<
>

First Cup: Thursday

Pistons vs. Sixers

  • Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News: "The young and impetuous must be dealt with severely, or they never learn. The Pistons tried to play nice with the 76ers, but play time is over. This first-round series should be a mismatch, and it might yet be a mismatch. It still can be a mismatch if the Pistons do to the 76ers what they did again and again Wednesday night. It should be their mandate as long as this series goes. Take. It. Right. To. Them."

  • Bill Khan of Booth Newspapers: "Somebody please check Antonio McDyess' birth certificate and biography. He can't be 33 years old with 12 seasons of NBA mileage on his surgically repaired knees. ... McDyess, the oldest starter in the Pistons' veteran lineup, set the example. He was all over the court, playing with the energy of a younger man in a 105-88 victory over the 76ers Wednesday night at The Palace."

  • Greg Johnson of The Grand Rapids Press: "Detroit, when it plays like it did to even the series Wednesday night, is the superior team. But there's the other Detroit, which makes the Pistons remarkably two-faced, even three-faced and always looking like it could be the next upset victim. Which Pistons do you get? There's the one that defends, traps, pressures, shares the ball, shoots the lights out and rebounds like that last title team. We saw those Pistons flash past Philly in Game 2. Then there's the one from Game 1 that gets a big lead only to have it seem like somebody hit a pause button. Then there's the one that looks a little worn from the years of winning, and looks simply uninspired at times as the other team takes the game away."

  • Bob Ford of The Philadelphia Inquirer: "If you expected the Sixers, a team that has become a sum-of-its-parts unit in the post-Iverson era, to suddenly discover a singular go-to guy on the roster, then you were expecting far too much. That's what it would have taken against the Pistons last night, and what it would take in this series in general. It would take having that one guy who can help balance the odds all by himself, the one guy the other team can't solve. Teamwork is great, unless that of the other team happens to be a lot better than yours."

  • Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News: "Rasheed Wallace indicated that his lack of interest in being a focal point of his team is an old story. 'I think you can get more done with five individuals than you can [with] one individual,' he said. 'If you've got one guy you know is going to get that ball in crunch time, it's easier to defend him. But if you have five guys who can get that ball in crunch time, it's harder.'"

Celtics vs. Hawks

  • Matt Winkeljohn of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution "Had his teammates attacked the Celtics the way Acie Law IV went after that Quarter Pounder following Wednesday's 96-77 loss, the Hawks might not trail their playoff series 2-0. Law, though, had special motivation. 'I haven't eaten all day, not since breakfast,' the rookie reserve point guard said. 'I pretty much knew I was going to play tonight, and I was nervous as hell. Couldn't eat.' He did play, and pretty well, making all four of his shots and finishing with 12 points in over 21 minutes. That's more than he's played in any of Atlanta's past 18 games."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Mike Woodson, like most of the folks in Boston, learned of Mike Bibby's comments -- he blasted the Celtics fans for being 'fair-weather' followers and 'bandwagon jumpers' -- on the local news. 'I caught it on the news when I woke up from my nap [Tuesday evening],' the Hawks coach said. 'You can't undo it, though. So you've got to go out there and play.' The Hawks did just that Wednesday night, with the crowd at TD Banknorth Garden riding Bibby the entire way. 'There's no doubt we've got his back,' Hawks captain and All-Star Joe Johnson said. 'They [were] tough on him, but that's part of it. He stepped up and said what he felt, and with us being his teammates, we have to step up and have his back.'"

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "According to a Hawks source, the veteran point guard purposely made the incendiary comments to take the pressure off his very young teammates. Asked during a private moment before the game if such was the case, Bibby smiled and winked. Not that it mattered to the Celtics fans, who, in point of fact, have supported the team better than its record seemed to deserve the last few years. They came armed with leather lungs and signs last night, booing every time Bibby touched the ball. But the Hawk graciously signed autographs and even gave away his headband to a fan who asked as he came in from his early warmup." UPDATE: Bibby's teammate Josh Childress tells the Boston Globe that Bibby "obviously" planned to take pressure of his team.

