• NBA playoffs open with a bang: The first weekend of the NBA Playoffs usually includes a few clunkers, but this was an exceptional few days. The only real dud was an entire team – the Indiana Pacers – though the Houston Rockets have to be sick about their futility at the foul line and from three-point range in their meltdown against Portland. Pacers general manager Larry Bird and Rockets coach Kevin McHale, former teammates and Hall of Famers, looked absolutely miserable during late-game camera shots. Tonight, though, it’s all about Game Two of the Warriors-Clippers match in Staples Center. If the Warriors return to Oracle Arena with a 2-0 lead, the series is over. The Clippers never have advanced beyond the second round. They will take little comfort in the fact that NBA officiating supervisor Rod Thorn admitted Paul was fouled and should have been awarded free throws with 18 seconds remaining.
Shaq stealing postgame spotlight:
Kings minority owner Shaquille O’Neal hasn’t been seen around town lately, but he was terrific Sunday on the TNT postgame set. His one-on-one banter with Charles Barkley – we’re talking serious counter punches – becomes more entertaining by the night.
One worth reading:
Juliet Macur’s NY Times bestseller, “Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong,” is a tremendous read. It was almost impossible to put down during an eventful holiday weekend that featured game-ending brawls, walk-off singles (Josh Reddick), players getting benched for walking instead of running (Bryce Harper), the NHL playoffs and those ridiculously competitive NBA games. This is the definitive narrative about the insidious nature of doping in cycling, in the words of the men themselves – Armstrong included. The how, the why, the people. It’s all here.
Bonds battling back:
Barry Bonds said he attended consecutive A’s-Astros games at the Coliseum because he mentors Houston’s Dexter Fowler. In other words, he still wants a job – or at least something that resembles part-time work.
Get well Mr. Sager:
Add my best wishes to those already extended to longtime colleague Craig Sager, who is missing the playoffs while undergoing treatment for acute leukemia. Best known for his witty and incisive NBA coverage on TNT – along with his colorful wardrobe – Sager also has worked as an anchor for CNN and TBS and covered Goodwill Games, Olympics and many international events. I can’t think of a colleague who has logged more miles, frankly, or maintains more interesting relationships.