Archive for May 18th, 2012

andre iguodala

Andre Iguodala snapped a tie game with five straight points in the final 90 seconds to help the Philadelphia 76ers storm back from 15 points down and stun the Boston Celtics 92-83 on Friday night in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Sixers were a team reborn in the second half and played like a squad that refused to roll over for the championship-tested Celtics. They tied the series at 2-2 and guaranteed a return home for one more game.

Iguodala, one of the more maligned athletes in recent Philadelphia history, put the Sixers ahead 85-83 and buried a 3-pointer for a five-point lead.

Game 5 is Monday in Boston.

– Reported by Dan Gelston of the Associated Press

The Celtics jumped out to a 14-0 lead in Game 4, silencing a Philadelphia crowd that was hoping their team would come out with a better focus in their attempt to even the series. Instead, the Sixers struggled to put the ball in the ocean. They shot 23 percent from the field in the first half, negating the benefit of 21 free throw attempts and failing to take advantage of a six-minute stretch in which the Celtics didn’t score a single point. Sixers guard Evan Turner was 2 of 14 before halftime.

But the Celtics went almost seven minutes without a field goal to start the third quarter, a drought that allowed the Sixers to get right back into it. The Celtics went 5 for 18 from the floor in the third and sent the Sixers to the line nine times. Philadelphia attempted 36 free throws Friday night after shooting 63 in the first three games of the series combined.

A four-point lead at the end of the third quarter quickly evaporated as the Sixers took their first lead of the game. Usually the better closing team, the Celtics were out-closed by the Sixers down the stretch as Andre Iguodala caught fire from the perimeter. Lou Williams chipped in his first big game off the bench with 15 points.

– Reported by Gary Dzen of the Boston Globe (Blog)

The game was nearly 4 minutes old before the Sixers scored their first points. Their offensive possessions appeared CYO-like, though that may be more of a knock on CYO teams (and a tribute to the Boston defense). The one bright spot was the Sixers’ ability to get to the foul line, as they did 21 times in the first half. But that was negated by the fact that they were only able to make 62 percent of them (13).

At least in Wednesday’s 16-point blowout loss, the Sixers scored 33 points in the first quarter. Friday, they scored 31 points in the first half.

The Sixers, though, thrillingly provided the crowd with the excitement they were aching for in the third quarter when they started it with an 18-8 run to close the gap to just 54-49 after a Lou Williams three-pointer with 4:42 remaining in the third. Four straight points by the Celtics upped the lead back to nine, but another Sixers spurt cut it to 58-54 on a conventional three-pointer by Williams. The lead stayed at four at the end of the third at 63-59.

– Reported by Bob Cooney of the Philadelphia Daily News

Atlanta Hawks Executive Vice President/General Manager Rick Sund announced today that the Hawks have exercised Head Coach Larry Drew’s contract option for the 2012-13 season.

“Larry did an outstanding job this season in guiding our team to the fourth-best record in the Eastern Conference, despite a condensed schedule and unfortunate injuries,” said Sund.  ”The Hawks have reached the postseason in each of his years on the bench, and we feel Larry’s experience, expertise and dedication to the game were a key ingredient to our success.”

In two seasons with the Hawks, Drew’s led the franchise to consecutive playoff appearances and a record of 84-64 (.567).  Despite significant injuries to key players during this past season, Drew coached Atlanta to a 40-26 mark, the team’s first winning record on the road in 13 y

pau gasol

Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers has been voted the 2011-12 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named after the second commissioner of the NBA and presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association and given annually to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

Gasol has been a tireless worker worldwide on behalf of various UNICEF causes. He has been a UNICEF Ambassador for seven years and traveled the globe working with programs aimed at nutrition and education for children.

“Pau’s work epitomizes all that is good about NBA players and their charitable works not only in their own communities but around the world,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and the president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “Working to help children realize their potential and to provide them with opportunities they might not otherwise get truly characterizes outstanding service and dedication.”

The PBWA comprises approximately 150 writers for newspapers, Internet services and magazines, who cover the NBA on a regular basis. Its members nominate finalists for the award; the other finalists this year were Josh Smith of the Atlanta Hawks, Jason Terry of the Dallas Mavericks, and J.J. Redick of the Orlando Magic.

