Archive for April, 2011

By Scott Spangler

Tyson Chandler looked like a man wanting desperately to atone for a rather forgettable performance in Game Four. Shawn Marion no longer appeared baffled about coaching strategy.

Chandler played this game angry. Who could blame him? The Maverick center was very much a part of what happened Saturday at the Rose Garden. That said, he certainly answered the bell 48 hours later.

Until tonight, LaMarcus Aldridge has clearly been a problem for Chandler. But as an All-Star caliber forward, that is to be expected. This is a tough cover for any big.

Monday evening, the Tyson Chandler that received consideration for the league’s Defensive Player of The Year showed up, and his teammates couldn’t help but to fall in.

The meek little Mavericks that wilted away two days earlier had been restored. Being at home didn’t necessarily mean better shooting for Dallas, but it did do something for the rebounding.

Try 49-37 on for size. How about twenty offensive boards?  Thank Mr. Chandler for 13 of ‘em.

This game changed in the third quarter. Rick Carlisle dusted off his zone defense and put it to work. Dallas began to stretch that advantage, outscoring the Blazers by eleven to end the quarter leading 75-63.

And so, after JJ Barea scooped and scored, pushing the Dallas lead to 85-66, any sign of Blazer voodoo emanating from Brandon Roy and his magical meniscusless knees seemed unlikely.

For the record, nine times these two teams have met this season, regular season and playoffs. The visiting team has yet to break through.

The AP reports:

Whatever Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said to his team at halftime worked very, very well.

The eighth-seeded Grizzlies outscored San Antonio 30-15 in the third quarter, turning a 2-point halftime deficit into a 104-86 rout Monday night of the Spurs for a commanding 3-1 lead in their opening series…

Grizzlies grab 1st ever 3-1 series lead over Spurs

San Antonio led 50-48 at halftime, and Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo said Hollins lit such a fire in his team with telling them exactly what he wanted them to do that they couldn’t wait to get onto the court…

The Grizzlies already had made franchise history by winning their first playoff game in Game 1 and added their first playoff win at home. Now they are a game away from becoming the second eighth seed to knock off a No. 1 seed since the NBA expanded to a best-of-seven series and join the 2007 Golden State Warriors…

Mike Conley had 15 points and seven assists. Darrell Arthur added 14 points off the bench for Memphis. Tony Allen had 12, Randolph and Mayo 11 apiece…

Tony Parker led the Spurs with 23 points with only four in the second half. He also had seven turnovers. Manu Ginobili had 14, Gary Neal 11, and George Hill and Tiago Splitter 10 each. Splitter, a rookie from Brazil, had not played previously in this series.

Tim Duncan had six points on his 35th birthday.

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports:

Kobe Bryant leaves arena on crutches after Game 4

Kobe Bryant did one of the few interviews ever conducted in a trainer’s room, sitting on a padded table after sustaining what the team officially called a sprained left ankle, though Bryant indicated it was more of a foot injury.

He was injured while defending Willie Green with 1:32 to play. He was moving across the lane when his foot buckled under him without any contact.

Two crutches were propped against the wall in the trainer’s room. He then used them to leave the arena and board the team bus.

“It’s going to take a lot to stop me to play,” Bryant said. “We’ll make sure we stay on top of it.”

He said he would undergo treatment on the plane ride back to Los Angeles immediately after the game. The team was planning an MRI exam or X-rays as a precaution.

After getting hurt, Bryant walked stiffly around the court for a minute before giving Shannon Brown an “I’m good, I’m good” when the reserve guard approached him.

The AP reports:

chris paul

Chris Paul chose an opportune time for his first triple-double of the season.

Paul had 27 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds, and the New Orleans Hornets held on for a 93-88 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday night to even their first-round playoff series at 2-2.

Wearing a black wrap on his left hand and a small bandage over his right eye, Paul scored 14 of New Orleans’ 24 points in the fourth quarter. The All-Star guard then capped his brilliant performance by running down the clock and setting up Jarrett Jack’s short jumper, which made it 90-86 with 9.3 seconds left.

