First Cup: Wednesday

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "All those years, all those playoff series, and we’ve never seen anything like this around here. One playoff game in which the visitor leads late, real late, and loses? Sure. It happens. You know, you can’t win ’em all. But two of these things in the same series, and not only that, but Games 1 and 2, leaving the visitors beyond frustration and the coach of the Celtics almost apologizing for being up, 2-0? We’ve entered virgin series territory. Doc Rivers looked as if he had just run the Marathon -- with a Steinway on his back. It’s been a long time since a winning Celtics coach was so completely and utterly subdued when his team was up, 2-0. 'We won the game,’ he said, in a voice barely above a whisper. 'In the playoffs, the whole key is to win games, and that’s what we did.’ "

  • Julian Benbow of The Boston Globe: "The Knicks did more than complain about two non-calls in the final minute of Game 1. They sent tape of the controversial plays to the league office, according to an NBA source. The Knicks had problems with Garnett’s collision with Toney Douglas that preceded Allen’s winning 3-pointer with 11.6 seconds left. And they also pointed out to the NBA that Delonte West ran onto the court after Allen’s trey to chest bump him. The Knicks wanted a technical foul for six players on the court. According to the source, the NBA admitted that Garnett’s trip of Douglas, who was chasing Allen, was a foul."

  • Dan Duggan of the Boston Herald: "Von Wafer may not play a minute this postseason. But the fact that he’s been in uniform for the Celtics for their first two playoff games against the Knicks signifies a major personal accomplishment. Wafer had plenty of baggage when he signed a non-guaranteed, one-year contract for the veteran’s minimum last summer.The 25-year-old shooting guard was out of the NBA last season and knew he was running out of chances. Wafer didn’t know what to expect when he signed with the C’s, but he wanted the opportunity to prove he could be a contributor on a winning team. With the Celtics stacked with talent and experience, it didn’t look like Wafer would get much of a chance to make an impression. But through every checkpoint, Wafer remained. He earned one of the last roster spots out of training camp, stuck around after Delonte West was activated from his 10-game, season-opening suspension and survived the January deadline when non-guaranteed contracts become guaranteed for the season. 'I don’t think people thought that I could last here and I stayed,' Wafer said. 'Hopefully I answered a lot of questions. I feel like I did well. I feel like I could have done better, but I think I did good.' "

  • Harvey Araton of The New York Times: "On another red-hot playoff night against the Celtics, Carmelo Anthony was partnered with Ronny Turiaf and Bill Walker, Jared Jeffries and Roger Mason Jr., Melo and his merry band of ornery no-names. And no longer was there any debate over who the Knicks’ leading man would have to be for what nearly turned into one of the greatest nonfinals games in the history of the franchise. Anthony was born for such situations, which began with the bad -- Chauncey Billups out with a strained knee -- and turned into the presumably catastrophic when Amar’e Stoudemire went down with back spasms in the second quarter. ... Until an inspirational win devolved into another deflating defeat, Anthony was Walt Frazier taking the baton from Willis Reed in Game 7 of the 1970 finals. He was Bernard King with fingers taped like a mummy, taking it to the Pistons in a decisive first-round game in 1985. To criticize Anthony on a night when he rang up 42 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and had 6 assists would be a flagrant nitpicking foul. But let us just say that the first two games of his Knicks’ playoff career -- or we should say endgames -- were paradoxical to the point where they could make for a compelling episode of 'The Twilight Zone.' "

  • Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: "The ball was in his hands at the end. Then Jeffries' hands. Briefly. D'Antoni can talk about Jeffries being open and Jeffries sure did get loose for the layup that was the last New York basket on this night, the one that put the Knicks ahead 93-92 with just under 20 seconds left. You still have to know whom you're throwing the ball to. Jared Jeffries. At the very end, bitter end, he was the game-changer on Carmelo's night. When Anthony was walking with Knick giants, and legends. Until things went wrong in Boston again. Until the ball was out of his hands and into Jared Jeffries, on its way to Kevin Garnett. 'I thought we played great,' Anthony said in a quiet voice that seemed to end up on the floor in front of him the way the game had. The Knicks could not win the last minute on Sunday night, could not win the last minute Tuesday night. They have shown they have it in them, even down two stars, to play with the Celtics in the playoffs. They just can't beat them."

