Dan Steinberg, D.C. Sports Bog: "Well, the organization can banish Gilbert Arenas's(notes) name and likeness from its arena, but DeShawn Stevenson(notes) will keep the love alive. Witness his ankle tape from Sunday's home loss against the Hornets. Admirable loyalty to a missing friend? Or PR stumble from a franchise that's had enough of those? I've also gotten e-mails from two different fans about their Free Gil signs being confiscated at Verizon Center; one from a Caps game, and these two gents pictured below. [...] Update: Wizards PR has heard of at least one security guard who confiscated an Arenas sign, but he was asking on his own and not following the stated policies."
Brian Windhorst, Plain Dealer: So far this season, the Cavaliers have been able to score some investment wins, the kind that will pay off all season long. Most of the league is not going to emerge from places such as Phoenix, Orlando, Atlanta or Los Angeles against the Lakers with victory in hand. Tack on another one after Sunday night, when they went into the thorns' nest known as the Rose Garden and beat the feisty, if injury-depleted, Trail Blazers, 106-94. It was a highlight-filled contest with LeBron James(notes) and Brandon Roy(notes), the present and future of the NBA, trading haymakers. It featured remarkable runs, questionable defense and even some throwback play from Shaquille O'Neal(notes). Most important for the Cavs (29-10), though, was it was a win — even if it was shaky at times. On long road trips such as they're on now, there's no looking sideways at it. 'To be a great team, you have to get good road wins in tough environments,' James said. 'We've done that for the most part this year.' James started super hot, hitting his first nine shots and putting up 20 points in the first quarter for just the third time in his career. He mellowed after that and scored just 10 points in the second half, but his 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists still qualified as a strong performance in a tough environment."
Bruce Arthur, National Post: "The sleepy-eyed Turk [Hedo Turkoglu(notes)] with the most unfortunately appropriate TV commercial ever — the ad for Pizza Pizza where he sits on his couch cramming slices into his mouth and languidly answering the phone when coach Jay Triano calls — had another underwhelming outing yesterday. His line: Two of nine shooting, 0-for-2 from the line, five points, nine assists, four rebounds. Turkoglu, however, knows that what he is doing isn't good enough. He's just not sure he can change it. 'The way I play, I've never been a selfish guy,' said Turkoglu after the game. 'I'm just trying to play as hard as I can, and get myself going. If I have the ball, I can be more creative with it ... For me, I'm running on the side and expecting to be a spot-up guy — you know, it's hard for me.' In other words, Turkoglu was used to having the offence run through him in Orlando, and that's happening less in the land of Jose Calderon(notes) and Jarrett Jack(notes). So while he is actually shooting a higher percentage than he did with the Magic — 42.5%, versus 41.3% on last year's Finals team in Orlando — Turkoglu feels like he is watching too much, waiting for the ball, and then trying a little too often to be a player that he is not."
Jarrod Rudolph, RealGM: "Magic guard J.J. Redick(notes) would love the opportunity to take part in next month's three-point shooting contest at All-Star Weekend in Dallas. 'I consider stuff like that an honor,' Redick told RealGM's Jarrod Rudolph. 'If the NBA asked me to do it, yeah, I'd happily go to Dallas for a weekend of shooting threes.' Redick acknowledged other great shooters in the league, but added that he's never been on the losing end of a battle. 'Obviously there are great shooters in this league,' he said. 'Those two years that Jason Kapono(notes) won it, I don't care how good you're shooting, he was just ridiculous. There are factors besides how good of a shooter you are. I've never lost a 3-point contest.'"Frank Dell'Apa, The Boston Globe: "Rajon Rondo said he has been 'feeling depressed' about the Celtics' recent struggles. But Rondo provided some effective treatment yesterday with the sixth triple double (including playoffs) of his career. Rondo had 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists by halftime, and said he was being urged on by director of basketball development Tyronn Lue(notes). 'They told me at halftime and ‘T-Lue' threatened me, so I had to go out there and get it done,' Rondo said. 'It's nice to have it, but the biggest thing is we got the win. I'd hate to get a triple double or have a great game and lose, that means nothing. But to get a win, it's OK, and [tonight] we've got a different game, so we've got to move on. It's not like I've got a week to sit back and think about it — move on to the next.' 'He's our energy beacon,' said coach Doc Rivers. 'Without him I don't know where we're going to get it from. I told him before he may have to play a lot of minutes. That's the only thing I don't like, even though he is young. We still need to buy minutes for more guys.'"