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "The Hawks left town having lost two games by an average of 21 points, and the funny thing is they don't know how easy they've had it. It's not like they had any right to expect that Kevin Garnett was going to start shooting jump shots -- and missing them. Atlanta would have probably been overjoyed had it been told on its flight here last Saturday that Garnett would go 14-for-37 in two games and not attempt a single free throw in this first-round Eastern Conference playoff series. But what did it get them? 'Yeah,' Kendrick Perkins said of Garnett's off-key offense, 'and what about all the layups we've been missing. I mean, they don't even understand, man. They don't know how good we can play because we haven't really done it yet in this series. It wasn't our offense that won this game; it was our defense if anything. Look at what KG did even without the shooting. That's KG, man. He's more valuable than what you think.'"

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "Yawn. Another night. An other double-digit win. We've seen it before. Many, many times. It started on Opening Night, when they effortlessly dispatched the Wizards by 20, and it continues in the playoffs, where the Celtics have won the first two games of their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks by 23 (104-81) and last night's 19 (96-77). The 2007-08 Celtics are the most subtly and ruthlessly efficient team the Celtics have ever had. Their M.O. is completely different than the methodology employed by all those other Celtics teams of yore, with all those gaudy win-loss records."

  • Peter May of The Boston Globe: "Want to put a little crimp in KG's game? Give him an award beforehand. If nothing else, we've learned how selfless Kevin Garnett is this season, how he hates the individual attention (which is why he almost always insists on having a companion at postgame interviews) and how he is focused on one thing and one thing only -- his first NBA championship."

Lakers vs. Nuggets

  • Mark Kiszla of The Denver Post: "For the 18th time in 22 NBA playoff games, Carmelo Anthony lost, as the Nuggets melted down in a 122-107 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers. At this point, nothing else counts in his pro career. All the money and baskets Melo has made cannot change the ugly rap against him. Anthony has been cast as the NBA's most beautiful loser. ... at age 23, Melo's development as a leader and growth as a multi- faceted player has suffered because the Nuggets do not demand much of him. Since a hollow threat to bench Anthony more than a year ago, coach George Karl has often appeared more concerned with remaining his star's pal than acting as a mentor."

  • Chris Dempsey and Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "Another game, another fourth-quarter meltdown. As the Nuggets blew the game on Wednesday, they blew their tops -- again. J.R. Smith was assessed a technical foul. Allen Iverson, who picked up two technical fouls and was ejected in the first game, picked up another in Game 2. It appears that frustrated Nuggets become disjointed Nuggets that can't pull themselves back together. Smith said the Nuggets were playing 'five on eight,' in reference to referee calls the team thought were questionable, and admitted that might be getting into the players' heads."

  • Dave Krieger of the Rocky Mountain News: "All appearances to the contrary, the Nuggets do have a couple of bright spots to build on as they bring the series home for Games 3 and 4. A lineup change, combined with their adjustment in defensive strategy, kept the visitors in Game 2 most of the way despite a failure to play team basketball for the second game in a row. The question now for the Nuggets is whether they have enough discipline to put these elements together at home and climb back into the series."

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "Has he ever screamed to the crowd like that? Has he ever flapped his gold jersey like that? Has cool, calm, drop-top-Impala-driving Kobe Bryant ever shown us so much of himself as he did during that hair-raising, skin-chilling moment Wednesday night? Have we ever appreciated it more? In his dozen turbulent years in Los Angeles, Bryant has scored more points and made bigger plays. But I will stake my press pass on the fact that he has never been a better all-around player than on Wednesday night in the Lakers' 122-107 victory over the Nuggets in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. 'Brought me out of my seat,' said Lamar Odom, speaking for all of Los Angeles."

  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News: "In the highly competitive West, they emerged as the conference's best regular-season team. Became something of a West co-favorite. But this is nothing like the Lakers teams from earlier this decade, when they entered the postseason with roaring thunder, sending fear into almost cowering opponents behind Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe & Co. This team, however entertaining, is of a very different ilk. This is a team of moving parts, some very young parts, some new parts. A team that needs to play defense, move the basketball, utilize multiple talents. And to now find out exactly how hungry they really are, how badly they really want this. This is about an evolution. About a talented team growing up in the playoffs, undergoing a self-discovery that could prove telling in the immediate seasons to come."

  • Marcia C. Smith of The Orange County Register: "The guy had no chance making the NBA nine seasons ago and staying. Anthony Carter was the son of a drug-addled mother, a high school dropout and a puny 6-foot-2 streetballer who made meal money hustling pickup teams on the Atlanta asphalt from morning to midnight. Before Wednesday's Game 2 of the first-round playoffs at Staples Center, the Denver Nuggets point guard leaned back in his locker room folding chair, rested on the heels of his fresh-out-of-the-box Nikes and furtively looked around as if he were about to let someone in on a secret. 'I'm lucky,' said Carter, 32, talking softly from his stall neighboring those of his franchise's royalty, Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony. 'I'm here. Still.'"

