Monday, June 7, 2010
First Cup: Monday
- Ron Borges of the Boston Herald: "Did Game 1 ever happen? Does anyone care? Three nights after being accused of playing with the emotion of the Manchurian Candidate and the energy of a slug, the Celtics stole homecourt advantage from the Los Angeles Lakers, and the ringleader in the robbery was Ray Allen. Allen poured home 32 points in a scrambling 103-94 turnaround win against the Lakers that evened the NBA Finals at 1 and sent the Celts back home for three games at the Garden with the chance to close out the series. Of course, the way Allen was shooting, who could blame him if he never wanted to leave? Allen set a single-game Finals record with eight 3-pointers on a night when he was 8-of-11 from outside the arc and 3-of-8 from inside it. 'I don’t know what record it is that people are telling me I got, but it’s great to have,' Allen said. 'Great to be able to look back on it and say I did that. This is definitely the time. This is definitely our time. There’s no better place, moment, time to play a game, to win a game and to win in a great fashion -- and to be able to shoot the ball.' "
- Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston.com: "Once or twice per season, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers challenges all of his players to a footrace. It's a lighthearted moment that often comes when the team needs a moment of levity during the grind of the regular season. In Sunday's Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Rivers put that race training to good use. In a moment that encapsulated the heads-up play of his team in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter, Rivers scrambled onto the court, tripping over his own shoes in order to get the attention of referee Monty McCutchen and call a timeout before what could have been a potential momentum-swinging eight-second violation for failing to advance the ball past half court. 'I guess it was big,' Rivers said. 'We had one second left. I'm glad they saw me. I don't think they had a choice but to see me, I was past them.' The Celtics were clinging to a five-point lead with 95 seconds to play when Kobe Bryant misfired on a 3-pointer from the right wing. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce collided chasing the rebound, with Pierce spilling to the floor, but Ray Allen was able to keep the ball alive near the baseline. The Lakers immediately swarmed, trying to get the ball back with Pierce still lying on the ground. That's when Rivers noticed that, with two defenders pestering Rajon Rondo, there was no way Boston could advance the ball before the eight seconds were up."
- Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe: "Did last night truly display how much Kevin Garnett has aged in two years and the inconsistency of Paul Pierce or the versatility of a Celtics team that can beat the Lakers despite minimal contributions from either player? That question will be debated countless times by countless pundits the next two days but the Celtics don’t need to know that answer right now. They are just fortunate and perhaps exceptional enough to get away with a 103-94 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals with just one of the Big Three cylinders pumping with effectiveness. Ray Allen dropped 32 points and Rajon Rondo was brilliant with a triple-double, but Pierce and Garnett combined for 16 points on 4-for-16 shooting with eight fouls -- and one field goal in the fourth quarter. Garnett was supposed to respond to the heavy criticism he received because of his lethargic performance in Game 1 and Pau Gasol’s domination. Instead, he was tentative, picked up two silly fouls 2 minutes 38 seconds into the game, and attempted just five shots in 24 minutes. He did nothing to dispute the assertion he is in swift decline. The Garnett that dominated Michael Beasley and Antawn Jamison in the first two series has faded, replaced by an insecure figure unsure if he can get that swagger back."
- Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times: "The real Rajon Rondo took a tight game down the stretch in the fourth quarter and managed to cast the series in a completely different light in about a five-minute spurt. In all, he had a triple-double -- 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists -- but 10 of those points came in the fourth quarter in the Celtics' 103-94 victory over the Lakers in Game 2 at Staples Center on Sunday, leveling the series at one game each. 'I expect it,' Kendrick Perkins said. 'Whatever he did this game, he's got to keep doing.' And so, that was the big Celtics-Lakers matchup of Game 2. Rondo vs. the field. Rondo 1, Field 0. 'I'm not a pretty superstitious guy, but I did things different today,' Rondo said. 'I felt real good shooting the ball before the game. DA [team President Danny Ainge] told me before the game, try to get a lot of FGAs [field goal attempts] up tonight, and I did. I wasn't shooting extremely well, but I was being aggressive. If we lose the game, I want to go out being aggressive. I don't want to fall back or hold anything back.' "
- Kevin Ding of The Orange County Register: "You might say, 'Here we go again …' with the Lakers. What happened to them Sunday night was not that simple. So often it’s two steps forward and one step back with them. Incapable of focus for the sake of focus. Complacency setting in at the first possible juncture. True, they weren’t as ready to play Game 2 as the Boston Celtics. Yet what lost this game for the Lakers was a lack of poise, which hasn’t often been their problem. In place of that poise was odd panic, which Boston seized upon to tie the NBA Finals. Highlights of Game 2. It’s why Derek Fisher, even as he personally tapped the DVD he was taking home to study in some nervous habit as he spoke to reporters, said the Lakers just need to relax. 'Be who we are,' Fisher said after the loss. Fisher said the Lakers must not question themselves after this failure. He wants the team to take its 9 a.m. Monday flight to Boston and arrive there with 'chin up, chest out.' He’s right. The Lakers need their swag back, because they sure didn’t have much of it Sunday night."
- Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com: "It's hard to say exactly where Ron Artest was going or what he was doing, except that he wasn't going where he should have or doing what the Lakers needed. Later, Phil Jackson would enjoy a laugh at his expense. 'It's one of the more unusual sequences I've ever witnessed,' Jackson joked. But really, later, after the Celtics had stolen home court advantage away from the Lakers in a 103-94 win Sunday at Staples Center, laughter was probably the only safe way of processing Artest's mind-boggling play in the final minute of the game. They were down 98-90 when Artest decided to play a game of Marco Polo out on the court, burning off 13 valuable seconds as the Lakers attempted to rally. But in those 13 seconds, Artest dribbled the ball across the timeline, looked to shoot but didn't, then looked to pass to Andrew Bynum but didn't, dribbled across the key, then in a circle at the top of the key, then to the left side of the court. He finally squared up for an awkward leaner around Paul Pierce that clanked off the rim, and you saw exactly what the Lakers might be missing this time around against the Celtics: Savvy."
- T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times: "The Celtics stink, and their fans pretty much know it. They waited until after Game 2 before e-mailing their obscenities and asking, 'What do you have to say about Boston now?' A more confident lot would have e-mailed before the game, but no doubt they didn't think this was possible. Goes to show you Celtics fans aren't all that swift either, forgetting the NBA motto 'where amazing happens,' as if there was any way the NBA wasn't going to fix things and stretch this dream matchup out as long as possible. I know this, it didn't look to me as if the referees were in any hurry to call it a season any time soon. Now it looks like Game 6 or 7 before it's settled, huge TV ratings, and don't know how the NBA made the Celtics appear younger, quicker and better in a matter of just days, but kudos. It's best for TV anyway when the home team clinches a championship, so Game 6 or 7 it is. As for now, I have only one concern: the Lakers."
- Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle: "Rajon Rondo, Boston's point guard, dominated down the stretch. The Celtics ran through a 10-0 run. The series heads to Boston tied, 1-1. This was the series in which Bryant was to cement his legacy as one of the game's very best ever. He had 30 points in Game 1, driving easily. But he made just 10 of 22 shots, off his phenomenal pace of these playoffs. In Game 2, he made 8 of 20, scoring an ordinary 21 points, making just 1 of his final 6 shots. As the series heads to Boston, it might just be about whether he can be spectacular again. Perhaps the Lakers should not still need all that from him, but increasingly it appears that they do, or at least will need a win or two like that for Bryant to get his fifth ring."
- Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Starting with the notion that LeBron James is a relatively shrewd observer of all things basketball and business, how can he already not have a definitive idea of where he wants to play and who he wants to play with? July 1 should be as simple as: This team, with these players, at the maximum. After all, anything LeBron wants, LeBron gets. Or will the diva drama prove too much in certain precincts? Pat Riley certainly seemed to tire of it during Shaquille O'Neal's final days with the Heat. So did Wade, who was demeaned as 'Wonder Boy' by Shaq inside the Heat sanctum. Can a Riley or a Donnie Walsh or a John Paxson afford to say no to a Chris Bosh or Joe Johnson or Amare Stoudemire as James makes his whistle-stop tour? While a Boozer might be willing to acknowledge he is a secondary chip in the process, the aforementioned max-level types might not prove as patient. If anything, with this past week of look-at-me Larry King Live theater by James, it is clear he can command the stage by whim. But can he commandeer the entire free-agency process? Only if his fellow free agents and those spending the most cash allow that to happen. Soon enough, we will have a read on whether James is bigger than the game."