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "In a hotel ballroom Tuesday, Lamar Odom received his NBA sixth man award amid a hooting standing ovation from his teammates. On his new reality show, Odom is scolded by his wife about being too loyal to his best friend. In an emotional acceptance speech Tuesday, Odom spoke with passion and strength about the selflessness that led to the honor. On his new reality show, Odom is ridiculed by his brother-in-law for not making the All-Star team. Everyone contends that neither the Lakers nor one of their most important players suffered during the making -- and now, showing -- of the cheesy series about the married life of an NBA star and a D-League celebrity. But, still, one shaky game into the postseason, you have to wonder whether the 'Khloe & Lamar' show is working out a lot better for Khloe than Lamar. 'People always want to make something out of nothing,' said Khloe Kardashian, rolling her eyes. 'People want to make this out to be a distraction, but it's not.' ... After watching Odom accept his award Tuesday, Khloe told me emphatically, 'The show has been therapy for Lamar. It's been a real release.' There was once a time when therapy involved only a closed door and a couch, but in today's reality, that's old news. While Odom's sixth man award was a tribute to his ability to escape the bench, he hasn't been so lucky with the Kardashians."

  • Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel: "The Orlando Magic may have saved their season Tuesday night. And to do it, they relied on a tried-and-true formula: an improved defense, a critical hustle play by Jameer Nelson and a 48-minute dose of Dwight Howard. Riding another Herculean performance by their all-star center, the Magic outlasted the Atlanta Hawks 88-82 in an intense, emotional Game 2 to even their first-round series at one game apiece. 'This one to me came down to one thing for us,' Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. 'We played extremely hard.' No one more than Howard. With his parents and son watching from the Amway Center stands, Howard played the entire game, scored 33 points and collected 19 rebounds. Van Gundy asked him three or four times if he needed to take a take a seat on the bench, and Howard invariably responded, 'Keep playing.' "

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "They won game one and threw a scare into Orlando in game two. Forget the odds. Forget the mood swings of the regular season. Forget the part of you that says, 'I don’t like this team. I don’t trust this team. They’re going nowhere.' The Hawks didn’t guarantee themselves a playoff series upset with their performances in Orlando. But they certainly sent a message in game two that game one wasn’t a fluke. After winning the series opener Saturday, they led the heavily favored and desperate Magic by as much as 10 points in the second quarter, fizzled, fell behind by 14 in the fourth, looked dead and then showed the fight and resiliency that too often was missing this season to pull to within two at 78-76 with two minutes left. In the end, they ran out of gasps and spasms, losing 88-82 Tuesday night. But Orlando walked off their home court with their hearts nearly jumping out of their chest -- and this time Jameer Nelson didn’t make a stop to make a crack about catching Chicago in the second round."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The Mavericks have done what a lot of people didn’t think they could. They have conquered demons. They have played physical and been the better team doing so. They have scored at crunch time without relying on their jump shooting. They even exorcised Danny Crawford. But mostly, they proved to everybody, including themselves, that they can act like a highly seeded playoff team and take charge of a playoff series. They did that with a 101-89 victory Tuesday night against the Portland Trail Blazers to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 first-round series. It’s not over. The Mavericks are only halfway to advancing to the next round, but they held home court at American Airlines Center and head to Portland for Games 3 and 4 with plenty of confidence. The Mavericks played gritty defense, often forcing the Blazers deep into the shot clock before they could get a good look at the rim. In the fourth quarter, the Blazers were 4-of-10 from the field and were outscored by 11."

  • Jason Quick of The Oregonian: "Brandon Roy, the face of the franchise, had to fight off tears. The urge to break down came in the first half of the Blazers' 101-89 defeat to the Mavericks. It was in part because of the humiliation of being the Blazers' last substitute, chosen to play after Nicolas Batum, Rudy Fernandez, and even Patty Mills. ... All told, the three-time All-Star played a scoreless 7:59, missed his only shot from the field, missed both of his free throws, and made one turnover. 'There was a point in the first half, and I was thinking 'You better not cry,' ' Roy said. 'I mean, serious. I mean, there was a moment where I felt really sorry for myself. Then I was like, nah, you can't be sorry for yourself. I'm a grown man, but there was a moment there that I felt sorry for myself. Especially when I think I can still help.' Roy was one of the first players to leave the locker room, but when he was stopped in the hallway, the hurt and confusion were still evident. 'I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little hurt, or disappointed,'' Roy said. 'But the biggest thing is to keep moving, to try and keep my spirits up. But it's tough man. I just …. I just always thought I would be treated better. That was a little disappointing for me.' Earlier in the day, Roy said he is frustrated that people think his biggest obstacles are his knees. His knees, which were both operated on in January, feel good, he says. It is his mental game that needs work, Roy says."

