Ball Don't Lie - NBA

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

AP: Kevin Garnett(notes) has been suspended by the NBA for the Boston Celtics second playoff game against the Miami Heat. The one-game suspension was imposed Sunday for hitting Quentin Richardson(notes) of the Miami Heat in the head with an elbow with 40 seconds left in Boston's 85-76 win in Game 1 on Saturday night. The league also fined Richardson $25,000."

Scott Fowler, Charlotte Observer: "As they began the first playoff game in franchise history, the Charlotte Bobcats looked freshly scrubbed and very nervous. They looked like they should be carrying brand-new backpacks. 'We were like little kids on the first day of school,' Bobcats forward Gerald Wallace(notes) said. Exactly. The Bobcats were enthusiastic, energetic ... and not quite ready for everything that was about to happen. Orlando won the first game of this best-of-7 playoff series 98-89 in front of a sold-out crowd at Amway Arena that screamed for the Magic. By the end of the first quarter, Orlando was up by 11. At halftime, the lead was 16. Early in the third quarter, it was 22. The little kids were getting bullied. The lunch money was gone. The new jeans were torn. And then, something happened — something that makes me think this could actually turn into a series and not simply an Orlando sweep. The Bobcats fought back. With Stephen Jackson(notes) limping around on a hyperextended knee, with Raymond Felton(notes) fresh from a first-half torching by Jameer Nelson(notes), with Dwight Howard(notes) having blocked eight shots in the first half, with the game taking the shape of a 30-point rout, the Bobcats fought their way back into relevance."

Jeff Zilgitt, USA Today: "Kevin Durant shakes his head in disbelief at the thought of his name in the MVP conversation. 'It's surreal to me,' the third-year Oklahoma City Thunder forward says. 'Growing up, I never thought I could be the best player in my area, let alone make it to college and be one of the best players there. I never thought I could make it to the NBA. ... Players like me come a dime a dozen is basically what I was thinking.' Durant, at 21 the youngest to lead the NBA in scoring average (30.1 points), is a major reason for the Thunder's turnaround from 23 wins in 2008-09 after relocating from Seattle (where they were the SuperSonics) to 50. 'Guys don't have egos,' Durant said. 'Everybody came in like that from Day One. It wasn't about I and me. It was about us and team. I have faith in that.' "

Anthony Cotton, Denver Post: "On any NBA bench, one can find rotation guys (think J.R. Smith(notes) and Chris Andersen(notes)), substitutes (Johan Petro(notes)) — and the situation the Utah Jazz finds itself in entering Game 2 of its opening-round playoff series versus the Nuggets. Already down one starter in forward Andrei Kirilenko(notes), the team was rocked Sunday with the news that starting center Mehmet Okur(notes) would be lost for the rest of the playoffs with a torn Achilles tendon. That means the Jazz will basically have to play Carlos Boozer(notes), Paul Millsap(notes) and perhaps Kyle Korver(notes) for 48 minutes or plumb depths more in keeping with deep-sea excavations when the series resumes tonight at the Pepsi Center. 'It's gotten interesting,' Boozer, referring to his team's plight with injuries, said Sunday before the Jazz's workout. That was the same word used by Jerry Sloan, albeit in a different context. The Utah coach, bombarded by questions about how his squad would adapt to the loss of Okur, who fell onto the floor in a heap during the second quarter of Game 1, merely shrugged his shoulders. 'It's always interesting to see how people react to adversity,' Sloan said. 'We want everything to be perfect, but it's not. I'm sorry he's hurt, but it's part of basketball. We're not going to be able to do too much except try to mix some minutes up and use some of the younger guys who haven't been playing too much.' "

Nick Friedell, "Cavaliers star LeBron James(notes) isn't surprised that things became physical rather quickly during the first half of Game 1 between the Bulls and Cavs on Saturday afternoon, or later that night during Game 1 of the Heat-Celtics series. The Celtics' Kevin Garnett was suspended one game for throwing an elbow at Miami's Quentin Richardson. 'You hope the league would be a little lenient knowing it's the playoffs and knowing how physical the game becomes,' James said after Sunday's practice. 'But it's going to be testy. You see these guys a lot and you get tired of seeing them a lot. It's going to be testy at times, but you got to try and control your emotions as much as possible. It's hard in the postseason.' "

