Celtics vs. Pistons
Terry Foster of The Detroit News: "Jason Maxiell knew he did well Monday night. While dressing to meet the media in the main press room Rasheed Wallace popped him in the arm and made fun of him. That is Wallace's way of saying you are OK by him. 'I thought Max fouled him,' Wallace joked while eying his young teammate. But Wallace got serious. He had no choice because Maxiell's first quarter block of Kevin Garnett and six-point scoring barrage in the fourth quarter were major keys during the Pistons 94-75 victory over the Boston Celtics which tied the Eastern Conference finals 2-2 heading into Game 5 in Boston. 'That kept the momentum up,' Wallace said of the block. 'They were trying to bounce back and I think if he would have made that dunk it would have changed things for them and they would have felt they were in the game. But with Max's block that helped keep them in check.'"
Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "Big Three, where were you? No, hold it. No more talk about a Big Three until they win something. And, please, no more of that (admittedly humorous) ESPN promo. Right now it's an insult to the real Big Three. You can talk about the bench, and, yup, you need a bench. But in the long run, the Celtics have been constructed around three high-priced veteran stars. And they simply cannot come up as small as they did as a unit last night. It's just not acceptable. It was an absolutely brutal collective evening at the Palace of Auburn Hills for the vaunted Celtics trio of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen."
Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "The C's finished with only 12 assists -- normally half of what they record in a game -- including another low-ebb game from Rajon Rondo [stats], who had four points and four assists. His backup, Sam Cassell, had zero points and zero assists in 16 minutes."
Krista Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press: "[Antonio] McDyess, who has two more seasons on his contract, can hear time ticking away on his career. Still without a ring, he is not ready to go to his retirement with his hand unadorned. 'There's only so many opportunities that we're going to have,' McDyess said. 'Opportunities are definitely getting limited. Next year's going to be hard, and the year after that's going to be harder. So we have to leave everything out on the floor -- that's basically what I've told them.' McDyess has taken on a more vocal leadership role with his teammates ever since Game 4 against the Sixers, when he stormed into halftime and let his teammates know they couldn't let that game slip away. They didn't. 'He's been so aggressive and so effective,' point guard Chauncey Billups said. 'We feed off his energy out there. I feed off his energy. He plays every game like it's his last game.'"
Spurs vs. Lakers
Tom Orsborn and Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Count Tim Duncan among the Spurs who wouldn't mind seeing Brent Barry get more minutes, especially if Popovich continues to rely on the motion offense. 'He's always been great in that offense,' Duncan said of Barry. 'He's most comfortable in that. When he's been able to handle the ball a little bit, he's able to make great passes and cuts. And obviously nobody wants to leave because he can get a shot off. Just in that, it spreads our offense even more.'"
Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "Before every Lakers game, this nut named Ronny Turiaf runs around near the bench shaking every teammate's hand. He shakes every hand differently, a different finger wag or wrist motion for each player, and each player always remembers and responds. By the time Turiaf finishes with the starters, he is standing at midcourt, music blaring, crowd cheering, at which point he dances alone back to the bench. Not saunters, not jogs, but actually dances, different each night, swerving, shaking, unpredictable. 'It's all about feeling your flow,' Turiaf says. 'This team, we feel our flow, and we follow it.' You know, maybe that's it. Maybe that's why this postseason feels so different from every other postseason since Phil Jackson's first title here eight years ago. Maybe that's why these mostly ordinary Lakers are so much more fun than those star-studded Lakers."
Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Kobe Bryant is smiling, his team is thriving and all of Los Angeles is back in full swoon for the Lakers. This might be a good time for Mitch Kupchak, the Lakers' oft-maligned general manager, to exhale and perhaps take a figurative bow. But Kupchak is not exactly the bowing type, and for that matter, not one who exhales easily. Breathing difficulties are a hazard of running the Lakers, who produce as many gasps as a great Hollywood drama."
Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Daequan Cook laughs about the Orlando draft camp somehow being perceived as a marginalized event. If not for the combine, and not for the fact that it includes three days of scrimmages, we well could still be talking about Ohio State guard Daequan Cook instead of Heat guard Daequan Cook. 'That last day last year really changed everything for me,' Cook said. 'That put me over the top. When I went to work out for teams, they said that's what did it for me.'"
Jerry Zgoda of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Timberwolves' countdown to draft night -- 30 days and ticking -- continues today, when the NBA opens its annual predraft camp in Orlando. The Wolves' entire scouting staff, plus coach Randy Wittman and perhaps assistant coach Jerry Sichting, will attend practice sessions and games for three days in what is the NBA's version of the NFL scouting combine."
Frank Zicarelli of the Toronto Sun: "For the first time in his three-year tenure as Toronto's hoops czar, Bryan Colangelo heads to the land of Disney, where his team was ousted in five games by the Magic last month, with every conceivable option on the table. In Orlando, tires will be kicked, names will get floated, individual workouts will be finalized and the top prospects will be made available to the media on Thursday as the draft countdown con
tinues. Whether the Raptors go big or small, add to their Euro-centric roster or zero in on an underclassmen, it's of no significance. As currently constituted, the last thing the Raptors roster needs is a prospect pegged to go at No. 17."
Martin Johnson of the New York Sun: "For most Knicks fans, though, they will think of the upcoming draft in relation to Memphis, as the Memphis Grizzlies hold the key to the Knicks' pick. It's well known that the Knicks' wish list is for one of the top three guards available: Derrick Rose, Jerryd Bayless, or O.J. Mayo. The initial sense, following the lottery last Wednesday, was that all three would be gone by the time the Knicks picked with the no. 6 selection. But some further analysis suggests that the Knicks may need to sit tight and see ..."
Alan Hahn of Newsday: "Mike D'Antoni's Italian is so fluent, you'd want him ordering for the table. And his menu suggestion in the upcoming NBA draft for the Knicks could be some Danilo Gallinari. It's a dish D'Antoni has not personally sampled, but he knows the ingredients well. It's the seasoning of Gallinari's father, Vittorio, who played nine seasons with D'Antoni for Olimpia Milano of the Italian League. ... 'I think that Danilo can fit very well in Mike's system because he has enough skill to be ready for that," Vittorio said in an e-mail exchange with Newsday. 'For sure he needs to get confidence with a new life and NBA system, but I believe that he can do it ... And if it's New York, it's more exciting because he can play with one of my teammates and in the big city with a great Italian community.'"
Brian Dohn of the Los Angeles Daily News: "UCLA power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute received his chance to make an impression in front of every NBA team after receiving a late invitation to the pre-draft camp this week in Orlando. Mbah a Moute's brother, Armel Minyem, said the invitation came in the last few days. 'This will give him more exposure,' said Minyem, who is speaking to NBA teams on his brother's behalf. 'I'm in the process of scheduling some workouts for him after the camp.'"
George M. Thomas of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "You can hear scathing critiques of the end of the season after the Cavs were bounced by the Boston Celtics. What's behind it? A sense of urgency. With LeBron James having two years left on his contract, basketball fans sense that a window might be closing, slowly but surely."
Charles Elmore of the Palm Beach Post: "Erik Spoelstra recently took the reins from Hall of Famer Pat Riley to become the youngest current NBA coach at 37. Riley will remain team president. Don Shula's advice: Learn from mentors. Don't try to be them. 'Remember to do the things that got you the job in the first place,' Shula said. 'Be yourself. Some of Lombardi's assistant coaches tried to be Lombardi. That didn't work out.'"
David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: "Jason Kidd and Indiana Jones aren't all that different. Too much time has passed for either to recapture the swashbuckling inspiration of his youth, but both retain a commanding presence and would benefit from a better script. The Dallas Mavericks acquired Kidd to make a difference, but they couldn't figure out how to use him or put him in positions to be successful. The result, in the words of Dirk Nowitzki, was another wasted season. ... Speculate all you want about the team's need to trade Josh Howard or shake up the roster. A key to next season will be Carlisle's ability to devise a system that maximizes the skills of his 35-year-old point guard."