Archive for May 13th, 2012

chris paul

The Los Angeles Clippers refused to let a third chance to knock the Memphis Grizzlies out of the playoffs slip away.

Kenyon Martin scored seven of his 11 points in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers advanced to the Western Conference semifinals with an 82-72 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 7 on Sunday…

The Clippers blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter Friday night. So Martin huddled the Clippers together at the start of the fourth quarter Sunday, and the veteran led the bench in outscoring the Grizzlies 25-16. Chris Paul had the only bucket by a starter in the final 12 minutes, and the Clippers’ bench outscored the Memphis reserves 41-11 overall…

Now, the Clippers have their third postseason series win in 41 years and their second since relocating to Los Angeles. They last beat Denver in 2006. The Clippers also avoided becoming the ninth NBA team to blow a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series in moving on to play the top-seeded Spurs starting Tuesday night in San Antonio…

Paul scored 19 points despite playing with a strained right hip flexor. Nick Young had nine of his 13 off the bench in the fourth as the Clippers finished off the series with their biggest margin of victory. Paul was so confident of victory he bought plane tickets for his wife and son to San Antonio on Saturday…

Rudy Gay and Marc Gasol each had 19 for Memphis, which lost a Game 7 at Oklahoma City a year ago in the second round of the playoffs. Zach Randolph had a game-high 12 rebounds…

Los Angeles finished off the win by hitting 9 of 10 free throws in the final 3:26. The Clippers also managed to outrebound the Grizzlies 46-44 for only the second time this series.

Memphis got away from the inside-out approach that won the last two games. The Grizzlies outscored the Clippers 36-24, but Randolph said they took far too many jumpers instead of feeding the ball to Gasol and himself.

– Reported by Teresa M. Walker of the Associated Press

Knicks hope J.R. Smith does not opt out

By Marc Berman of the New York Post

jr smith

J.R. Smith has until June 26, two days before the NBA Draft, to give the Knicks notice on opting out of the final year of his contract worth $2.5 million, according to an NBA source.

If he doesn’t exercise the opt-out clause, Smith will be a Knick next season and could get a long-term deal with the club after next season. Because Steve Novak is a good bet to depart, the Knicks want Smith back as a sixth man — and possibly to play some point guard despite his wretched shotmaking in the Knicks’ five-game first-round knockout by the Heat.

Smith shot 3-of-15 in the elimination game and was 31.6 percent for the series — 17 percent from 3-point land (5-of-28).

Knicks general manager Glen Grunwald is hopeful Smith doesn’t exercise the opt-out and a source said he is leaning toward staying put with the marketplace squeezed for the middle class of free agents in the new CBA.

andre miller

Now that the season has ended, Miller is one of three free agents the Nuggets have to make decisions on this summer, the first normal NBA calendar since 2010. It’s likely the Nuggets will attempt to bring him back after his at-times spectacular playoff series against the Lakers. Miller is the only unrestricted free agent on the roster, so the decision to stay or leave is solely his.

“I’ll keep my options open,” Miller said. “At this point in my career, if I’m going to be a backup, I’m going to be a backup on a championship-caliber team. Obviously, this team is a good team that’s going to get to the playoffs, but the thing is if they are committed to getting to that next level to compete for that championship.”

Miller teamed with point guard Ty Lawson to give the Nuggets a double-headed attack in this series, which most often was their most effective lineup. That pairing was on the floor when the Nuggets rallied from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter Saturday night to take the lead early in the fourth period.

Miller struggled throughout the game with his shooting, finishing with three points, but he had eight assists and 11 rebounds.

– Reported by Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post

Toronto Raptors may chase Jeremy Lin

Jeremy Lin

Toronto will be in direct competition with the Knicks for Steve Nash. But Nash is expected to look to sign with a bona fide contender, and the Knicks and Raptors don’t fit that description. The Raptors are also a potential landing spot for Jeremy Lin. They like him and what he’d do for their attendance, but Toronto would have to “back-load” an offer to the restricted free agent, paying him gazillions in the final couple of years of a deal, and hope that the Knicks would not match. According to league sources, that’s what the Raptors just might do if their Nash plan falls through. But considering that the Knicks have no other viable options at point guard, and Lin has been nothing short of a marketing dream, they’re seen as a lock to match any offer.

– Reported by Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News

pau gasol

Pau Gasol was consumed by determination, holding off Kenneth Faried with one arm and relentlessly tipping the ball at the hoop with the other in the fourth quarter of Game 7. One, two, three, four - five! - offensive rebounds later, the ball finally surrendered and dropped through the hoop.

A few minutes later, the truth was as undeniable as that 7-foot Spaniard. Although the Nuggets drove them to the brink of playoff collapse, the Los Angeles Lakers still have the tenacity to win on the biggest nights of the postseason.

Even when Kobe Bryant doesn’t lead them.

Gasol had 23 points, 17 rebounds, six assists and four blocked shots, Metta World Peace scored 15 points in his return from a seven-game suspension, and the Lakers outlasted Denver for a thrilling 96-87 victory Saturday night to win their first-round series.

Steve Blake scored a playoff career-high 19 points and Bryant had a quiet 17 points and eight assists against regular double-teams for the Lakers, who blew a 16-point lead in the second half before surviving a finale with wild momentum swings and furious physical play.

With Gasol leading the Lakers’ emotional effort - exemplified by those five offensive rebounds on a single, unbelievable tip play with 7:10 left - the Lakers narrowly avoided becoming the ninth team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 series lead…

Andrew Bynum had 16 points, a career playoff-high 18 rebounds and six blocked shots for Los Angeles, which must open the second round Monday night in Oklahoma City against the second-seeded Thunder.

Ty Lawson and Al Harrington scored 24 points apiece for the sixth-seeded Nuggets, who committed 19 turnovers and managed just 7-of-27 shooting in the fourth quarter. Arron Afflalo scored 15 points in just the third Game 7 in franchise history for the Nuggets, who have lost in the first round in eight of the last nine postseasons - but never with this much excitement…

World Peace hit four 3-pointers and energized Los Angeles with tough defense in his return. The former Ron Artest missed Los Angeles’ regular-season finale and the first six games against Denver for viciously elbowing Oklahoma City’s James Harden, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year and one of his probable defensive assignments in the next round.

– Reported by Greg Beacham of the Associated Press

rajon rondo

Rajon Rondo has made dozens of last-second dashes to the basket.

This time, he went in the opposite direction.

The Celtics point guard ran into the backcourt, grabbing the inbounds pass in stride, avoiding a foul and dribbling out the final 3.4 seconds to clinch Boston’s 92-91 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night in the opener of their Eastern Conference semifinal series…

Rondo had 17 assists, 13 points and 12 rebounds for his eighth career playoff triple-double. He had six points, five assists and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, when the Celtics went on a 23-7 run to turn a double-digit deficit into a six-point lead with 78 seconds to play…

Kevin Garnett scored 29 points - his most in the regular- or postseason this year - and added 11 rebounds to help Boston maintain home-court advantage in the best-of-seven, second-round series. Game 2 is Monday night in Boston before the series shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4…

Andre Iguodala scored 19 points and Evan Turner had 16 with 10 rebounds for Philadelphia, which advanced to the second round for the first time since 2003 by beating East No. 1 seed Chicago. But Turner couldn’t catch Rondo in the final seconds when Philadelphia had a foul to give…

Pierce, who had a sprained MCL in his left knee, scored 14 points on 3-for-11 shooting. Rondo was only 6 for 15 from the floor, but he was 3 for 6 in the fourth quarter, adding five rebounds and four assists…

Hawes scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half.

– Reported by Jimmy Golen of the Associated Press

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