  • Jeff Miller of The Orange County Register: "Sunday, we learned it would be Gasol's game. Wednesday, we were reminded it's still Kobe's's club."

Wizards vs. Cavaliers

  • Mike Jones of The Washington Times: "Gilbert Arenas didn't speak with reporters yesterday, but coach Eddie Jordan said his guard still isn't healthy after undergoing two knee surgeries in the last month and missing 69 games while recovering this season. 'Gilbert is far from being the Gilbert that we know and that he will be in October,' Jordan said. Arenas, who has worn large bags of ice after each playoff game, likely will continue to come off the bench."

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Largely because of James, who has been brilliant while averaging 31 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, the Cavaliers lead the best-of-seven series 2-0 and are threatening to sweep the Wizards out of the playoffs for the second straight season. 'We know it's going to be electrifying,' James said. 'It's going to be a hostile environment. We have to able to, if they hit us with a punch, we counter with a punch.' Realizing that his words may have conveyed the wrong message in a series that has featured four technical fouls, two flagrant fouls and one ejection, James paused and smiled. 'Not literally,' he continued. 'Let me change my words. If they make a few shots, just counter their attack and move on.'"

  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "Eddie Jordan hasn't commented directly on Haywood's ejection but he sees a double standard in the way the games are being called and in the way the physicality displayed by both teams has been portrayed in the media. 'Well, if they are like the fouls they gave on us, you have to at least act like you are going for the ball and you can throw your body at anybody the way you like,' Jordan said yesterday. 'Just watching the fouls they gave on us, it was, you know, pretend you are going for the ball and throw your body at the guy. So that's a good technique." Haywood said he meant no harm to James and believes that James is receiving special attention because of Mike Brown's constant complaining through the media."

  • Jon Siegel of The Washington Times: "Last season he turned down a big contract -- larger than the $1.1 million he ear
    ned in Israel -- to play for his hometown NBA team. It did not immediately work out. [Roger] Mason was again saddled on the bench, playing only eight minutes a game in largely a mop-up role. However, at least one other team saw promise. The defending champion San Antonio Spurs offered him a three-year deal reportedly worth more than $3 million. The Wizards countered with a one-season offer for the veteran minimum of $895,000. That was more than enough. And now it will be a busy offseason for Mason. He should be a sought-after free agent this summer after making an unlikely impact in Washington."

  • Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer:: "The normally stoic Lithuanian was spotted grinning and laughing at least twice as he trotted down the court during the Cavaliers' Game 2 rout of Washington. And in Game 1, the typically expressionless center was seen flapping his arms demonstratively in encouragement of increasing The Q crowd's cheers. 'Maybe I'm letting my softer side out now that I'm older,' the 32-year-old Ilgauskas joked on the eve of today's Game 3. The sharp wit always has been a part of Ilgauskas' repertoire, as has a consistent low-post game, an accurate 15-foot jumper on pick-and-rolls and a solid presence on the boards. But in this series against Washington, like the one last season, double doubles have become expected, even against the 7-foot Wizard Haywood's long-armed defense."

Spurs vs. Suns

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "He has hit the ground on the way to the rim -- a lot. Not that Parker needs much assistance in falling down. 'Tony falls down on his own a lot,' the Spurs' Brent Barry said. 'We talk about that in the locker room. There's probably no other player in the league who falls down as much as he does. It's the Frenchman in him, I guess.' If Parker continues to insist on getting up afterward, the Suns might need divine intervention to survive the rest of this series. Phoenix has trudged home for Friday's Game 3 in an 0-2 hole, in part because Parker has refused to back down to bullying."

  • Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News: "Manu Ginobili scored 29 points in the Spurs' 102-96 Game 2 victory. Barbosa, who won the award last year and pulled the lone remaining first-place vote this year, missed all seven of his field-goal attempts and went scoreless. Even before Tuesday's object lesson, Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni had no qualms with how the voting turned out. 'I think he's one of the best players in the league, sixth man, first man, third man,' D'Antoni said. 'He should be on the All-Star team. He's a little undervalued, I guess.' So far, Ginobili is winning the battle of super-subs in this series, which resumes Friday night in Phoenix."

