NBA Daily Roundup
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NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, JUNE 16
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Spurs shake early deficit to beat Heat and win 5th NBA title
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, the winningest trio in NBA postseason history, shared hugs.
Players wrapped themselves in flags from around world, a reminder that the San Antonio Spurs look far beyond the border to build champions, as confetti fell from above. Painfully denied 12 months ago by the Miami Heat, this victory party was worth the wait.
"It makes last year OK," Duncan said.
The Spurs finished off a dominant run to their fifth NBA championship Sunday night, ending the Heat's two-year title reign with a 104-87 victory that wrapped up the series in five games.
"We had a great first quarter, but from that point on they were the better team, and that's why they're the champions in 2014," said LeBron James, who led the Heat with 31 points and 10 rebounds. San Antonio erased an early 16-point deficit and routed Miami for the fourth time in the series, denying the Heat's quest for a third straight championship. A year after the Spurs suffered their only loss in six finals appearances -- a heartbreaking seven-game defeat -- they turned the rematch into no match at all... Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who added this title to the ones they won in 1999, 2003, '05 and '07. They nearly had another last year, but couldn't hold off the Heat.
ESPN.com reports: LeBron James created 48 assist opportunities (passes that directly led to shots) in the 2014 NBA Finals, most on the Heat and second most in the series (Boris Diaw, 50). The Heat shot 41.7 percent (20-of-48) off James' passes in the series, second worst of any player with at least 10 assist opportunities. - James scored 23 points in transition in the Finals. The rest of the Heat scored 20 points in transition. - James led all players with 58 paint points in the Finals. He and Wade had 36 paint points through the first three games, but Wade shot 2-of-15 in the paint the last two games (James 11-of-15). - Chris Bosh went 2-of-11 on catch-and-shoot field goals the last three games of the series after going 6-of-12 the first two games.
Reuters reports: Leonard averaged 17.8 points, six rebounds and 1.6 steals per game in the 4-1 series victory over the Heat. "The first two games he didn't play so well," James said. "I thought he attacked more in the last three games, shot the ball extremely well." San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich felt the award was a deserved culmination of the hard work Leonard had put in to improve his game.
Reuters reports: "Last year was a tough one for all of us," [Ginobili] said. "We felt like we had the trophy, that we were touching it, and it slipped away. It was a tough summer. We all felt guilty. "We all felt that we let (our) teammates down. But we worked hard. Every game in the regular season we were trying to get better, to have the same opportunity again. We got to this spot, and we didn't let it go. "As you could see, every game we were up 15, 20, we kept it. No mistakes. Great mentality, and we kept playing until the last minute."
Reuters reports: Bosh hit six of 14 shots for 13 points on Sunday, while Wade totaled 11 points on four of 12 shooting. "They're that good," Bosh said of the Spurs. "I thought we'd get over the hump and we never did. They dominated us in this series, frankly speaking, and they deserve everything that they got." The Heat's 'Big Three' - James, Wade and Bosh - are all eligible to become free agents in the offseason, and, despite winning the Eastern Conference in each of their four seasons together, it is uncertain if they will return.
Sports Xchange reports: Forward LeBron James led Miami with 31 points and 10 rebounds, but once again, he did not receive much help. Center Chris Bosh was the Heat's second-highest scorer with 13 points, and guard Dwyane Wade finished with 11. Bosh and Wade combined to hit 10 of 26 shots. The Heat failed to score during the first four minutes of the second half. Fans and media can debate whether the Spurs are a true sports dynasty because they never won championships in successive seasons, but they earn points for longevity. Duncan, 38, has been around for all five championships, the first of them in 1999. During this year's Finals, Duncan set all-time NBA marks for postseason minutes played and playoff double-doubles -- in his case, points and rebounds.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, JUNE 13
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Spurs stand poised for NBA title after another blowout in Miami
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Here they are again, back on the brink of a championship.
It slipped away from the San Antonio Spurs last year, but it would take something special -- historic, actually -- to stop them now.
The Miami Heat would have to make the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history. "They're the two-time champs, they're a great team and there is still one more game," Spurs guard Tony Parker said. "We have to win one more game."
Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and 14 rebounds, and the Spurs routed the Heat again, winning 107-86 on Thursday night to open a commanding 3-1 series lead. The Spurs can win their fifth NBA championship with a victory at home in Game 5 on Sunday and avenge their seven-game loss to Miami last year. They have three chances, and the way they're dominating the Heat, they might need just one.
"I'm pleased that they performed as well as they did while we've been in Miami, and that's about as far as it goes," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Now we've got to go back home and play as well or better."
LeBron James had 28 points and eight rebounds, but Dwyane Wade was just 1-of-10 through three quarters and finished with 10 points.
ESPN.com reports: Kawhi Leonard led the way for the second straight game, and now his Spurs are just one win away from an NBA championship. He stuffed the box score -- 20 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 3 steals -- and suffocated whichever Heat player he guarded with tenacious defense. It's Kawhi's world, and we just live in it... Game 4 was something of a repeat of Game 3, and Boris Diaw was once again the linchpin for San Antonio. When Diaw was on the floor, the offense ran through him to great success, as he accumulated eight points and a game-high nine assists.
AFP reports: Spurs star Tim Duncan also made history Thursday, as he recorded his 158th career playoff double double to surpass Magic Johnson (157) for the all-time playoff lead.