Frank Isola, New York Daily News: "Mark Jackson would have been two years into his coaching career had Mike D'Antoni not abruptly left the Phoenix Suns and fell into Donnie Walsh's lap at the last minute. How close was Jackson to landing the Knicks' job 24 months ago? He had already begun assembling a coaching staff before Walsh, the Knicks' president, decided to go with the more experienced candidate. The timing, Walsh will tell you, wasn't right. Last year, Jackson interviewed for the Minnesota Timberwolves coaching vacancy and finished runner-up again, this time to Kurt Rambis, a Lakers assistant with limited head coaching experience. And judging by the way things turned out with Minnesota, the league's second worst team behind New Jersey, you might say that Jackson's timing was perfect. Now, Jackson is hoping his timing is perfect again. There will be a number of coaching vacancies this offseason and Jackson figures to emerge as a candidate for some, including the Clippers' job. Charlotte's Larry Brown has been mentioned as a possible candidate in Los Angeles and it is being reported that Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Dwayne Casey is an early favorite. Both Brown and Casey have head coaching experience while Jackson, the former Knicks point guard from Brooklyn, has never been an assistant coach. He was, however, a cerebral point guard and natural leader for 17 seasons. His former bosses — Rick Pitino, Larry Brown and Jeff Van Gundy — all say coaching is in Jackson's DNA. He has a strong connection to the Clippers organization, having played there for two seasons. He and his family have lived in the Los Angeles suburbs for years. It's a natural fit. 'Mark, as everyone knows, has a strong desire to be a head coach,' says Steven Kauffmann, Jackson's agent. 'If the Clippers are interested that would absolutely be an ideal situation. They have a good roster and will be a very competitive team for years to come. It's a great place for Mark to being his coaching career.' "

Dave Krieger, Denver Post: "When Jerry Sloan, Utah's craggy, plain-spoken coach, was asked about guarding Carmelo Anthony(notes) the other night, his first choice was a Jazz broadcaster. 'It's a little tougher for us to guard him without Matt Harpring,'(notes) Sloan said. 'Matt brought a little bit of toughness.' Harpring's strategy was to annoy Melo into frustration, which worked better than trying to compete athletically. It's the same strategy Bruce Bowen(notes) employed so effectively when Melo was younger. 'When he crosses the 3-point line, you start bodying up right away,' Harpring explained Sunday. 'My goal was to constantly touch him, constantly put my body on him, wear him down throughout the game. And then the added bonus is his getting frustrated and him talking to the refs or him worrying about you instead of worrying about his game.' That used to be the scouting report on Anthony — the most vulnerable part of his game was between his ears. He was a great scorer, but he could be aggravated right out of his game. The Melo that torched the Jazz in Game 1 looked like a different guy, not that Utah gave him much reason to be annoyed. C.J. Miles(notes) and Wesley Matthews(notes) wore the ignominy of his 42-point night, and both promised Sunday to play him tougher and tighter tonight in Game 2. Anthony wasn't buying. Asked after Game 1 if he expected the Jazz to be more physical tonight, he replied: 'They were physical to me. I think I did a good job of just taking it and not getting out of whack, keeping my composure at times when the game got physical. I just stuck with it, that's all.' "

Tom Moore, Philadelphia Intelligencer: "In his first hire as Sixers president, Ed Stefanski spent almost a month before deciding on Eddie Jordan. Stefanski fired Jordan as the team's head coach Thursday, one day after the Sixers finished with a 27-55 record — tied for sixth-worst in the league — and 10 1/2 months after Jordan accepted the job. With Stefanski again in charge, the Sixers' players are confident that Stefanski will get it right this time. 'I think, as players, we have to continue to have trust in him because he has trust in us,' Andre Iguodala(notes) said. 'He believes in me. I believe in him. We have dialogue about basketball. I think the most important thing for me to do is just let him do his job and just prepare myself as best as possible.' "

Michael Cunningham, Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "[Joe] Johnson said he's resigned to playing with the thumb on his shooting hand at less than peak condition. Johnson got hit on the thumb again in Game 1. 'It takes a little while for [the feeling] to come back,' he said. 'Other than that, I've been good. I am just trying to pick my spots out there and get guys involved.' Johnson originally injured the thumb when he tangled with Lakers forward Ron Artest(notes) on March 31. 'I am just going to rest it after the season,' Johnson said. 'That is the only way it is going to get better. I've just got to keep icing it and treating it.' "

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