Kobe Bryant had 17 points for the Lakers, but did not score in the first half and finished 5 of 18 shooting. He also came up lame late in the fourth quarter, favoring his left ankle after a collision with Green. Bryant’s last miss came on a 3-point attempt in the final seconds…

Trevor Ariza scored 19 for New Orleans, while Carl Landry added 16 before fouling out in the final minute…

Pau Gasol and Ron Artest each scored 16 for Los Angeles, with all of Artest’s points coming in the first half. Andrew Bynum added 11 points and Derek Fisher 10.

The Hornets never trailed in the second half and led by as many as nine points, at 57-48, early in the third quarter when Marco Belinelli’s 3 capped a 20-3 spurt that had started in the second quarter.

The AP reports:

Jamal Crawford scores 25, Hawks beat Magic for 3-1 lead

Jamal Crawford scored 25 points for the Hawks and Joe Johnson made four big free throws in the final 20 seconds to preserve an 88-85 victory over the Magic…

The Hawks made only 12 of 20 free throws, yet all was forgiven when Johnson knocked down the ones that really matter. Running out of time and forced to go for a tying 3-pointer, the Magic set up a play for Hedo Turkoglu.

Al Horford foiled that plan, knocking the ball away from the Orlando player. Turkoglu got it back with only enough time to force one up. It missed badly, and the Hawks celebrated a commanding lead in the series as streamers fell from the ceiling of Philips Arena.

Dwight Howard led the Magic with 29 points and 17 rebounds. His night was marred by eight turnovers, however, including a couple of walking calls when he tried to back in on the collapsing Atlanta defense.

Gilbert Arenas, who didn’t even play in Game 3, picked up some of the scoring slack with Jason Richardson serving a one-game suspension for an altercation with Zaza Pachulia.

Arenas scored 20 points, but no other Orlando player had more than 11…

Johnson made only 6 of 15 and finished with 20 points. Al Horford and Kirk Hinrich both had 14 for the more balanced Hawks.

Fan discussion of the game took place in this forum topic.

The AP reports:

Celtics hold on to complete sweep of Knicks

Kevin Garnett had 26 points and 10 rebounds, Rajon Rondo added 21 points and 12 assists, and the Celtics swept their way into the Eastern Conference semifinals, holding on for a 101-89 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Ray Allen and reserve Glen Davis each added 14 points for the Celtics, the first team into the second round after sweeping a series for the first time since a 3-0 victory over Indiana in 1992, the last series victory for their old Big Three before Larry Bird retired…

Carmelo Anthony had 32 points and nine rebounds, and Amare Stoudemire, who decided to play after his back felt better, finished with 19 points and 12 boards but shot only 5 of 20 from the field…

The Knicks shot 34 percent and were quickly dispatched in their first playoff appearance since 2004, when they were also swept in the first round. They haven’t won a playoff game in 10 years…

Garnett made three straight field goals to make it 70-48 in the third quarter before the Celtics let the Knicks back into it. Consecutive run-out dunks by Anthony cut it to 14, and New York had it all the way down to 10 when Shawne Williams’ 3-pointer with 36 seconds remaining trimmed it to 82-72 after three.

Fan discussion of the game took place in this forum topic.

The Boston Celtics lead the New York Knicks 3-0 in their first round playoff series. Game 4 is Sunday afternoon in New York. InsideHoops.com presents raw, totally unedited game notes taken live from Madison Square Garden as the action happens.

STARTERS

rajon rondo

The Celtics started their usual: Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen at guard, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at forward, and Jermaine O’Neal at center.

The Knicks started Toney Douglas and Landry Fields at guard, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire at forward, and Ronny Turiaf at center. Guard Chauncey Billups remains out.

FIRST QUARTER

The Knicks are moving the ball better as a team than they did in Game 3, and keeping it close early. Fans to not have to exit the arena at this time.

At 7:11, Amar’e Stoudemire cleaned up a missed Carmelo Anthony jumper, went up for a shot and drew the second found on Kevin Garnett, and after a trip to the line tied the game at 11 all.

In for the Knicks at 5:32 with the Celtics up 15-13 is Jared Jeffries and Bill Walker, who quickly shot and missed a three up top.

