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First Cup: Wednesday

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "In the franchise history of undesirable Bulls scenarios -- along the lines of, say, Dennis Rodman insulting the Mormons or Dalibor Bagaric playing at all -- having Jannero Pargo guard Steve Nash would have to rank up there. That's not to deride completely Pargo's effort on the two-time most valuable player during the Suns' 111-105 victory over the Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center because Pargo actually fared fairly admirably. It is to say losing Kirk Hinrich to a sprained left ankle late in the first half further stretched thin a Bulls team already without Luol Deng and running out of playoff lives. Speaking of undesirable scenarios: The Bulls now trail the Raptors for the final Eastern Conference berth by 11/2 games with eight to play. The Raptors own the tiebreaker and play host to a Clippers team finishing a back-to-back without Baron Davis on Wednesday. The Bulls will be replaying the painful memories of this loss perhaps all offseason."

  • Charles F. Gardner of the Journal Sentinel: "Andrew Bogut was enjoying the moment in the Milwaukee Bucks locker room. After all, the 7-foot center has never played on a .500 team during his five years with the Bucks, after being selected No. 1 overall in the 2005 draft. But the Bucks' lopsided 107-89 victory Tuesday over the Los Angeles Clippers guaranteed a .500 or better record, with nine games remaining in the regular season. And to add to the Bucks' good night, their magic number for clinching a playoff berth was reduced to three when the Chicago Bulls lost at home to the Phoenix Suns. Any combination of Bucks victories and Bulls defeats totaling three will put Milwaukee in the postseason for the first time since 2006. 'Definitely,' Bogut said when asked if the Bucks (41-32) had achieved something with their victory. "Especially when we were picked to finish last by every so-called expert in the United States. It's an accomplishment in itself. 'e're not coasting. Obviously one of our best players (Michael Redd) goes down and injures himself for the whole season. We're still fighting for a pretty high seed and a playoff spot. It's a good sign for the franchise.' "

  • Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "It's become a rough world for anyone with a high profile andquestionable judgment. Everything is a click away today. High school flames. Atomic bomb blueprints. Dorell Wright's naked body, sent a year ago to someone who posted it on Monday. The sin wasn't violent or malicious or even as serious as the recent DUI charge against Wright. If you don't understand that, you need a real-world education. It did involve shame, though. 'I'm truly embarrassed for myself and the Heat organization,' Wright said. Don't you long for the days when being a sports fan meant judging athletes on how they handled the big moment in a game, not if they were sincere and genuine in explaining their social-networking behavior? There's a fear that the volatile mix of sports, sex and the Internet will give rise to a new marketplace. The likes of TMZ's coming sports site give rise to this fear. But no media entity or Internet site will pull a Christopher Columbus in that world. The athletes already are there. The most ridiculous part of Wright's incident is it's not ridiculous anymore. It's part of the landscape. Already, the shock is wearing off."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "To say Hedo Turkoglu has been at the center of a storm almost all season long is a bit of an understatement. The team decided to give him almost all of training camp off to rest after playing for his Turkey homeland in the European championships and he started the season slowly, as did his team. While he has put up numbers comparable to last season with Orlando, his impact in Toronto hasn't been nearly as great as the fans would expect. Signed to a gigantic contract –- five years and about $53 million (U.S.) -– the expectations were great from the moment he joined the Raptors but his play did not live up to the hype. His coaches, bosses and teammates defended him for most of the season -- and he did have more than a few good games when Toronto was red-hot in the middle of the season -- but the breaking point was reached on the weekend. But whether his benching is a true turning point cannot be told after just one game. Coach Jay Triano said he expects to leave Turkoglu as a backup for the rest of this season -- the Raptors have nine games to go as they chase an Eastern Conference playoff race -- and it would seem there will be no long-term repercussions."

  • Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Feel free to boo Kobe Bryant. Go ahead and goad Pau Gasol. Let Lamar Odom know there will be no Southern hospitality for the Lakers at Philips Arena. It seems Hawks fans may need to be reminded, so Hawks coach Mike Woodson will do so. The marquee teams and stars who’ve visited Philips Arena this season have been too warmly received for Woodson’s tastes. 'It shouldn’t be that way,' Woodson said. 'There [are] enough people in this city to support the Hawks. I think we are a fun team to watch. We’ve grown definitely over the years, from the time we started to where we are today. Sure, I’d like to see more people in their seats and rooting for our guys.' Instead, the Hawks have seen fans root for opponents in their house. ... The Hawks’ distaste for the cheers for their opponents is about more than just pride. A big part of the home team’s advantage stems from players drawing energy from their fans, as well as the pressure a boisterous crowd can put on opponents. Hawks forward Joe Smith played with LeBron James in Cleveland. He said the support the Cavaliers enjoyed at road arenas gave them a lift. ... And what’s it like for the home team when fans back the visitors? 'It sucks,' Smith said. 'You always want to use home floor as an advantage. When we go out there and teams have more [jerseys] or more fans cheering, that’s a bad feeling for the home team.' "

  • Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "The Wizards have undergone so much roster turnover because of injuries, trades, suspensions, buyouts and defections that it is getting more difficult to determine who's in, who's out, or who's left. When the newly-signed Cartier Martin entered the game late in the second quarter against the Rockets, the Wizards set a new team record for number of players to step foot on the courtin one season at 23. And, considering that Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden never played for the Wizards, they actually have had 25 different players on the roster. 'Feels like the CBA, when you have that many guys,' Flip Saunders said before the game. He then joked that Martin is 'maybe not the last, either.' According to a league source, the Wizards intend on signing Cedric Jackson of the Developmental League's Erie BayHawks, which would make it 26 different players in a Wizards uniform this season. But the Wizards remain focused on trying to halt a more shameful bit of history -- the franchise-record losing streak. The Wizards will play the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday."

  • Dave Krieger of The Denver Post: "The best photo is George Karl lying there in a hospital gown and what appears to be a plastic shower cap, raising both hands as if to catch a pass, grinning John Lithgow-style at the camera. It was taken shortly after emergency procedures to dissolve blood clots in his lungs and leg. And it's hard not to wonder: What is this man grinning about? The Nuggets' coach is undergoing an intense, 45-day cancer cocktail of radiation and chemotherapy that saps his strength and causes so much pain to his mouth and throat that he cannot eat. Karl's hopes of coaching through the treatment have dissolved in a mist of pain and pain meds and fatigue. And, oh yes, his team has fallen from second to fifth in the Western Conference standings, and the seventh-winningest coach in NBA history can't do anything about it. What he and life partner Kim Van Deraa can do is provide a rare public window on their private battle through an online blog at mylifeline.org/georgekarl. It wasn't so much inspiration as necessity. Van Deraa found she could do just about everything that needed to be done each day only if she didn't respond individually to the hundreds of people who constantly want to know how George is doing."

  • Gordon Monson of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Look for more harsh truth, more fierceness from Jerry Sloan, then, in the weeks ahead. Already, he's achieved this season one of his best coaching jobs, taking a team that might have blown apart, given its struggles last season, its offseason feud/communication breakdown with Carlos Boozer, Boozer's egocentrism and coming free agency, its stumbling start, and steering that team back on course. It's a notable accomplishment that will transform into a mindblower if the Jazz make a forceful playoff run, even though few believe they can actually win a title as presently constituted. But just being in the fight has stoked Sloan's fire. That much is plain to see courtside every night now. It certainly was evident when the Jazz lost at Phoenix, and Sloan tried to bust his way through security while the referees reviewed events at the close of the game. He also put his forearm on ref Michael Smith, who subsequently gave him the heave-ho. 'Sometimes I get carried away,' Sloan said. Especially when he's in a brawl for playoff position. That's part of his charm and part of his effectiveness. His players know not to mess with him because ... well, he's Jerry Frickin' Sloan. Sloan's made a lot of hay off that tough-guy image. The Hall of Famer has earned his respect, and he uses it to push his players."

  • Bob Young of The Arizona Republic: "... here we are in the final weeks of the regular season, and the Suns went into their game Tuesday night in Chicago -- let's see -- fourth in the West. The Spurs had -- we'll double check - yes, slipped to eighth. Frankly, though, we're bummed. We have been quietly hoping that somehow the Suns and Spurs would make enough of a late push to end up in a first-round playoff series against each other. How fun would that be? Hopefully, ESPN would see fit to send Bruce Bowen and the rest of the network's 'NBA Coast to Coast' crew here so Suns fans could boo him just for old time's sake. However, after exhaustive research that lasted almost until lunchtime, we're sorry to say that it isn't going to happen."

