First Cup: Wednesday

  • Al Iannazzone of Newsday: Carmelo Anthony continued his dominant play, registering his first triple-double as a Knick, but he also got the help he needed from his teammates to beat a quality playoff team Tuesday night. Anthony scored 35 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished for 10 assists in the Knicks' 118-110 win over the Celtics at the Garden. But three other Knicks scored at least 20 points, including a career-high 25 by Steve Novak , who was huge in the fourth quarter. Novak drilled back-to-back three-pointers with under three minutes left after the Celtics' trimmed a 21-point deficit to six, helping the Knicks hold off Boston and a 43-point night by Paul Pierce. The Knicks hit 19 threes, and Anthony assisted on both of Novak's big baskets that made it a 10-point game with 2:05 left. "I think Melo now is settling in," coach Mike Woodson said.

  • Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: Just a few hours after Ray Allen said he was ready to play in Tuesday night’s showdown with the Knicks, the Celtics guard was a late scratch when his troublesome right ankle swelled up again. Allen has missed the past five games and 16 overall this season with ankle issues, and the late scratch this time surprised coach Doc Rivers, who had begun formulating plays for Allen. Allen participated in shootaround Tuesday and told reporters that he was ready to return. But he returned to his hotel after the workout and felt the same discomfort that has plagued him the past few days. He said he is unsure whether he will play Wednesday night against the Magic at TD Garden. “As far as the movement and mobility . . . it wasn’t to my liking,’’ Allen said before the Celtics’ 118-110 loss to the Knicks. “I couldn’t get the pushing off that I wanted so I’ve got to let it kind of relax a little bit more before I get back out there.’’ For the most part, Allen has been durable during his time with the Celtics, so the past two weeks have been a source of frustration.

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: Tim Duncan swears he has not spent one idle moment considering his future. “That’s something I’ll think about after the season ends,” he said after a recent road game. “For now, I’m not worrying about anything except our next game. I don’t even have an agent.” Indeed, Duncan’s former representative, Lon Babby, had to divest himself of his relationship with his clients when he became general manager of the Suns. Duncan has not replaced Babby just yet, but don’t take that to mean he won’t need one this summer. ... On or about July 1, the Spurs will open talks with Duncan and/or whoever winds up representing him. ... Duncan is realist enough to know a pay cut is coming his way. But the Spurs know they can’t disrespect him as the Rockets once did Olajuwon. Duncan is worth more to the Spurs than to any team with the ability to pay him more than the veteran minimum or mid-level exception. Silver and black are part of Duncan’s basketball DNA. It should not take long to find the right deal.

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: If the Lakers look predictable on offense sometimes with Kobe Bryant, they just showed everyone how predictable they can look without him. The San Antonio Spurs overplayed every Lakers entry pass with complete trust that the Lakers would force the ball inside toward center Andrew Bynum, and the Lakers piled up the turnovers en route to a 112-91 loss Tuesday night. The 21-point margin was the largest in a Lakers loss all season — one point greater than the Lakers' loss in Phoenix in their first game without Bryant. The Spurs were far more motivated than Wednesday night in San Antonio, where they were disengaged without Bryant opposing them and MVP candidate Tony Parker shot 2 for 12 from the field in a Lakers romp. Parker shot 14 for 20 from the field and finished with29 points and 13 assists in 30 minutes in the rematch, with one more game and a possible Bryant return on tap Friday night at AT&T Center. "Not only did we have bad, unforced turnovers, but our floor balance wasn't there, which led to easy points for San Antonio," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "When we play too fast or we try to make a home-run pass ... we can be mistake-prone."

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: A close game. Multiple options from which to choose. Go inside or move the ball to get an open jump shot. The Indiana Pacers lack a superstar who everybody in the building knows will end up with the ball at the end of a close game. That's OK with them. They know opponents can't key on one player. All five Pacers starters scored in the final 3 minutes Tuesday night to hold off the struggling Philadelphia 76ers 102-97 at the Wells Fargo Center. "That's us," Pacers forward Danny Granger said. "We just execute. We play the right way. We make plays for each other. Whoever gets the shot at that particular moment takes it." Team basketball is why the Pacers (40-22) have had their most successful season since 2004. They have a roster full of players who have bought into coach Frank Vogel's system and set aside personal goals.

  • Bob Kravitz of The Indianapolis Star: Why would Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird even think about leaving now? That's a question only Bird can answer, and right now, Bird doesn't have any answers. "Honestly, it's not even a debate around my house," he said the other day. "I'll sit down with Herbie (team owner Herb Simon) when it's all done and we'll move from there. Herbie will ask me about it every once in a while, but I don't want to be a distraction. Right now, it's the furthest thing from my mind." It doesn't make sense for Bird to leave now, but, then, it didn't make sense for Bird, as the coach, to walk away after he led the Pacers to the NBA Finals in the 2000 season. ... Here's my plea: Larry, please stay. There have been some mistakes along the way but, by and large, Bird has done a masterful, if understated job moving the Brawling Pacers into this new era. ... So the question will linger: Will he stay or will he go? Nobody seems to know at this point. Least of all Bird himself.

