First Cup: Wednesday


Lakers vs. Celtics

  • Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times: "They won, right? I mean, this counts and everything, right? The most appropriate chant was 'Air-ball,' and the most spectacular dunks were the ones they missed. Pau Gasol shot a ball over the backboard, Kobe Bryant kicked a missed free throw to the referee, and Lamar Odom scored exactly two more baskets than you. But they still won, right? The Lakers' 87-81 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Tuesday is official, correct? Indeed it is, a fact initially confirmed with 38 seconds left when Lakers executive Jeanie Buss jumped into a Staples Center aisle and began dancing."

  • Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Anybody convinced the Lakers are clearly on their way, ready to take Thursday's effort and use it as the needed formula to seize control of the series? If you want to be positive here, call it something to build on. Every team has to start somewhere. Truth is, this should have been a fairly easy victory. The Boston Celtics looked all out of sorts. Their stars struggled. Their famed defense suffered several breakdowns. They couldn't shoot a lick. Trouble for the Lakers was, for too long they looked intent on matching every missed opportunity, every single misstep."

  • Marc J. Spears of The Boston Globe: "Instead of finding an excuse to 'whine' like Lakers coach Phil Jackson after Game 2, Doc Rivers just accepted the Celtics' first loss of the NBA Finals and told his team to do the same."

  • Marcia C. Smith of The Orange County Register: "The Lakers have a lot of celebrity fans, fair-weather ones who suddenly appear during the playoffs and spend most of the game waiting for their face to be shown on the arena's scoreboard TV screen. Then they act bashful. But like actor Jack Nicholson, the best known Lakers follower, Dyan Cannon is a fan who just happens to be a celebrity. Lakers die-hards talk about her with the reverence of a patron saint. The players smile at the mention of her. ... 'Dyan Cannon -- oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. She was in that show, Ally something,' said Vujacic, recalling Cannon's recurring role as Judge Jennifer 'Whipper' Cone on the legal comedy/drama 'Ally McBeal.' 'She's good. She's always there for us. It doesn't matter whether we're winning or losing,' he said. 'I know that she loves basketball and loves the Lakers and is a true fan.'"TrueHoop First Cup

  • Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald: "Pierce can, in fact, go home again. He just can't shoot 2-for-14 when he gets there. After a series of stories on how well the Celtics captain plays against his hometown team, Pierce's play last night said you can't believe everything you read. Now he doesn't want you to believe everything you saw in the 87-81 Game 3 loss to the Lakers. ... 'It's frustrating when you don't play well,' Pierce said. 'But by no means is it going to break my confidence, because when I look back there were some good shots I took that were good shots for me. They just didn't fall. Then I threw myself kind of out of rhythm by getting into foul trouble. You know, when you're constantly in and out of the game (every) two or three minutes, it takes away from the rhythm of a player like me.'"

  • Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe: "Are you going to be OK if the Celtics win the championship on the West Coast, 3,000 miles from home? It's a possibility. And a pattern. The Celtics went into last night's game at the Staples Center needing two wins in three games to close the deal on Banner No. 17 in Los Angeles. Not that they're greedy, but I'm wondering if some fans (Garden ticket-holders, perhaps) might be hoping for one or two losses in LA. Winning championships away from home has become something of a Boston specialty. Something tells me Mayor Menino kind of likes it this way. The Red Sox have won two of the last four World Series, and both were clinched on the road."


  • Ivan Carter of The Washington Post: "A word on Gilbert Arenas, who filed the paperwork to opt out on Friday: Everything I can gather tells me that he will be in a Wizards uniform next season. I see the Wizards offering as much as it takes to keep him -- yes, that means the max -- and him taking it. That said, I see two darkhorses out there and I do mean darkhorses. 1. Arenas is notoriously quirky, he grew up in Los Angeles and loves the Lakers. Just throwing that out there. Obviously, he'd have to take way less to pull such a move but he'd also know that he'd make a ton of money back in marketing. 2. Arenas is very close with Orlando GM Otis Smith from Smith's days with Golden State. With Howard, Lewis and Turkoglu, the Magic has pieces in place. The downside, other than taking less money, would be that Orlando is not a big market and I see Arenas wanting to go no smaller than DC."

