First Cup: Monday

Celtics vs. Lakers

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "That was all prelude to the 'Leon Powe Show' in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter. Powe brought the crowd to its feet on the first Boston possession when he beat the shot clock with an artful, running righthand hook off the glass. Then came two more hard-earned free throws, and then came the showstopper. Taking a pass from Rondo in the backcourt, he headed straight for the basket against a Laker team that was supposed to be trapping. With just three dribbles he took it to the hoop, flew past Sasha Vujacic and Pau Gasol, and threw it down for points 19 and 20. Phil Jackson was not pleased. 'Vladi [Vladimir Radmanovic] had a trap in the backcourt and opened it up and Gasol was afraid to leave Kevin Garnett for an easy basket,' said Jackson. 'But it was a poor play, an awful play.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald: "For all the hand-wringing and caterwauling that late starting times during the NBA Finals are going to have grave consequences for youngsters up and down the East Coast, possibly leading to a breakdown in the societal order in the years to follow, it should be noted that most members of the Celtics don't really care about the whole thing. An informal canvasing of the Celtics' locker room last night at the Garden before Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers revealed just one player with a willingness to say, yes, absolutely, 9 p.m. is not fine. 'I don't much like it, to be honest,' forward P.J. Brown said. 'The way I do things, I'd rather get it going as quickly as possible.'"

  • Bill Plaschke of Los Angeles Times: "After two games of the NBA Finals, your heroes are coming home in a heap. This is no fake. This is a forearm. And an elbow. And a shove. Lots of shoves. The final images of Sunday's 108-102 Celtics victory were of a different type of green and purple. The Lakers' faces are green, and their bodies are purple. The Lakers trail this series two games to none after being embarrassed by the actor who previously used that wheelchair -- Paul Pierce bravely scored 28 points! -- and being beaten up by everyone else."

  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Don't get too excited over that belated comeback try. Certainly it beat rolling over, but despite the would-be fourth-quarter heroics, the Lakers still came up short, were still left in one miserable hole. The Lakers played so badly, were so completely lost and bewildered, that even a 29-8 run in the fourth quarter wasn't enough to pull out the victory."

  • Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post: "The great Celtic Bill Russell, just before tip-off, said that what Pierce had to do in Game 2, with everybody watching and many questioning, was simply be a Celtic and everything that means historically. Pierce was. In the first half he was a Celtic like anybody who has worn the uniform in modern times. As good as Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson, Dave Cowens, Cornbread Maxwell, Tiny Archibald, Paul Silas, John Havlicek. For 20-somethings who are too young to remember vintage Bird and for whom Havlicek is a sepia film clip, Pierce was the bridge, from great old Celtic to great Celtic."

  • Michael Grange of The Globe and Mail: "'Their defence is cocked to play an offense that's going to dribble penetrate and try to make it to the basket, and they're not going to allow you to do that,' Lakers assistant coach Bryan Shaw said. 'They believe NBA players aren't patient enough to get to the second or third option of a play, so they're going to throw two or three people between you and the basket and play the odds that you won't reverse it to the other side and maybe bring it back again. If we start the ball away from [Bryant], explore the options on that side of the court and then bring it around to him, he's the second or third option and he has the ball in his hands; it's the best of both worlds for us.'"


  • Steve Kelley of The Seattle Times: "A week from today the trial, which will decide if the KeyArena lease agreement is strong enough to keep the team here for two more years, begins. And, a week from today, the indefatigable advocacy group, Save Our Sonics, will hold a rally, at 4:30 p.m., at the federal court building (Seventh and Stewart), the site of the trial. Longtime all-star and one of the most familiar faces in team history, Gary Payton, who has been passionate about his belief that this team belongs in Seattle, will speak. Xavier McDaniel, another fan favorite and an unsung hero in the fight to keep the team, will be coming from his home in Columbia, S.C., to rally the town. Who knows, if you're lucky, you might even get a glimpse of Bennett as he leaves the courthouse that day. Why is this rally important? Because people will be watching."

  • Jerry Brown of the East Valley Tribune: "Terry Porter gets his second shot at an NBA head coaching job today, when he is introduced as the 13th coach of the Suns at an 11 a.m. press conference at US Airways Center. And unlike his first stop in Milwaukee, he will have the solid backing of a friend in general manager Steve Kerr, a roster with a track record of winning and a chance for his experience, fire and reputation as a tireless worker to take root."

  • Jay Mariotti of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Why is this happening? Who slows down Kobe Bryant when no other opponent thinks about it? The name is Tom Thibodeau. The title is associate head coach. You might have heard it in Chicago, back when the rush-hour traffic crawl that is the Bulls' coaching search included a handful of candidates that general manager John Paxson preferred. Now that the search has been ravaged by chairman Jerry Reinsdorf and dumbed-down into one of the ridiculous farces in franchise history, the Bulls may as well wait out the Finals and see if Thibodeau, in the end, makes more sense than My Cousin Vinny (Del Negro), Dwane Casey, Chuck Person and any other late whim. Now there's an idea: If you couldn't get a deal done for Kobe, then hire the Kobe-stopper."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "Many of the hard feelings with the Anderson Varejao camp and the Cavs from last year's nasty contract talks have eased and his decision to skip playing for Brazil in the upcoming Olympic qualifier is a sign of it. The Cavs' team doctors recently sent Varejao a letter asking him to consider rehabbing his ankle this summer and making regular trips to Cleveland to have it checked. Varejao was under no obligation to listen and was no doubt feeling pressure from his countrymen, but he decided to take the advice. He's still planning on going to Brazil to be there for the
    national team's training camp in a show of solidarity but has decided his ankle needs rehab so he can be 100 percent by September."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Now in rumor control, Wade downplayed the preposterous trade talk of him heading anywhere this offseason. And yes, he sees O.J. Mayo as a viable draft option for the Heat. Of course, he also happens to be working out in Chicago alongside the Southern Cal guard, so his vote tends to be a bit tainted. Of greatest interest is he plans to bring Chris Paul to his five-on-five workouts in Chicago and is hoping to get Carmelo Anthony there, too. And, no, no, no, this should not trigger Paul or 'Melo trade rumors. It merely is a way for Wade to bond before the upcoming pre-Olympic training camp."

