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First Cup: Monday

Lakers vs. Celtics

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "A breakout game that ended with nobody wanting to break out, everyone standing in their Staples Center seats and crowding the hardwood, their optimism still deafening. Not so fast. Of course, there remain those three other pesky words. Never been done. No team in NBA Finals history has ever recovered from a three-games-to-one deficit. Closer Bryant smiled. A mountain two days ago, a speed bump today. 'If you told us in training camp that we were two wins from an NBA championship, we would take that in a heartbeat,' he said. On a thumping Sunday night, that heartbeat returned."

  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Resiliency hasn't been a Lakers trait in this series, but this time they battled back. So it wasn't a thing of beauty, but it was a victory. And when one more loss means an end to your season, it doesn't matter how the victories come, just that they do."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Jeff Eisenberg of The Press-Enterprise: "A few minutes into the Lakers' first true must-win game of the season, Pau Gasol found a way to tap into the toughness and resiliency his critics say he lacks. Ripping down an offensive rebound in traffic under the basket, Gasol absorbed heavy contact and rose up for a putback, finishing the play with a tarzan-like bellow. The play proved to be a good omen for the Lakers as the 7-foot Spaniard had his most productive game of the series."

  • Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "Actor Denzel Washington, usually the picture of cool in his courtside seat at Lakers games, stood up Sunday night in the second quarter when no one near him was up or saying a word. With urgency that was no act, he yelled across the court toward the Lakers' bench after Chris Mihm air-balled a hook shot: 'Phil!' Washington's wife, Pauletta Pearson, discreetly chided him for making a small spectacle, but this famous Lakers fan was the latest to be unimpressed by Coach Phil Jackson's chess move against a relative novice in Boston's Doc Rivers, coaching in his first NBA Finals."

  • Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald: "In every sense, Kevin Garnett has lived up to the billing this season. Yet there he stood last night at Staples Center in the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the NBA Finals, with the Celtics just a few minutes and a few points away from winning their 17th NBA championship, needing to merely drain a couple of free throws to tie the game and continue the suspense. Garnett was already having a bad night. He was seemingly in foul trouble from the beginning of the game, limping through much of the second half with four calls on him. In the absence of the injured Kendrick Perkins, Garnett did not step up. Not last night. 'It was trash,' Garnett would later say of his performance, this after the Lakers had claimed a 103-98 victory over the Celtics. 'I played like garbage tonight. I can do better and I will.'"

  • Gary Dzen of The Boston Globe: "In a disturbing trend, Rajon Rondo's numbers have gone down in each round of the playoffs. After averaging 11.6 points and 7.3 assists in the first round against the Hawks, Rondo's numbers dipped to 10.6 points and 6.0 assists in the conference semifinals, and fell to 9.2 points and 6.5 assists in the conference final. They have fallen even further (8.0 points, 7.3 assists) during the Finals. Despite the drop-off, Doc Rivers said he hasn't lost confidence in his point guard. He simply needs him to play better. 'We still believe in him,' said Rivers."

  • Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "In some ways, James Posey is the modern-day Robert Horry. He makes good teams better. Already, the plan is for Posey to opt out of the $3.4 million he otherwise would receive next season from the Celtics. Ironically, the Lakers figure to be among the suitors. That would make sense. The Heat, at this stage, would not. For all that James Posey has become, he certainly is not the cornerstone for a rebuilding team."

Leaguewide

  • Marcos Bretón of Sacramento Bee: "The Kings are more than just a sports team to Sacramento. They are like a mirror for the region. When the Kings arrived in Sacramento in 1985, an emerging city embraced the club with the innocent enthusiasm of new homeowners. When the Kings ascended to prominence in 2002, the local economy and housing markets were booming -- and Sacramentans gladly dropped bundles on soaring ticket prices. When the team tumbled a few years back, it was like the housing market meltdown: The prices at Arco Arena were not equal to the value of the product, so the old barn grew barren, like someone had foreclosed on the empty seats. That's why this week's NBA controversy struck such a chord in Sacramento -- because the 2002 Kings were a rallying point for the community. And because 2002 should have been Sacramento's year and wasn't."

  • Eric D. Williams of The News Tribune: "Brian Robinson, co-founder of Save Our Sonics, a grass-roots group working to keep the team in Seattle, remains hopeful that local government officials, with help from civic-minded business professionals, will find a way to keep the Sonics in Seattle. Save Our Sonics plans to host a rally in front of the federal courthouse steps in Seattle this afternoon, with former Sonics Gary Payton and Xavier McDaniel expected to attend. 'It's just one more opportunity to show the nation and the NBA that we're not going to go way quietly,' Robinson said. 'As this drags out through the court proceeding and two years of lame-duck status, we will be out and in front of the media. And it will be an issue that will have to be addressed until they provide us a solution that leaves NBA basketball in the Seattle area.'"

  • Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman: "The long-awaited Sonics trial begins today in Seattle, and my question is why? Why is Seattle trying to hold on to its lame-duck NBA franchise rather than using its collective efforts on bartering for a replacement team? Why are the folks in the Emerald City the only ones who think the Sonics playing two more years in Seattle actually will bring about some sort of fairytale ending? At the end of the day, the team belongs to a group from Oklahoma and, barring an unlikely rescinded sale, no amount of time or litigation can force the ownership group into selling. Why doesn't Seattle get that?"