San Antonio can wrap up the series with a victory at home in game five on Sunday. Duncan said that won't be an easy task.
"Great position for us," he said. "Going back home with a closeout game.
Reuters reports: LeBron James, a shadow of himself during the first half, came alive in the third quarter in scoring 19 of Miami's 21 points but it was not enough to slow the dazzling Spurs. Four-time NBA most valuable player James led the Heat with 28 points, with Chris Bosh next highest with 12. Looking ahead to Game Five and possibly beyond, San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said "every closeout game is very difficult".
"I'm pleased that they performed as well as they did while we've been in Miami, and that's about as far as it goes," he told reporters.
"Now we've got to go back home and play as well or better."
Reuters reports: The Spurs led by nine after the first quarter, by 19 at the half and by 24 heading into the fourth quarter.
Two other less heralded Spurs stood out through their contributions.
Australian backup guard Patty Mills scored 14 points, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, and France's Boris Diaw had a great all-round game with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
It would take a record comeback for Miami to claim a third successive NBA crown. No team has ever prevailed in the NBA finals after falling behind 3-1.
Sports Xchange reports: Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and a game-high 13 points, and point guard Tony Parker added 19 points. Duncan (10 points and 11 rebounds) and forward Boris Diaw (eight points, nine rebounds and a game-high nine assists) also played well.
The Spurs are 2-0 since Diaw was inserted into the lineup over center Tiago Splitter.
"Boris makes us a smarter team," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Diaw, who was cut by the Charlotte Bobcats in March 2012. "Boris is a passer, and he understands mismatches. On defense, he knows where to help."
AFP reports: The Spurs shot 55 percent in the first half Thursday, and while it wasn't quite as mind-blowing as the finals record 76 percent they fired in the first half of game three, it staked them to another commanding lead.
But this time there was no letdown in the third quarter from the Spurs. They continued to pour it on, outscoring Miami 26-21 in the third.
"Game three was an anomaly," Popovich said. "That is never going to happen again."
It didn't need to, as the Spurs dominated in every facet of the game Thursday and their bench outscored Miami's reserves 41-30.
France's Boris Diaw flirted with a triple-double, finishing with eight points, nine rebounds and nine assists and Australia's Patty Mills scored 14 points for the Spurs -- who also out-rebounded the Heat 44-27.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, JUNE 11
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
Spurs cruise to 2-1 Finals lead over Heat behind Kawhi Leonard's 29
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Maybe in a video game. Possibly in the pregame layup line.
But shoot this way in the NBA Finals, against the two-time defending champions?
"It's not something you can plan for," San Antonio reserve Manu Ginobili said. "There was no magic plays. We just moved the ball, and every shot went in."
Not quite every shot. But just about.
Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 29 points, and the Spurs made a Finals-record 75.8 percent of their shots in the first half in a 111-92 victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night that gave them a 2-1 lead. The Spurs made 19 of their first 21 shots and finished 25-for-33 in the first half, bettering the 75 percent shooting by Orlando against the Lakers in the 2009 Finals.
"It's a hit-or-miss league," Miami's Dwyane Wade said.
The Spurs didn't do much missing.
"I don't think we'll ever shoot 76 percent in a half ever again," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.
The Spurs led by as much as 25 and were only briefly challenged in their second lopsided victory in the series.
ESPN.com reports: Gregg Popovich's philosophy is to close out quarters and more specifically end of halves. In Game 2, the Spurs shot 32.5% in the 2nd AND 4th quarter combined. That was their worst shooting percentage of this postseason. To put this in perspective, in the Popovich Era (since 1996-97) the Spurs have led the NBA in combined 2nd AND 4th quarter shooting percentage with 46.2% (min 100 games played as a team). The NBA average during that span is 44.6%.
Sports Xchange reports: Leonard made 10 of 13 shots from the floor, including three of six 3-point attempts, and he went 6-for-7 on free throws. He had 16 points in the first quarter, when the Spurs shot an otherworldly 86.7 percent from the floor. San Antonio shot 75.8 percent for the first half, which set an NBA Finals record for the opening two quarters. "They jumped on us early," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who had 22 points to tie forward LeBron James for the team's scoring honors. "We dug ourselves a big hole. ... Leonard was very aggressive tonight." James made nine of 14 shots, including two of four from 3-point range, and he contributed five rebounds and a game-high seven assists. However, James set a dubious NBA Finals record with seven turnovers.
Reuters reports: San Antonio put on an offensive clinic in the opening half combined with remarkable shooting accuracy. The Spurs hit 25 of 33 shots for a 75.8 percent shooting percentage that was an NBA Finals record for a half. San Antonio also applied their high energy pressure on the defensive end, taking advantage of some sloppy play by the Heat to create 20 turnovers, including seven committed by James.
The AP reports: James and Wade each scored 22 points, Bosh didn't miss a shot, they connected on 52 percent of their tries from the floor, and they still got drilled. Rashard Lewis scored 14, Ray Allen had 11 and Bosh had only nine - getting just four shots in 34 minutes. ''We will get better from tonight,'' James said. ''We hate the performance that we put on. But it's 2-1. It's not 4-1. It's 2-1, and we have to make some adjustments, come in and learn from our mistakes as we always do after a loss.'' So far, these finals are just like the 2013 version: Spurs win Game 1. Heat win Game 2. Spurs blow Heat out in Game 3. Only this time, Miami doesn't have the luxury of potentially having a Game 7 at home.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, JUNE 9
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
LeBron James leads all scorers with 35 points as Heat take Game 2
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- No cramps, no problems for LeBron James.
