Game 5: Artest buzzer-beater, Lakers beat Suns

The AP reports:

Game 5: Artest scores at buzzer, Lakers beat Suns

Ron Artest banked home the winning shot after grabbing the biggest offensive rebound of his career, nudging the Lakers past the Phoenix Suns 103-101 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 series lead.

Kobe Bryant had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, but the improbable hero of Game 5 is the only new player on their roster. Bryant and Artest wrapped each other in a bear hug after Artest homed in on Bryant’s miss and threw up a hideous shot that somehow went in…

Artest’s basket completed a 2-for-9 shooting night redeemed by one supremely heady offensive rebound. Moments earlier, Jason Richardson banked in a straightaway 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left to tie it for the Suns…

Phoenix clawed back from an 18-point deficit in the second half with a superb game by Steve Nash, who had 29 points and 11 assists. After Richardson’s accidental tying bank shot, the Lakers went to Bryant, whose miss went straight to Artest…

Lamar Odom had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, who led 101-96 with 90 seconds to play before Nash hit another jumper and Artest missed twice, the home crowd yelling in frustration with each open brick…

Derek Fisher scored 22 points and Gasol had 21 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who rebounded from consecutive losses in Phoenix with their best defensive performance of the series, forcing 15 turnovers and holding Phoenix to mediocre shooting—yet the Suns still came agonizingly close to handing Los Angeles its first home loss of the postseason.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Staples Center had fallen silent after Jason Richardson banked in a three-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, not long after practically the entire crowd begged Artest to stop shooting when he missed two open looks from the left side near the one-minute mark.

But then Artest, of all people, maligned much of the season as Lakers fans pined for Trevor Ariza, carved out the franchise’s latest slice of playoff lore with an improbable play against the Phoenix Suns.

Bryant’s herky-jerky three-point attempt missed badly from the right side with 2.5 seconds left, but Artest beat Richardson to the airball and put in an off-balance follow that banked in as time expired, giving the Lakers a 103-101 victory Thursday in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals…

The Suns trailed by 18 in the third quarter as Bryant continued to scorch them on the way to 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

But the Suns rallied behind a four-point play by Jared Dudley and trailed going into the fourth quarter, 78-72.

After Richardson’s three-pointer, the Suns were hoping they did enough to force overtime.

Yao Ming cleared for more workouts after extensive physical

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle reports:

Yao Ming cleared for more workouts after extensive physical

Houston Rockets center Yao Ming might not be back on the track quite yet, but he cleared a key hurdle on Thursday to get there.

An extensive physical on Yao’s repaired and restructured left foot on Thursday, long considered an important milestone in his comeback, showed the rehabilitation progressing well, clearing Yao to move to more extensive running and on-court workouts.

“We reviewed his most recent bone scans and they indicate the healing is continuing at the expected rate,” Rockets athletic trainer Keith Jones said. “He’s right where he should be with regards to his rehab.

Grizzlies statement on Zach Randolph involvement in drug investigation

The Memphis Grizzlies released the following statement today from Vice President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Chris Wallace, regarding media reports about forward Zach Randolph being implicated in an Indianapolis drug investigation.

Grizzlies statement on Zach Randolph involvement in drug investigation

“Since Zach Randolph joined this organization, he has been an active member of the Memphis community and embraced our core values of hard work and leadership. These qualities helped him develop into an NBA All-Star this season and guided one of the NBA’s youngest teams to a 16-game improvement.

“Zach’s continued commitment to the team has been evident the last couple of weeks as he’s been working out with members of our staff on the West Coast.

“Due to the ongoing police investigation, we do not feel it would be appropriate to comment further. Unless some other information surfaces, Zach remains a valued member of the Grizzlies family and Memphis community.”

Chris Andersen has right knee surgery

Chris Andersen has right knee surgery

Denver Nuggets F/C Chris Andersen underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a partial tear of the patella tendon in his right knee. The surgery was performed by Dr. Steven Traina, Nuggets Team Physician.

The injury occurred during Game 2 of the Nuggets first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on April 19.

Andersen is expected to be fully recovered for the 2010-11 regular season.

In 76 games for the Nuggets this season, Andersen averaged 5.9 ppg, a career-high 6.4 rpg and ranked sixth in the NBA with 1.88 bpg. Appearing in all six of the team’s playoff games, he posted averages of 4.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 1.00 bpg in 19.3 mpg.

Game 5: Magic rising, beat Celtics 113-92

The AP reports:

Magic rising, beat Celtics 113-92

Taking another step toward overcoming an improbable 3-0 series deficit, Dwight Howard had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Magic to a 113-92 victory over the Celtics on Wednesday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals…

A series that looked like a sweep a few days ago now has the Celtics taking a slim lead into a pressure-packed Game 6 in Boston on Friday night. The Celtics are facing the possibility of playing it without Kendrick Perkins after their starting center picked up his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, a mandatory suspension unless it is overturned…

The Magic, seemingly lifeless after a blowout defeat in Game 3, suddenly have hope to be the first. They broke out of their series-long shooting slump, making 13-of-25 3-pointers…

Jameer Nelson scored 24 points, and J.J. Redick had 14 to help the Magic to a frenetic pace that the Celtics couldn’t sustain. Howard added five blocks as Orlando built an early 14-point lead that was never seriously challenged.

