First (Late) Cup: Tuesday

  • Mike Wells of The Indianapolis Star: "The Indiana Pacers' situation tonight couldn't be simpler. Beat Atlanta, and the Pacers keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Lose and players can start buying airline tickets to tropical destinations, knowing their vacation starts April 17. 'I like playing meaningful games and this is as meaningful of a game that we have played all year,' Pacers coach Jim O'Brien said. 'To a little bit of an extent, it's like the NCAA Tournament. It's one and done. You lose this game, and the last four games you're like in the NIT. You don't want to be in the NIT.'"

  • Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Al Jefferson and his teammates are nine days away from a long summer of rest, a fact that for now and for the Timberwolves star center's well-being is a very good thing. 'I feel like if we were going to start the playoffs in two weeks, I'd have a mental breakdown,' he said. 'I have to do a better job this summer, getting my body in great shape, because I plan on getting into the playoffs real soon.' Until this season, Jefferson never had played more than 71 games in an 82-game NBA season, and that was in his rookie year with Boston when he averaged 14.8 minutes a game."

  • Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times: '"The union membership has historically been overwhelmingly opposed to raising the age limitation by a margin of over 90% of the membership," said spokesman Dan Wasserman from the players' association office in New York. 'In 2005 we agreed to raise the age to 19 literally at the 11th hour of bargaining [in return for NBA concessions that increased the salary cap]. ... It is highly doubtful that the league or the union would open up negotiations during the CBA, just for one issue. It has never been done before and there has been no discussion of it happening now. Never say never but it is not on the radar or in our crystal balls.'"

  • Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News: 'I think it should be up to the kid,' said Kobe Bryant, who skipped college and joined the NBA after completing his senior year at Lower Merion (Pa.) High. 'It's should be the kid's decision. His choice. ... Some come out and play extremely well, others come out and have terrible careers. It all depends on the individual. 'I don't think it's right (to raise the age limit). That's just my opinion.' Bryant winced when it was suggested to him that if you're old enough to join the military as an 18-year-old, then you should be old enough to play in the NBA. 'Picking up a gun and fighting for your country is a little more dangerous than playing in the NBA,' Bryant said. 'Just a little.'"

  • Broderick Turner of The Press-Enterprise: "Want to know why the Lakers can't seem to beat the Trail Blazers in the Rose Garden? Want to know why the Lakers are just 6-18 there since Portland moved into that building in 1995? 'Ah, the (heck) with it,' a relaxed Phil Jackson said, smiling. 'Don't write a story about that.' Jackson was asked what the story should be about. 'That it's raining in Portland again,' he said, smiling. But, Jackson was reminded, it's always raining in Portland this time of year. 'That's what Kobe (Bryant) said: 'Is it never not raining when we've been up here?'"

  • Kurt Kragthorpe of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Between the two of them, Jazz teammates Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams have it covered. They understand the emotions involved with winning or losing the NCAA championship game. Just in case the Kansas or Memphis players wonder how long Monday night's feelings will stick with him, they can supply the answers. 'A lifetime,' Boozer said. 'For the rest of your life,' Williams said. That sounds pretty much like a tie, suggesting there's hardly any difference in the impact of the outcome. The strength of the memories, the way they keep resurfacing at this time of year, are basically the same either way."

  • Jerry Brown of the East Valley Tribune: "The Suns were assured of a spot in the postseason Sunday night when Seattle beat Denver. And as long as they can't hold the playoffs without them, they seem satisfied. 'I really don't care about home court,' said Nash, repeating a mantra he has dutifully held all season. 'We're probably not going to get it in the second or third round anyway, and if you can't win in the first round, you're not worth it anyway. What's the big deal? We're in, and now we have to work to become the best team we can possibly be and continue to improve. It would be great (if we could move up) but all in all, I don't know if it's going to make that much difference. We have to play well, no matter who or where we play.'"