And with their superstar making it to the finish this time, the Miami Heat bounced back from a loss, just as they always do in the playoffs.
"Obviously, having No. 6 in the game at the end was a plus for us," Dwyane Wade said. James had 35 points and 10 rebounds in a powerful comeback from the cramps that knocked him out of the opener, as the Heat tied the NBA Finals with a 98-96 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 Sunday night.
Chris Bosh made the go-ahead 3-pointer on a pass from James with 1:18 remaining for the Heat, who have won 13 straight following a loss in the postseason. Just like last year, they rebounded after losing Game 1 to the Spurs.
Bosh had 18 points for the Heat, who are headed home for Game 3 Tuesday night.
James played more than 37 minutes, making 14 of 22 shots. He was 1-for-4 with three turnovers in a shaky first quarter, then made 11 of his next 13... Parker scored 21 points and Duncan had 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who had won eight straight at home by at least 15 points.
ESPN.com reports: It's amazing what happens when LeBron James can unleash the full fury of his game. These Spurs are amazing, yet James was on another level in the second half of Game 2. His 35 points and 10 rebounds leap off the page, but his ability to always make the right play is what truly sets him apart... For most of the game, Chris Bosh was simply solid, as he kept Miami in the game in the early going. When it came down to crunch time, though, Bosh shifted into another gear, becoming the perfect complement to the dominance of LeBron. A big 3-pointer and a big assist to Dwyane Wade from Bosh sealed the victory.
AFP reports: Temperatures in the arena on Sunday night hovered around 21 degrees Celsius (70 Fahrenheit), compared to 30-plus on Thursday. Tim Duncan paced the Spurs attack with 18 points and 15 rebounds in the loss. Duncan recorded the 157th career playoff double double to tie him for the most all-time with Magic Johnson. Duncan has scored in double figures in 222 of his 231 career playoff games.
Reuters reports: San Antonio guard Danny Green said James was making 'contested jumpers' but the Spurs failed to alter their defense. "We didn't expect him to shoot that well but he got hot," he said. That's what stars do in this league. You've got to make adjustments." San Antonio was hurt by poor foul shooting, hitting only 12 of 20, including just two of six in the pivotal fourth quarter. "We lost a game, we not going to hang out heads," said Duncan, who scored 11 points in the opening quarter but only seven the rest of the way.
Sports Xchange reports: Miami outshot San Antonio 52.9 to 43.9 percent from the field and 76.2 to 60.0 at the free-throw line. The Spurs missed eight free throws. Bosh scored 18 points, while guard Dwyane Wade and forward Rashard Lewis added 14 apiece for Miami. Guard Tony Parker led the Spurs with 21 points while guard Manu Ginobili added 19. San Antonio forward Tim Duncan produced 18 points and 15 rebounds for his 157th career playoff double-double, matching Magic Johnson's NBA record. But Duncan was scoreless in the fourth quarter, missing with his only official field-goal attempt and both free throws.
The AP reports: The Spurs seemed like they were threatening to run away from the Heat early. James and Dwyane Wade were both slow to get going offensively, San Antonio had an 11-point first-half lead and the AT&T Center was roaring. But the Heat clawed back into a 43-all tie by halftime, and the second half was back-and-forth - with the last swing going Miami's way. The Spurs had some costly foul-line misses by Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard in Game 6 against Miami last season, part of a wild Heat comeback from five points down in the final 28.2 seconds to force overtime and a deciding seventh game. This stretch wasn't as dramatic, but just as costly.
Miami Herald reports: After shooting 14 for 16 in the fourth quarter of Game 1, the Spurs were 6 of 17 in Game 2. San Antonio closed at 43.9 percent from the field after shooting 58.8 percent in Game 1. “We forced them to make shots over the top,” Allen said. “Better attention to detail.” Wade said, “We switched a little but gave them different looks. Guards were fighting over screens.” The Heat fouled too much early in the fourth, putting the Spurs in the bonus for the final 6:42, but San Antonio missed four of six fourth-quarter free throws.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, JUNE 6
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Tim Duncan, Spurs pull away to open NBA Finals with win
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs handled the Heat, and the heat, during a sweltering start to the NBA Finals.
Tim Duncan had 21 points and 10 rebounds, and the Spurs beat Miami 110-95 on Thursday night in Game 1 inside a steamy AT&T Center.
With an air-conditioning failure making it feel like basketball in a sauna and causing LeBron James to battle cramps that knocked him out of the game's decisive stretch, the Spurs pulled away to win the opener of the first Finals rematch since 1998. Manu Ginobili had 16 points and 11 assists, and Tony Parker added 19 points and eight assists for the Spurs, who shot 59 percent and improved to 6-for-6 in NBA Finals Game 1s.
James finished with 25 points but played only 33 minutes, and Miami was outscored 36-17 in the fourth quarter.
Dwyane Wade scored 19 points and Chris Bosh had 18 for the Heat, who wilted in temperatures that soared to 90 degrees in the second half.