Rasheed Wallace had 21 points, and Rajon Rondo scored 19 for a Boston team that once seemed on its way to another NBA finals.

The Boston Globe blog reports:

Emotions are a good place to start, and Celtics center Kendrick Perkins was at the center of it all in Game 5. Having already picked up a technical foul earlier in the second quarter, Perkins took issue with a foul whistled against him as he was guarding Dwight Howard with 36 seconds remaining in the first half. Perkins’s demonstrative disagreement with the call earned him another technical and an automatic ejection. As it was also his seventh technical foul of the playoffs, Perkins is by rule suspended for the team’s next game, barring one of his two technicals tonight being rescinded by the league office.

Emotions weren’t the only problem for the Celtics. Health was also a major factor. With 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Glen Davis took an inadvertent elbow from Howard and crumbled to the floor. Davis was shaken up, but he heeded the pleas of coach Doc Rivers to get up and finish the play. As he tried to run down the court, Davis lost his balance and crumbled to the floor. He got up, stumbled past halfcourt, and fell into the arms of official Joey Crawford. Davis would be diagnosed with a concussion, leaving the Celtics two men short on their front line.

The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Van Gundy said he thought that rebounding — the Magic had a huge 43-26 advantage — was even more critical than making 3-pointers.

The Celtics had rushed out to put the Magic on their heels the previous two home games, and they went up 5-0. But the Magic quickly recovered and the 3-pointers started falling for the club that set an NBA record for most 3’s made in a season.

Moving the ball and playing off Nelson’s drive-and-kick game, they made 9-of-15 in the first half and shot 50 percent overall to lead 57-49 at halftime.

Zach Randolph implicated in Indiana drug bust

My Fox Memphis reports:

Zach Randolph implicated in Indiana drug bust

Memphis Grizzlies standout Zach Randolph has been implicated in an Indianapolis drug investigation. A probable cause affidavit has a police informant indentifying Randolph as a major marijuana supplier in Indianapolis.

A stake out on a suspected drug house 2 weeks ago led to 32 year old Arthur Boyd being pulled over in a Cadillac Escalade. The vehicle had marijuana and ammunition inside, and was registered to Randolph.

Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown issues statement

Former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has issued the following statement:

Former Cavaliers coach Mike Brown issues statement

“The past 5 years have been an exceptional experience.  I have been very fortunate to lead a group of men who I respect and thoroughly enjoyed coaching on a daily basis.  At the same time, I was able to work alongside a terrific coaching staff and with Danny Ferry and a basketball operations team, all of whom I have a profound respect for. We partnered in creating a culture and a standard that I am, and will continue to be, very proud of.  None of which would be possible without the dedication and support of Dan Gilbert.  I am thankful for the opportunity that he gave to me and my family.  We have a deep appreciation for Northeast Ohio, the Cleveland Cavaliers organization, and the people in this community, and have enjoyed making this our home.”

Rashard Lewis is playing with viral infection

The AP reports:

Rashard Lewis is playing with viral infection

Maybe this is why Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis has been struggling in the Eastern Conference finals: He’s been playing with a viral infection.

Lewis says he’s been sick the ”whole series” against the Boston Celtics.

”Overall it affects you,” he said after Orlando’s shootaround Wednesday. ”I’ve been throwing up. I haven’t been at full strength. I’ve been feeling weak, my legs been feeling weak. I find myself getting tired very fast in the first quarter. You know, when you can’t hold food down you have no energy in your body to go out there and perform.”

Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel report (via blog):

Orlando Magic power forward Rashard Lewis expects to receive intravenous fluids tonight before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Boston Celtics as he continues battle a nasty stomach virus that’s plagued him all series.

Lewis said after the Magic completed their shootaround today that he’s “not 100 percent, not where I want to be,” but he added that he’s “getting better.”

Lewis received IV fluids before Game 4 on Monday in Boston. His illness was first reported by ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and was later confirmed by the Orlando Sentinel.

Lakers bench must step up vs Suns

Janis Carr of the Orange County Register reports (via blog):

“The bench was fantastic.”

When was the last time anyone said that about the Lakers’ reserves? It’s been a while.

Certainly no one was talking up the Lakers’ bench after the accounted for 20 points (15 from Lamar Odom) in Tuesday’s 115-106 defeat in Game 4 that evened the Western Conference finals at two games a piece.

When asked if he thought his bench “got smoked”, Phil Jackson seemed to think it wasn’t all that bad.

“Well, it wasn’t a Cohiba, I’ll tell you that,” the Lakers coach said, referring to a Cuban-brand cigar.