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: What will determine whether Rasheed Wallace gets moved, probably the only thing, is what he can bring in return. The fact that Wallace's $13.7 million contract comes off the books after next season both helps and hinders attempts to move him. ... If the Pistons don't trade Tayshaun Prince and he comes back as the team's starting small forward -- which I am rooting for; I still believe Prince has a couple more gears left in his game -- then they should seek to sign James Posey this summer."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "First it was Billy Knight hitting the door in Hawksville. Now comes word that David Fizdale, one of Mike Woodson's most crucial assistants and liaisons to the younger players on this team, has bolted the nest for Miami. That's a blow for the future because Fizdale did a splendid job helping develop the talents of Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Marvin Williams and the rest of the youngsters that have passed through the franchise the past four years (and make no mistake, for whatever gripes you have about these players, someone had to help get them to the point they are now. It wasn't something they did totally on their own and it wasn't something that anyone can expect a head coach to do in the NBA)."

  • Drew Sharp of the The Detroit News: "The Pistons should have gone after Zach Randolph last season, when Portland shopped him around, but Joe Dumars was confident that his veteran core had at least one more serious shot at the crown. The Pistons would be a good spot for Randolph, who's still battling issues with immaturity. He's not a leader. He remains a follower. Getting maximum production from him on the court and respectable conduct off the court are incumbent upon placing him on a team with strong positive influences in the locker room, on the coaching staff and in the front office."

  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: "The mid-level exception is the only significant slot available. That's projected to be in the range of $5.5 to $5.7 million. 'We can't miss on that, whether we use it to get one or two players,' Donnie Nelson said. 'We're in the search for the next Raja Bell, Adrian Griffin or Brandon Bass. Those guys are potentially out there. We've got to get lucky and pick up a guy like we did with Brandon.' The only other avenues open to the Mavericks -- outside of trades -- are to re-sign their own free agents or to supplement the roster with minimum-salary players. The phrase 'rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic' comes to mind."

2008 NBA Draft

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "Kansas State power forward Michael Beasley will be in first, on Monday and Tuesday; followed by Memphis point guard Derrick Rose on Wednesday and Thursday. ... Most experts believe the Bulls are leaning toward choosing Rose, but general manager John Paxson has said he'll keep an open mind until it is time to decide."

  • Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Fast-rising UCLA point guard Russell Westbrook canceled a visit today, but the Suns just might need some time to take in what they saw this weekend, when they attended a 24-player, multiteam workout in Oakland. ... Brandon Rush played in a group that had him competing with swingmen Gary Forbes of Massachusetts, Courtney Lee of Western Kentucky and Bill Walker of Kansas State. Of those who worked out in Oakland, Rush headlined a quartet of possible picks for Phoenix to consider at No. 15 along with Rider power forward Jason Thompson, Florida power forward Marreese Speights and French swingman Nicolas Batum."

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "Marreese Speights was a bit surprised upon arrival in Salt Lake City. 'Oh, when I came here (Saturday), I expected way different than this,' he said. 'This is kind of like, city. I expected, like, cows and stuff.' Then Speights looked up and was in for another shock. 'I seen that snow on top of the mountains,' the 20-year-old Floridian said. 'That was crazy.' For as much as the 6-foot-10 Speights was schooled about Utah and the wild west over the weekend, though, the Jazz may have learned even more when he worked out Sunday morning along with fellow big men Jason Thompson of Rider and the University of Indiana's D.J. White in advance of the upcoming NBA Draft. Like why he attended three different schools, including two military prep academies, before going to the University of Florida."

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Jason Thompson described himself as a 'late bloomer,' who signed with Rider before his senior year of high school, when he was only 6-foot-6. He considered transferring after the Broncs went 8-20 his sophomore season, but stuck with the program. Now Thompson is poised to become the first player drafted from his area since Camden's Dajuan Wagner in 2002. 'It would mean a whole lot for the school, for the community, even just south Jersey,' Thompson said. 'That's something great to bring to the area. It's an honor to me and my family and then the community and people supporting me.'"

  • Krista Jahnke of the The Detroit News: "The Pistons will wrap up their workout sessions with potential targets for the June 26 NBA draft with 'maybe three or four more' this week, director of player personnel George David said. ... According to Internet rumors, the Pistons promised D.J. White (from Indiana) that they'll draft him if possible -- but David laughed at the notion. 'From what I've heard, we've made four promises,' he said. 'His promise was two weeks ago, so that's about three promises behind.' David said the Pistons hold fewer predraft workouts than many NBA teams because of scheduling issues."

  • Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "If Ryan Anderson knows the decision he's going to announce today, he hasn't let on to anyone -- not even his family. Anderson, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, has until 2 p.m. today to withdraw his name from the NBA draft and remain eligible to return to Cal for his junior year. If not, he may sign with an agent and likely will be selected anywhere between the late first round and the early second round, according to scouts. 'Ryan has thought long and hard about this, and I can tell you, it has shown us that there are pros and cons about staying at Cal and going into the NBA,' Anderson's mother, Sue, wrote in an e-mail."