Ronnie Brewer hopes to stay with Bulls

Ronnie Brewer

With Jimmy Butler a more affordable option, Brewer figures to be the odd man out, but he hopes his run in Chicago doesn’t end after two seasons.

“I liked the situation I was in with the Bulls,” Brewer said. “I feel like we have a great team. The chemistry was bar none compared to the other teams I’ve been on. We’ve had a lot of success, we’ve won a lot of games in the regular season and had some kind of success in the playoffs. I think everybody’s goal is to win a championship, and the Bulls, if we didn’t have injuries this year, could have been right in the mix for that. I’d love to stay with the Bulls. The fans have treated me great, the city has treated me well, and it’s a first-class organization so I’d like to stay there.”

With Richard Hamilton injured for most of the regular season, Brewer was in and out of the starting lineup. He started 43 games after starting just once in his first season with the Bulls.

– Reported by ESPN Chicago

paul pierce

Paul Pierce: “We don’t know what the future is going to hold for all of us, with KG in the last year of his contract, Ray in the last year of his contract. Trade speculations have been going on, there’s talk about rebuilding, so there is a sense of urgency with us.”

Ray Allen: “I have no idea. I don’t play it up, I can tell you that. This is this year. I don’t know what’s going to go on two months from now and I don’t even want to think about it. Take care of tomorrow. We have to watch film today, and then take care of tomorrow. Then it’s the next game, and that’s how it’s got to be for us. We’ve been forced into that stuff with all of the injuries and what we’ve gone through. We’ve become a single game team, and that’s what we have to stay.”

– Reported by the Boston Herald

Dwyane Wade may have lingering injuries

dwyane wade

Tough defense may not have been the only factor that contributed to Dwyane Wade having one of the worst playoff performances of his career in Thursday’s blowout loss in Game 3 to the Indiana Pacers.

Wade is still dealing with lingering injuries that forced him to miss several games late in the regular season, and the Miami Heat guard required treatment in recent days for knee and leg soreness, sources told ESPN.com Thursday.

Wade was held scoreless in the first half of Game 3 and finished with just five points and five turnovers in 37 minutes during the 94-75 loss to the Pacers, dropping Miami into a 2-1 series deficit entering Game 4 on Sunday.

After missing 11 of his 13 shots from the field, Wade downplayed concerns about whether he has been slowed by an injury or illness during the series.

– Reported by Michael Wallace of ESPN.com

Steve Blake received threats Wednesday night on his Twitter account, according to his wife, Kristen, who posted one of them on her account.

Blake missed the potential go-ahead three-point attempt with 3.9 seconds to play in Game 2.

Kristen Blake later posted that she blocked 500 people from following either her or her husband on Twitter.

Steve Blake was angered by the threats, saying there were “a lot of hateful people out there.”

“I just don’t appreciate it when it’s toward my family. You can come at me all you want. But when you say things about my wife and my kids, it makes me upset.”

– Reported by Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times

tony parker

On his 30th birthday, Tony Parker first kept the San Antonio Spurs on pace for what might be another lopsided playoff sweep. Then the All-Star who’s always quick to needle Tim Duncan about his age finally acknowledged his own.

”I’m old. Used,” said Parker, laughing.

Chris Paul, meanwhile, isn’t acknowledging anything: Not his aching body that everyone but him is talking about, or the Los Angeles Clippers’ season careening toward the end this weekend unless things change fast.

Parker scored 22 points, Duncan had 18 and the Spurs beat the fading Clippers 105-88 on Thursday night, taking a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinals and winning their 16th in a row with yet another playoff blowout.

For the 13th time in a winning streak that seldom run this long in the NBA playoffs, the Spurs won by double digits. Only two other teams have sustained a longer winning streak in the playoffs: the 2004 Spurs (17) and the 2001 Lakers (19).

”I think for us, is to not look at that,” Parker said about the streak. ”Concentrate on the task. We know Game 3 is going to be very, very hard. I think we should focus on that and not focus on the winning streak, or what we’re doing good.”

Paul responded to his awful Game 1 with only a slightly better encore, scoring 10 points as the Clippers now head home desperate to steer out of what’s starting to get the feel of a sweep.

Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles, and Game 4 is Sunday.

– Reported by Paul J. Weber of the Associated Press

Diaw, who went from late-March import to starting center in a French flash, scored 16 points and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the floor. Parker’s countryman, one month his senior, also added some surprisingly rugged defense on Blake Griffin, who again had to work for his 20 points, which came on 16 shots.