A nice sight for New York at 4:38: Stoudemire had the ball, Melo cut, and Stoudemire hit him for a layup.

Rondo is again off to a fast start for the Celtics with five points and two assists.

A perfect pick from Ray Allen helped open a driving Paul Pierce for a layup that put Boston up 21-15 at 3:40.

Nenad Krstic is in for Boston and at 2:20, as he slide towards the rim found the ball in his hands compliments of a Pierce dish and flushed down a dunk.

Melo has 10 points and no assists on eight shots. Rondo leads Boston with five points and four assists.

The Knicks have started the game shooting 7-of-24.

Rondo is basically unguarded. Every Knick backs off him, even as Rondo has the ball a mere 2-3 feet above the free throw line, as he did just now before swishing a jumper.

End of first quarter: Celtics 29, Knicks 23. New York shot just 8-of-27 in the quarter. Melo had 15 points on nine shots. No other Knick had more than three points. The Celtics got nine points and five assists from Rondo, and four points from four different players.

SECOND QUARTER

Zach Galifianakis is in the building. I tried to spell-check his name but Google said it was too long to bother with.

The Celtics continue to execute, and at 9:10 lead 33-25. They are a balanced offensive squad, and the Knicks are not.

Glen Davis is big off the bench for the Celtics tonight, both literally and in basketball contributions.

Brian Baumgartner, the mostly-bald guy from The Office, is here.

At 7:12 Landry Fields on a fast break was fouled somewhat hard from behind by Delonte West, who was then shoved by a protective Stoudemire, prompting a loud “Boston sucks!” chant from the MSG crowd. Refs called a foul and a tech on West, and a tech on Melo. As usual, the refs toss out more techs than are needed, promoting a “These refs suck!” chant which only lasted maybe 10 seconds but was still pretty loud.

West penetrates and dishes nicely to an open Pierce in three-point range, who then quickly dishes to an open Ray Allen, who swishes a three. And then next play, West, guarded again by Toney Douglas, pops a fadeaway jumper to put the Celtics up 42-28 at 5:58.

A Glen Davis fast break (!) bucket puts the Celtics up 46-31 with around 5 minutes left. Things are starting to slip away for the Knicks who continue to rely almost entirely on Melo. Stoudemire is still not himself due to a back issue and is 0-of-7 for three points and six rebounds. Davis now has 12 points on great shooting.

It’s ugly for the Knicks again. A Rondo layup makes it 50-33 Celtics with 2:15 left. The MSG crowd has little to get pumped up about, aside perhaps from the knowledge that it’s a nice Sunday afternoon to enjoy Manhattan after they exit the game later.

End of second quarter: Celtics 55, Knicks 38. The Knicks are 11-of-47 and just 2-of-11 from three-point range. Stoudemire is 1-of-10. This is a mess.

THIRD QUARTER

This is a mess. The start of the third quarter continued the pattern of the first half, and with 5:37 left the Celtics.

The Celtics are slowing down. The game isn’t out of reach for New York just yet.

Life for the Knicks has been found! Midway through the third quarter, Melo found himself open on two separate occasions for uncontested fast break dunks, cutting the Celtics lead to 14 at 4:50, giving fans some rare optimism.

Pierce’s first step, which never looks particularly quick, continues to get him past defenders when he needs to get at the rim. But he’s missing shot after shot.

Nice evening by Garnett so far, with 18 points and nine rebounds. Rondo has 16 with nine assists. Ray Allen has been contained.

The Knicks are fighting, and it feels like a game again, but just when it might get scary for Boston they always execute, and with 1:36 left in the quarter still have a 12-point lead. Not much, but with their veteran experience it’s enough.

Even more life for New York after Shawne Williams, who is shooting so many bricks he’s built a house behind Spike Lee, hits a three that cuts it to 10.

End of third quarter: Celtics 82, Knicks 72. Melo has 27 and seven rebounds. New York is shooting just 32.9%. Stoudemire is 3-of-15. That it’s this close is a near miracle for the blue and orange.

FOURTH QUARTER

Stoudemire starts the quarter with a layup that cuts it to eight. Finally, for the first time since Game 2, this feels competitive!

