Game 4: Salmons scores 22, Bucks roll over Hawks

Playing without center Andrew Bogut, the Milwaukee Bucks looked to be in trouble, and still are, but they stepped up strong to the plate Saturday and rocked Atlanta.

The AP reports:

Salmons scores 22, Bucks roll over Hawks

John Salmons scored 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting and the Milwaukee Bucks never let up after a hot start in a 107-89 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.

The Bucks shot 68 percent in the first quarter and 51 percent for the game following a three-day layoff and were never seriously threatened after building a 19-point, first-half lead.

Atlanta still leads the series 2-1 after two double-digit victories at home, when the Bucks looked overmatched without the injured Andrew Bogut.

But veteran Kurt Thomas had eight points, 13 rebounds and four stitches, rookie Brandon Jennings added 13 points and Milwaukee proved that the Hawks may have to “Fear the Deer” after all.

Joe Johnson scored 25 for Atlanta. Game 4 is Monday night in Milwaukee.

Milwaukee led by as many as 28 in the fourth as the Hawks shot 39 percent for the game, and only once did Atlanta appear poised to make a run.

Game 4: Roy returns, Blazers down Suns 96-87

Brandon Roy shocked the world, returned much earlier than expected for the Trail Blazers, and helped inspire them to victory!

The AP reports:

Roy returns, Blazers down Suns 96-87

Brandon Roy was activated Saturday, then helped Portland to a 96-87 victory that evened the first-round series at two games apiece.

Eight days removed from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, Roy made his surprising return to the court to the strains of the theme from “Rocky” blaring from the Rose Garden sound system, then went on hit a key 3-pointer late in the game that shifted the momentum squarely in the Trail Blazers’ favor…

LaMarcus Aldridge, who had been double-teamed all series long without Roy, benefited the most from his return, with 31 points and 11 rebounds…

Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 26 points…

The Blazers caught on in Game 4, limiting Richardson to 15 points. Nash also had 15 points and eight assists.

Game 3: Nelson, Magic beat Bobcats 90-86

The Charlotte Bobcats have heart, but they’re in big trouble!

The AP reports:

Nelson, Magic beat Bobcats 90-86

No Dwight Howard, no problem for the Magic, who got 32 points from sudden star Jameer Nelson to overcome another frustrating, foul-filled game by their big man in a 90-86 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday.

Spoiling Charlotte’s return to the playoff stage after an eight-year absence, the Magic took a commanding 3-0 lead in their first-round series despite being without Howard for the final 3:32 after he fouled out…

For the third straight game and two days after Orlando was assessed $70,000 in fines for complaining about the officiating, Howard played about half the game, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks…

Stephen Jackson scored 19 points, but was 6 of 18 from the field and missed a key 3-pointer in the final minute for the cold-shooting Bobcats, who face the prospect of a first-round sweep in their first playoff appearance…

Gerald Wallace added 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting for Charlotte. Raymond Felton also scored 13, but shot 5 of 14 and again couldn’t contain Nelson.

Manu Ginobili will not play in Worlds this summer

Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News reports:

Manu Ginobili will not play in Worlds this summer

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili made it official on Friday: He will sit out this summer’s FIBA World Championships in Turkey.

The captain of Argentina’s 2004 Olympic championship team said the need to be healthy for Spurs training camp in October, combined with his pending fatherhood, outweighed his loyalty to the national team.

“Everybody knows I love playing for the national team,” he said. “But this year was kind of different. It’s been two years since I can do a good preseason — the one before because of the surgery; the last one because of the (stress) fracture.

“My body kind of needs it, and I want to play the (2012) Olympics, so I decided to pass on this one.

“Besides, there’s another little factor here: My wife is going to have twins in a month. Those are the times you don’t want to miss. Both, one next to the other, makes me take this tough decision.”

Bill Walker says Knicks veterans were not leaders

Marc Berman of the New York Post reports:

Bill Walker says Knicks veterans were not leaders

Bill Walker, one of this past season’s pleasant revelations, said he believes one of the reasons for the Knicks’ 29-53 record was a lack of leadership in the locker room.

Walker, who came over from the Celtics in the Nate Robinson trade on Feb. 18, told The Post it was jarring to see none of the veterans step up in the leadership department after he spent two seasons in Boston with Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

The 6-foot-6 Walker is expected to be part of the Knicks’ future. The swingman’s contract for next season becomes guaranteed on Aug. 1, and he likely is a keeper unless they need an extra $800,000 in cap space. The Knicks must round out their roster with minimum-wage players if they are to fit one or two superstars under the salary cap.

Game 3: Pierce at Buzzer, Celtics beat Heat

The AP reports:

Pierce at Buzzer, Celtics beat Heat

Paul Pierce’s 21-footer at the buzzer Friday night gave Boston a 100-98 win over Miami in Game 3 of the teams’ Eastern Conference first-round series. The Celtics lead 3-0, and will try for a sweep in Miami on Sunday afternoon…

Game tied at 98, less than 20 seconds left, the Heat had exactly what it wanted—the ball in Dwyane Wade’s hands. The 2006 NBA finals MVP tried a straightaway 3-pointer and missed with 14 seconds left, which is where the game and perhaps the season slipped away from Miami. Wade crumpled to the court in a heap, his left calf cramping for the second time in the final quarter…

Pierce finished with 32 points and Ray Allen added 25 for the Celtics, who got 17 from Rajon Rondo and 16 from Kevin Garnett.

Wade finished with 34 points, eight assists and five rebounds for the Heat, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to take the lead. Michael Beasley scored 16 points, Wright scored 15 and Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers each scored 10 for the Heat.

Game 3: Ginobili, Spurs take 2-1 series lead over Mavs

The AP reports:

Ginobili, Spurs take 2-1 series lead over Mavs

Blood dripped from Manu Ginobili’s nose. He had caught an elbow from Dirk Nowitzki, then disappeared into the locker room while leaving a trail of red blotches behind him on the tunnel floor.

He didn’t know yet his nose was broken. That diagnosis would have to wait.

Ginobili still had work to do, so he patched up his gushing nose with a bandage and came back late in the third, then scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth to lead the San Antonio Spurs to a 94-90 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night…

Dirk Nowitzki made good on his vow after the Game 2 loss to hit the looks he got last time, scoring 35 points…

But Caron Butler never left the bench in the second half on Friday as coach Rick Carlisle instead went instead with Barea in the backcourt…

Aside from Game 4, Sunday is also when Duncan turns 34—but so far in this series, he’s looked practically ageless. He scored 25 points for the second straight game, and has the Spurs in position to possibly celebrate a commanding lead in this series if they can win on his birthday.

Tony Parker had 23 points off the bench while continuing to thrive in the sixth man role that Ginobili held for so many years.

Game 3: Millsap explodes, Jazz beat Nuggets

The AP reports:

Millsap explodes, Jazz beat Nuggets

Paul Millsap led a surge early in the second quarter that got Utah back into Game 3 after a disastrous start, then the Jazz took control of the game and their Western Conference playoff series with a 105-93 victory Friday night.

“That’s what we do, especially coming off the bench,” said Millsap, who finished with career highs of 22 points and 19 rebounds…

Millsap’s 18 points in the second quarter gave the Jazz a chance to recover after Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams struggled early. Once Williams and Boozer got going, the Nuggets never recovered in their first road playoff game of the series.

Utah limited Denver’s Carmelo Anthony to 25 points and flustered him into five fouls. He also had just four free throw attempts after taking 19 while scoring a combined 74 points in the series’ first two games.

Anthony and Chauncey Billups, who also scored 25 points, were the only Denver players to score in double figures.