunity to operate. Throughout the season’s first month, Turner was putting up twenty plus points, snagging seven rebounds, and dropping four additional dimes per game. The fourth-year forward from Ohio State was slowly gaining the support of some of the fan base, and even heard his name tossed around early as a potential all-star selection. These days though, all Turner is hearing his name associated with is trade rumors. Since the start of the season, Turner’s production has plummeted, and all the good will he built up with his strong start is dissipating quickly, leaving the franchise, the fan base, and the forward, frustrated. ... Whether his statistical slip represents regression, or simply inability to sustain such stats is unknown, but either way it is alarming. If his production continues along these lines, not only is there is certainly no place for him going forward with the franchise, but also the Sixers will struggle to find trade value for the former top two pick.

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: As often as Chandler Parsons thinks about where he was selected in the NBA draft — 38th overall in 2011 — it was especially relevant Monday in Minnesota, considering the Timberwolves originally owned the pick. The Rockets acquired the pick from the Clippers when they traded Steve Novak for the right to switch draft positions. The pick officially went to Minnesota in the deal for Jonny Flynn and another pick used on Donatas Motiejunas, with the Rockets immediately buying it back to eventually land Parsons. “When I actually got drafted, I didn’t realize who it was to at the beginning,” Parsons said. “I hugged everybody and asked my brother, ‘So where am I going?’ ” Parsons had 20 points and six assists against the Timberwolves, offering another reminder of his value to the Rockets as the starting small forward since early in his rookie season. But he still uses the frustrations of that night. “I remember that night like it was yesterday,” Parsons said. “The reason: It keeps me motivated and to be the best player I can become. That was a frustrating night, but I couldn’t be in a better place for me. The opportunity I have in Houston is unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier.”

  • Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press: Like the bundled backs of Timberwolves fans heading for Target Center's exits in the fourth quarter Monday night, the team's playoff chances have become smaller and tougher to see. The Wolves, with their fourth starting lineup in five games, cut a 15-point deficit to the Houston Rockets to four entering the fourth quarter, only to watch it balloon back to 15 when the Wolves didn't score in the next six minutes. It ended in a 107-89 blowout. The Wolves set season worsts for most points given up in a first half (67) and fewest points scored in the second half (31). The playoff flirtation has fled in a fortnight. The Wolves (24-28) have gone from a winning record near the end of January to a season-worst, four-game losing streak. ... "It's burning the candle at both ends, basically, with there being less and less games -- and we just can't continue to lose," said all-star Kevin Love, who returned after missing two of the previous three games because of various injuries to post 31 points and 10 rebounds.