Roger Mason is missing some open outside looks. But at 10:20 a Melo three cut it to six, causing fans to go bananas.

Anthony Carter, known for having no shooting range, hits from outside to keep NY alive.

At 6:40 the Celtics show why they tend to win, using crafty away-from-ball movement that led to Rondo getting a wide open layup in a halfcourt set.

The crowd is excited, so naturally that means it’s time for a Ray Allen three.

Anthony Carter again hits from deep, in two-point range from the left corner. An unlikely source of sudden offense, he’s 5-of-6 for 11 points off the bench.

Fields hasn’t been playing at all this half for the Knicks.

Again, Celtics smarts come into play. Positioning himself perfectly, Pierce took a charge from Shawne Williams, negating a basket that would have cut Boston’s lead to four. At 5:07 it’s Celtics up, 91-85.

The Knicks just let Rondo shoot from wherever he wants, even if he’s open from the free throw line. A Rondo 15-footer followed by a Garnett bucket puts Boston back up 10.

The crowd has been loud, but there haven’t been many actual chants, aside from “defense!”

And here it is. With 2:03 left and Boston up nine, Garnett caught a pass and had an open look from the left elbow. As he pulls up to shoot, I had no doubt whatsoever that it would go in. Swish. Nothing but net. KG’s not missing that at this point in the game, in the postseason. Boston goes up 97-86. Timeout. And right now at 6:12 p.m. ET, some fans start to leave for dinner, exiting MSG for the last time until next season.

Yeah. It’s over. With 39 seconds left and the Celtics up 10, fans flock for the exits as the clock ticks down on the Knicks season, which was certainly a success by recent standards.

As the final seconds expire, the MSG crowd stands up and claps their appreciation for a fun season.

Final score: Celtics 101, Knicks 89.

FINAL STATS

In the win, the Celtics shot 49.4%, 3-of-12 three-pointers, and 18-of-24 free throws. Garnett had 26 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. Rondo on 8-of-12 shooting had 21 points, five rebounds and 12 assists (six turnovers). Ray Allen and Glen Davis each scored 14. Pierce shot just 5-of-18 for 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.

In the loss, the Knicks shot just 34.1% and 8-of-27 from three-point range, with 21-of-28 free throws. Melo scored 32 on 24 shots, with nine rebounds. Stoudemire shot a miserable 5-of-20, with 9-of-12 free throws for 19 points and 12 rebounds. Anthony Carter shot well for 11 off the bench. Other Knicks scored six or fewer points.

76ers rally to beat Heat 86-82 in Game 4

The AP reports:

76ers rally to beat Heat 86-82 in Game 4

Lou Williams hit a 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds left to lead the Philadelphia 76ers to an 86-82 win over the Miami Heat on Sunday and avoid a sweep.

Miami was 95 seconds away from winning Game 4, holding an 82-76 lead.

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the rest of the Heat didn’t score again.

Jrue Holiday made a 3 with 46.6 seconds left that sliced the deficit to one. Williams followed with a 3 from the top of the arc for an 84-82 lead that sent the nearly 20,000 fans into a frenzy.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.

Williams and Evan Turner led the Sixers with 17 points each. Andre Iguodala added 16 points and Elton Brand had 15 points and 11 rebounds.

James scored 31 points for the Heat and Wade 22. Bosh scored 12 points and had two blocks late in the game that seemed to seal the win for the Heat.

Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports:

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said he’s fine with the physical play between his team and the Hawks in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

But Van Gundy said he’s frustrated by what he calls the Hawks “flopping” in an attempt to draw fouls.

“I like it when guys stand up and fight like men,” Van Gundy said Saturday. “I think that is what the game is all about. The one thing that frustrates me is all the flopping.”

Van Gundy cited three plays from the Hawks’ 88-84 victory in Game 3 on Friday.

Hawks center Jason Collins drew a charging call when he hit the court after contact with Orlando center Dwight Howard and later did the same to guard Jameer Nelson. Van Gundy said Howard “touched [Hawks center] Zaza Pachulia in the chest on a screen and that sent him to the floor.”