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "This season should have been all about the draft -- developing the point guard taken in last year's, and maximizing chances at landing a top player in this year's. Instead, the position in which the Wolves invested the most has yielded the least. They took three point guards in the first round of last year's draft, signed a point guard in free agency, and 10 months later they still lack an NBA-quality starting point guard. To quote Charles Barkley, that's 'Tirble.' Even Kevin McHale and Randy Wittman, the worst combination of general manager and coach in the history of the NBA, might not have been able to pull this off. David Kahn's first signature move was taking Ricky Rubio with the fifth pick in the draft. Rubio stayed in Spain and might never play in Minnesota -- and he still represents Kahn's best personnel move ever. While the failed negotiations with Rubio proved embarrassing, at least there is a chance of that pick someday improving the franchise, either if Rubio comes to Minnesota and thrives or if he yields a good player or draft pick in a trade."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The rest of the league might be a bit envious of how well the Cavaliers get along. They've drawn much attention with their 'Family Portrait,' with LeBron James dancing and other antics over the last year. Some of the histrionics have drawn snarls from the opposition. Cavs forward Antawn Jamison, who joined the team on Feb. 17, has a different take. 'I didn't have a problem with it (when he played for Washington),' Jamison said. 'I watched the high-fives and the antics. You envy it a little bit. You see those guys out there having fun, everybody is involved, high-fiving, joking. I've been on teams before the games the coach will say something and (everybody sits) down.' Jamison has enjoyed being with the Cavaliers the last month. ... Jamison said some players around the league are offended by how the Cavs act. 'I looked at it as being jealous a little bit as far as the camaraderie, pulling for each other,' he said. 'It's a way to energize the guys and the crowd.' "

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "These Suns talk about not shooting the 3-pointer as well, not running as much and not even being as talented as the past few years of this Steve Nash-Amar'e Stoudemire era. Yet, they score more. 'Are we?' Stoudemire questioned. 'Really?' Nash said. 'I don't know how.' This Suns team has become the highest-scoring one of the six seasons since Nash's return to Phoenix. With Tuesday night's 111-105 win at Chicago, the Suns are averaging a NBA-best 110.5 points. 'Are you kidding me?' said Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who has been on the coaching staff since Nash arrived for teams that averaged 110.4 (2004-05), 108.4 (2005-06), 110.2 (2006-07), 110.1 (2007-08) and 109.4 (2008-09). 'That's hard for me to believe. Seriously.' "

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "It didn't take long for retired player-turned-Grizzlies assistant coach Damon Stoudamire to figure out that NBA assistants are similar to backup quarterbacks. They are a group that is revered for practice performances and their support for the go-to guy in front of them. And it can be a thankless job being the person behind the scenes because the job is hands-on with long hours but without a lot of glory. 'When you're an assistant coach,' Stoudamire said, flatly, 'you assist.' For Griz head coach Lionel Hollins, it didn't take long to realize that assistants are often unheralded yet never under-appreciated by the decision-maker. As Hollins looks to secure a much-anticipated contract extension he also wants to keep together a staff that operates with the same chemistry his players display on the court. With the exception of Stoudamire, all of Hollins' assistants bring head coaching experience on some level -- meaning Johnny Davis, Henry Bibby, David Joerger and Barry Hecker, have been tried, trusted and heavily tapped into this season."

  • Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee: "The decision to waive forward Joey Dorsey on Monday seems to indicate Westphal isn't looking to add players just to do so. Dorsey had been late to workouts since the Kings acquired him Feb. 18 in the three-team trade involving Kevin Martin. A knock on Dorsey in Houston was his work ethic. Westphal declined to discuss the player's situation with the Kings. 'Let's just say we decided to waive him and leave it at that,' Westphal said."

  • Chris Iott of Booth Newspapers: "Former Pistons standout and current radio color commentator Rick Mahorn appeared on 'The Dr. Oz Show' on Monday to discuss his health, including his need to lose weight and his family’s history of heart trouble. Mahorn weighed in at 392 pounds, well above his playing weight. NBA.com lists Mahorn at 260 pounds, while basketball-reference.com has him at 240. At 6-feet, 10-inches tall, Mahorn has a body mass index of 41, which puts him just above the cutoff for being morbidly obese, Dr. Oz said. 'I’ve got to start taking precautions now,' Mahorn said on the show. 'I want to be here for my kids, and I want to be here for my kids’ kids. I want to be here for a while to get on people’s nerves.' "