“He’s fit in pretty seamlessly,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Diaw.

While the Spurs’ over-30 club was running amok — and getting four timely 3-pointers from 24-year-old guard Danny Green — Paul again looked like an AARP member shuffling to the earlybird dinner.

The 27-year-old All-Star muddled through a second-straight disaster, balancing his 10 points and five assists with a career-worst eight turnovers. In two games to start the series, the Clippers’ All-Star point guard is 7 of 21 from the field with 16 points and 14 turnovers.

Blame a strained hip flexor and bum groin, which have clearly limited Paul’s effectiveness. But also credit Parker.

– Reported by Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News

“They pass the ball so well that you can’t just key in and clog the paint,” forward Blake Griffin said. “They run their offense to a ‘T’ every single time, and that’s what makes them so difficult.”

Chris Paul, still fighting through injuries to his hip flexor and groin, struggled for the second game in a row. After committing five turnovers in the Clippers’ Game 1 loss, Paul turned the ball over a career-high 8 times Thursday.

“It’s just bad decisions,” Paul said. “…I just have to make better passes.”

In the playoffs, Paul’s turned the ball over 38 times – most in the NBA.

The Spurs continued to showcase all of their weapons, with Tony Parker leading five Spurs in double figures with 22 points. Tim Duncan added 18, and Boris Diaw scored 16, making all seven shots he took.

The Spurs hit 53.2 percent from the field and 76.5 percent of their shots in the third quarter, when the Spurs scored 32 points to blow the game open.

– Reported by Dan Woike of the Orange County Register

D-Wade struggles, Pacers beat Heat 94-75

dwyane wade

Dwyane Wade lashed out in frustration during the worst playoff game of his career.

His target wasn’t wearing an Indiana uniform. Wade confronted his coach as the Miami Heat melted.

The star had an animated exchange with Erik Spoelstra on the sideline in the third quarter, a disturbing low point on a night when nothing went Miami’s way, and the Heat were throttled 94-75 by the Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Indiana center Roy Hibbert had 19 points and 18 rebounds, George Hill scored 20 and Danny Granger 17 as Indiana, pushed by a crowd that stood and chanted ”Beat The Heat” at every opportunity, took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Game 4 is Sunday at raucous Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Before then, the Heat need to locate their missing shooting touch and figure out how to attack Indiana’s superior defense. More than anything, Wade needs to shake off a startling 5-point, 2-of-13 shooting performance he made worse by challenging Spoelstra…

James scored 22 - 16 in the first half before wearing down - and Mario Chalmers made up for Wade’s abysmal night by adding 25 for Miami, which again played without All-Star forward Chris Bosh, who is out with a strained abdominal muscle and is not expected to return for this series…

Indiana outscored Miami 51-32 in the second half, when the Pacers could do no wrong.

– Reported by Tom Withers of the Associated Press

“Obviously I’ll go back to the film and look at it,” Wade said of his performance. “I missed some shots early, then missed some shots later. I’ve got to be a little more aggressive. Give them some credit. They did a good job when I got to the basket.”

As for James? The heavy lifting of the series’ first two games and then the first half of this one seemingly exacted too much of a toll. He scored 11 of his 22 points in the first quarter.

“We’re not scoring the ball,” James said after the Heat shot .372 from the field and 4 of 20 on 3-pointers. “This is the result of us not making as much shots as we’re accustomed to make.”

In other words, there is plenty of reason for Vogel’s optimism.

“I’ve seen it coming from the first day of training camp,” he said. “This is who we’ve been all year. We’re a balanced team . . . not two guys trying to create all the time.”

– Reported by Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

George Hill led the way with 20 points, while Roy Hibbert had 19 and Danny Granger added 17. Hibbert also grabbed a game-high 18 boards.

Mario Chalmers had 25 to lead the Heat, while MVP LeBron James added 22. Heat All-Star guard Dwyane Wade was held scoreless in the first half, the first time that happened in 95 career playoff games. He wasn’t much better the rest of the way, and he finished with only five points.

The Heat struggled from the floor all evening, shooting just 37 percent from the field. Indiana shot 43 percent, including 57 percent from beyond the 3-point arc.

– Reported by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star

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