Tuesday, March 22, 2011
First Cup: Tuesday
- Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald: "Doc Rivers thought he had waltzed around using the 'S' word during a very damning halftime talk. But no translation was needed for the subdued players sitting in front of him. After watching Ray Allen fall head-first into the floor and come up bleeding with a seven-stitch cut to his right eyebrow in the second quarter, which only added irritation to their second 15-point deficit in two games, the Celtics were ready for a little second-half anger. So it didn’t take much to get the message. 'Doc told us we were soft,' Kevin Garnett said. 'He thought our play was soft, and that everything we were doing was soft. We weren’t the C’s. But we got fine. We had four assists at halftime. That was like a green squirrel. That was like, what’s going on?' All that was needed by the end of last night’s 96-86 win against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden was a pair of cut men -- one for each corner. Carmelo Anthony ultimately matched Allen by taking a five-stitch gash over his left eye following a fourth-quarter collision with Rajon Rondo. Unlike Allen, whose bandage leaked blood throughout the second half, Anthony didn’t return."
- Harvey Araton of The New York Times: "Not to put the Knicks’ 7-9 record since the trade all on Anthony -- because there are numerous unresolved issues that include the question of Coach Mike D’Antoni’s commitment to making defense a priority -- but it is fair to wonder just what they have purchased for $65 million. Will Anthony make the full adjustment to D’Antoni’s motion offense, or will he resort to forcing jumpers when the pressure mounts in a tight game, as he did Monday? Is he willing to make the aforementioned hard cut as a decoy not just because the play dictates he must but also because he is capable of experiencing the thrill of clearing out space for a teammate to succeed? Is he ready to play with passion every quarter, every night, on both ends, and plant championship seeds that will flower in spring? NBA stars soar, dunk and rain 3-pointers for the highlight shows, but Ray Allen said playing for the Celtics was like 'being on a football team, being a lineman, one of the workhorses.' He had his own badge of honor afterward, having taken a Jared Jeffries elbow above the eye. Allen left a game the Knicks were seemingly in control of, at least for a half, then returned bandaged but unbowed to join hands with what is now the Big Four, Rondo included. 'When you see chemistry, it’s always judged basically in the fourth quarter, executing on both ends of the floor,' Allen said. We saw exactly that from the Celtics down the stretch Monday night. And from Anthony and the Knicks, we saw surrender after the body blows landed. Lights out. Sweet dreams."
- Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle: "Former Warriors coach Don Nelson slipped in a handful of noteworthy tidbits amid an hourlong interview that covered the breadth of his career Monday night on 'Chronicle Live' on CSN Bay Area. In his most provocative comment, Nelson seemed to say he was fired primarily for asking center Andris Biedrins to shoot his free throws underhanded. Biedrins shot an NBA-worst 16 percent in 2009-10, Nelson's final season. 'I got fired when I asked him to (shoot underhanded),' Nelson said, and there was no follow-up question. Nelson maintained that he had Rick Barry lined up to instruct Biedrins. That was part of Nelson's most extensive public comments since being fired in September and his only statements since breaking his silence Feb. 3 with Ralph Barbieri and Tom Tolbert on KNBR. During Monday's interview, he left open the possibility of coaching again and didn't pull any punches about his career."
- Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "Before he departed, Tim Duncan grabbed three rebounds, catching Dennis Rodman for 11th place on the NBA’s all-time rebound list. He has 11,954. Rodman played the bulk of his career with the Pistons and Bulls but also had two seasons with the Spurs, 1993-94 and 1994-95."
- Ken Sugiura of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "The Chicago Bulls will be in town on Tuesday night, which means Hawks center Al Horford could be ready to have another big statistical outing. The last time the Hawks played the Bulls, Horford had 31 points and 16 rebounds. Following the game, Hawks forward Marvin Williams said it appears Horford relishes playing the Bulls because of his friendship with Joakim Noah, the Chicago center and his former Florida teammate. Horford has averaged 13.5 points and 10.1 rebounds over his career against Chicago, among the best numbers he's posted against any Eastern Conference team. 'It's going to be a battle, but we're looking forward to it,' Horford said Sunday following the team's win over Detroit."