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "The idea of Chauncey Billups being more expendable than Richard Hamilton because there's already a replacement point guard in Rodney Stuckey is gravely flawed, because when Dumars drafted Stuckey with the 15th overall selection, he envisioned a future backcourt of two big hybrid guards, both capable of running the point or working for shots off the ball."

  • Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "Avery Johnson has no reason to complain. He will earn Mark Cuban's money for the next few years, and it's more than Porter will get in Phoenix for working. Johnson also will land another NBA head coaching job eventually, because those with a .735 winning percentage do. The place that should have considered him right now: Detroit. Johnson's personality might have connected with a team of veterans. But the Pistons are looking toward an assistant to replace Flip Saunders. The Knicks swept up Mike D'Antoni, and now the Bulls lean in an odd direction. Instead of Johnson, they are reportedly interested in Vinny Del Negro, Johnson's former backcourt partner in San Antonio, who has never coached. Johnson looks like the next Bob Hill, another with impressive regular seasons who drew little interest."

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "With players increasingly speaking out about the situation in Darfur and seeking to support the refugees there and in Chad, NBA commissioner David Stern said Sunday that he is not opposed to players making their positions known at the Beijing Olympics in August. 'My view is that people like our players are free to speak out and have their views,' Stern said. 'They've been encouraged to have those views by the USOC and the IOC, and I think that's where it should properly be.' Stern said the NBA's popularity in China has grown so much that it was not diminished this season by the injuries to Yao Ming and Yi Jianlian and that the league is putting together events to aid earthquake relief in China."

  • Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic: "It's a good year for basketball. The Lakers are playing the Celtics in the NBA Finals, and it's only the second-best tournament of the summer. The hardwood drama at the 2008 Olympics will be that good. 'Already, the most important people in Beijing are the scalpers,' said Jerry Colangelo, managing director of Team USA. 'Tickets for basketball are that scarce.' ... Yep, this is a pretty big deal. In the past four decades, our Olympic basketball team has been revered (1992 Dream Team), reviled (three-time loser in 2004) and ripped off (think Munich). Now, it's out for revenge. And this year, the gold trophy handed out by David Stern will pale in comparison to the gold medals earned in China."

2008 NBA Draft

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "My question is, where are the examples of a player buckling under the pressure of playing in his hometown? LeBron James seems to have worked out well in Cleveland. Byron Scott grew up in Inglewood, Calif., then played for the Lakers. It's difficult to say Eddy Curry struggled with playing in Chicago, since he has only gotten worse after moving to New York."

  • Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "Move over Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose. Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo has requested a table for three. Judging by Heat president Pat Riley's recent itinerary and guard Dwyane Wade's Sunday semi-endorsement, there is growing evidence and confirmation now that this is at least a three horse race for Miami's No. 2 pick in the June 26 NBA Draft. ... 'You have to look at your team, what you really need,' Wade said of the Heat, which also desperately could use a low-post scorer and dominant rebounder. 'I think the reason (Mayo has) crept up in it is he's a combination of a lot of different things, and he can help your program right away. So, I think it's a three-man race. And you're talking about Rose, Beasley and O.J.'"

  • John Hollinger in the New York Sun: "As for Brook Lopez, whose twin brother Robin also is a projected first-rounder, his stock may be seriously overestimated. 'Don't take anyone named Lopez,' as one executive told me. 'Not Brook, not Robin, not George.' That leaves Augustin as the only real viable option, but taking a 6-foot-tall point guard at no. 6 seems a bit of a stretch, especially when his college career was more solid than spectacular. There's one other option, however: trading the pick. Granted, that's a weird move to make for a team that's in a serious rebuilding mode. But in this case, the benefits could be huge."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Seven-foot Nevada center JaVale McGee, 7-foot Stanford center Robin Lopez and 6-foot-10 Florida power forward Marreese Speights were Sunday visitors who could be taken at No. 15 or if the Suns deal for an extra pick. Mix them with raw Australian powerhouse Nathan Jawai, a first-round sleeper, and the Suns got an eyeful of potential big-man depth. 'It's important (to add a big man), but it's also important to add the right one,' Suns Senior Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin said. 'We've got the ability, and I think we've shown the ability to get free agents to come here on deals that make sense. Maybe we address the position that way. If you look at backup point guard, three (small forward) and big (power forward or center), we probably need something in all of those areas."

  • Pat Rooney of the Rocky Mountain News: "Mario Chalmers was one of four guards who worked out Sunday for the Nuggets, t
    he others being Shan Foster of Vanderbilt, Lester Hudson of Tennessee-Martin and Alabama-Birmingham's Robert Vaden. Despite being scheduled to work out Sunday, North Carolina point guard Ty Lawson didn't attend the session in the wake of his arrest Friday in Chapel Hill, N.C. Lawson, 20, was charged with driving after consuming alcohol, and because Lawson hasn't hired an agent, the episode has clouded his status for the June 26 draft."