  • Craig Morgan of the East Valley Tribune: "Full names are not required in the NBA's pantheon of legends. To paraphrase singer Paul Simon: I could say Wilt, Russell, Big O, Dr. J, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Shaq and Kobe. And everybody here would know who I was talking about. I mean everybody here would know exactly who I was talking about. Diamonds on the soles of basketball shoes. But there is one whose name is rarely sung in this hallowed company. Tim Duncan. And that's a shame. All Duncan has accomplished in 11 NBA seasons is capture four NBA titles, two MVPs and three Finals MVPs. And disembowel the Suns."

  • Jerry Brown of East Valley Tribune: "The Phoenix Suns can't stay with the San Antonio Spurs in the open floor. Say that again -- slowly -- so that the Suns can keep up. Phoenix's mantra after the Shaquille O'Neal trade was that they could now play both their trademark up-tempo style and the halfcourt game with post-ups and pick-and-rolls. But after being outscored an incredible 23-4 in fastbreak points in Tuesday's 102-96 loss to the Spurs, the Suns have to face facts: When the tempo speeds up, they fall behind

  • Paul Coro and Doug Haller of The Arizona Republic: "If it were not for the Boston game, in which Barbosa left because of an injury after 88 seconds, these two playoff games would be his first successive games without making a 3-point shot this season. He has not been this quiet offensively since the last time he saw a good defense two games in a row, scoring 11 points in 62 minutes at Detroit and Boston. Barbosa went 0 for 7 Tuesday. In the first half, he missed two 3-pointers and then two layups. 'They (the Spurs) do a good job on the pick-and-rolls,' Suns point guard Steve Nash said. 'Sometimes he (Barbosa) has a hard time with their (big men) near the basket. Maybe he hasn't quite figured where to mix it up with them.'"

Hornets vs. Mavericks

  • Teddy Kider of The Times-Picayune: "The Mavericks made adjustments after Game 1, in which Hornets point guard Chris Paul had 35 points and 10 assists in New Orleans' 104-92 victory. But those traps and double teams seemed to make Paul better Tuesday night, as he finished with 32 points and 17 assists and helped more than half of the players on the Hornets' roster, including all of the starters, shoot 50 percent or better. 'There's only so many different things you can do in basketball, and that's either trap or go under or go over the pick-and-roll and stuff like that,' Paul said Wednesday. 'So whatever they're doing, we've adjusted to it. We had 82 regular-season games to see what different teams try, and that's what it's all about, making adjustments.'"

  • Les East of The Advocate: "[Brandon] Bass has been a rare bright spot, first in the 104-92 loss in Game 1 on Saturday and especially in the 127-103 blowout in Game 2 on Tuesday. Mavericks coach Avery Johnson was reluctant to speculate on what Bass might contribute in the series, but the former Southeastern Conference Player of the Year has emerged as one of Johnson's more productive players."

  • Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The numbers are flat-out ugly. Josh Howard has hit seven of 26 shots in the first-round playoff series, a 26.9 percent rate. He has four turnovers and no steals. He's averaging 13.5 points, more than six below his regular-season mark. The truth is the Mavericks can't survive with their supposed second-best player playing like this."

  • David Moore of The Dallas Morning News: "Still, as the Mavericks try to deal with the onslaught that is Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets, it's fair to ask what we should expect out of Jason Kidd. Winning the individual duel with Paul isn't an option. Kidd was being honest before the series started when he said the Hornets star was the better point guard at this stage of their careers. But let's be clear. Kidd was brought in here to make a difference. He was acquired to make those around him better. He must counter what Paul has done and impose his will on this series for the Mavericks to have a chance."

  • Jeff Caplan of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "Jerry Stackhouse missed three weeks and nine games with a right groin strain and he seems to be paying the price in the playoffs for the missed time. He returned in the regular-season finale, but played just 16 minutes. In Games 1 and 2 he's struggled to find a shooting rhythm. Coach Avery Johnson dropped him from the starting lineup for the second half of Game 2. Stackhouse is 6-of-19 from the field and 2-of-7 from 3-point range. 'I'm trying. A few are starting to drop for me,' Stackhouse said. 'I feel good on some of my attempts and where I'm at, and hopefully it will continue to come around. However, it's not so much about what I'm doing right now. It's about what we need to do to stop this team, slow them down a little bit.'"