ESPN.com reports: Tim Duncan kept cool as the temperature rose in San Antonio, leading the Spurs with his usual steady hand. He led San Antonio with 21 points, and he controlled the paint on both ends of the court... At some point in the second half, the outcome of this game almost became superfluous. The story will be the air conditioning going out, and any reaction to Game 1 will invariably incorporate that detail. It's a shame; this was a fantastic game before it was played in a sauna.
Sports Xchange reports: Danny Green has one great skill, and fortunately for the San Antonio Spurs, he revealed it at the right time Thursday. Green, an adept 3-point shooter, made three long-distance shots in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs defeated the Miami Heat 110-95 Thursday in the first game of the NBA Finals. The 26-year-old guard scored 11 of his 13 points in the final quarter.
The AP reports: The Spurs said an electrical failure for the power that runs the air conditioning system had occurred. They apologized for the inconvenience but also seemed to poke fun of it, playing songs with ''hot'' in the lyrics over the sound system. Fans were trying to cool themselves on the hot night, a reminder of what it was like in the old Boston Garden when the Celtics and Lakers got together. The Heat are the first team since those Celtics of 1984-87 to get to four straight finals. They are well-rested after a relatively easy roll through the Eastern Conference playoffs, a key to keeping Wade healthy entering the finals.
The AP reports: ''It's frustration and there's anger,'' James said as he lay on a training table long after the game. ''But at the same time, it's something you try to prevent, you try to control. I got all the fluids I needed to get. I did my normal routine I've done. It's something that was inevitable for me tonight. ''It just sucks not being out there for your team, especially at this point of the season.'' James scored the last of his 25 points on a layup that got Miami within two. That was the end of his night; he stood still on the baseline afterward, unable to move his left leg because of cramping.
Sports Xchange reports: The Spurs trailed by seven early in the fourth quarter but rallied behind Green. After missing all five of his shots from the field in the first three quarters, Green made four in a row midway through the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers. San Antonio committed nine turnovers during the third quarter and Miami turned them into eight points. James and forward Rashard Lewis made two 3-pointers apiece in the quarter. Heat reserve guard Ray Allen looked like a man much younger than his age. The 38-year-old made three driving shots in a span of less than a minute in the third quarter, including a soaring dunk. Allen finished with 16 points and Heat center Chris Bosh scored 18.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, JUNE 1
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Spurs outlast Thunder in OT, get Finals rematch with Heat
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- The San Antonio Spurs are back in the NBA Finals, beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 112-107 in overtime on Saturday night in Game 6 to set up a rematch with the Miami Heat.
Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Spurs, who will host Game 1 on Thursday night as they try to avenge last year's heartbreaking seven-game loss.
Boris Diaw scored 26 points for the Spurs, who won despite point guard Tony Parker missing the entire second half and overtime with left ankle soreness. Russell Westbrook had 34 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and six steals, and Kevin Durant added 31 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder. Oklahoma City overcame a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime.
Kawhi Leonard added 17 points and 11 rebounds, and Manu Ginobili chipped in 15 points and six rebounds for the Spurs, who pulled this one out after losing in overtime in Game 6 against the Heat in the NBA Finals.
ESPN.com reports: Despite the loss, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook both scored at least 30 points in Game 6, the eighth time in their postseason careers that they've both scored 30 points in a game. That's the second-most such games in NBA history.
ESPN.com reports: Spurs shot 25.0% (4-of-16) on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers in the first half despite 11 of those looks being uncontested. They shot 46.7% (43-of-92) on catch-and-shoot 3-pointers the first five games of the series.
The AP reports: Spurs guard Tony Parker missed the second half of Game 6 of the Western Conference finals because of left ankle soreness.
The AP reports: For the first time since 1998, the NBA Finals is a rematch. San Antonio and Miami will decide the league's champion for the second straight season, the Spurs earning their spot Saturday night by beating Oklahoma City 112-107 in overtime in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. Miami - the NBA's two-time defending champion - eliminated Indiana from the East finals Friday night, also in six games. ''The two best teams will meet,'' Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. ''We're just happy and excited that we're one of the best.''
Sports Xchange reports: With the Thunder leading by one, Duncan went to the post and made a shot over Oklahoma City forward Serge Ibaka to put Spurs ahead with 2:50 left in overtime. Guard Russell Westbrook put the Thunder back in front with a layup. San Antonio went to Duncan again with 1::23 left and he was fouled by Ibaka. Duncan made both free throws to give the Spurs the lead. Duncan got the ball again with Thunder guard Reggie Jackson on him in the post. Westbrook tried to double, but Duncan still got a friendly roll on his shot and put San Antonio up by three with 19.4 seconds left. After a timeout, Oklahoma City got the ball to forward Kevin Durant, who had a good look at a potential tying 3-pointer. But his shot was off and the Spurs grabbed the rebound. They made their free throws to close out the night and the Thunder's season.
NBA DAILY FOR SATURDAY, MAY 31
Recaps of NBA games played Friday
Heat eliminate Pacers in blowout win to advance to 4th straight Finals
The AP reports: MIAMI -- For the entirety of the regular season, the supremacy of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference was brought into serious question by the Indiana Pacers.
Then came the playoffs.
And the question was answered -- emphatically.
