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Trey Kerby

Suicide lines: Odom struggling; Rondo rising; Izzo considering

Ball Don't Lie

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Each weekday morning, BDL serves up a handful of NBA-related stories to digest with your Advil.

Monique Walker, Boston Globe: "Lamar Odom has logged time in each of the two games in the NBA Finals. He has touched the ball. Tossed up shots. Run the floor. But he has been absent. The Lakers forward and sixth man hasn't contributed much this series. In the Western Conference finals, Odom averaged 14 points and 11.8 rebounds in 34.3 minutes in the six-game series against Phoenix. Against the Celtics, those numbers have plummeted to 4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 18 minutes a game. Instead of racking up minutes, rebounds, and points, Odom was gathering fouls. In both games, Odom fell into foul trouble and his playing time was limited. He had five fouls in each game, picking up three in the first quarter of Sunday night's 103-94 Game 2 loss to the Celtics. 'It's two games in a row, both on drives against Paul Pierce,'(notes) Odom said. 'It took me out of the game. I was only able to play 14 minutes [Sunday]. I couldn't really contribute much, just in spirit. That's the way the ball bounces sometimes.' Odom has a reputation of being inconsistent and that characterization is following the 11-year veteran into the Finals. After averaging a double-double heading into the series, Odom mustered 5 points and five fouls in 21 minutes in Game 1, but the Lakers won, 102-89. But with a hot-shooting Ray Allen(notes) and a show-stopping Rajon Rondo(notes) in Game 2, the Lakers couldn't afford to have so little production from Odom. Odom picked up his second foul at the 1:21 mark of the first quarter. As Lakers coach Phil Jackson debated taking him out, he picked up his third foul. 'Again, my fault,' said Jackson Sunday night. 'He got, bang-bang, two fouls immediately, and I turned to my crew and said, "Do you think he can play through this?" And as I was talking to them, he got his third foul. So obviously, he couldn't play through that sequence. He just basically got in the ball game and got those three fouls and it really took him out of the ball game. That's a bit unfortunate for him. He'll get a chance later on in this series to redeem himself.'"

Mitch Lawrence, New York Daily News: "Even if they lose Tuesday night, it can't be any worse for the Lakers than it was the last time they were in town for a June game. Remember? The Lakers were blown out of TD Garden in Game 6 of the 2008 Finals by a record 39 points. Not merely satisfied with their team's victory to secure banner No. 17, jubilant Celtic fans poured outside the Garden and rocked the Lakers' bus. As for Tuesday night and Game 3 of the Finals, if the Lakers can't figure out a way to stop Rajon Rondo, or if Kobe Bryant(notes) can't give them a big fourth quarter, or if Lamar Odom(notes) pulls his third straight no-show, or if Andrew Bynum(notes) can't cope with the quick turnaround, the worst that can happen is that they'll trail, 2-1, in the 2010 postseason for the first time. Thanks to their Game 2 loss at home, their first of the playoffs after nine straight home wins, the Lakers for the first time find themselves tied in a series and heading into their opponent's arena. 'There's no doubt it's a blow to us to lose the home-court (advantage),' Phil Jackson said after the Lakers crumbled down the stretch of Game 2 in a 103-94 defeat. 'But we anticipated that this might happen. And we're just going to have to pick it up.'"

Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post: "The circus used to be a bunch of clowns in a smelly tent. Now, the circus is surreal - a carnival of contortionism, swooping acrobatics and danger-addicts, all seen on the grand stage of the Cirque du Soliel ... or the NBA Finals. Have you seen Cirque du Rajon? In Boston's Game 2 win here, point guard Rajon Rondo put on a spectacle to tie the series at 1-1 going into tonight's Game 3 in Boston. There was Rondo, lunging past Derek Fisher(notes), then putting on the brakes and lunging back at Fisher, blocking his 3-point attempt ... from behind, in the final minute. There was Rondo, with Kobe Bryant past him on the right, impossibly stretching his left arm behind Bryant's back, tipping the basketball away. And there was Rondo, in his most frightening feat (at least to Boston fans, who remember his shooting woes) - attempting a long-range jumper in the final minutes that helped ice the victory. Oh, and the guy also had a triple-double - the first in the NBA Finals since Tim Duncan(notes) in 2003. 'If (we're to) lose the game, I want to go out being aggressive,' said Rondo, who finished with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. When Boston's 'Big Three' won the 2008 title, Rondo was the fourth guy, a flawed but zesty point guard who complemented the superstars well enough to win the big one. Now, he is the 'Big One.' He's the thumping heart of the Celtics. 'He's our quarterback,' Boston coach Doc Rivers said. After an average Game 1, which Boston lost, Rondo said he watched video of the entire game. Afterward, he said tracking loose balls would be the key in Game 2, and the guy was all over the court. The point guard was the only player on either team to crack double-digit rebounds. 'One rebound he went to the roof - it seemed like he went over all the bigs,' teammate Ray Allen said. 'But that does give us another dimension. When he can rebound like that, it does take the pressure off our bigs to have double-digit rebounds every night when our guards are getting it. Sometimes the rebounds are bouncing long. That's the difference in our offensive rebounds that they didn't get tonight - we got those rebounds.'"