Rockets vs. Jazz

  • Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Mocking those who blame him, Tracy McGrady joined the chorus. 'It's my fault,' McGrady said. 'It's my fault we missed free throws. It's my fault we lost both games. Blame me. It's my fault we fouled to tie the game up. That's my fault. It's my fault they get easy layups. It's my fault we're not executing well on the offensive end. It's my fault a couple people in the stands ordered Heinekens and they got Budweiser. It's my fault. I'm sorry.' Told the beer reference might have revealed his straight-faced sarcasm, McGrady rolled on. 'I am serious,' he said. 'It's my fault. Everything is my fault. It's my fault. It's T-Mac's fault. Everybody's blaming me. The Suns (for being down 2-0 to the Spurs). I mean, everybody. That's what it seems like. It's my fault. I'm out there by myself.'"

  • Fran Blinebury of the Houston Chronicle: "McGrady spends his night being chased around by more different people than Britney Spears on a party weekend, and the main idea is to make that experience take a toll. 'We try to keep pressure on him,' Utah point guard Deron Williams said. 'Make him work for everything. That's how it goes. Did he get tired? Yeah, I think it happened in both games. We try to keep pressure on him. He's playing a lot of minutes right now and has a lot on his shoulders."

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "The Jazz are up 2-0, the Houston Rockets can't get off the ground and the scary thing about it is Utah's two prime-time players haven't come even close to showing the right stuff. Deron Williams readily admits as much heading into Game 3 of a first-round, best-of-seven NBA series. 'I feel I haven't had a good game in the series yet, and I think Booz feels the same way,' the Jazz's point guard said of himself and power forward Carlos Boozer. 'So we feel like we're in a pretty good position, once we start clicking together.'"

  • Tim Buckley of the Deseret News: "The Jazz think Houston small forward Shane Battier -- who earlier this week finished third in NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting behind winner Kevin Garnett and runner-up Marcus Camby -- may be trying to intercept their offensive calls. ... It's a somewhat common practice, however, for players to call out other teams' calls when they do pick them up. And even if Battier does get them, Jazz point guard Deron Williams suggested, it's really no big deal. 'Of course everybody knows what we're doing,' he said. 'Coach (Jerry Sloan) has been calling the same plays since 1927.'"

  • Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "The Korvers are the first family of Iowa basketball. Three of the boys -- Kyle, Klayton and Kaleb -- have played Division I basketball and the fourth -- Kirk -- is likely to follow. Kyle, though, is the son Jazz fans have come to know since his Dec. 29 arrival from Philadelphia. The Jazz finished the regular season 38-12 after the Korver trade as No. 26 jerseys multiplied in the stands. What Jazz fans may not know is that Kyle is the living, breathing, high-sock-wearing, three-point-shooting embodiment of Pella and its Third Reformed Church, where his father has been senior pastor for 15 years."

Raptors vs. Magic

  • Bruce Arthur of the National Post: "The great Toronto Raptors hostage crisis of 2008 is in its third month now, and shows no sign of abating. Well, it could cease having an impact on the court three days from now, should the Raptors get swept out of the playoffs. The central figure in this hostage crisis is T.J. Ford, the man who controls the offence to begin games, which you may have noticed the Raptors are having a touch of trouble with. ... Sam Mitchell could start Jose Calderon and go back to Ford. But when Ford was shoved into a backup role after missing eight weeks due to another neck injury this season, he turned toxic. He dominated the ball, shot too much, poisoned the waters. Eventually, Calderon volunteered to go back to the bench to help the team. You can be sure that Ford will not do the same."

  • Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: "To date, other than being mountain climbers, we're not sure what to make of the Raptors in the playoffs. They have put themselves so far behind in the first two games that before they've broken a sweat their opponents were halfway to winning the series. That, by the way, isn't Magical. But it's clear right now that this Magic team doesn't necessarily need any help from the not-ready-for-first-quarter players. 'Without those first quarters, we win those games,' said Jose Calderon, the plucky point guard, who may be correct. And except for the million dollars, I'm a millionaire."

  • Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star: "While Chris Bosh was stretching his limits, too many of his teammates -- say, the other four-fifths of the starting lineup -- disappeared. Considering those vanishings happened in the biggest game of the season, and that losing tonight's Game 3 would essentially end all hope, changes are necessary. But perhaps the change that would make the most sense -- inserting Jose Calderon as the starting point guard in place of the struggling T.J. Ford -- can't and won't be made."

