First Cup: Wednesday

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "Think this game and this team mean much to Derek Fisher? The Lakers' 91-84 Game 3 victory Tuesday and Fisher's late contributions to it nearly left him crying. During an interview. While still on the court. On national television. Fisher had to pause before speaking. Then he started but paused again. Finally he apologized for all the pausing and also for the feelings welling up inside him. Neither apology was necessary, but that's Fisher for you. Doing the right thing so often this time of year. 'You know, I love what I do,' he would say later. 'And I love helping my team win. To come through again tonight for this team, 14 years in, after so many great moments, it's always quite surreal and quite humbling to experience it again.' On a team famous for its collective ego and flaming self-confidence, Fisher refreshingly possesses both without flaunting either. 'I think as you grow in this game...you start to recognize that being in this moment, on this stage, it's not a given,' he said. 'To have this opportunity just as a person, I don't think you ever want to look back in life and have any regrets about anything.' No, this isn't a given. Nothing's a given, from the Lakers being here again next season to Fisher being with them at all next season. He isn't signed for 2010-11, meaning the Lakers have a significant and emotional decision to make. With each passing playoff performance, Fisher's doing his part to sell himself. The Lakers would be very wise to make that purchase. Again."

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "On a night when Derek Fisher once again selflessly took Hollywood one step closer to heaven, he gave words to a legacy. 'To come through tonight again for this team ... after so many great moments, it's always quite surreal and quite humbling to experience it again and do it again,' he said. 'But it's like being a kid, man, you just never get tired of that candy.' And, oh yeah, he also led a Lakers defensive push that held Allen without a basket in 13 shots. But a larger question still remains -- was Fisher's 94-foot layup a farewell tour or a march home? He becomes a free agent this summer and, given his age and the Lakers' desire to find a quicker and bigger starting point guard, nothing is guaranteed. But as I wrote in this space Sunday, the Lakers have to keep him. His price probably increased Tuesday, there will be more potential suitors who will realize this old guy still knows how to win, but the Lakers have to do whatever it takes to keep him. Championships are not something he does. Championships are something he is."

  • Arash Markazi of ESPNLosAngeles.com: "The success of the Lakers' bench and of the team many times during this postseason has hinged on Lamar Odom. If he is able to come off the bench and give the team a solid contribution, the Lakers are almost impossible to beat. Far too often, however, Odom has disappeared, which has led to the Lakers getting little to nothing from their bench and relying far too much on their starters. As the Lakers found themselves down 12-5 with 7:41 left in the first quarter, coach Phil Jackson called a timeout and told his team to slow the game down. About two minutes before the timeout he put Luke Walton into the game for Ron Artest, who had picked up two quick fouls, and about two minutes after the timeout he brought Odom into the game for Andrew Bynum. The tandem helped spark a 32-8 run for the Lakers. ... The Lakers were able to regain home-court advantage Tuesday in large part because Odom and Walton consistently made the plays in front of them. When reminded of Paul Pierce's proclamation during Game 2 that the series wasn't returning to Los Angeles, Walton laughed and said he hoped Pierce was right. 'We don't want to stop,' Walton said. 'We don't want to just get one and let them get the next two and now we're in a hole going back home. We want to finish it out here. We want to come back Thursday and win again. I'm cool with this series not going back to L.A.' "

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The prediction still has legs. The visionary lives. At the end of Game 2 Sunday night, the Celtics victory in hand, Paul Pierce looked out at the cosmetically reconstructed faces on the Laker fans and proclaimed, 'We ain’t coming back to LA.' Well, Paul Pierce ain’t wrong yet. All the Celtics need to do is play two more games like they did last night, and they, indeed, can avoid the discomfort of a coast-to-coast flight. But after getting bold on the baseline in Los Angeles, the captain was acknowledging his psychic error after a 91-84 Game 3 loss, and looking forward to putting his tray table in an upright and locked position before takeoff next Monday. ... 'It happens,' Pierce said. 'We lost a game. We’ve got to go back to LA. I’m not going to win a game in LA and say we’re coming back. I mean, no. That means I’m saying we’re going to lose at home. I mean, I’m confident in my ballclub. So if I do say that type of stuff, it’s all in good spirits, man. I want to win, just like they want to win. We’ve got to go back to LA. It is what it is. We’ve got to just do it the hard way. It’s not a problem.' It will be a problem unless Pierce can improve from his 13-for-36 shooting performance in the first three games."

  • Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Doc Rivers still was steaming over Kevin Garnett’s Game 2 foul trouble last night. And it didn’t change much after the Celtics’ Game 3 loss -- this time with Paul Pierce the Celtic who fell into early foul trouble. Ray Allen’s Game 1 foul trouble considered, the Celtics have now hit for the Big Three cycle. Rivers, who has heard the Lakers’ Phil Jackson lobby for calls in this series, believes he may be forced to employ the same tactic, if he hasn’t already. 'Every game so far we’ve had one of our top players in foul trouble,' said the Celtics coach. 'Maybe I should start complaining about fouls. Maybe I can get a turnaround like it was turned around tonight. That was amazing.' "

  • Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe: "It’s trendy around these parts to mock the manhood of the Los Angeles Lakers. The fundamental rules apply as time goes by. Graduation season rolls around, the Celtics and Lakers play in the Finals, and the lunchpail Boston bullies prevail because they are tougher when the clock nears midnight. Not last night. On the second Tuesday of June, in the third game of the 2010 NBA Finals, the Lakers made a statement on the parquet floorboards. The Phil Jackson Five took a punch in the mouth, stood tall, and beat the Celtics, 91-84, to take a two-games-to-one series lead in what is shaping up as a grand and grueling match of modern mastodons. It’s been nearly a half century since Bill Russell regularly thwarted the Lakers and almost 30 years since the inferior (1984) Celtics somehow willed themselves to victory over the clearly more talented LA Showtimers. When the Celtics came back from a 17-point first-half deficit last night, spoiled Boston fans watched their heroes slowly cut into the lead and waited for the inevitable moment when the locals would overtake the LA Fakers. Didn’t happen."

  • Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: "Ray Allen's 0-for-13 performance ranked as the second-worst 0-fer in Finals history, falling one miss short of the record of 0-for-14 shared by Seattle's Dennis Johnson in 1979 and Baltimore's Chick Reiser in 1948. Allen missed all eight 3-pointers he attempted and a trio of bunnies. He missed five shots in the first quarter, six in the third, and two more in the fourth. How bad was Tuesday's performance? Allen had never endured anything even close. His previous high for consecutive missed field goals was nine on Jan. 4, 2008. You'd have to go all the way back to April 4, 1999 (8) or Feb. 26, 1997 (7) to find his other career lows. 'I just know the game doesn't owe anything to anybody,' said Allen. 'I can't just think that it's always supposed to be the way I want it to be. You gotta make your own breaks at both ends of the floor. Offensively, you have to find ways to get over the hump. Every game, every day, you gotta get out there and get your rhythm and work on your shot. Try to improve it.' But how do you improve on near perfection? Two days ago, the Celtics had to hose Allen down before he boarded the team bus, otherwise the seats were liable to catch fire. On Tuesday, the Celtics' training staff should have left an extra pair of socks in his locker stall, he was so cold. 'That's why you always have to be humble,' said Allen. 'When things go great, it's good to be a part of. You have to be sure to make good decisions. Moving forward, you have to continue to work on things you need to work on to be good in the future. Preparation is the biggest key.' "

  • Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post: "But back to the Clippers. Is Los Angeles big enough for both LeBron and Kobe? Is one building, the Staples Center, big enough for them both? And is Sterling the kind of guy who'll sacrifice face time and credit in order to actually have LeBron wear a Clippers uniform? If the Chicago Bulls are the team with both the best roster and cap space available, then the Clippers are No. 2 on the list. They've got a more than capable center in Chris Kaman, a young star guard in the making in Eric Gordon, last year's No. 1 draft pick who hasn't even stepped on the court in Blake Griffin, a veteran guard in Baron Davis. The Clippers are a team in need of a dynamic owner to make it happen and Geffen, understandably, is drooling. And the NBA would be foolish to try and quiet the buzz over this and over the next rumor/report to come along. This isn't a case of no publicity is bad publicity. This is the most exciting free agent bonanza in NBA history, and it's perfect fodder for the off days and down time in the 24-hour news culture we live in, where radio stations, Twitter accounts and all kinds of other social media need to be satisfied. The NBA couldn't pay for this kind of obsessive all-day coverage. It's nirvana for the basketball junkie. When Lakers-Celtics tips off for Games 3, 4, 5, 6 and perhaps 7, the action on the court will easily command the attention of folks who care about the games, even LeBron, who decided not to sit with Geffen the other night because he knew the consequences of such an appearance. And when the dribbling stops, LeBron is on the clock, now, providing all the hoops news you can use."

  • Eric Lacy of The Detroit News: "Tom Izzo's future with Michigan State could depend on what a 25-year-old NBA superstar does with his own. That's the impression former Spartans coach Jud Heathcote got when his prized pupil called him Monday night for a 30-minute phone conversation at his home in Spokane, Wash. Heathcote confirmed Tuesday that Izzo discussed the idea of coaching Cavaliers standout LeBron James. And much of the discussion, according to Heathcote, centered around whether or not James would remain a Cavalier if Izzo decides to take the job. James enters free agency July 1 and expects to have numerous suitors, including Cleveland, New York, New Jersey and Chicago. 'I honestly think he'll look at this,' Heathcote said. 'But unless he can get some commitment from LeBron James, the job isn't that good. I think a lot hinges on what (Izzo) feels about LeBron's future. I think he's seriously considering it. He's going to look at it like he does on all things but he's got an awfully good situation at Michigan State, too.' Heathcote believes Izzo would turn down an offer from the Cavs if he's under the impression James will sign with another team. 'I don't think he would take it,' Heathcote said. 'That's just my gut feeling.' "

  • Mike McGraw of the Daily Herald: "A chaotic front office doesn't figure to help Cleveland's cause when it comes to retaining LeBron James this summer. In many ways, it's a sad situation. After producing the NBA's best regular-season record for two straight years -- 66 and 61 wins -- coach Mike Brown was fired and general manager Danny Ferry resigned. What more could they have done, right? Well, it's always easy to second-guess. But Ferry and the Cavaliers made a baffling miscalculation during the past few seasons and it may cost them the two-time MVP. The Cavs could have had cap room to spend during the greatest free-agent summer the NBA has ever seen. They were on target to bring Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Joe Johnson or someone to serve as LeBron's sidekick. Instead of being patient and waiting for 2010, the Cavaliers spent that money with the intention of winning a championship before James hit the open market. Needless to say, it didn't happen. The Cavs suffered their third straight early exit from the playoffs last month."

  • Jimmy Smith of The Times-Picayune: "Introduced Tuesday at the New Orleans Arena as the ninth coach in franchise history, Williams, 38, also became the youngest head coach in the NBA. Hornets General Manager Jeff Bower, who along with team president Hugh Weber and owner-in-waiting Gary Chouest conducted interviews with eight coaching candidates before whittling the list to two, Williams and Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, said the fact that neither finalist had NBA head-coaching experience wasn’t critically important. With Williams, Bower said, the Hornets are risking their immediate future on a thoroughbred who isn’t a long shot. 'I think it’s a situation that is always to fair to questions whenever any coach takes his first job,' said Bower, who hired Williams to replace him on the bench after Bower took over for Byron Scott after a 3-6 start this season. 'And we don’t view it as a gamble. We view it as an opportunity. If it is to be looked at as a gamble, I would say it’s a gamble on greatness. We feel he has the foundation parts, that he has the personality, the core values that the successful coaches in our league generally possess. His passion and pursuit of his goals is something he’s had as an individual, whether it’s at Notre Dame or as a player or as an assistant coach.' "