Ronald Tillery, MCA: "Lionel Hollins was told he had 11/2 seasons to prove that he could be a quality NBA head coach when he took over the Grizzlies less than a year ago. Hollins wasted little time convincing the man who made that declaration. Griz owner Michael Heisley has initiated negotiations toward a contract extension for Hollins, who is working on a 17-month deal he signed Jan. 25, 2009. Heisley instructed general manager Chris Wallace to contact Hollins' representative last week for the purpose of determining where both sides stand. However, the Grizzlies' Chicago-based, billionaire owner made clear that he intends to keep Hollins in charge beyond this season. 'I made up my mind that I would start negotiating after the start of the year,' Heisley said. 'I told Chris that back in September. I'm not going to discuss contract negotiations in the paper. But I'm not interested in making any changes. We're going to work on an extension for Lionel. He's earned it.' Hollins, 56, is the franchise's 11th coach, and his impact draws many similarities to the Hubie Brown Era when Memphis earned its first postseason berth. Under Hollins, the Griz can claim a clear style of play, chemistry and relevancy that goes with having a respectable record for the first time in four years."
Jeff McDonald, S.A. Express-News: "Each night for most of his two-plus NBA seasons, Spurs center Ian Mahinmi(notes) donned the same basic game-night uniform. Nice pants, nice shoes and dress coat — the standard attire for players on the inactive list. So Mahinmi's teammates knew something was different when he arrived at the AT&T Center for Sunday's 97-85 victory over New Jersey sporting a brand new fashion accessory. An ear-to-ear smile. 'He was smiling from the moment he walked in the locker room and saw a jersey hanging in his locker,' guard George Hill(notes) said. 'He's been wanting to play for the longest.' Knowing a game against the league's lowliest team might not bring out the best in every player, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich chose this moment to give playing time to the one member of his roster guaranteed to approach it like Game 7 of the NBA Finals. After not logging a single NBA minute since November 2007, Mahinmi was enthused just to be on the floor with anybody, even the Nets (3-34). He responded by providing a career-best 15 points and nine rebounds and — as advertised — stuffed three seasons of stored-up energy into his nearly 21 minutes of floor time."
Dave D'Alessandro, The Star-Ledger: "It took exactly one shot for Devin Harris(notes) to conclude that he wasn't suiting up Sunday night. Never mind that his first attempt during warmups rimmed out. It was what happened next: The Nets point guard instinctively rubbed his right wrist, and applied a grim visage that clearly said, 'This isn't going to happen.' Harris, who had an MRI earlier in the day, still tried to loosen it up with an array of mid-range jumpers for 15 minutes before deciding to sit out the Nets' 97-85 loss to the Spurs. 'It's sore,' he said. 'I'm going to try for Wednesday,' when the Nets host Boston. Harris said that he has felt pain from tendinitis 'for a couple games,' even before his 2-for-9 struggle at New Orleans Friday, and his coach confirmed as much. 'It really started to bother him last game,' Kiki Vandeweghe said. 'He hasn't said anything, he played with it. For the most part, he's played a little hurt all year.' Then, with a chuckle: 'Why should he be different from anyone else on this team?' Vandeweghe added."