The Heat became the third franchise in NBA history to reach the title series in four consecutive seasons, a laugher of a conference-title finale getting them there again Friday night. LeBron James and Chris Bosh each scored 25 points, and Miami eliminated the Pacers for the third straight year with a 117-92 romp in Game 6 of the East championship series... Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each scored 13 points for Miami, which trailed 9-2 before ripping off 54 of the next 75 points to erase any doubt by halftime. The Heat set a franchise record with their 11th straight home postseason win, going back to the final two games of last season's NBA Finals, leading by 37 at one point... Paul George had 29 points for Indiana, David West scored 16 and Lance Stephenson -- booed all night -- finished with 11... There were the now-requisite Stephenson events, adding intrigue to the first half. The Indiana guard walked over to James and tapped him in the face in the opening minutes, stood over him after both got tangled under the basket, and got whistled for a flagrant foul for striking Norris Cole in the head in the second quarter.
ESPN.com reports: The Heat scored 132.6 points per 100 possessions in Game 6, their most efficient offensive performance in ANY playoff game in the Big 3 era. It was the highest offensive efficiency against the Pacers SINCE 1999 (April 24 vs Nets), over 15 seasons. The Heat have the most efficient offense this postseason of any team, something that has gotten better for them each postseason in the Big 3 era.
ESPN.com reports: The Pacers outscored the Heat by 8 points in the paint in the first five games of the series. In Game 6, the Heat outscored the Pacers by 18 in the paint, shooting 75.8 percent on those shots (25-of-33). What led to the turnaround? The Heat outscored the Pacers 41 to 17 on drives in Game 6. The Heat drove a series-high 39 times in the game after averaging 25 drives in the first five games. By comparison, the Pacers drove only 13 times in Game 6. LeBron James was the catalyst for the Heat's increase in drives, creating 18 points on those plays.
Sports Xchange reports: The Heat, which led by as many as 37 points, will have five days between games to rest before the NBA Finals begin on Thursday at either Oklahoma City or San Antonio. Indiana entered Friday with a 3-0 record in elimination games this season. But instead of continuing that streak, the Pacers saw their season end at the hands of the Heat for the third straight year. Pacers forward Paul George, who had 37 points in Game 5, scored 29, but he had just one point in the first half when the game was still somewhat in doubt. The Pacers were also led by forward David West (16 points) and guard Lance Stephenson (11 points).
Reuters reports: Miami's now traditional slow start allowed Indiana to take an early 9-2 lead but that was the last time they were ahead all night as the Heat, producing unselfish and smart offense, took charge. Miami led 24-13 at the end of the first quarter with eleven of those points coming from James. If Stephenson was in danger of becoming a pantomime villain, flicking James in the face between plays, the boos from the crowd had more anger in them after he sent Norris Cole flying with a palm to the face, ruled a flagrant foul.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, MAY 30
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Tim Duncan, Spurs thrash Thunder for 3-2 lead in series
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Back at home, this blowout went to the San Antonio Spurs.
Now they can clinch a return to the NBA Finals on the road, where they are the ones taking the beatings in these wacky Western Conference finals.
"This is the craziest series I've ever been involved in," veteran Tim Duncan said. The Spurs took a 3-2 lead in the series Thursday night after Duncan had 22 points and 12 rebounds in a 117-89 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Jekyll-and-Hyde series continued between the past two Western Conference champions, as the road team has been thumped in every game of the best-of-seven series... Kevin Durant scored 25 points, but Russell Westbrook had only 21 points and seven assists after finishing with 40 points and 10 assists in Game 4.
Manu Ginobili scored 19 points, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green each had 14, and Boris Diaw added 13 for the Spurs, who are a win away from returning to the NBA Finals after losing in seven games to Miami last year... The Spurs also were 13-for-26 on 3-pointers and outrebounded the Thunder 48-35. In addition, San Antonio limited Oklahoma City to four fast-break points after giving up 21 in Game 4... Serge Ibaka, who dominated the interior in Oklahoma City, was held to six points and two rebounds.
ESPN.com reports: Serge Ibaka went 1-of-6 in the paint in Game 5 after going 7-of-8 in Games 3 and 4. He was 0-of-3 with no points overall against Matt Bonner and 1-of-3 with 2 points against Boris Diaw. He faced those two on only four plays in Games 3 and 4. Kevin Durant finished 3-of-8 with 7 points against Danny Green, whom he started the game against. Russell Westbrook finished 5-of-11 with an average field goal distance of 18.7 feet against Kawhi Leonard Thursday. Westbrook had an average shot distance of 12.0 feet the first four games of the series, facing Leonard on only 1 field goal attempt.
ESPN.com reports: Although Russell Westbrook was efficient on his drives in Game 5, he drove to the basket only four times in the game, his fewest since Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. - In addition to driving less frequently, Westbrook was also less active looking for his shot. Westbrook didn't pass (only player to touch the ball) on five plays in Game 5, which led to 6 points. Westbrook didn't pass 19 times in Game 4, scoring 26 points. - Westbrook finished with two field goal attempts in the paint Thursday (1-2) after going 8-of-10 in Game 4. It's only the second time in Westbrook's playoff career with two or fewer attempt in the paint.
