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Ball Don't Lie

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

Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer: "The Cavaliers and Boston Celtics are even, 1-1, in their second-round playoff series and -- it was learned Wednesday -- are about even in scars. This week's three-day hiatus is proving to be recovery time not only for LeBron James(notes) and Anderson Varejao(notes) but also the Celtics. The news on the Cavs Wednesday was positive. Varejao's back spasms improved after two days rest and there is a good chance he'll be able to take part in practice Thursday. Also, despite the initial plans for James to have another MRI on his sore right elbow, he hasn't needed the test yet. Despite contrary reports, James has only had one MRI on his elbow to this point, though team doctors may perform another one to check on the healing process."

Mike Monroe, San Antonio Express-News: "After getting burned by Suns veteran Steve Nash(notes) in the first quarter of Game 1, George Hill(notes) started Game 2 on Wednesday with two goals in mind: Play Nash tougher and stay out of foul trouble. 'I guess that foul thing didn't work out so well in the first half,' Hill said after the Suns' 110-102 victory at US Airways Center. 'I still picked up a couple of cheap fouls.' Hill was moderately encouraged by his Game 2 shooting that produced 14 points. After missing five times from 3-point range in Game 1, he made 2 of 5 threes from his favorite spots in the corners in Game 2. 'It felt good to make a couple, but I'm still not knocking them down the way I'm used to,' he said. 'I've got to get back in the gym tomorrow and tune in on it, tighten it up and come back in Game 3 and have another good one.'"

Kevin Ding, Orange County Register: "In the first two games of the Western Conference semifinals against Utah, the Lakers had Pau Gasol(notes), Andrew Bynum(notes) and Lamar Odom(notes) grab at least 10 rebounds in each contest. The last team to have three players average at least 10 rebounds through the first two games of any playoff series was the 1985 Portland Trail Blazers, who did so in their first-round series with Dallas. The last Lakers team to have three players average at least 10 rebounds through the first two games of a playoff series was their 1973 squad, which did it against Chicago."

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: "Roddy Beaubois is the free-agent jackpot that the Mavericks have already hit. To explain, think back to what you really expected with that late first-round pick a year ago. Did you believe this kid would, within a year, become the signature hope to the franchise's future? That's not to short-change the deep free-agent pool this summer. A vital part of the Mavericks' off-season will be their pursuit of big-name talent on the open market. The chance to add a star via free agency comes infrequently. It hasn't happened for the Mavericks in Mark Cuban's ownership. Or for a lot of other teams. That doesn't mean it won't this year with so many prizes out there. But until July 1 hits and Cuban and team president Donnie Nelson can officially begin their maneuverings, cultivating Beaubois' considerable talents is the most important thing. His education is critical to becoming a key contributor and maybe even a star, just in case Chris Bosh(notes) or Joe Johnson(notes) slips through the Mavericks' net. And by the way, the young guard will be the first name mentioned by teams in any sign-and-trade scenarios this summer. It will be the Mavericks' job to find other ways to get a big deal done. The learning will start with the summer league in Las Vegas. But beyond that, there is uncertainty. Beaubois would like to play for the French national team in the world championships in Turkey, which begin Aug. 28. But he wants to do so only if he gets a chance to be a legitimate part of the team. Both Beaubois and the Mavs are interested in how the 22-year-old will be used if he elects to join the national team. 'We're open to it,' Nelson said. 'But Roddy's main interest is in being the best potential Maverick he can be - and be loaded for bear - for next season.'"

Richard Sandomir, New York Times: "One type of renovation at Madison Square Garden will begin this summer when the Knicks try to sign players like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade(notes), Chris Bosh. Another type, one that will modernize the 42-year-old arena, will move into high gear next year with the first of three summer shutdowns. Each year, construction will start with the end of the Knicks' season or the Rangers', whichever comes later. Turner Construction is renovating the arena and needs about 20 consecutive weeks from the end of play. A deep postseason by either team would probably affect the Rangers more, because their season starts first in the fall and they would be required to play on the road for an extended period to accommodate construction. The renovation will cost $775 million to $850 million, much higher than the $500 million estimate made by Garden officials when they first unveiled plans in April 2008. Hank J. Ratner, the Garden's president and chief executive, said in an interview that the lower figure was based on a design concept that had not been fully fleshed out. The current estimate is based on elaborate drawings of every element of the construction plan."