  • K.C. Johnson of The Chicago Tribune: "Doc Rivers had no previous experience when Orlando hired him in 1999, but he won Coach of the Year honors after his first season and now is in the NBA Finals with Boston. Larry Bird had no previous experience when Indiana hired him in 1997, but he also won Coach of the Year after his first season and went to the 2000 NBA Finals. Avery Johnson had no previous experience when Dallas hired him as Don Nelson's assistant head coach in 2004, but he won Coach of the Year recognition after his first full season and coached in the 2006 NBA Finals. ... Is previous coaching experience important for NBA hires? The Bulls are about to find out Wednesday after they introduce Vinny Del Negro as the 17th coach in franchise history at a United Center news conference."

  • Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press: "There was only one player standing around as the Pistons introduced Michael Curry as their coach Tuesday. And it happened to be the one player Joe Dumars sought most to reach with this hiring -- Rasheed Wallace. There was a clear message in Wallace's appearance. It was his personal stamp of approval of Curry's ascension. It signaled his desire to remain a Piston despite a growing public sentiment that he serve as scapegoat for another disappointing playoff exit. Dumars must operate under the assumption that Wallace will return next season, if
    for no other reason than he might not bring enough in trade. Contrary to public wishes, there will be no Rasheed fire sale."

  • Pat Caputo of The Oakland Press: "Really, of the Pistons' most recent coaches, only Larry Brown passed the most severe test. As odd as he was, it wasn't much of a surprise because of Brown's lengthy resume and considerable track record. Hiring the unknown, Michael Curry, presents a whole different set of variables. The next great coach or a colossal mistake? There doesn't seem to be much wiggle room remaining for the middle ground."

  • Sekou Smith of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Is there a better racket going than the experience-free coaching carousel that's currently churning out three-year, $7 million contracts in Chicago (Vinny Del Negro) and Detroit (Michael Curry)? The next time someone complains about overblown salaries for young players that haven't proved themselves remind them that Del Negro and Curry, two swell cats I'm sure, have a total of one combined season of coaching experience going into their first training camps in the fall. And that brings us to our regularly scheduled update on the status of Hawks coach Mike Woodson, who as of this writing still has not come to terms with the Hawks on a new contract. What must he be thinking with all this cash (and these years) being bestowed upon not just head coaching but coaching neophytes?"

  • Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: "Fred Hoiberg hasn't talked to Sam Maresh yet. But he hopes to. And if he does, his message will be simple: 'Think of yourself as lucky. You're going to get through this. You'll be OK.' Maresh, the prized Gophers football recruit from Champlin Park High School, needs surgery to replace or repair his aortic valve. It will not be an easy next few months for the young man. Hoiberg knows, because he's been through it. ... 'For me, the first step was absolutely denial,' he said. 'But once you get past that, reality sets in. You talk to specialists, and they all say the same thing: You need to get this fixed. Eventually the denial and the anger turns into realizing how fortunate you are that they found the problem.'"

2008 NBA Draft

  • Charley Walters of The Pioneer Press: "Rather than one player, the Timberwolves, who have the No. 3 pick in the June 26 NBA draft, are focusing on a handful of players and plan to take the best overall rather than choose for position. The Wolves also are considering trading down several spots in the draft if they can acquire a veteran player as well as a first-round pick. Most likely, however, the Wolves will keep their No. 3 pick. It's likely they will choose a young European with one of their second-round picks and have him develop overseas for at least a year."

  • Jonathan Abrams of the Los Angeles Times: "Got guard? The Clippers, who have the seventh pick of the upcoming NBA draft, are looking for one, and after seeing Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless over the weekend they held their first mass workout on Tuesday. The big collegiate names who attended were guards Russell Westbrook of UCLA, Chase Budinger of Arizona and forward Anthony Randolph of Louisiana State. Prospects on hand expected to go later in the draft were Malik Hairston, J. Gordon and Justin Hawkins."

  • Chris Dempsey and Benjamin Hochman of The Denver Post: "North Carolina sophomore guard Ty Lawson showed up at the Pepsi Center practice court Tuesday and worked out with five other players, citing miscommunication in an e-mail exchange as the reason he didn't attend Sunday's workout for the Nuggets. 'I don't know what happened there,' Lawson said. He also defended his conduct of late. Last week he was charged with driving after consuming alcohol in Chapel Hill, N.C. Lawson, 20, was stopped because of loud music coming from his car. 'If I was 21, I would have been (just fine),' he said. ... 'I'm not a troublemaker,' he said. 'It shouldn't have any effect on anything.'"

  • Aaron J. Lopez of the Rocky Mountain News: "Lawson seemed to be a lock for the top 20 after a strong showing at the predraft camp in Orlando, Fla., but his arrest Friday raised some questions about his judgment and character. 'I should have been a little more responsible,' he said. 'I shouldn't have even been out. It's part of growing up.'"