First Cup: Wednesday

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: As you might guess, it took overtime for the Griz to earn a 100-99 Game 5 victory Tuesday night and leave Chesapeake Energy Arena with a 3-2 series lead. Memphis can wrap up the best-of-seven, first-round playoff series Thursday night with a Game 6 victory in FedExForum. No matter the outcome of the series, the teams will have played a classic given this was the fourth consecutive game that required an extra session. That’s an NBA playoff record. Mike Miller’s team-high 21 points, which included a pair of 3-pointers in overtime, led the Griz. “That was a big lift,” Griz center Marc Gasol said. “Those shots gave us a lot of confidence.” Griz coach Dave Joerger said before the game it was time for his squad to get some luck in the series. He got his wish on the last play of the game.

  • Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: Russell Westbrook is a high-stakes gambler on both ends. He can dominate the opposing team, breaking their will and winning it on his own. Or he can accidently sabotage the Thunder’s chances, firing up wild shots and making all kinds of questionable decisions. On Wednesday night, he went with all the above. Westbrook was maybe the biggest reason OKC remained in the game, keying a wild comeback with his aggression, never-say-die attitude and elite playmaking. But his shot selection and defensive lapses were a pair of key reasons the Thunder eventually lost. Welcome to the world of Russell Westbrook. Both good and bad, rest assured, he’s gonna make an impact.

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: The Wizards, more often an NBA punchline than postseason threat the past two decades, arrived for good on the playoff landscape, beating the Bulls at their own game for the fourth time in the series, prevailing in a very Chicagoan 75-69 eyesore to advance to the second round against either Atlanta or Indiana. ... After it was over, they all embraced and congratulated each other for beating a higher-seeded team and showing the rest of the country they were now a bona fide playoff team, to be reckoned with from now on. But they didn’t go overboard, didn’t whoop it up as if they had clinched a spot in the finals. They seemed, as Wittman said, “greedy for more.” “I know it’s coachspeak, but that’s what we are, we want more — we’re greedy,” he said. They’re also very good, good as any team to close out a formidable competitor in five games on the road. Scottie Pippen poked his head into the coaches’ room after 11 p.m. here, congratulating Wittman, his staff and team President Ernie Grunfeld. ... Like three weeks ago, eight months ago seemed a world away Tuesday night. The growth in this series, the trust reaffirmed in just two weeks, was evident from Game 1 to Game 5.

  • Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Like Derrick said, we’re going to really remember tonight," a somber Taj Gibson said. “We’re going to really remember this series, and when we hit the gate running next year we’re going to remember a lot of people." It must have been quite the “Rudy’’ speech by Rose, following the end of the Bulls season at the hands of the Washington Wizards. And it was nice of their MVP to play motivational speaker. Unfortunately for the Bulls, they needed Rose with them on the court, playing point guard. That became more and more evident as the series went on, as the Bulls offense again stalled when they needed it most – Game 5 and down three games to one. With no one to turn to in crunch time, as well as Joakim Noah battling a sore left knee and Taj Gibson forced out of the game midway through the fourth quarter when he rolled his left ankle, the Bulls simply looked like a team that had been running on fumes and finally came to a sad, slow stall.

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: There was a standing ovation for pregame warmups. There was a standing ovation for each player when he entered the game. And, yes, there was even a small standing ovation when the giant video board showed two of those fans wearing black shirts with Donald Sterling's face crossed out. The ugliest of weekends became the most wondrous of moments Tuesday night at Staples Center when the Clippers and their fans gloriously celebrated the first day of the rest of their lives. Donald Sterling is gone. Let the good times roll. Hours after Clippers owner Sterling had been banned for life by the NBA for making racist comments on a verified audio recording, his former team and customers celebrated a joint rebirth with a 113-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 of a first-round NBA playoff series. Donald Sterling is gone. May the ignorance and intolerance that have long existed in his office go with him.

  • Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News: The message was loud, bold and distinct. The NBA doesn’t stand for hatred and racism. And it’s time for Sterling to take his backwards thinking and dislike for minorities somewhere else. Good day, sir. More than 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles, an angry city rejoiced and a weary basketball team returned to work, both content with a punishment that eradicates an ugly, civic stain that’s embarrassed us for too long. The Clippers, no longer suffocated by the hideous shadow cast by their owner, unleashed themselves on the Golden State Warriors in a 113-103 win in Game 5 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series. They take a 3-2 lead to the Bay Area, where they hope to close out Golden State in Game 6 on Thursday. And with Sterling no longer in the picture, their focus remains entirely on basketball. Thankfully, we can all return to normal. ... We all know he will fight the verdict, and it’s likely a long struggle ahead forcing him to sell the team. He’ll wage his battle far away from Staples Center. Out of sight. Out of mind. And out of our way.

  • Scott M. Reid of The Orange County Register: While NBA officials and team executives are confident the league will be able to strip Sterling of the Clippers, removing what many around the league have considered the primary obstacle in the way of the NBA landing in Orange County, there remain many barriers, perhaps insurmountable, standing in the way of the Clippers playing at Honda Center. For starters is the Clippers’ price tag, which several NBA officials and sports business analysts maintain could approach or top $1 billion should the league’s other 29 owners vote to terminate Sterling’s ownership. Potential buyers looking to relocate the team to Orange County would also likely face some deep-pocketed competition.

  • Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News: This series was altered by the Sterling fiasco in a way we will never fully know. There has been so much emotion, so many twists, so much drama off-the-court in this series that it's not surprising that the two teams might hit a little bit of a wall in Game 5. The star players, in particular, seemed a little ragged at the start of this one. Curry only shot the ball three times in the first half and Clippers star forward Blake Griffin shot a ton -- but kept missing. But Griffin found his shot in the fourth quarter while center DeAndre Jordan -- a virtual no-show in Game 4 -- dominated the Warriors in this game just as he did in Game 2. Once again, after that two-game journey into chaos, the Clippers are bigger and slightly better than the Warriors. So the two teams move on to Game 6, past the worst of it and maybe just entering the best, if the Warriors are up to it.