First Cup: Monday

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Chris Bosh’s final line: 34 points on 13-for-18 shooting. Not in the box score: the belief he cost Joakim Noah some paycheck. With 6:33 left in the first quarter, Noah was called for a foul on Bosh, and immediately went to the bench with two personals. The TNT cameras then stayed on Noah as he was having a back-and-forth with what appeared to be a Heat fan seated behind the bench -- and Noah clearly went all Kobe Bryant, using a homosexual slur toward the fan. 'I got caught up,' Noah said. 'A fan said something, I said something back. I apologize.' Does he expect a fine? 'I don’t know what’s going to happen,' Noah said. And that wasn’t even the low point of Noah’s night as he led a cast of characters that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau threw in the road to try and slow down the Bosh bus. The result? A whole lot of road kill in red jerseys. 'I just wanted to be aggressive and have a handprint on the series,’ Bosh said. That he did. Then again, that’s usually the mark a slap to the face leaves on the opposition."

  • Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune: "He would finish with 26 points and 17 rebounds, and while his defensive rotations led to some easy Miami baskets, Carlos Boozer at least gave his star a chance to do something good later. If only the star we we’re talking about was Chris Bosh. Or LeBron James. Or Dwyane Wade. Because Derrick Rose was not that guy Sunday. Rose gave the Bulls 20 points, but he shot only 8 for 19 and managed only five assists, fewer than Joakim Noah. When it mattered, Rose didn’t. He had two points in the fourth quarter, taking only two shots. He also had two assists and a steal, but committed two turnovers and two fouls. The Heat double-teamed Rose everytime the Bulls went to the pick-and-roll. Most of the time, Rose tried to beat it with a pass, meaning the Heat accomplished their plan of getting the ball out of hands. Not enough good stuff happened after that. It would be nice if he had more help, and it’s a lot to lay on a kid, but this is the NBA’s MVP we’re talking about. He has to own each game, or at least the fourth quarter. The Bulls have little chance otherwise. Obvious, yeah. But true. It’s not that complex. Your best players have to be your best players."

  • Dave Hyde of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Here was the perfect portrait to tell the story: Chris Bosh driving hard down the lane, dunking on Chicago forward Carlos Boozer and then screaming, mouth wide open, as he ran back down the court. What was it Boozer said before this series? Thatthe Heat 'have two great players in D-Wade and LeBron' and no mention of a third? Now here Bosh was, letting his emotion out on a night he looked every inch the star in the Heat's 96-85 win in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night. 'He put his imprint on the game right from the beginning,' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Imprint? You could say that. Bosh didn't just have a game-high 34 points. He didn't just hit 13 of his final 15 shots. He didn't just have more field goals (13) than Dwyane Wade and LeBron James combined (12). He became Option No. 1 Sunday night and directed the Heat a 2-1 series lead. That, of course, is exactly what Chicago asked Bosh to do, too. What it dared him to try."

  • Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: "Funny thing, the Heat is supposed to have lousy fans. Maybe you hadn’t heard. A writer for Foxsports.com -- we omit his name to protect the imbecilic -- suggested on that website Sunday that Miami owns no home-court advantage at all. ... The description would have shocked anyone inside the arena for Game 3, no doubt including the beaten Bulls, their ears ringing. This might be the best South Florida has felt about any of its teams since the Dolphins won back-to-back Super Bowls in 1972 and ’73. We have cheered champions since then, but no team more than the Big 3 Heat offers not just excellence but the bonafide promise of a dynasty. Greater Miami has had a malaise in sports the past few years, in step with political turmoil leading to the recall of Miami-Dade’s mayor. The Heat has been the antidote, and as a community, we needed this. The team that so much of the rest of America loves to hate has been our feel-good story. These home fans have lifted the Heat, and the opposite is happening. The Heat is lifting Miami, too. Higher and higher."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "As the Mavericks go for a staggering blow to Oklahoma City in Game 4 on Monday night, their ongoing rush to dominance in the Western Conference playoffs can be described in one word. Roadacious. OK, maybe it’s a mythical term. But their powerful performances on the road are becoming the stuff of legend, too. They have won four consecutive road games in three of the most hostile arenas in the NBA -- the Rose Garden in Portland, Staples Center in Los Angeles and Oklahoma City Arena. It’s been 25 days since that Game 6 clincher against the Blazers. It’s been exactly a month since their last road defeat, the attitude-altering Game 4 loss to Portland that featured a 23-point blown lead. Since then, the Mavericks have become road killers. 'Nobody wanted to see Portland,' Tyson Chandler said. 'And nobody for sure wanted to see the Lakers. And nobody wanted to see this young team in Oklahoma City. We’ve had the toughest road. But I feel like it’s made us tougher.' "

  • Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, one of two players who remain on the team from the 2006 Finals club that lost to the Miami Heat, said the veteran-laden Mavericks are confident. He also said that Dallas is far from satisfied and the only acceptable outcome is to not only win this series but continue and win the club's first NBA title. Anything short of that would be just as disappointing as the team's first-round playoff exits in three of the past four seasons. 'If we don't win it all, this would be a wasted year,' Nowitzki said. 'If we lose the first round, second round, third round, at this point it doesn't matter if you end the season on a loss. It's disappointing and it means I didn't reach my goal.' Like the message on the T-shirts the Mavericks' marketing team has been giving to fans during the playoffs, Nowitzki says the 'time is now' for Dallas. 'Why not now?' Nowitzki said."