  • Tom Sorensen of The Charlotte Observer: "As Chris Paul led the New Orleans Hornets to an upset road victory against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday, you had to consider the obvious: What would it take to coax him to Charlotte? Luck? A maximum contract? Paul likes to bowl. In Matthews, there's AMF Carolina Lanes. Change it to AMF Wake Forest Lanes. Paul is a Deacon. Paul has one more season after this one on his contract. Then he's free. He told Mike Cranston of The Associated Press that returning to N.C. to play for Michael Jordan's Charlotte Bobcats 'would definitely be something to think about.' Via Twitter, Paul backed away from the statement. He, after all, is gainfully employed by New Orleans, and he's not allowed to be disloyal or distracted. If he's not great again tonight when his team plays the Lakers, his team doesn't win. ... The trend is to be one of the many. LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwayne Wade in Miami. Anthony joined Amare Stoudemire in New York. But isn't there also appeal in being one of the few? The Bobcats have no tradition. They wear orange. One time they made the playoffs. One time they had an all-star. Some nights people buy tickets to watch them play. If Paul showed up, he'd be the savior. He'd give Jordan credibility as an NBA owner and Charlotte a reason to care. He'd be saluted locally and nationally for having the guts to go his own way. Instead of being part of a trend, he'd start one."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Daryl Morey indicated there will be many changes. Though Rick Adelman, 64, often spoke of a lack of stability in his four seasons, with only Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes remaining from his first Rockets team, Morey spoke of the perils of standing pat. Rather than tweak the roster as Adelman likely favored, he said he would continue to aggressively seek changes. 'The mistakes that are done across the league are teams that stabilize on a foundation that wins you games and maybe preserves jobs, but they're not making the tough choices with either players or in other areas that give you the change you need to get you where you want to be,' Morey said. 'There's going to be change coming -- more change. We believe in the plan. The plan is to try to continue to bring in quality players who are improving versus declining … and continue to work to use trades. 'We're going to be a team that's young and improving, and we're going to be a team that tries to trade our way to improvement. At the end of the day, judge that. If you're ready to judge that we're already not sort of executing on the plan, that's fine. We're going to continue to execute on it until it works. Stability is a factor in teams that win the championship. But if you stabilize on a team that's going to end up short of that, then all you're doing is spinning your wheels in the 45-win range.' Morey would not discuss what he will seek in the next coach, saying the priorities have not been finalized. Though he spoke with Rockets assistants Jack Sikma and Elston Turner, no interviews have been scheduled with any candidates. Turner through his agent, withdrew his name from consideration Tuesday."

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune: "Six days have gone by since the Timberwolves' 17-victory season ended and no word yet on the future of Kurt Rambis. Don't hold your breath. This thing probably will stretch on into next week at least. David Kahn left on Thursday for league meetings in New York and now I believe he's back home in Portland for much of this week. I'm not sure if he and Rambis have met yet to discuss the future, other than the exit meetings with players that they held together last week. Much like how the Kevin McHale decision played out over days and weeks the last time, I expect this one to end with word that Rambis and his staff wont be back. But you never know ... At issue still is whether Glen Taylor is willing to pay Rambis $4 million to go away and then pay a new coach quite possibly well more than Rambis was making with a lockout looming. Either way, it's not right to let a guy who has eight NBA title rings back in his drawer at home to twist in the wind like this."