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Gary Washburn and Duane Rankin, Boston Globe: "The Celtics are tied with the Cavaliers at 1-1 in this Eastern Conference semifinal series despite attempting 30 fewer free throws and playing through constant foul trouble. Coach Doc Rivers did not want to complain publicly about the officiating, but he was distressed by the numbers. In the first halves, the Celtics have been whistled for 31 fouls to 12 for Cleveland; the Cavaliers went 19 minutes 26 seconds of Game 2 without a team foul. Asked if he ever had seen a team go nearly 20 minutes without a team foul, Rivers said, 'Nope.' Then he added, 'Yeah, I did see it - it happened the other day. We have to be more aggressive offensively,' he said. 'I think we have to attack more. We have to do a better job of moving our feet, I guess. So we have to attack more on offense. As well as we played, the low free throw attempts for us in the two games, we have to get to that line more.'"

Mark Murphy, Boston Herald: "LeBron's elbow suddenly has some company. How long before Kevin Garnett's(notes) ankle and Kendrick Perkins(notes) knee open twitter accounts? That's because both Garnett and Perkins missed practice today -- the first with a strained right foot and the second with a hyper-extended right knee. Garnett strained his right foot late in the Celtics' 104-86 Game 2 victory in Cleveland. Garnett finished that game with 18 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes. Perkins injured his knee during a morning shootaround, and guarded Shaquille O'Neal(notes) throughout the game. Celts coach Doc Rivers said Garnett probably won't practice tomorrow, though Perkins is a likely participant. Perkins said, 'I will (practice).' Said Rivers: 'Kevin hurt his (foot) pretty good. Honestly today if we had a game he wouldn't play. We just have to wait. I doubt if he practices tomorrow, and then we'll see. Perk, I don't know if he'll practice tomorrow either. Perk's happened before the game in shootaround in the morning, and Kevin's happened during the game. So the rest is good for everybody - good for Cleveland to get healthy, and hopefully good for us.'"

John Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times: "The Bulls' coaching search barely has begun, and already potential candidates are dropping out. Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson and Kentucky coach John Calipari each dismissed interest after numerous media reports listed them as possible candidates. Jackson, who coached the Bulls from 1989 to '98 and won six championships, doesn't have a contract beyond this season, and there has been speculation that he won't return to Los Angeles next season if the Lakers fail to reach the NBA Finals. But when asked if he was interested in returning to the Bulls, Jackson said flatly, 'No, I'm not.' As compelling as the story line of Jackson returning to the Bulls to build another title contender might have been, there was little chance of it happening and he never was considered a serious candidate. Despite some first-round struggles, the Lakers remain the favorites in the Western Conference, and it's doubtful that Jackson -- who has had both hips replaced and still has some physical issues -- would subject himself to the harsh Chicago winters again. Like Jackson, Calipari moved quickly to squash the speculation, telling ESPN's Andy Katz that he has no interest in the job. Kentucky also announced that it was willing to extend Calipari's contract to keep him for the rest of his career. But unlike Jackson, it would be foolish to cross out Calipari's name on the list of candidates. Because of the cutthroat nature of recruiting, a college coach can't publicly express interest in a job or even let his name be linked to an opening for long. If he does pursue the Bulls' opening, it wouldn't be the first time Calipari publicly has said he wasn't interested in a job only to make his interest known through back channels."

Phil Jasner, Philadelphia Daily News: "Mark Jackson, the former NBA point guard and current ESPN analyst, has decided to decline an opportunity to interview for the 76ers' coaching job. 'It's just not the right situation for him at this time,' was all that was offered by Steve Kauffman, Jackson's agent. The Sixers had been trying to schedule a meeting with Jackson, but Jackson sent word Tuesday that he was trying to determine whether he wanted to proceed. He informed Kauffman today of his decision. He is expected to interview for the New Orleans Hornets job, and is hopeful of being contacted by the Los Angeles Clippers and possibly the New Jersey Nets."

John Reid, New Orleans Times Picayune: "After interviewing Avery Johnson and Dwane Casey in Dallas on Tuesday, new New Orleans Hornets owner Gary Chouest and other team officials involved in the coaching search interviewed former NBA coach Mike Fratello in Cleveland on Wednesday. After Fratello, the Hornets are expected to interview Boston Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau and former NBA player Mark Jackson by Saturday, according to league sources."

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