Bulls defy odds, get No. 1 pick in draft

The Baltimore Sun

The Chicago Bulls won the NBA's draft lottery last night. The Bulls had just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top choice.

Chicago will likely draft star freshmen Michael Beasley, the Kansas State forward who averaged 26.2 points and an NCAA-best 12.4 rebounds, or Derrick Rose, the point guard who carried Memphis within minutes of the national title.

The Miami Heat will draft second and the Minnesota Timberwolves will go third.

The rest of the top 14 are the Seattle SuperSonics, Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Bobcats, New Jersey Nets, Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings, Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors. The lottery settled the top three spots. The rest of the first 14 picks are determined inverse order of their record.

The NBA draft will be held June 26 in New York.

Barkley -- A prosecutor and hotel official say Charles Barkley has paid the Wynn Las Vegas casino that sued him after the retired NBA star failed to pay a $400,000 gambling debt. But it's going to cost Barkley $40,000 more to close the case. Clark County District Attorney David Roger said prosecutors have been in touch with a Barkley representative and expect another check to pay the 10 percent processing fee imposed once a bad check lawsuit is filed.

Donaghy -- Disgraced referee Tim Donaghy told investigators in the NBA betting probe that relationships among officials, coaches and players "affected the outcome of games," his attorney said. John F. Lauro made the claims in a letter filed in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn on Monday, in which he argued that his client should be sentenced to probation because he fully cooperated with prosecutors and has been undergoing treatment for his gambling addiction. NBA commissioner David Stern said yesterday he wants to have a talk with Donaghy after he is sentenced in July for taking cash payoffs from gamblers and betting on games he officiated. U.S. Attorney's officials would not comment.

Spurs -- The team's departure from New Orleans after winning Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night was delayed several hours after its plane had mechanical problems. The team could not find hotel rooms in the city, so the players had to sleep on the plane, team spokesman Cliff Puchalski said. "We slept on the plane -- as much as you can sleep," he said. "We tried to keep some normal semblance of order."

TV ratings -- The playoffs are drawing higher ratings than they did last season. The 36 games on TNT through the first two rounds have averaged a 2.4 rating, up 14 percent from last year. Ratings are up 27 percent on ESPN, averaging a 2.8 over 16 games. Nine games on ABC have averaged a 3.7, a 28 percent increase.

Nuggets -- The team said coach George Karl has undergone left hip replacement surgery. He is expected to resume walking without a cane in a week to 10 days. Karl was treated for prostate cancer in 2005.

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