  • Tom Moore of phillyBurbs.com: The loss, which was their third in a row, dropped the 31-30 Sixers one game behind the No. 7 Knicks. They are 1 1/2 games ahead of the No. 9 Bucks, who they visit April 25, in the race for the final spot. The Sixers finished 19-14 at home in the lockout-shortened, 66-game season. They lost 11 of their last 17 in South Philadelphia after a 13-3 home start. “It’s crunch time,” said Thaddeus Young, who had 19 points for the Sixers. “We just have to figure out a way to win games like this.” Elton Brand compared the Sixers’ late-game difficulties to a plague. The Sixers end the regular season with five games on the road, starting Wednesday in Cleveland to complete a back-to-back-to-back. The Cavaliers lost to the Pistons 116-77 after trailing by 50 Tuesday, but are expected to have rookie star Kyrie Irving back from a foot injury. Brand said the Sixers are viewing the final five games almost like they’re starting over in a second season. “We’ve got to make a push,” Brand said. “I’m highly optimistic we’ll find a way. We haven’t completed games, but we’ve played well in spurts.” Collins agreed, saying, “We have a great opportunity. If you’ve got a chance, take advantage of it.”

  • Tom Reed of The Plain Dealer: Kyrie Irving wants to come back to this? He’s rehabbing his sprained right shoulder to rejoin a depleted and dispirited club that trailed by 50 points after three quarters Tuesday night in The Palace? If the Pistons are routing the Cavaliers, 116-77, what are Spurs and Grizzlies going to do to them on Sunday and Monday? Irving should be pulling a Rodney Dangerfield in Caddyshack as his tee shot ricochets off the ball cleaner. “Oh, Byron, my arm, my arm,” The Cavaliers didn’t mentally check out of Tuesday’s night’s game. That would imply they had checked in. They got jumped by the Pistons in the opening minutes and never fought back. They trailed 100-50 after three quarters. Alonzo Gee is a decent player, but his absence should not have resulted in this kind of performance. The Cavs were playing their sixth game in eight days, but an opponent should not be shooting 67.9 percent after three quarters. Especially one that entered the game ranked 28th in scoring. “No excuses,” Scott said. The NBA competition committee should remove ping-pong balls for efforts this malodorous. The Pistons dunked at will. Nobody in a white jersey got knocked down or was made to pay a price.

  • Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: With that 4-20 start pretty much eliminating any possibility of postseason play, why not tinker sooner? Frank said after Tuesday's morning shoot-around that the team started playing better so he didn't want to mess with the budding chemistry. ... For example, he wants to see Jonas Jerebko at small forward, where he backed up starter Tayshaun Prince and scored 14 points Tuesday. Jerebko, who was drafted as a small forward in the second round of the 2009 NBA draft and played there some during his rookie season, might prefer the position since he is often asked to guard bigger opponents at power forward and at 6-foot-10, he has a size advantage over most small forwards. Jerebko said it was a "mutual agreement" with Frank to give the position a try. "I'm not complaining," Jerebko said. "I love being out on that floor, so it doesn't matter to me. It's just basketball. At the end of day I just want to be on that court, and I really don't care if it's the 3 or 4."

  • Ray Richardson of the Pioneer Press: A week ago, Michael Beasley delivered a passionate dissertation on how much he wanted to remain with the Timberwolves and how much he "loved the fans, the city and the organization." Before the Wolves' 91-84 loss to Memphis on Tuesday night, April 17, at Target Center, the Wolves' 11th straight loss, Beasley's tone was dramatically different. The Wolves forward felt uncomfortable talking about his future with the team and expressed mild frustration over not getting a contract extension before the Jan. 25 deadline. "My future is so blurry," said Beasley, a restricted free agent after the season. "I don't have too much to say about next year. It's frustrating not knowing your situation next year. So many of my friends are certain where they're going to play next year. They got contract extensions. But that's how the ball drops."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: Marc Gasol posted on his Twitter page that Randolph is back. Hollins admitted that Randolph would have started if Gasol was unable to play. Both sentiments suggest that Randolph is getting closer to rejoining the starting lineup. “Zach gave us big minutes offensively,” Hollins said. Randolph made 8 of 15 shots and grabbed four offensive rebounds. His presence down low is unparalleled, especially given the Timberwolves’ decision to double team Randolph in the second half. “He’s a big part of our success as a team,” guard O.J. Mayo said. “We must not forget that and he must not forget that. We need him mentally and physically to be fit and ready to go.” That’s what he said