- Herb Gould of the Chicago Sun-Times: "The Bulls travel to Atlanta tonight for the rubber match of their season series. After blowing a 19-point lead in an 83-80 loss at Atlanta on March 2, the Bulls won 94-76 at the United Center on March 11. This will be the 19th of 23 times the Bulls play back-to-back games this season, tied for the most in the NBA. They are 13-5 in the second games of back-to-backs after losing in overtime Friday at Indiana. '‘I didn’t like the way we played the last one, but for the most part we’ve done a good job,’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. ‘That’s where our depth comes into play. Our bench has given us a big lift. On Friday night, we were in a big hole, and our bench came in and got us out of a hole. The big thing is, in those situations, you have to be ready to play. You have to put a lot into the game.' "
- Janis Carr of The Orange County Register: "By now, the Lakers (and fans) are used to Derek Fisher’s late-game heroics, whether it be a key pass or game-winning shot with mere seconds remaining. Maybe they are too used to it. Kobe Bryant said Fisher has been playing like that since the two of them entered the league in 1996 and he has come to rely on the 36-year-old guard’s sense of order down the stretch. Bryant said he realized how much he leans on Fisher during those three seasons when Fisher played elsewhere. So you missed him? 'What, instead of Smush (Parker)? Yeah. I would shoot with three men on me. Now I shoot with one or two (players guarding him),' Bryant said after Monday’s practice. Phil Jackson also realizes Fisher’s value, things that don’t always show up in the boxscore. 'He likes to make sense out of chaos,' Jackson said. 'He out there reading the defense and seeing where people are on floor. Is Derek isn’t a true point guard? Probably not. A lot of people would argue that. But he certain is a leader who knows how to get things done on the floor.' "
- Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: "Chris Bosh has elevated his play by diversifying his offensive approach, rebounding more and shooting at a clip nearly five points above his season average. It’s no coincidence that the Heat has won five of the six games in that stretch, by an average margin of 19 points. 'He took a lot of the responsibility on his shoulders, and not many players are willing to do that,’ coach Erik Spoelstra said. Two weeks ago, Bosh stepped to the podium after a seven-point, four-rebound effort in a loss against Portland, the Heat’s fifth consecutive defeat, and told reporters, among other things, 'I have to get it where I’m effective. I have to get it where big guys get it. I’m effective down in the low-post area.’ Since those comments, the only strategic difference, Bosh said, is that he’s 'rolling to the basket’ more on pick-and-rolls. 'Coach came in with the idea. He said, ‘Start … to roll to the basket, we’re effective when you do it.’ I want to make sure I finish when I get those pocket passes. I’m just attacking with a different mind-frame.’ "
- Mary Schmitt Boyer of The Plain Dealer: "Before the Cavaliers' most recent game, against the Clippers on Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a man with a large knife breached security and ran onto the court where he was shot by police with bean-bag guns and arrested near the Cavs' bench area about 75 minutes before tipoff. Could that happen here? Cavaliers officials are reluctant to talk about their security measures at The Q because they figure those measures are more effective the less people know about them. But Cavs senior vice president of communications Tad Carper expressed confidence in the team's security operation. 'We take security and the safety of everybody in the building very seriously,' Carper said. 'Our procedures already exceed the NBA's high standards. We take extra precautions and have a constant review of the current landscape and any special concerns that warrant consideration.' "
- Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer: "You can ice, you can use electrical stimulation, you can get a massage. But the only thing that really heals a strained hamstring is time, and Stephen Jackson and the Charlotte Bobcats have none. Wednesday's home game against the Indiana Pacers is huge, as far as whatever chance the Bobcats have of reaching the playoffs. Leading scorer Jackson says he'll play, but he has no idea how effective he'll be the rest of this season. 'You can't move, can't change speeds (or) be as aggressive as you want to, especially driving to the cup,' Jackson said after Monday's practice. 'It's a sharp pain that I can't really deal with. I've got to find a way to get it well enough to play Wednesday. It's a big game.' The Bobcats have lost a tiebreaker to eighth-place Indiana. The Pacers were 1 1/2 games ahead of the Bobcats entering Indiana's game Monday night in New Jersey. This is the Bobcats' last chance to beat the Pacers, after losing the first three meetings of the season series."
