FIVE QUICK NBA THOUGHTS 1. STEVE NASH and STEVE BLAKE (Lakers): Both players are back in the lineup Tuesday against the Timberwolves. Blake had played quite well before he went down and, fingers crossed, Nash (who turns 40 on Friday - Happy Birthday!) tries to see if he can play through Back pain and finish the season. This Lakers season has not gone well with the loss of Dwight Howard, the injury to Kobe Bryant, and of course injuries to Blake and Nash. At the end of the day, this is a franchise that doesnt deal well with losing seasons yet it might be a time to re-invent themselves for the long haul. How these two guys hold up will give them better insight into where things are headed, at least short term, in their backcourt. 2. PAUL GASOL (Lakers): Speaking of this franchise, I think this ship has sailed here. If you can get cap space, luxury tax relief and/or a draft pick, you move him. He still has value, yet I see it diminishing despite him averaging close to 20 points and 12 rebounds a game in January. There is a lot of chatter about the Phoenix Suns making a run at him. Itll be interesting to watch it unfold but bottom line, it would be best for Gasol and the Lakers for him to have a change of scenery. 3. GREG MONROE (Pistons): There are rumblings from the Motor City that they need to look long and hard at what to do with this guy. I really like his game. When given the proper system and supporting players, I feel he has the attributes to help you win. Is he a franchise guy? No, but a very good player? Yes. Hes a positive building piece. I dont see how he can co-exist long-term with Josh Smith and Andre Drummond. Im not a huge Smith fan, nor am I big on the Brandon Jennings bandwagon. These are guys that will get you numbers but Im not sure if they understand what it takes to win on a nightly basis. Monroe can score in the post and has a solid face up game, he can really pass it and his rebounding and lane presence is sound. The Pistons need to figure out what their identity is because right now I see a team with a lot of parts yet with no semblance of the whole in mind. This is a team sport and when I watch them they dont look like one. Monroe is one of the few guys that gets how to play the team game. 4. RAPTORS at KINGS: Youll hear all the coach and player speak about it being ‘just another game. I dont buy it for one minute. Any time someone trades you, to some degree theyve given up on you and think they can do better with someone else, thats the reality of sports. The Raptors have benefited greatly with the acquisition of the Sacramento Four while Rudy Gay has played quite well for the Kings. Good for both sides. I expect a very intense game here tomorrow night in Sac-town. Cant wait. More importantly for the Raptors, its a chance to clinch a winning west coast trip (currently 2-1) with a win here before heading to LA to play the very difficult Clippers on Friday. Take care of business. Wont be easy, a lot of emotion will be present. 5. CONGRATS SEATTLE: I have buddies from Buffalo that hit a Super Bowl city each year. Unfortunately, Ive never been able to attend before. This year it worked. I was in Portland on Saturday night and went over to Seattle on Sunday morning before heading over to Salt Lake City to work the Raptors/Jazz game on Monday. My Super Bowl Sunday in Seattle was a total blast. A few quick observations: First, for the Raptors game in Portland, it was a wonderful turnout of Raptor fans from Vancouver area who made the drive over. Awesome support! And secondly, what a joke that an amazing sports town like Seattle doesnt have an NBA team right now. Everywhere I went I saw not only 12th Man signs for the Seahawks but Bring Back our Sonics signs. I couldnt agree more. And finally, once again, I ran into a ton of folks from Vancouver, this time while I was in Seattle. Fun time watching the football game with them and their passion for hoops as well. Ive said it a thousand times before and Ill say it again, weve got to get a team back in Vancouver as well. I travel all around North America and I feel pretty confident saying this, I have a very good sense for what makes a town a good fit for the NBA and there is NO doubt that Seattle and Vancouver fit my profile a whole lot better than many of the current NBA cities. You can fill in your own blanks. Maybe with a new NBA Commissioner in Adam Silver, this topic can be revisited again. It makes too much sense to me. Likely wishful thinking on my part. Donte Jackson Jersey . Specifically, thumbs up to the Canadian-based teams in the NHL, or at least most of them. 