Sports Xchange reports: Ibaka breathed new life into the Thunder when he returned for Game 3 from a calf injury that was originally expected to sideline him for the remainder of the postseason. However, Ibaka was a non-factor Thursday, scoring just six points on 3-of-10 shooting and grabbing only two rebounds. The Spurs outrebounded the Thunder 48-35 in their first victory over Oklahoma City this year with Ibaka on the floor. San Antonio also outscored Oklahoma City 40-36 on points in the paint. The home team has won each game in the series by an average of 20 points.
Reuters reports: League MVP Kevin Durant led the Thunder with a game-high 25 points and dynamic guard Russell Westbrook scored 21 on six-of-12 shooting but both players appeared to be a little fatigued after their brilliant efforts on Tuesday. "We gave them (the Spurs) everything they wanted," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "They got the dribble drive, they got the three-point line and they got to the free throw line. "They shot 30 free throws and they're not a team that shoots a lot of free throws, but we fouled enough to put them on the line for 30 free throws."
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 29
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Paul George, Pacers stave off Heat, elimination in Game 5
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George went into desperation mode to salvage the Pacers' season.
It was barely good enough.
The 24-year-old All-Star scored 21 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and inspired Indiana to fend off Miami's late challenges as the Pacers staved off playoff elimination with a 93-90 Game 5 victory on Wednesday night... The most crucial shooting performance of George's career allowed the Pacers to climb within 3-2 in the Eastern Conference finals and postponed Miami's fourth straight coronation as conference champs. Game 6 is Friday in Miami.
It took everything in George's repertoire to get it done. He was 12 of 19 from the field in the second half, finished with six rebounds, six steals, five 3-pointers and only three turnovers in 45 minutes.
But the Pacers also needed everything else to go right.
Four-time MVP LeBron James was limited to 24 1/2 minutes because of major foul trouble. He finished with a career playoff-low seven points, two rebounds and four assists. The Heat committed 17 turnovers, compared to just 13 for the usually turnover-prone Pacers, and Indiana had a 45-38 rebounding edge, too.
The biggest difference was George, whose 21 fourth-quarter points were the most scored against Miami in any playoff quarter. The previous record, 20, was set by Michael Jordan in May 1997... Chris Bosh scored 20 points, Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each had 18, and the Heat made 15 of 31 3-pointers to stay within clinching distance.
ESPN.com reports: Paul George's 37 points were his most in a postseason game against the Heat (previous high: 28). Meanwhile, James scored a playoff career-low 7 points after thoroughly outplaying George in the first 4 games of the series.
ESPN.com reports: The Heat scored a season-low 22 points in the paint Wednesday, in large part due to LeBron James' foul trouble. James was second in the NBA in paint scoring this season (Blake Griffin), but was just 1-of-5 in the paint Wednesday. James was particularly ineffective on drives in Game 5. James went 0-of-3 on such plays before dishing to Chris Bosh for a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the end of regulation, a shot Bosh missed. Entering the game, James was 8-of-13 on his drives in the series, with his teammates shooting 6-of-7 when he passed. The game turned in the third quarter for the Pacers when James picked up his fifth foul. The Heat drove only two times in the third, getting outscored 16-2 in the paint. As a team, the Heat drove a series-low 17 times in Game 5.
Reuters reports: Forward David West added 19 points for the Pacers on seven-of-11 shooting while big center Roy Hibbert contributed 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. "We just played," said George after Indiana came back from an 11-point deficit early in the third quarter. "Our backs are against the wall right now. That's the only thing we can do, is come out and play. "We were in a position where if we lost this game, we're going home. I think that was at the back of everybody's minds. It was a great evening." The Heat, seeking to win a third straight NBA Championship, were narrowly outshot by 47 percent to 45 from the field with an out-of-sorts LeBron James held to just seven points on two-of-10 shooting after running into foul trouble.
Sports Xchange reports: James missed seven of his first eight shots and finished 2-for-10 from the floor. He scored fewer than 22 points for the first time in the Heat's 14 playoff games this year. "It's not going to be like that in Game 6," George said. "We're expecting that LeBron will be LeBron." Forward David West added 19 points for Indiana, and guard Lance Stephenson had 12. Center Roy Hibbert contributed 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Bosh led the Heat with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Forward Rashard Lewis and Wade each scored 18. While the game's plot centered around the scoring by George and the non-existence of James, Stephenson had his own form of entertainment, including purposely getting within earshot of the Miami bench during a timeout. "I was just trying to figure out what (Miami coach Erik Spoelstra) was talking about," Stephenson said, joking after the game.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 28
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
Russell Westbrook scores 40 as Thunder knot up series with Spurs
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- While accepting the award for himself, Kevin Durant called Russell Westbrook an MVP-caliber player.
And on Tuesday, Westbrook delivered a championship-caliber effort that got the Oklahoma City Thunder back to even in the Western Conference finals.
He had 40 points, 10 assists and five steals in a 105-92 victory over the San Antonio Spurs 105-92 that tied the series at two games apiece... At times, Westbrook has been a maddening player for Thunder fans to watch. His dynamic athletic ability gives him a supreme confidence level that sometimes leads to ill-advised shots and a tendency to hold the ball at the expense of offensive flow.
But in this game, Westbrook did just about everything right. He shot 50 percent from the field and took just five 3-pointers. He made 14 of 14 free throws... Serge Ibaka added nine points and eight rebounds for the Thunder, who have turned around the series since he returned from an injury that was expected to keep him out for the rest of the postseason... Boris Diaw had 14 points and 10 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 14 points for the Spurs, who blew a 2-0 lead against the Thunder in this round two years ago and are in danger of doing it again. San Antonio will host Game 5 on Thursday and won't be worried about the past.