Michael Lee, Washington Post: "He's got game, but Ray Allen doesn't have much time. At 34, Allen is the oldest member of the Boston Celtics' aging Big Three and is headed toward unrestricted free agency when the season ends. So, while the Los Angeles Lakers couldn't catch him on his deer-like jaunts around screens in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, Allen was in pursuit of much more than open space to drain one of his record eight three-pointers in the Celtics' 103-94 victory. With nothing promised beyond this point, Allen wants to snare a second NBA title with the Celtics while he can. 'This moment is our moment,' Allen said after the Celtics evened their best-of-seven series with the Lakers at one game, with Game 3 on Tuesday in Boston, 'and we've got to take advantage of it.' Allen's opportunity was nearly taken away around the trade deadline, when Danny Ainge, the Celtics' president of basketball operations, dangled Allen and his $19.8 million expiring contract with the hopes of possibly adding a jolt to a roster that appeared to have grown stale. The Wizards had considered a deal for Allen involving Caron Butler(notes) before later settling on a deal with Dallas. But Ainge held on to Allen and the Celtics have benefited ever since, with his dazzling shooting performance on Sunday night -- in which he hit seven consecutive three-pointers in the first half alone -- the latest, and perhaps, shining example. Boston needed Allen to carry his team on a night when Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett(notes) -- the other members of Boston's future Hall of Fame trio -- were way off their usual games and the Celtics' big men stayed in foul trouble. Allen accounted for half of Boston's 54 first-half points, as he scored 27 of his game-high 32 in the first two periods. 'I can't say enough about what Ray did for us,' said point guard Rajon Rondo, who had a triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. 'He carried us the whole way. Guys were in foul trouble, from Kevin to [Kendrick Perkins(notes)], just everyone. We were playing on edge, but Ray, he held us together through it.'"

Dan Duggan, Boston Herald: "Ron Artest has been inconsistent, and Lamar Odom has been invisible. So, the Los Angeles Lakers have needed another player to step up in support of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol(notes). Few expected it would be Andrew Bynum, but the Lakers center has been a major presence in the first two games of the Finals. Bynum's playing time had dipped significantly after he suffered a slight tear in his right meniscus in the first round against Oklahoma City, but he's made a resurgence against the Celtics. The 7-footer is averaging 15.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks while shooting 62.5 percent from the field. Bynum was a monster in the Lakers' 103-94 Game 2 loss Sunday at the Staples Center, tying a career playoff-high with 21 points to go with seven blocks. He also logged a playoffs-high 39 minutes. 'I'm just out playing hard,' Bynum said. 'I take my treatment and play hard. It is what it is with my knee. I've been telling myself that the whole playoffs.' Bynum has sat out practices during the Finals in order to get treatment. A week ago, he had fluid drained from the knee, but the procedure wasn't effective, and the pain and swelling haven't subsided. 'I'm not thinking about the injury,' Bynum said. 'The docs are telling me it's not going to get worse. It's just going to get more swelling, and we'll just keep taking it down.'"

