The Boston Celtics don't have Pau Gasol to kick around anymore, and it's giving the Los Angeles Lakers an advantage in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers' 7-foot Spaniard showcased his evolving toughness with every rebound and big defensive play in the Lakers' 102-89 victory in Thursday's opener. The Celtics returned to practice yesterday determined to match the physical effort led by Gasol and Kobe Bryant.
Gasol had 23 points and 14 rebounds in Game 1 while winning his battle with Kevin Garnett, who dominated the matchup in the clubs' 2008 Finals meeting.
Gasol has faced Garnett regularly for a decade, and he says they've both lost some offensive explosiveness. But Gasol says he's stronger now, and Garnett has evolved into a dangerous jump-shooter.
The opener matched the teams' meeting 2 years ago for the highest preliminary rating for a Game 1 since 2004. The game on ABC earned a 10.4 overnight rating, up 17 percent from the 8.9 for last year's Magic-Lakers series.
* Danny Ferry resigned as general manager of the Cleveland Cavaliers, a surprise decision that complicates the most important offseason in team history.
Ferry's departure after five seasons occurred 2 weeks after the club fired coach Mike Brown following the team's second-round playoff loss to the Boston Celtics. It also comes as the team is making plans to try to re-sign two-time MVP LeBron James, who will be a free agent next month.
Ferry was in the final month of his contract. He said the decision not to renew his contract was a mutual one with owner Dan Gilbert.
* Ricky Rubio told the Associated Press that he won't enter the NBA before the 2011-12 season, choosing to remain with Spanish club Barcelona until his opt-out clause comes up after next season.
Rubio, 19, was drafted fifth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2009. They still own his rights.