First Cup: Monday
June, 9, 2014
By Nick Borges
- Greg Cote of The Miami Herald: His muscles went from cramping to flexing, his body from useless and beyond his control to empowered and fully in charge. It was a lesson in physiology, in the marvel of human healing. It wasn’t a miracle, it was LeBron James — although occasionally, like Sunday night, those seem like one in the same, as least to Heat fans. James was masterful in NBA Finals Game 2 here, after cramps had limited him in the opening loss, and he lifted the Heat to a 98-96 triumph over San Antonio that levels the series at 1-1 as the Finals head to Miami for Games 3 and 4 starting Tuesday night. He scored 35 points with 10 rebounds. He muscled into the paint. He hit jump shots. He silenced those who had savaged him on social media, mocking, questioning his toughness, belittling his succumbing to cramps. Mostly, what LeBron did was resuscitate Miami’s dream of a three-peat championship. ... Buckle in for a long series. If it could go longer than seven games, it surely would. Miami has something the Spurs do not, though. Something no other team has. His name is LeBron. His nickname is King James. You can mock him. You can doubt him. You can Tweet your venom. He answered every one of you on Sunday night.
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: More than Duncan's momentary loss of temper, the real problem for the Spurs in the final 11 minutes of the first half was horrid shooting. After making their first two shots of the second period, they missed 15 of 20. They finished the game with only 11 turnovers, but three of them came during Miami's 14-3 run after perfect jumpers by Patty Mills and Ginobili to open the second quarter. Ginobili had no turnovers as the lead dwindled away, but recognized the sloppy play that cost the Spurs the momentum they had built. “We got a little sloppy with the ball,” he said. “We didn't turn the ball over that much, 11 in the whole game, but in that period we had three, almost in a row. Another (play) I remember was Tony's (Parker) shot from the corner and LeBron got the rebound and he gets full speed and it's really hard to stop him, and the balance was not there. It happens against them. That's what they do. They live off that."
- Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News: It wouldn’t be an NBA Finals without someone floating a wild conspiracy theory, and ex-Net Jason Terry sent a doozy out over the weekend about the air conditioning malfunction in Game 1. According to Terry, the Spurs pulled the plug. A long-time Spurs rival who won a title with the Mavs in 2011, Terry alleged to a Dallas radio station that the Spurs were responsible for the power outage that led to temperatures rising to over 90 degrees during the game, contributing to LeBron James’ severe case of cramps that forced him out of action with four minutes left. “You know what, Pop (Spurs VP-coach Gregg Popovich) has done that so many times,” Terry, who spent the first half of last season in Brooklyn before being traded to Sacramento for Marcus Thornton, told ESPN’s Dallas station. “I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy, but I’m telling you, going into San Antonio is a tough place to play." For the NBA, Terry’s theory is just a lot of hot air. From the get-go, the league agreed with the Spurs’ explanation that the AT&T Center’s A/C system experienced a massive electrical failure early in the game.
- Brad Rock of the Deseret News: To the Jazz’s credit, they didn’t overdo the hyperbole at Quin Snyder’s introductory press conference on Saturday. Nobody went out of his way to say the team soon expects to be playing for championships. There was just passing mention of playoffs, which was good considering the team finished 24 games out of the hunt. So it was a nice start. Seriously. All too often these things turn into blather fests and it goes downhill from there. They said they got the right man. Both management and Snyder said they felt fortunate. But nobody said they were going to overtake the San Antonio Spurs. If one thing can be surmised from the early moments of the Snyder era, it’s that he expects to first do the work. The talk can follow. Thus, Saturday’s event was a rather quiet but optimistic affair.
- Adam Wexler of CSN Houston: If they decline the option, which reportedly is their current plan, he would become a restricted free agent this offseason when the new league year begins. "I've worked my whole life to be in the situation," Parsons said when asked if the situation was unsettling at all. "I think everything will work itself out. I just have to continue to get better. It's really out of my control, we're talking a lot back and forth, that's really up to the guy behind you. So it's out of my control." The guy standing behind the media was Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who merely stopped by to say hello to Parsons and had no comment on Parsons' contract situation. The support of the organization has been felt by Parsons. Leslie Alexander told Fox26 in October 2013 that the Rockets will at some point work out a long-term deal with Parsons, telling Fox, "We'll sign Chandler. We always do. Nobody's ever left. He's an integral part of the team. We don't want to let a terrific player go." Parsons acknowledged the support of the organization. "It's cool. I want to be here. I love Houston," he said. "It's a great situation for me, the city, my teammates, (head) coach (Kevin) McHale, Daryl (Morey), (Rockets CEO) Tad (Brown), all of them are great. Of course I want to be here, we'll see how it works out."
- Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press: But as the highest-paid player on the Pistons, Josh Smith is going to draw arrows — especially when he is benched multiple times and fans groan when he keeps shooting three-pointers. However, a new coach offers a new slate. Van Gundy said he traveled to Atlanta last week to have lunch with Smith. “I thought it was a great conversation. Josh is a smart guy. He knows what it takes to win in this league,” Van Gundy said. “He’s capable of doing all those things. We talked about a lot of things in terms of his game, what he thinks his strengths are, where I see it going and the whole thing, and I came away very encouraged that Josh is enthusiastic about the year and excited to get going.” Van Gundy realizes Smith is potentially the best two-way player on the roster. And if he isn’t moved in the off-season, he will seek to use those talents.
- Michael Hunt of the Journal Sentinel: The possibility of Jabari Parker playing for the Bucks struck Steve Wojciechowski like no one else in Milwaukee. "It's going to be weird having the No. 2 pick baby-sitting my kids," the new Marquette coach said with a laugh. Of course, the Bucks would actually have to use their draft pick on June 26 on the Duke star, whom Wojciechowski coached as an assistant last year in Parker's only season with the Blue Devils. Wojo's insights on the 6-foot-8 forward match his enthusiasm for having Parker back with him in the same town. "With the Bucks and Jabari, that would be an amazing situation for both parties," he said. "He'd be a slam dunk, a grand slam, whatever you want to call it. He'd be a great, great pick for the Bucks." Naturally, Wojciechowski has skin in this game. But ask around and it would be hard to find someone to either question Parker's character or identify anyone else in the draft more NBA-ready than the 19-year-old Chicago native.
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: While Julius Randle was once considered a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick, or at least in the top three, NBA sources say Randle has dropped to the second group of hopefuls, which includes Arizona’s Aaron Gordon and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh. Vonleh, who is from Haverhill, has apparently impressed teams in workouts and moved ahead of Randle on many teams’ draft boards. Meanwhile, NBA sources said the Celtics are impressed with Gordon and a key will be his workout this week in Waltham. The Celtics are considering moving the sixth pick but are intrigued by Gordon’s potential and ability to defend both forward positions.
- Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman: Despite the late-season slump, Jeremy Lamb has proven to be a capable scorer in the NBA. Plus, he’s an above average rebounder for his position and an underrated thief, averaging nearly a steal per game because of his length and ability to jump into passing lanes. So there are already ways he helps on the defensive end. But individually, he was continually bullied by bigger guards and exploited by quicker ones, leaving his teammates to either overhelp off their man or watch a parade of buckets flow through. Moving forward, it remains an area of concern. But unlike when he first entered the league, he’s fully aware of that fact. “I definitely will work on my defense and come back a much better defensive player,” Lamb said. “When you disrupt on both ends of the floor, I think that’s huge.” And for Lamb, that’s the next step.