“The one thing I learned is our guys are a lot stronger than I thought they were,” Van Gundy said sarcastically.

The AP reports:

Ibaka steps up for Thunder in Game 3 win over Nuggets

The Oklahoma City Thunder are on the verge of winning their first playoff series since moving from Seattle in 2008 thanks to All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and their terrific supporting cast.

Following Eric Maynor’s lead in the opener and James Harden’s step-up performance in Game 2, Serge Ibaka was Denver’s dagger Saturday night…

Transforming from a shot-blocker into a shot-maker, Ibaka, the second-year pro from the Congo tied his career high with 22 points and pulled down a career-high 16 rebounds in sparking the Thunder’s 97-94 win over the Nuggets that gave them a 3-0 lead in their best-of-7 playoff series…

Ibaka, who led the league with 198 blocks during the regular season, gave the Thunder a third dimension on offense to go with Durant (26 points) and Westbrook (23), and his bucket with 10 seconds left helped the Thunder fend off Denver’s furious rally in the final minute…

Not even the return of Afflalo (13 points) from a troublesome hamstring injury or bounce-back performances from J.R. Smith (15 points) and Chris “Birdman” Andersen (13) could keep the Nuggets from falling to 0-5 against Oklahoma City this month and inching closer to elimination…

Nene had 15 points and 10 boards for the Nuggets, who took a 73-71 lead into the fourth quarter before going cold—29 percent from the floor, 20 percent from long range and 62 percent from the line—and watching Oklahoma City pull away behind Durant, Westbrook and Ibaka.

The AP reports:

Memphis now win at home, go up 2-1 over Spurs

Zach Randolph scored 25 points, including a clinching 3-pointer with 41.9 seconds left, and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the San Antonio Spurs 91-88 Saturday night for the franchise’s first playoff victory on its home court…

Marc Gasol scored 17 points, Mike Conley had 14 and O.J. Mayo had 10 off the bench for Memphis.

Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 23 points. Tony Parker had 16, Tim Duncan 13 and George Hill 11.

The Spurs only led early and never by more than 1, the last at 12-11. They fell behind by as much as 15 before managing to tie it up twice in the final 8:06, the last at 80 on a Ginobili free throw…

The Spurs managed to outrebound Memphis 48-37, but the Grizzlies had a 44-40 edge in the paint as they worked the ball inside to Randolph and Gasol. They also had a 17-9 edge on the fast break against the Spurs. The NBA’s best 3-point shooting team was a meager 2 of 15. Memphis hit only 4 of 11, including Randolph’s big 3.

Antonio McDyess went to the locker room with 2:56 left in pain. He was diagnosed with a neck strain with X-rays negative and his status now day to day. Popovich spoke without knowing McDyess’ status and said it didn’t look good.

The AP reports:

Roy has 24 in Blazers’ 84-82 Game 4 win over Mavs

Brandon Roy’s season had been fraught with uncertainty, first over the stability of his knees, then over his diminished role with the team.

All those doubts melted away on Saturday when he led the Portland Trail Blazers to one of the greatest comebacks in NBA playoff history.

With 39.2 seconds left, Roy made a go-ahead bank shot that gave the Trail Blazers a stunning 84-82 comeback victory over the Dallas Mavericks—and evened their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.

Roy finished with 24 points—18 in the fourth quarter alone—as the Blazers erased a 23-point deficit. Portland became the third NBA team in the shot clock era to win a playoff game when trailing by 18 points or more heading into the fourth quarter…

Dirk Nowitzki had 20 points to lead the Mavericks. Terry finished with 13 off the bench.

Aldridge finished with 18 points for the Blazers, while Gerald Wallace had 10 points and 11 rebounds…

Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 25 points in Portland’s 97-92 victory in Game 3 on Thursday night, which drew the Blazers within 2-1 into best-of-7 series.

The AP reports:

Pacers beat Bulls 89-84 to avoid elimination

The Pacers sent the red and black-clad swarm back home disappointed. After fourth-quarter collapses in each of the first three games, Indiana avoided elimination by holding off a furious rally to beat the Bulls 89-84 in Game 4 of the first-round Eastern Conference series on Saturday afternoon.