- Kerry Eggers of The Portland Tribune: "Kevin Pritchard confirms that his Lake Oswego home is on the market. The 4,071-square foot dwelling (3,362 main house, 709 guest house), with a total of five bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms, is for sale by Sothebys Real Estate via pocket listing (not entered into multiple listing, exclusive rights to broker Terry Sprague) for $3.6 million. Pritchard says he has his eye on another house and that it shouldn’t be construed as the Trail Blazer general manager expecting he is about to lose his job. This despite a weekend report from Yahoo Sports that says the club has hired a private headhunting firm to line up potential hires for the GM position. Meanwhile, Pritchard is heading up Portland scouting operations for the June 24 NBA draft, looking at what would seem to be a firing shortly thereafter. With owner Paul Allen and team President Larry Miller mum as a mime on the subject of Pritchard’s status, it appears he is about as much a 'lame duck' as a GM can be. Makes you proud to be a Blazer fan, I’ll bet."
- John Canzano of The Oregonian: "We talk all the time about the great organizations in sport, and how focused and single-minded their mission feels. I've spent time around the true champions, and sifted through their locker rooms, and their front offices, and what you come to realize is that winning doesn't happen by accident. Paul Allen needs to cut Kevin Pritchard loose. Fire him today. Set him free. Start over. If only to allow the organization to get its focus back. The Blazers are distracted again, and the organization can't find its way while the so-called leaders of the organization are busy buffing the shine off the guy they once declared as their Golden Boy. A couple of years ago I thought Allen had finally figured out how to be an owner when he hired Pritchard and stepped out of the way. Now, it's obvious that Pritchard and the Blazers can't go a single day further together if they both hope to be productive."
- Ross Siler of The Salt Lake Tribune: "Judging from the number of players sprawled out on the court in the aftermath, Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor was accurate in describing Sunday's draft workout as one of the most intense he'd seen. 'I think the competitiveness among this group was impressive,' O'Connor said. The Jazz hosted five expected first-round picks, with O'Connor describing them as being in a 'cluster' on the team's draft board. In addition to Butler forward Gordon Hayward, Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu, Kansas guard Xavier Henry, Nevada forward Luke Babbitt, Texas forward Damion James and Rider guard Ryan Thompson took part."
- Michael Wallace of The Miami Herald: "The Heat took a break from preparing to reshape its roster to help rebuild facilities in a region still in recovery from a Jan. 12 earthquake. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and former players Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway led a contingent of 40 volunteers and relief workers who traveled to Haiti to deliver supplies. The Heat also donated $25,000 to help UM's Project Medishare fund the renovation and construction of an Intensive Care Unit at one of the only functioning hospitals currently operating in Haiti. The weekend visit to Haiti was the latest in a number of philanthropic steps by the Heat in support of the recovery efforts to restore the island. 'People may have forgotten some of the things that are still going on there,' Mourning said. 'So this is a reminder that, hey, we still need to do a lot of things there to help support the infrastructure there.' "
- Ethan J. Skolnick of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "So what will be the easiest to forget? A baby, born at 30 weeks, nestled between Erik Spoelstra's forefinger and middle finger? The mothers trying to hand over their children? A former soccer coach's first sprint on his prosthetic? Because it sure seems like it has been too easy, for too many, to forget Haiti. 'Many of the people who were here, the weeks after the earthquake …,' Alonzo Mourning said Saturday afternoon at the Project Medishare field hospital.'They're gone.' That's why the former Heat center was here, again, for a seventh time since the Jan. 12 disaster. That's why the Heat sent a contingent with him, one that included Spoelstra, former guard Tim Hardaway and broadcaster Eric Reid. That's why some Dolphins alumni visited a month ago, distributing tents at this same field hospital. This is the best of what our sports organizations do, considering their unique position, their ability to mobilize the masses to aid those enduring the worst of circumstances. As people are in Haiti. Still."