First Cup: Thursday

  • Mike Wise of The Washington Post: "For just the second time this calendar year, Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler were on the floor together, where they stared down Boston's Big Three and won a game last night that had all the makings of a second-round playoff series, replete with big stars and what should be humongous television ratings. Boston already had wrapped up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. But Boston Coach Doc Rivers remembered what happened to Dallas last season, the way his friend Avery Johnson rested Dirk Nowitzki and the stars of the 67-win Mavericks, who lost their mojo and, shockingly, their first-round series to Golden State. That's why Rivers brought back Kevin Garnett, who played 31 minutes, late in the game, why Ray Allen and Paul Pierce each played 37 minutes. 'Even from afar,' Rivers said before the game, the Warriors' stunner made coaches reevaluate how to prepare the No. 1 contender for a championship run."

  • Rick Alonzo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: "With each passing day and mounting loss, the Timberwolves seemingly gain a stronger foothold in their climb up the NBA draft lottery. If you're a Wolves fan pulling for the chance to draft Kansas State's Michael Beasley or Memphis' Derrick Rose, you can thank the Wolves' tough closing schedule. And thank the New York Knicks, too. The Wolves were blown out 122-90 Wednesday night against the New Orleans Hornets, and in New York the Knicks hung on to defeat Charlotte 109-107."TrueHoop First Cup

  • Chris McCosky of The Detroit News: "The fact that Dennis Rodman blew it off is just really sad. Even Isiah Thomas and Chuck Daly seemed hurt by it. Thomas pleaded for Rodman to, 'come back home where you are loved.' The Pistons have been planning to retire his No. 10 jersey, perhaps as early as next year. But how can they do that when they can't be sure he would even show up for the ceremony?"

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret Morning News: "Last time the Jazz and Mavericks played, in early March, starting small forward Andrei Kirilenko got knocked hard to the floor on a flagrant foul from Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki. The play cost Kirilenko three games with a sprained hip, and cost Nowitzki a one-game NBA suspension. Yet there are no hard feelings whatsoever. 'There's not gonna be any revenge or, like, rivalry,' Kirilenko said. 'I don't feel like I'm supposed to play 'harder than usual,' he added. 'I will play as hard as possible, but not with intent to hurt or revenge back something.' Kirilenko suggested he adamantly believes no harm was intended. 'He was kind of out of balance; I was definitely out of balance at that point,' he said. 'It happens.'"

  • David Aldridge of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "A question for those of you who shelled out some not-insignificant bucks to watch the 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons last night: Did it bother you that the Pistons didn't play any of their starters in the fourth quarter? Or were you too busy celebrating the 101-94 win? ... it bothered Bryson Young. 'I am kind of upset about the fact that they didn't play,' Young, clad in a Pistons jersey, said in Section 114 as the game dwindled down. 'It seems like they're saving themselves for the playoffs. I thought that this was going to be a precursor for the playoffs. That's what I was expecting. But it seems like for some reason they think they need to save themselves, and I thought that they were a strong enough team to play a game like this and do what they had to do.'"

  • Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman: "In gathering information from scouts and general managers, Sooner coach Jeff Capel determined that Blake Griffin would've been a top-10 pick. 'Safe to say that,' Capel said. Griffin understood the opportunity that awaited him. He would've lived a dream. He would've been a lottery pick. He would've had a million-dollar payday. And yet, he walked away. How is that possible? 'It was definitely tough,' Griffin said. 'Most college basketball players, their dream their whole lives is to play in the NBA. That is something that's hard to turn down. But at the same time, I know I wouldn't be content with just going to the NBA.' Griffin wants to play. Right away, too. No sitting the pine. No biding his time. Griffin wants to go to the league and make it impossible for teams to leave him on the bench."

  • John Reid of The Times-Picayune: "Throughout this season, Byron Scott has downplayed most of the team's milestones, always citing the ultimate objective of trying to win the Western Conference and making a successful playoff run. But Scott deemed Wednesday's accomplishment worthy enough that they all planned to drink champagne on the flight to Los Angeles after the game. 'I felt we could win 55 games,' Scott said before Wednesday's game. 'I just kept telling myself if we stay healthy, we would have a good season. A lot of what we've done well has come on the offensive end, but we have gotten better defensively.'"

  • Percy Allen of The Seattle Times: "On the court, Candace Parker, the 6-foot-4 ex-Tennessee Volunteer has it all. A three-pointer. A midrange jumper. Spin moves and a killer crossover. behind-the-back passes and between-the-legs passes. A low-post game. Soft touch around the rim. A drop step. Dribble drives, defense and dunks. And she can play all five positions with attitude and intensity. Off the court, the savvy 22-year-old has a Madison Avenue smile. Charisma and street cred. A slam-dunk title. A spot in People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People. A sports-marketing degree coming in May. A supportive family. A fiancé, Shelden Williams, who plays for the Sacramento Kings and an older brother, Anthony, who plays for the Toronto Raptors. If only Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose and Kevin Love had her Q rating and résumé."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Akron Beacon-Journal: "Sometimes these Cavs are a total mystery to me. I do not understand why their focus level is haywire. I understand why the energy level it like that at times, but the way they are able to turn on or stay off is mind boggling. There were a few offensive possessions during the third quarter when I was laughing at their offense. Anderson Varejao was dribbling driving, guys were going 1-on-4 and at one point I got dizzy watching LeBron James dribble in a circle. Meanwhile, Gana Diop was dominating them
    on defense. Next thing I know they are defending the basket like it's some sort of mythic idol and Daniel Gibson, a guy who has done nothing but take 3-pointers since he came back from injury, is doing a Jason Kidd impression."