The Pacers not only faced superstar guard Derrick Rose and the pressure of a 3-0 deficit in the series, they dealt with an unexpected roadblock—a hostile environment on its home floor at Conseco Fieldhouse. The crowd shocked Pacers center Jeff Foster, who has played for the Pacers for his entire 12-year NBA career…

Danny Granger led the Pacers with 24 points, including four free throws in the final 14.1 seconds while being booed. He said the team remembered its earlier failures in the series…

Chicago’s Carlos Boozer missed a 3-pointer that could have tied the game in the closing seconds. The Bulls were looking to set up Luol Deng for the final shot.

“I caught the ball at the elbow and I was supposed to set a backscreen for Luol,” Joakim Noah, who led the Bulls with 21 points and 14 rebounds, said…

Rose, who averaged 32.7 points in the first three games, finished with 15 points and 10 assists. He sprained his left ankle late in the first quarter and scored eight points on 3-for-16 shooting the rest of the way.

Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia has been suspended  one  game  without  pay  for  headbutting  Orlando Magic guard Jason  Richardson and fighting.

Richardson  was  suspended  one  game  without  pay  for shoving Pachulia  in the face and fighting.

The suspensions were announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Pachulia  and  Richardson  will serve their suspensions on Sunday, April 24 when  the  Magic  are  at  the  Atlanta  Hawks  for  Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Playoffs.

Read fan discussion of the incident and share your opinion in this forum topic.

The AP reports:

Kobe scores 30, Lakers beat Hornets 100-86 in Game 3

The New Orleans Hornets didn’t expect Pau Gasol to toss up a 3-pointer from the corner any more than the Lakers star’s growing chorus of critics expected him to make it.

Gasol stunned them all by draining the shot, then scored twice more during a key fourth-quarter surge that helped secure a 100-86 victory Friday night and put Los Angeles in control of the first-round playoff series.

“It’s funny how a shot can kind of turn the momentum around for him when he’s had a hard time making shots around the basket and in the paint—and he knocks down a 3,” said Kobe Bryant, who led the Lakers with 30 points. “That kind of got him going.” …

Andrew Bynum added 14 points and 11 rebounds. He briefly went down holding his right knee, but remained in the game after trainers examined him and then got a rest for most of the fourth quarter. Lamar Odom scored 13 points for the two-time defending champs, who took the lead for good when Ron Artest made a layup as he was fouled to make it 13-10.

Chris Paul had 22 points and eight assist for the Hornets, who managed to stay within single digits for long stretches of the game but never truly threatened to take the lead in the second half…

Landry scored 23 points for New Orleans, while Trevor Ariza had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Emeka Okafor had 15 points.

The AP reports:

Jamal Crawford scores 23, Hawks beat Magic 88-84 in Game 3

Jamal Crawford banked in the long-range shot from the top of the key with 5.7 seconds left to cap a brilliant second half, leading the Atlanta Hawks to an 88-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday night and a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.

The Hawks led most of the game, but it came right down to the wire—marred by an altercation that led to the ejection of Pachulia and Jason Richardson of Orlando.

Both were thrown out with 2:22 remaining after getting into it under the basket. The teams swapped the lead four times after that near-brawl, with Al Horford putting the Hawks ahead for good with 46.6 seconds remaining…

Joe Johnson added 21 points for Atlanta, while Josh Smith had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Howard, as usual, led the way for the Magic with 21 points and 15 rebounds, but that was actually quite a letdown after he averaged 39.5 points during the first two games in Orlando…

The Magic still has not led all night until Quentin Richardson hit a pointer just over a minute into the final quarter. The Hawks, who made only 5 of 20 shots in the third, suddenly found their shooting touch and ripped off 10 straight points for a 79-71 lead with just over 6 minutes left.

Live Celtics at Knicks Game 3 blog

The New York Knicks are hosting the Boston Celtics for Game 3 of their first round playoff series. With the experienced Celtics up 2-0, this game is pretty must-win for the new-look Knicks.

Below are completely raw, unedited game notes taken live from Madison Square Garden.