- Martin Frank of The News-Journal: "It’s really quite simple: Do the 76ers play Andre Iguodala, who has tendinitis in his right knee, and Elton Brand, who has injuries on both hands, the rest of the way in order to keep the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference (or even move up to No. 5), or do they rest Iguodala and Brand as much as possible, even if it means dropping to the No. 7 spot. Sixers coach Doug Collins already rested Iguodala last Saturday against Portland, the last game of the 5-game road trip and the second on back-to-back nights. He offered Brand the chance to sit as well, but he declined. Both players are expected to play Wednesday against Atlanta, which is a huge game for the Sixers. They are 4 games behind the Hawks for 5th in the East. If they beat Atlanta on Wednesday (the Hawks are 7-12 beginning Feb. 8), they would have a chance for the No. 5 spot and a 1st-round matchup vs. Orlando. If they lose, they’ll be stuck battling the Knicks for the No. 6 spot. They led by 1/2 game heading into the Knicks’ game Monday vs. Boston."
- Michael Lee of The Washington Post: "All season, most teams have played John Wall the same way: give him the jumper and take away his driving lanes. More often than not, Wall uses his considerable speed to blow by defenders and still get to the basket for layups. But when teams dare Wall to shoot, he treats it as some form of punishment and settles for the jumper as a last resort. 'I’ll be hesitating if I want to shoot it or pass it,' Wall admitted. That reluctant, unsure Wall was nowhere to be found on Sunday against the New Jersey Nets, as the rookie point guard developed a comfort zone from the spots where he spends so much time before games. Wall made six of his 11 field goals from beyond 15 feet, including the two decisive jumpers in the final 82 seconds, to lead the Wizards to a much-needed 98-92 victory. 'I felt more confident than I did the whole season,' said Wall, who is averaging 15.9 points on just 40.7 percent shooting this season. With the Wizards short-handed and missing many of their top offensive options, they are looking for Wall to be more assertive as a scorer, a position that the pass-first Wall would rather avoid but has grown to accept. In nine games this month, Wall is averaging 18.8 points and has already recorded four of his 14 20-point games."
- Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic: "Soccer has never been so good to Steve Nash. His lifelong passion, North London soccer club Tottenham Hotspur, will play in a Champions League quarterfinal for the first time against Real Madrid on April 5. On Saturday, the lifelong Vancouver Whitecaps fan attended the MLS debut of the team he now part-owns. Vancouver beat Toronto FC 4-2 at home. 'Not bad,' Nash said. 'Tottenham hasn't been in the Champions League since '61-'62 so to be in the final eight and playing Madrid is phenomenal. The Whitecaps had a dream opener. A sellout crowd. A 4-2 win over a Canadian rival is pretty good stuff.' "
- Rachel Bachman of The Oregonian: "Although pro sporting events can build community, they also can build mountains of trash. The Portland-based Green Sports Alliance, launched Monday and backed by the leaders of the nation's largest sports leagues, aims to make leagues, teams and facilities more earth-friendly. Representatives from teams owned by Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen, who also owns the Seahawks and co-owns the Seattle Sounders Major League Soccer team, initiated the concept of an inter-league alliance to reduce sports franchises' impact on the environment. The organization's other founding members are the Seattle Mariners, the NHL's Vancouver Canucks and the WNBA's Seattle Storm. The alliance also has endorsements from the Major League Baseball, NBA, NFL, NHL and MLS commissioners, and support from the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. The Bonneville Environmental Foundation and Portland State University will work with the alliance to identify ways for teams and leagues to reduce their environmental impact."
- Chris Iott of Booth Newspapers: "Richard Hamilton is headed to Disney. The Detroit Pistons veteran guard will appear on the Disney Junior show 'Imagination Movers' in an episode called 'Slam Dunk Solution' that will debut at 1:30 p.m. Friday on the Disney channel."