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For Bergevin, the best pick is the 30th — which traditionally goes to the Stanley Cup winner. "Thats our goal.DALLAS -- Kari Lehtonen stopped all 37 shots and the Dallas Stars clearly frustrated the top-seeded Anaheim Ducks. Everything changed in this first-round series when the Stars got their first home playoff game in six years. While Dallas captain Jamie Benn skated out of the penalty box to score first and 19-year-old rookie Valeri Nichushkin added a goal, Anaheims dynamic scoring duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry probably had more punches than shots as the Stars won 3-0 in Game 3 Monday night. "Im pretty sure if you watch the scrums, our guys got punched in the face a few times," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "Eventually youre going to punch back. ... For us, we know weve got a good skating team and I think that we can frustrate." Ruff said it was "just playoff hockey." Lehtonen held up through five Anaheim power plays and had some tremendous stops to get his first career post-season victory. "It was unbelievable. Thats Kari at his best," Benn said. "He made some big saves at key times and kept us in the game and pretty much won that game for us." Game 4 is Wednesday night. And this best-of-seven series is now guaranteed Game 5 in Anaheim, where the Ducks opened the series with a pair of one-goal victories. It had been 2,162 days since the Stars last hosted a playoff game, May 19, 2008, a 4-1 loss to Detroit in the clinching Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. This one ended with chants for Lehtonen, previously 0-4 in the playoffs (two losses with Atlanta in 2007) with a 4.58 goals-against average and .858 save percentage. "I think in the first game I got scored on with the first shot and that just kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game. I was able to make a couple of good saves and it just kind of went from there," Lehtonen said. "At the age of 30, it was about time to get that first one." Late in the second period, Getzlaf and Perry were exchanging punches with different Dallas players during a stoppage. Antoine Roussel delivered a roundhouse left to Getzlaf, the Anaheim captain wearing a half-visor to protect the stitches from taking a puck to the face in Game 1. Meanwhile, Stars defenceman Alex Goligoski and Perry were going at it. Asked about the physical play, Getzlaf responded, "Youve got to stay as disciplined as you can, but you have to protect yourself, too. I never expected them to tarrget my face that much.dddddddddddd." Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was pretty direct with how he felt. "I guess you do anything to win, but its not something I think our team would do," Boudreau said. "Well take them and be as mean and physical as we need to be." Lehtonen had a kick save near the end of the first power play in the final minute of the first period. That came right before Benn came out of the penalty box and skated toward the other end. Trevor Daley, the only Stars player left from their last playoff team in 2008, passed to Shawn Horcoff, who shot. The ricochet was knocked into the net by Benn with 35 seconds left in the first period to put the Stars ahead to stay. "We look to shut them down, you know to get under their skin," Daley said. Benn had been penalized for hooking right after Daley was having words with Getzlaf. The back-and-forth with Daley and Getzlaf carried into the second period, and they had to be separated in the opening minute -- just before an eerie replay for Ducks defenceman Stephane Robidas when he broke his right leg again. Robidas had to be helped off the ice after his leg bent awkwardly when a sliding Ryan Garbutt of Dallas undercut him. The team said the latest fracture was just above the one he sustained Nov. 29 while with Dallas. He didnt play again until being traded to Anaheim last month. "Its a huge loss because he was playing great," Boudreau said. "And of course I think all the guys on the bench felt extremely bad for him. I mean, heres your teammate whos just fought his way back from a broken leg." Fans cheered for the 37-year-old Robidas, chanting "Robi, Robi!" as he left the ice before being transported to a hospital. Nichushkin scored on a one-timer through the legs of Frederik Andersen, the rookie goalie who stopped 66 of 71 shots in Anaheim. Andersen faced only 22 shots in Game 3. Garbutt added a goal in the third period. NOTES: The game came exactly six weeks after Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the home bench because of an irregular heartbeat against Columbus, and later underwent corrective surgery. There was a huge cheer when he was shown during a video that was part of the pregame production. ... It was a record crowd of 19,120 at the American Airlines Center, breaking the mark set when Mike Modanos No. 9 jersey was retired last month. 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