  • Tim Povtak of the Orlando Sentinel: "Toronto Raptors guard Anthony Parker might be the only NBA player who gets upstaged by his little sister. Parker is the older brother of Candace Parker, who was the No. 1 pick of the WNBA draft by the Los Angeles Sparks, hours after winning her second consecutive NCAA title with Tennessee. When she debuts with the Sparks this spring, she and Anthony are expected to become the second sister/brother, WNBA/NBA combination, the first to be more than an afterthought. One of her Sparks teammates will be Marta Fernandez of Spain, whose brother Rudy was drafted by the Phoenix Suns last summer and traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. never signed with the Blazers last season but stayed in Europe to play another year. If he joins the Trail Blazers this fall, both Sparks players could have brothers in the NBA."

  • Jerry Greene of the Orlando Sentinel: "Bill Raftery had analyzed the Orlando Magic's Game 2 playoff victory over the Toronto Dinosaurs and was impressed. Then he was asked if
    the rest of country was impressed along with him. 'No.' Don't get huffy, Magic Nation. He was just being honest. 'The people in basketball are impressed,' he said, 'but not the rest of the country. Not yet. For the public, it's got to be about exposure.' Outside of Central Florida, the Magic have almost none of that. Their Game 1 was the matinee presentation on national cable TV Sunday and drew the smallest audience of the first six games at 1,730,000. And while Games 2 and 3 were and will be on Sun Sports here, they are relatively hidden on NBA TV nationally -- which is why Raftery and partner Ian Eagle are working the games."

  • Ken Hornack of the Daytona Beach News-Journal:: "At the risk of lifting a page from the Tom Heinsohn book of blatant Boston Celtics homerism, Bill Russell once grabbed 19 rebounds in a single quarter during a playoff game. Try topping that, Dwight Howard. It's a tribute to how dominant Howard has been through the first two games of the Orlando Magic's first-round series against the Toronto Raptors that he's being mentioned in the same breath as the NBA's premier rebounders from a bygone era -- Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Nate Thurmond."

League-Wide

  • Graham Kendrick of Grizzlies.com: "Javaris Crittenton insists his natural position is the point, and would like to return to that spot. At 6-5, 200 pounds, he'd hold a marked size advantage over most of his point counterparts. Regardless of what position he ends up playing, one area he'll need to improve is his shooting. Despite his ability to get to the hoop, Crittenton shot just 40.0% from the field and 26.5% from three-point range after the trade. Luckily for the Grizzlies, Crittenton understands that, and said he's heading into the offseason planning on working on virtually every aspect of his game. 'I'm working on everything- ballhandling, definitely being consistent with my shot, strength, speed, I'm working on everything,' he said."

  • Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "There are seven other teams in the league that have had more head coaches than the Bucks have had since March 1985. There are seven others teams that, like the Bucks, have had 10 coaches in that span, including the Chicago Bulls, who will be bumped to 11 when they hire their next guy. So nearly half the teams in the league have switched coaches at least 10 times since Kohl came into the NBA. Coach movement is as common as player movement in the league. If you take out the teams born after 1985 -- Charlotte, Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, New Orleans, Orlando and Toronto -- almost 61% of the teams in the league have had as many or more head coaches during Kohl's stewardship of the Bucks."

  • Mike McGraw of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald: "The Charlotte Bobcats are losing money and fans, so they would likely be open to dealing Emeka Okafor. The fourth-year power forward turned down a generous extension offer last fall, just as his college roommate, Ben Gordon, did with the Bulls. ... If Okafor tones down his contract demands, he would be a nice fit next to Joakim Noah and give the Bulls some needed muscle inside."

  • Brian Bennett of The Courier-Journal: "Derrick Caracter wants to come back for his junior season. He hasn't hired an agent, still is attending classes at the University of Louisville and sends coach Rick Pitino text messages almost every day. But Pitino said yesterday that it's in the best interests of both Caracter and the program for the enigmatic 6-foot-9 center to move on. 'My plan is to see him get on to the NBA or get on to Europe and get on with his life,' Pitino said. 'He has a change of heart right now, but he's had two years to show he wants to be a student, he's had two years to show he wants to be an integral part of college life, and he has not shown that.'"