Celtics vs. Pistons
Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "It was 100-99, Celtics. 1:04 remaining. Once a 17-point lead, even a 15-point lead way back in the beginning of this very period. Out of bounds play underneath their own basket. Celtics need a basket. The Celtics seriously need a basket. Who you gonna call? How about Ray Allen? Yes, Ray. Why not? Forget all that business about being missing in action for near the entire playoffs. Ray had already nailed five threes. Ray's stroke was back."
Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press: "Do you really think the Celtics will close out the Pistons at the Palace on Friday night? I don't see it happening. This series has been too close, and the Celtics remain 1-7 on the road in the playoffs. This is the same Celtics team that could not close out Atlanta or Cleveland on the road in Game 6. And are you telling me the Pistons can't win Game 7 in Boston? 'We can't worry about a Game 7 right now,' Chauncey Billups said. 'We've gotta worry about Game 6.' (Why is he worrying about Game 6? I just said the Pistons will win. Pay attention, Chauncey.)"
Flip Saunders, as reported by the Boston Globe: "Perkins is eating us up."
The Associated Press: "Detroit All-Star Richard Hamilton strained his right elbow in the final seconds of Boston's 106-102 playoff victory over the Pistons on Wednesday night. X-rays were negative. 'It's sore a little bit,' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said after the Celtics took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals. 'We're going to have to wait and see how it is [Thursday] and how it is in 48 hours.' The Pistons must win at home Friday night to retain a chance to go to the NBA Finals. A seventh game, if necessary, would be in Boston on Sunday night. Hamilton, who scored 25 points, was hurt with 8.2 seconds left and was replaced by Lindsey Hunter with Boston leading 102-101. He left the arena with his arm in a sling."
Spurs vs. Lakers
Buck Harvey of the San Antonio Express-News: "There is no conspiracy. David Stern would love to see the Lakers and Celtics in the Finals, and he would love more revenue. But any businessman would, and Stern would be risking everything for short-term profit. Besides, if Stern were so determined to fix it so that only large markets made it to the Finals, he's failed miserably over the past 10 years. The franchise with the most championships comes from one of the smallest markets. But there are a lot of people who don't believe that about Stern. And so Wednesday, with replays so clear that even sportswriters understood a foul should have been called, the league admitted something that won't change a thing. Brent Barry won't shoot two foul shots, and the Spurs will still face elimination tonight. If the Spurs lose Game 5, what is their recourse? Put an asterisk on the Lakers' championship?"
Curtis Zupke of The Orange County Register: "Two tickets to a Lakers-Spurs game: $372. Parking: $20. Gas: $13.50. A large draft beer: $8.75. Hot dog: $4.75. Seeing the Lakers play in the Western Conference finals at Staples Center: Pricey. Outside of the courtside crowd, these days most Lakers fans are acutely aware of how deep their pockets are in relation to how deep their love is for the team. With the economy nearly in a recession and gas prices at an all-time high, green plays a prominent role in their purple-and-gold loyalty."
Orlando Pre-Draft Camp
Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "It has been proven over time that late first-round and second-round picks can make a huge impact with their teams -- say, Carlos Boozer, currently starring with the Utah Jazz. With that in mind, Wallace knows he must be near flawless with his evaluation and selection when the Griz essentially make their first maneuver as a result of the Gasol deal. The pressure that even Wallace acknowledges is to get it right, and make certain that the selection quickly turns into a contributor. 'It's no different than if you have the second pick or the third pick. You're trying to take the entire draft and line them up,' said Wallace, who also will oversee the Grizzlies' own selection at No. 5. 'When you look back you want to say we got a guy better than 28th. ... That pick provides you with an opportunity to roll the dice and take a shot at talent.'"
Geoff Calkins of The Commercial-Appeal: "So now comes another former Memphis Tiger, Joey Dorsey, available in another NBA Draft. Should the Grizzlies take him with the second of their first-round picks? Of course they should, if -- and only if -- they think he is the best player available at the time. Is this really so complicated? Does this really require a lot of debate? Look around the NBA. Are the successful teams stocked with players from local college teams?"
Gery Woelfel of The Journal Times: "There have been some former Milwaukee Bucks' head coaches who have had little, if any, interest in the NBA draft. They believed that their job was to coach and that it was up to the player personnel people to bring in the necessary talent. New Bucks coach Scott Skiles doesn't adhere to that philosophy. Skiles said he's been actively involved in the draft process and has studied film of several potential draft prospects. Not that Skiles really had to go to the movies. 'I watch college basketball games all the time,' Skiles said. 'So I know these guys.'"
Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times: "UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and North Carolina guard Danny Green are among the players the Bulls are keeping tabs on for the ninth pick of the second round. Both are expected to work out for the team at the Berto Center. One scout considers the 6-8, 229-pound Mbah a Moute the prospect with the quickest lateral movement at the draft camp, and he showed why when he defended 6-2 Jeremy Pargo of Gonzaga and 6-6 Richard Roby of Colorado on Tuesday night. 'I take pride in playing defense,' said Mbah a Moute."
Marc Berman of the New York Post: "Fran Fraschilla has a
message for Knicks president Donnie Walsh: Take Danilo Gallinari at No. 6 in the NBA draft if O.J. Mayo isn't there. Fraschilla, the former St. John's and Manhattan coach and now ESPN's international draft expert, has seen Gallinari, the 19-year-old, 6-foot-10 small forward, play for three years and believes the Italian Stallion is worthy of a top-eight pick."
Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "North Carolina guard Ty Lawson said Wednesday if he's not confident he'll go 20th or better in the NBA draft, he'll pull out of the process and return to North Carolina for his junior season. He said his challenge this week at the NBA pre-draft camp is convincing teams his left ankle is healed and showing he'll take -- and make -- jump shots when the opportunity is there. 'I wasn't able to do the things I normally do,' Lawson said of the ankle sprain that disrupted his season. 'I was scared to go to the basket.'"
Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "To Danny Green, exploring ways to help his family financially is perhaps the most responsible thing he's ever done. It was a surprise when he made himself available for the NBA draft. At best he is No. 4 among current Tar Heels in pro potential. The most prominent of that group, Tyler Hansbrough, isn't even flirting with the draft. But as Green explained Wednesday at the NBA pre-draft camp, his family circumstance is very different from that of Hansbrough. Green's family has financial challenges, and though he didn't go into detail, the background is common knowledge. Green's father spent three months in jail after a drug-related conviction. Hansbrough's father is a surgeon."
Dave Curtis of the Orlando Sentinel: "With his height, the Lake Howell grad [Pat Calathes] seemed a candidate to take on major muscle and spend his college career in the post. But SJU Coach Phil Martelli and assistant coach Mark Bass elected to let Calathes roam outside -- he could play offense like a guard, provided he rebounded like a power forward. 'We never treated him as anything other than a skill position player,' Martelli said in February. 'We never said, 'Oh, he's 6-10, he has to be an inside player.' He had a skill set. We just tried to develop it.'"
Jeff Schultz of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "If you are not sure what to think of Rick Sund, look at it this way: He is better than any realistic alternative. Jerry West: Wasn't going to happen. Chris Grant: Didn't want it to happen. An outside-the-box hire of a former player with no or little front office experience: Bold. Interesting. Infinitely more entertaining than Billy Knight, with the added advantage of not being Billy Knight. But Rick Sund: not bad. He has had success in the NBA, even if most of that success has not been recent. He is solid, even if short of spectacular. Did you expect spectacular? Was spectacular even available?"
John DeShazier of The Times-Picayune: "The fact is that for the first time since the franchise relocated to New Orleans, the Hornets are on an upward arc. The constant during the run from 18 to 38 to 39 and then a franchise-record 56 regular-season victories has been Byron Scott, who came in with a plan, helped implement it and guided the franchise from its worst season (18-64) to its best (56-26). So it didn't require genius for Shinn to sign Scott to a two-year extension. And he shouldn't have needed much advice to arrive at the decision to make Scott, the NBA's Coach of the Year, one of the six highest-paid men in the profession, at around $6 million per year. Not if, as it appears, Shinn learned from the decisions made the season after the franchise relocated."
Ailene Voisin of the Sacramento Bee: "Yet in contrast to the trend among their peers -- and in a bit of a clash with public perception -- the Maloofs' decision to pick up the final year of Geoff Petrie's contract (through 2009-10) strongly suggests that their tinkering has its limits. In good times and in bad – during conference races and slumps and coaching miscues and rebuilding cycles – Petrie is their guy. Not John Whisenant, not Reggie Theus, not any of those other Maloofian 'associates' who claim to be their best friends from Las Vegas or some long lost relative from Albuquerque, N.M. ... 'We wanted to send a message,' Joe Maloof said forcefully. 'We're in this together. We want Geoff with us as long as he wants. This will extend him another year, and after that, if he wants to continue, we'll continue on. We know him. We trust him. And he's a proven winner. We lost our way a little bit on our coaching consistency, but we have a great GM. It starts with that.'"