STARTERS

The Celtics started their usual: Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen at guard, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at forward, and Jermaine O’Neal at center.

The Knicks started Toney Douglas and Landry Fields at guard, Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire at forward, and Ronny Turiaf at center. Knicks point guard Chauncey Billups remains out.

FIRST QUARTER

Celtics take early 9-0 lead until a Landry Fields jumper at 8:30.

Some Paul Pierce jawing led two fan chants to break out: “Paul Pierce sucks” and “*sshole.” Although the rhythm of the conflicting chants was off, the message was clear.

At 7:48 Ronny Turiaf was called for his second foul. He got tangled up with Jermaine O’Neal. Arm-hooking was happening, but it’s not clear who the primary culprit was.

Actor and comedian David Alan Grier is in the house.

After a Melo jumper made it 22-9 Celtics up, Kevin Garnett was called for an offensive foul due to a push on Bill Walker, which led to another Knicks bucket, igniting the crowd.

Melo is just 2-of-7 for four points.

Paul Pierce is hot early, shooting 4-of-5 for 12 points.

Melo scores again. Crowd gets louder. Celtics lead 22-13 but hte Knicks are playing with more energy. “Boston sucks!” explains fans in MSG.

Knicks keep waking up. A Shawne Williams three from the left corner makes it 23-16 Celtics. It’s a game, folks

“These refs suck!” chanted fans with a few seconds left in the quarter.

End of first quarter: Celtics 27, Knicks 20. Both teams shot 40 percent from the field and did little from three-point range. The difference was at the free throw line, where Boston shot 9-of-10 while the Knicks hit 3-of-4.  Pierce scored 14, Rajon Rondo (1-of-5) had five for Boston. Melo had six points, Shawne Williams five for New York.

SECOND QUARTER

Amar’e Stoudemire fires a jumper early in the second quarter and everything about it is flat. He is returning from a back spasm problem and doesn’t look like himself yet.

“F*cking retire!” yells a fan at Ray Allen right after Ray nailed a fantastic three-pointer with a defender in his face. I’m thinking Allen will pass on that advice for now.

At 8:01 it’s Celtics up 34-29. The Knicks are up to 46.2% shooting now, but they’ve still only gotten four free throw attempts while the Celtics are 11-of-13 from the line.

Justin Tuck of the New York Giants is in the building. He’s a less physically intimidating version of myself.

Ray Allen is just nasty. He nails another three halfway through the second quarter, putting Boston up 10.  Allen has 13 points now, including 3-of-3 from outside the arc.  Melo, still trying to carry his flat squad, answers with a three, keeping it competitive.

The Knicks are backing off Rondo so much, Spike Lee may be the closest defender.

Loaded with weapons, the Celtics get contributions from many directions. Jermaine O’Neal, who you may remember was a real player, hit a beautiful contested jumper, keeping his team up nine with 2:27 left in the first half.

THIRD QUARTER

The Celtics continue to hold a slightly comfortable lead. A Kevin Garnett jumper from the left side made it 65-52 about four minutes into the quarter.

Rondo is emerging and dishing assists like crazy. He’s essentially given up on attempting to score.

Too many weapons for Boston. Jermaine O’Neal has tossed in a few buckets this quarter and now lead by 15.

Celtics screens are working wonders, especially against young Knicks like Fields.

“Sit down, Lawrence!” yells an angry fan at Celtics assistant Lawrence Frank, who has no chance of hearing him.

Pierce is on fire.

The Celtics continue to execute. With 2:49 left in the third, Rondo has nine points, nine rebounds and 14 assists.

Tough to find positives for the Knicks here. Ray Allen is going bonkers. The Celtics are clicking on both ends of the floor. And New York just looks lost at this point.

End of three quarters: Celtics 86, Knicks 63. Rondo has a triple-double: 11 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists (four turnovers) and two steals.  The only Knick doing any real scoring is Melo but he has 15 points on 16 shots. Stoudemire has been completely invisible.

FOURTH QUARTER

I’m trailing off, here. Every time the Knicks flirt with making it a game, the Celtics execute and keep their lead around 16 points.