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "Scott Brooks made two declarations Sunday. He will not change his starting lineup. And he will not slash starting center Kendrick Perkins' minutes. At this point, there's only marginal room for debate regarding the first decision. Multiple slow starts in this postseason more than prove the first unit isn't working and has run its course. But chemistry concerns have handicapped Brooks from pulling the trigger on tinkering with his first unit. There is no excuse, though, for continuing to stick with Perkins so much. His value has diminished against Dallas. And how ironic. The man the Thunder shied away from at the trade deadline two seasons ago is now exposing the man it acquired at this year's deadline. Mavs center Tyson Chandler is a nightmare matchup for Perkins. The 7-foot-1 Chandler is one of the most athletic big men in the league, and Perkins, a more plodding, traditional center, has had problems containing him."

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "In case you missed this … consider yourself fortunate. Chris Kaman of the Clippers, anticipating the predicted end of the world this weekend, joked on Twitter about boosting his arms collection. Or maybe he wasn’t joking. With this guy, who knows? Anyway, Kaman was photographed checking out guns, including one picture of him pointing the barrel right into the camera. 'Just incase anything fishy happens tomorrow I bought a few more guns,' Kaman tweeted to his 10,000-plus followers. It obviously was meant as a gag, but we’re guessing the NBA would prefer that its players not be so flippant about gun play. And just curious: Do you think the public reaction might have been different if the player in the photographs were black?"

  • Sid Hartman of the Star Tribune: "While the NFL lockout continues, Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor -- who also is chairman of the NBA Board of Governors -- says there could be an NBA lockout next season. 'I don't know what is going to happen,' said Taylor, who claims one reason a new collective bargaining agreement is needed is because 24 of the 32 NBA teams lost money last season. 'I would just tell you we're meeting with the union every week and I'm real positive,' Taylor said. 'We've had nice, good meetings, but there's still a long way to go. I'm going out on Tuesday for another meeting, then we have another one set for early June.' "

  • Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle: "When I asked a team official about Kevin McHale on Saturday afternoon, he said only, 'We were impressed.' He walks into a room with the presence of one of the NBA’s greatest players ever and a three-time NBA champion. He’s also 6-10, so he can look down on the TV guys. I’ll be bringing the apple crate I used when I filmed my scene in The Rookie. If you’re saying, 'Hold it, Bubba, I saw The Rookie, and you weren’t in it. For one thing, you’re wrong. My left shoulder is in the movie. For another thing, you’ll have to ask McClain. He got practically a starring role while I was treated like a red-headed stepchild. Whenever Morey was asked about his requirements for the next coach, he’d begin by saying, 'A leader of men.' McHale fits that bill. Casey and Frank may fit the bill too, but having been on the floor and done great things must carry some weight. I don’t know his weakness as a coach. I don’t even know if he has a weakness. He got great reviews in Minnesota for those 94 games. If he does have a weakness, I hope he’s aware of it. He can hire someone to help with the offense or defense, but no one can be hired to bring leadership and a strong voice and charisma into the huddle. Again, there are no wrong answers among these final three candidates, but McHale is the guy an unconventional GM and an unconventional owner might go for."

  • Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "For seven seasons, Josh Smith has shown us that he can be the best player on the floor. For seven seasons, he has shown us that he can be the worst player on the floor. The fact these opposites often appear in the same game is what makes him so maddening. This is why after seven seasons, it’s time to say goodbye. Smith is not the biggest problem on the Hawks’ roster, he’s merely the greatest lightning rod for criticism. He’s not the player who has crippled the payroll and just followed the richest contract in NBA history -- $123,658,089 -- with his least-productive season. That would be Joe Johnson. For as much as Smith is hammered for launching three-point shots, he had a better shooting percentage from three-range this season (33.1 percent) than Johnson (29.7). Johnson battled some injuries (elbow, thumb). But so did Smith (knee), and he’s not supposed to be a three-point shooter. So who should we scream louder about? Here’s the problem: Smith clearly is getting fed up as the Hawks’ player who’s constantly being duct-taped to a post in the middle of the town square. ... Dealing Smith gives the Hawks a chance to acquire a legitimate starting center. Teague’s ascent opens the possibility of including Kirk Hinrich and his expiring $8.1 million contract in the trade. There are options. But after seven years, Smith’s exit would be beneficial for both parties."

  • Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "The Pistons likely will use the No. 8 pick in the draft on a very tall man you have never seen. This is, of course, much better than if they chose a very short armadillo you have never seen. But I suspect most fans are wary. Many fans see the names Enes, Jonas, Bismack, Jan and Donatas, and they think 'Darko.' Never mind that Bismack, like Darko, is an awesome name, especially for a superhero. This is a different era. The world has changed since the Pistons blew the No. 2 pick in the 2003 draft on Darko Milicic. They will make a much more informed decision this time. They still could blow it, but the chances of the Pistons blowing their pick by taking a foreign player are about the same as their chances of making a mistake on an American college player. ... In mid-June, the European equivalent of the Chicago predraft camp will be held in Treviso, Italy. The best European players will either interview with teams there or elsewhere. To sum up, the Pistons can see the players in person, in meaningful competition. They can watch video of their games, just like they do with college prospects. They can e-mail them. They can go on Facebook and play Scrabble with them. And they can talk to them in person."

  • Marcos Breton of The Sacramento Bee: "Why should the Sacramento region invest in a downtown arena? To begin with, this is not about the Kings' owners. This is about building a destination for people who live and visit here. Downtown arenas promote public safety and investment. They create business opportunities. A downtown arena would be good for Placer and El Dorado counties because it would create a marketplace for their businesses and their employees other than the Roseville Galleria. A downtown arena would draw major shows that currently skip Power Balance Pavilion because its loading docks and facilities are not attractive to promoters. Without an arena for the future, 2 million people in the Sacramento region will be forced to pile in their cars for two-hour drives to the Bay Area to see decent shows. This effort is not going to be easy, but it will be a worthwhile investment that brings people together, a triumph over special interests that pit people against each other. We could use that in Sacramento."