ESPN.com reports: Russell Westbrook scored 40 points Tuesday and had 10 assists that led to 23 more points. The 63 points created were the second most of his career (previous high 65 in Game 7 of Round 1 vs the Grizzlies). Westbrook assisted on 14 of Kevin Durant's 31 points. How was Westbrook so effective on offense? Despite picking up 10 assists, Westbrook had 19 plays in which he was the only player to touch the ball, his most in a game this series. His ability to pick his spots better in Game 4 led to a more efficient approach on those plays. On drives, Westbrook was a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and drew five shooting fouls. His 20 points on drives were three shy of his total from the first three games combined (7-of-15, 10 free throws on drives in first three games).
Sports Xchange reports: Oklahoma City built a 27-point lead in the third quarter and seemed to have the game well in hand when Popovich benched his starters midway through the period. Forward Boris Diaw, guard Marco Belinelli and guard Cory Joseph led the Spurs on a run that reduced the deficit to 12 points early in the fourth quarter, but that was as close as San Antonio got. Westbrook and Durant kept scoring at will against the second team as Popovich allowed forward Tim Duncan, guard Tony Parker and guard Manu Ginobili to sit and watch the final 12 minutes. "I trust Pop," Parker said of being benched. "Pop did a great job all season long saving our energy (so we would) be fresh for the playoffs, and that's his decision and I respect it. My job is to be ready for Game 5."
Reuters reports: San Antonio made a fast start, Kawhi Leonard pouring in two three-pointers to help his team race ahead 8-0 but Westbrook sparked an Oklahoma City fightback and they ended the first quarter on a 13-2 run to lead 26-20. Durant then put on a spectacular show for his fans with a dazzling array of shots from all around the court, totaling 15 points in the second quarter as the faster-paced Thunder stretched their advantage to 58-43 at halftime. San Antonio's second unit went on a rousing 18-5 run late in the third quarter but Oklahoma City maintained overall control and led 83-67 heading into the fourth. There was no way back from there for the Spurs, despite continued good play from their reserves, and they ended the night by slipping to their ninth straight loss to the Thunder at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 27
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
LeBron James, Chris Bosh power Heat past Pacers in Game 4
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Chris Bosh got them started. LeBron James took over in the second half.
And in the end, the Miami Heat moved one win from yet another Eastern Conference title.
James had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Bosh added 25 points -- nearly matching his output from the first three games of the series combined -- and the Heat grabbed control of the East finals by topping the Indiana Pacers 102-90 in Game 4 for a 3-1 lead.
Dwyane Wade added 15 points and Miami never trailed, leading by 23 at one point... Paul George scored 23 points and David West added 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who got 15 points from George Hill. But Lance Stephenson -- who made news in the days between Games 3 and 4 by suggesting he was in James' head -- was held to nine and 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert was scoreless in 22 minutes for Indiana... Bosh scored the game's first eight points, making a pair of 3-pointers and ending a series-long funk. He had scored exactly nine points in each of the first three games of these East finals and was held under 10 points in each of his last seven playoff games against Indiana... Miami outscored Indiana 31-20 in the third quarter and kept pulling away before the Pacers used a 15-3 run to make things rather interesting. Stephenson had a layup with 3:20 left that would have gotten Indiana within nine -- but it was waved off after he was called for fouling Wade on his way to the basket.
ESPN.com reports: Chris Bosh scored 25 points, 17 of which came in the first half, including the Heat's first eight points. Guarded by Roy Hibbert on five field goal attempts, Bosh was especially effective on jump shots. Chris Bosh shot 5-of-7 on uncontested jumpers compared to 3-of-9 in the first three games of the series. Chris Bosh was held to six points on 22% (2-of-9) shooting in the first three games with Roy Hibbert as his primary defender. In Game 4, Bosh scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting against Hibbert.
Reuters reports: James, who finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, now has 74 career playoff games with at least 25 Pts, five rebounds and five assists, passing Michael Jordan for the most in NBA history.Game Five of the best-of-seven series is on Wednesday in Indiana.
Sports Xchange reports: Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who scored more than 20 points in each of the previous four playoff games, was held to 15 points. The Pacers were led by forwards Paul George (23 points) and David West (20 points and a game-high 12 rebounds). However, Indiana center Roy Hibbert finished scoreless in 22 minutes. Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was held to nine points. Stephenson taunted James through the media leading up to the game, saying the Heat star showed a "sign of weakness" by engaging in trash-talking earlier in the series. After trailing by at least eight points in the first quarters of each of the first three games of this series, Miami finally reversed the trend.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, MAY 26
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Serge Ibaka's return helps Thunder avoid 3-0 series hole
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Serge Ibaka pointed to the sky, soaking in the cheers from the adoring home crowd moments before coming out of a game that, just a few days earlier, he never imagined he could play.
He scored 15 points in a dramatic return from what was thought to be a season-ending left calf strain, helping the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the San Antonio Spurs 106-97 on Sunday night in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals.