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Mark Whicker, Orange County Register: "The streets of Maywood were out there for the young Shannon Brown(notes). His dad was there, too. Chris Brown is a 22-year police officer, now a sergeant, but he drove the cruiser for a long time. Shannon had one foot on opposite sidewalks. It was not the most comfortable place to be. 'It was a challenge,' Brown said. 'I'm out there with guys who don't understand what it's like to be a cop. They're on the other side. Fights here, fights there, arguments, and I had to do things that I'm not proud of today. I had to prove myself at times. What they did was not the side I wanted to be on. It got a little crazy at times.'" Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Celtics guard Michael Finley(notes) are from the same Chicago suburb and went to the same Proviso East program that produced Dee Brown(notes), who played for Illinois when Shannon was at Michigan State. Mix those daily trials with three years of Spartans basketball, where Tom Izzo sometimes fits the team with football helmets, and Shannon Brown's arrival in L.A. made the purple deeper. There isn't much lavender about him. In fact, Brown was watching the '08 Finals and rooting for Rivers. He was languishing with the Charlotte Hornets then, with no clue that he and Adam Morrison(notes) would be shipped to the Lakers for Vladimir Radmanovic(notes). 'Doc was from my town so it was kinda surreal, almost,' Brown said. 'And I saw KG (Kevin Garnett) bullying the Lakers a little bit. But I think we've overcome that.'"

New York Post: "If the Knicks are forced to go to plan C when it comes to free-agent power forwards, Carlos Boozer(notes) says he would be a better option than David Lee(notes). Both will be free agents this summer, behind the Raptors' Chris Bosh(notes) and Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire(notes) in the power-forward pecking order. Both Boozer and Lee could be options for the Knicks and Nets if Bosh and Stoudemire head elsewhere. Boozer was asked on ESPN 1050 if he was a better player than Lee. 'Absolutely I do. I think he's a very good, young player though,' Boozer said. 'I think he's had a great season and he was the all star this year. I think he has a great upside to him I just think I'm better, but I mean that's for you guys to debate about, I don't worry about that kind of stuff. I just go out there and play all for my team and try everything I can to win games and win a ring. David Lee is a great young player, a good friend of mine, and of course I wish him the best of luck as well with whatever he does, if he stays in NY or if he also goes elsewhere.'"

Lynn Henning, Detroit News: "After saying no to the NBA in a suspenseful change of heart 10 years ago, Tom Izzo's goal of winning a second national championship at Michigan State University now may be upended by another NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. In what may be the most significant pursuit of Michigan State's basketball coach in years, Izzo is being courted openly and aggressively to become the new Cavaliers coach. Dan Gilbert, the Detroit native and Quicken Loans founder who also happens to be a Michigan State graduate and an impassioned fan of Izzo, is reportedly willing to double Izzo's $3 million annual income as part of a five-year $30 million package. 'I've said all along, Michigan State has been really good to me and I would like nothing more than to win another national championship here and put it in that elite-of-elite stature,' Izzo said Monday night during an interview with Lansing radio station WILS-AM. 'And I still have that as a very important part.' Izzo, however, during what was a rambling non-denial of his invitation by the Cavaliers, said he would stick to a 'no-comment' policy as far as any specifics were concerned with respect to any job offers. 'I would just say that there have been so many things out there that are so far-fetched right now and I'm the Michigan State coach and that's what I'm gonna do,' Izzo said. 'Who knows what the future brings?'"

John Reid, New Orleans Times-Picayune: "The New Orleans Hornets announced Monday they will introduce Monty Williams as their new head coach on Tuesday at the New Orleans Arena. Williams' contract agreement is expected to be finalized later this afternoon, Hornets officials said, Williams agreed to a three-year contract with a team option for a fourth year. At 38, he will become the youngest head coach in the NBA. Williams, who spent five seasons as an assistant with the Portland Trail Blazers, is expected to arrive in New Orleans sometime tonight."

Richard Sandomir, New York Times: "The Boston Celtics' win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night on ABC in Game 2 of the N.B.A. finals attracted an average of 15.5 million viewers, up from the 14.1 million for the comparable game last year. The Celtics' knotting of the series competed directly against NBC's broadcast of Game 5 of the N.H.L. finals, which was won by Chicago, 7-4, over Philadelphia. Its 4.0 overnight rating was up 54 percent over last year's Game 5 between Pittsburgh and Detroit. Although each series matches teams in big markets, the half-hour rating breakdown showed the dominance of the N.B.A. game. At most points, the Boston-Los Angeles rating overwhelmed that of the Chicago-Philadelphia broadcast. From 10 to 10:30, the 10.1 for the N.B.A. game nearly tripled the 3.6 of the Blackhawks' victory."

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