  • Vincent Goodwill of The Detroit News: "Tayshaun Prince and Ben Wallace are used to being in the thick of things come the postseason. But, minutes after what could be their last game together with the Pistons, Prince wondered aloud about how he, Wallace and Richard Hamilton would be remembered. 'When guys leave on top, it's a different scenario,' said Prince, who is an unrestricted free agent, while Wallace could retire and Hamilton is likely to be traded. 'A scenario like this, where things are on a downturn, I don't know how people will perceive us.' The usually stoic Prince hopes fans won't allow the bad taste of this season, where the internal drama was matched only by losing 52 games, to sully the good memories of the past eight seasons."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Suns forward Grant Hill was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame ... Board of Governors. Hill will be considered for hall election as a player after retirement, and it will not hurt his case that he became the first active player to sit on the Hall of Fame's board. Hill will serve a three-year term on a board chaired by Jerry Colangelo, who remains the chairman of the Suns. 'It is truly an honor to be elected as a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Board of Governors and to represent the living history of basketball,' Hill said in a statement. 'It is important for the current generation of players to get involved with the Hall to help recognize the greatest in the game who have gone before us.' The board governs the Hall of Fame and its election process, raises revenue and aims to increase awareness."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star "I believe, and it’s a commonly held opinion among most coaches I’ve talked to, that a rotation of three bigs is optimal with a fourth ready to fill in when the inevitable injuries occur. So, if you’ve got Bargnani and Davis and Johnson and have some thoughts of bringing Reggie back, where’s there room for Mr. X? Does it mean no Reggie? Does it mean Bargnani gets dealt? Or how about Amir being traded? Someone’s got to go if Bryan’s going to do what he says must be done. One thing I wonder, though? Given his basketball instincts, and the fact there’s still room to put some muscle on his growing body, does Ed Davis grow into some defensive presence? Is that possible? We know he’s already a pretty good help side defender and we’ve seen him rebound the ball effectively and, with 15 or so more pounds on his frame, is that something he can do? Guess time will tell; trouble is, they don’t have an abundance of time."

  • Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun: "The man known as Smitty [Steve Smith] is right. What he didn’t say, but something many are saying behind closed doors, is that the Tim Donaghy cloud still hovers over the league, whether the NBA wants to admit to it or not. Of course mistakes will be made, shots that should drop hit iron, matchups that should be exploited are not because of poor coaching, there’s a myriad situations that could go either way. The NBA’s current rules do not allow for instant replay to review whether a player committed goaltending. It should and Perkins’ flagrant goaltending must serve as the catalyst for change. The bottom line is the NBA had an opportunity to at least trigger a dialogue that would lead to something tangible. All it did was reveal its insecurity and vulnerability. The play in question began with a missed Russell Westbrook jumper, which followed with Perkins’ hand going through the net and then outside the rim for the tap-in. 'Although a player is permitted to touch the net while the ball is in the cylinder above the rim, Perkins also touched the ball while it was still in the cylinder which is a violation and constitutes goaltending,' the NBA said in its statement. What the statement didn’t say is that the league is still troubled by the Donaghy fall-out."

  • Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee: "I was off for a few days, but it's impossible to stay away from this Kings situation, especially with relocation chairman Clay Bennett and NBA legal consultant Harvey Benjaming coming to Sacramento Thursday and Friday. While there has been considerable angst about Stern's selection of Bennett to head the committee - this is owner who moved the Sonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City in 2008 after all -- I would just say this: Stern is too smart to be so obvious. He is also an attorney. If he wanted to simply rubber stamp the Kings' relocation to Anaheim or elsewhere, he would have put someone other than Bennett to lead the study. And he never would have agreed to extending the deadline to May 2. Just my opinion. Just too logical."

  • Bob Finnan of The News-Herald: "The good news is the Cavaliers' 3.93 average television rating was the seventh-best in the NBA. The bad news? The Sports Business Journal reported the Cavs experienced a 54-percent drop on Fox Sports Ohio, the biggest yearly ratings decrease in at least seven years. The Cavs were the local ratings leader in 2009-10 in the NBA. The Cavs' huge drop can be traced to their 19-63 record and the loss of two-time MVP LeBron James in free agency. A Cavs spokesman looked at the positive aspect of the story. 'We feel great that our ratings are clearly in the top tier of the league,' he said. ... Even though the Cavs' TV ratings are down, they are quick to point out there is still considerable interest in the team. They are ranked in the top 10 in the league in website traffic for cavs.com, and they are in the top five in social media elements."