With 6:45 left, it’s a 20-point game. The crowd has been defused. Hope is mostly lost.

A Roger Mason three continues to maintain a bit of Knicks life, cutting it to 14. But the Knicks defense is simply unable to make stops in the second half. With 4:22, the Celtics hit 101.

Pierce is unguardable today.

Every Knick defender is a step slow. A Pierce J makes it 106-84 with 3:45 left.

I’m shutting down the laptop. Boston is going to take this.

Check InsideHoops.com later, after the game for a recap.

FINAL

The Celtics beat the Knicks 113-96 and go up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series. The Knicks were never quite in this game, and every time they flirted with making it competitive, Boston would go on a quick 4-0 or 6-2 run and maintain their a lead of 14-17 points.

For the Celtics, Paul Pierce shot 14-of-19 for 38 points. Ray Allen hit 8-of-11 three-pointers and had 32 points. And Rajon Rondo racked up 15 points, 11 rebounds, 20 assists and two steals.

For the Knicks, Shawne Williams came off the bench to lead the team with 17 points. Carmelo Anthony shot just 4-of-16 for 15 points, 11 rebounds, six assists (but five turnovers) and two steals. Toney Douglas had 15 points on just six shots but dished a mere three assists. And Amar’e Stoudemire, playing hurt, was invisible, playing almost 33 minutes, shooting just 2-of-8 for seven points, three rebounds and little else.

Tim MacMahon of ESPNDallas reports:

An object thrown from the Rose Garden stands hit Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the face during Thursday night’s Game 3 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.

The incident occurred midway through the fourth quarter after Cuban had been interacting with the fans in the section behind the Mavericks’ bench. Cuban was not injured.

InsideHoops.com editor says: Uh, that’s not cool. Don’t do stuff like that, fans.

The AP reports:

Matthews scores 25 and Blazers beat Mavs 97-92 in Game 3

Wesley Matthews had 25 points and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Mavericks 97-92 on Thursday night to narrow Dallas’ lead in the first-round playoff series to 2-1.

Jason Terry had 29 points coming off the bench early for the Mavericks, including five 3-pointers.

The Blazers led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter, but Dirk Nowitzki hit consecutive jumpers to make it 87-81 midway through the period…

Aldridge finished with 20 points for the sixth-seeded Blazers, while Brandon Roy had 16 off the bench.

Nowitzki had 25 points and nine rebounds for the third-seeded Mavs…

Portland went ahead 85-74 in the fourth after consecutive 3-pointers from Batum and Gerald Wallace.

InsideHoops.com notes: The Mavs shot 51.5%, the Blazers 48.0%. Portland nailed 8-of-14 from three-point range, while Dallas hit 9-of-22. Rebounding was even, and assists were pretty close, but the Mavs had 16 turnovers, the Blazers just nine.

The AP reports:

Wade scores 32, Heat beat 76ers 100-94 for 3-0 series lead

Dwyane Wade had 32 points and 10 rebounds, LeBron James finished with 24 points and 15 boards and the Miami Heat took a 3-0 lead in their first-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 100-94 victory Thursday night…

Wade delivered with a string of big baskets—he was 10 of 19 from the field overall—in the third and fourth quarters that spurred the Heat to the brink of the conference semifinals. He drew a foul on a spin move against Jrue Holiday and hit two free throws with 51.6 seconds left that about clinched the game…

Wade was 12 for 12 from the free throw line. For all the hype around the Big Three, Wade remembers he was the Biggest One in Miami. He still plays that way and the Heat needed all of his all-around excellence against the scrappy Sixers.

Chris Bosh scored 19 points for the Heat, who rallied from an early 10-point deficit to move within one win of a sweep of the Eastern Conference series…

Lou Williams missed a 3 with 43 seconds left that would have made it a one-point game. Holiday scored 20 points, Williams finished with 15 and Elton Brand had 21 points and 11 rebounds for the 76ers.

The Heat dominated again from the free-throw line, going 24 for 30 to Philadelphia’s 13 of 19…

Philadelphia’s fast start fizzled down the stretch and a team that showed amazing resiliency all season simply doesn’t have the talent to match up with the Heat.

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