Marc Stein, TrueHoop: "Denver's desire to acquire an extra big man to throw at the defending champs from L.A. is no secret. What I didn't realize until the weekend is the need to start describing the Nuggets' affection for Pacer lifer Jeff Foster(notes) in stronger terms. Love is the word used by two sources close to the situation. The obstacles to a Foster-to-Denver deal, though, are considerable. Obstacle No. 1: Foster has one more season left on his contract after this season at nearly $6.7 million and has a 15-percent trade kicker in his contract. As much as the Nuggets would be thrilled to have Foster — giving them one more mobile counter to all of the Lakers' feared size — that's a lot to take on for a team that's already looking at a luxury-tax payment in July of more than $5 million. Obstacle No. 2: My man Chad Ford noted in his latest chat that the Nuggets would almost certainly need to find a third team to facilitate a deal for Foster unless they were willing to surrender rookie guard Ty Lawson(notes). And you obviously presume Denver won't be surrendering the speedy Lawson, who Chad says Indy nearly chose ahead Tyler Hansbrough(notes) and looks like an absolute steal as last June's No. 18 pick. "
Chris Tomasson, NBA FanHouse: "Going from a 3-34 team to a 25-12 team would prompt most anybody to want to schedule a ticker-tape parade. But forward Eduardo Najera(notes), expected Monday to be traded from New Jersey to Dallas, told FanHouse on Sunday night he has some mixed feelings about the deal, even though he was one of the Mavericks' most popular players from 2000-04. Najera has great respect for New Jersey president Rod Thorn and general manager and coach Kiki Vandeweghe. 'Kiki is a good friend and so is Rod,' said Najera, who played for Vandeweghe for a 1 ½ seasons before he was ousted as Denver's general manager in May 2006 and then rejoined Vandeweghe with New Jersey in the summer of 2008 by signing a four-year, $12 million contract. 'The team has grown together even though it has been rough at times (with the losing).'"
Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: "Pau Gasol will go with the Lakers for their two-game trip to San Antonio and Dallas. Whether he feels healthy enough to play is a different story. Gasol had to stop a workout on a treadmill Saturday after feeling pain in his strained left hamstring, but he had a better experience during a 10-minute treadmill workout Sunday night before the Lakers' game against the Milwaukee Bucks. 'It felt better,' he said, smiling. 'Today was a positive step.' Gasol has missed four games because of the injury. 'I can feel the pulling,' he said. 'If the pain is there and it increases when you do activity, then you're not in a good place. It's the wrong place to be.'"
Frank Isola, New York Daily News: "Wilson Chandler is both unassuming and low maintenance, a rare combination in the NBA these days. He's the type of guy who'll buy an orange and blue Knicks baseball cap rather than ask the team for a freebie. 'I got it in West New York,' Chandler said yesterday of his latest headgear. 'It's my favorite cap store.' Shy and reserved, Chandler is not as popular as David Lee(notes) and he's certainly not as polarizing as Nate Robinson(notes). He is, however, just as important as any player on the Knicks. He can guard all five positions and already this season Mike D'Antoni has asked him to defend everyone from Kevin Garnett(notes) to Aaron Brooks(notes). 'One game I started off on David West,'(notes) Chandler said, 'and then guarded Chris Paul(notes) in the second half.'"
Jim Peltz, Los Angeles Times: "Injured Clippers rookie Blake Griffin(notes) might finally join his teammates in practice later this week, but only for running and shooting, Coach Mike Dunleavy said Saturday. Griffin, a power forward who was the NBA's No. 1 draft pick, is still waiting to make his debut after suffering a stress fracture in his left kneecap. He has been steadily rehabilitating the knee, but no timetable has been set for when he'll play his first regular-season game or, for that matter, when he'll first practice when contact with other players is involved. But Griffin is nearly ready to join his teammates for a so-called '5 and 0' practice drill, in which 'we have our team running up and down full court, full speed, running plays and things of that nature' without a defense on the court, Dunleavy said after the team's practice Saturday. 'I would assume that to be, like, next week at some point,' Dunleavy said."
- Lionel Hollins