Ibaka started after missing the first two games of the series. The Thunder originally said he would miss the rest of the playoffs but changed course Friday. His presence helped the Thunder dominate and cut the Spurs' lead in the series to 2-1... Ibaka made six of seven shots and was a threat that gave Durant and Russell Westbrook relief. Westbrook had 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds.
On defense, Ibaka was a strong physical presence who blocked and altered shots and used his still formidable mobility to close out on shooters. He had seven rebounds, four blocks and a seemingly endless amount of energy... Manu Ginobili scored 23 points, and Tim Duncan added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Spurs... Things were different from the start with Ibaka's return. Brooks also inserted speedy Reggie Jackson into the starting lineup in Thabo Sefolosha's place. Jackson finished with 15 points.
ESPN.com reports: Much has been made about Serge Ibaka's impact on the defensive end, and rightfully so, but the Thunder have also missed his ability to space the floor with his mid-range jump shot. Among players with at least 20 attempts in the playoffs, Ibaka leads all players in mid-range shooting percentage by hitting 51.9 percent of his attempts. During the regular season, Ibaka knocked down 46.9 percent of his mid-range shots, fourth in the NBA among the 65 players with at least 250 attempts.
Sports Xchange reports: Guard Russell Westbrook scored 26 points Sunday, and forward Kevin Durant added 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Thunder. "I was very disappointed that we didn't come out with more of a foot-on-the-neck sort of attitude," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "They killed us on the boards, they beat us to 50/50 balls, and that's very disappointing to me. That's not the way you approach a game." Leading by seven, the Thunder began the fourth quarter with a flurry. Buckets by guard Reggie Jackson and Durant plus a 3-pointer from forward Caron Butler pushed the advantage to 90-76 with 10:11 left. San Antonio tried to respond, but it was the Thunder's night. Oklahoma outscored the Spurs 9-6 over the next four minutes before Popovich emptied his bench with his team trailing by 17.
Reuters reports: Oklahoma City started the final quarter with a decisive 7-0 run to take a 14-point lead and the Thunder were never in danger from that point as San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich rested most of his starters over the final few minutes. Guard Manu Ginobili led the Spurs with 23 points, including 6-of-9 from behind the arc, but scored only three in the second half. Popovich complimented Ibaka while also expressing disgust with his own team's performance. "Serge is always great in the paint. He blocks shots, he changes shots, he did a great job," Popovich told reporters.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, MAY 25
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Ray Allen hits 4 3-pointers in 4th as Heat rally past Pacers for 2-1 lead
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Down by 15 early, the Miami Heat could have hit the panic button.
Instead, they found a way to move within two wins of another trip to the NBA Finals.
LeBron James scored 26 points, Dwyane Wade added 23 and the Heat shook off a horrid start to beat the Indiana Pacers 99-87 on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, taking a 2-1 lead and breaking a back-and-forth trend in the rivalry. The teams had alternated wins and losses in 13 straight meetings -- until now.
Miami trailed 37-22 before outscoring Indiana 77-50 the rest of the way... Ray Allen added all 16 points in the second half to lead a late-game charge for the Heat, who will host Game 4 on Monday night. And it was the second time this season the Heat rallied from 15 points down to beat the Pacers in Miami -- it also happened on Dec. 18... Paul George scored 17 points for Indiana, shooting 5 for 13 in his return after being concussed late in Game 2. Roy Hibbert had 16 points and David West added 13 for the Pacers, who never trailed until early in the third quarter... James' 3-pointer with 1:21 left in the third put Miami up 67-63, then its biggest lead of the night. Wade subbed in for James with 5.7 seconds left because the four-time MVP was dealing with what appeared to be a hamstring cramp and connected on a 3-pointer with 1.4 ticks remaining for a 74-67 lead going into the fourth.
ESPN.com reports: The Pacers shot 12-of-36 on jump shots Saturday, including 6-of-20 (30%) on uncontested jumpers, their worst in a game this playoffs. Pacers' quintet of Paul George, George Hill, Lance Stephenson, C.J. Watson, Rasual Butler were combined 1-of-12 on such jumpers... Heat outscored the Pacers 16-to-6 in transition Saturday, the most such points the Heat scored against the Pacers this playoffs. Twelve of the Heat's 16 transition points came in the second half.
The Sports Xchange reports: Allen scored 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter as Miami outscored Indiana 28-23. "We want to move their defense from side to side," James said. "When we do that, we open up the lane. And when our shooters get going, it adds even more space, as you saw in the fourth quarter." Pacers forward Paul George, who suffered a concussion Tuesday when he was accidentally kicked in the head by Wade, scored 17 points Saturday. Forward David West added 13 points, and guard Lance Stephenson had 10 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. "I don't think we were sharp enough, particularly in this building, to get a win," West said. "We tried to make an emphasis of getting the ball inside early, and I thought we did a good job of that. But we didn't stick with it. "We got away from ourselves. We tried to make some stuff up on the fly, which is not us."
Reuters reports: Miami's habit of making a slow start was particularly acute - they trailed 17-4 in the first quarter and were 37-22 behind midway through the second as the Pacers made them pay for some loose turnovers. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra shuffled his pack however and Miami came out strong in the third quarter though and took the lead for the first time on the night with a LeBron James dunk putting them 52-51 up with 7:36 left in the quarter. The game turned decisively in Miami's direction when Wade made a superb steal and set up a three-pointer from Ray Allen and put the Heat eight points ahead.
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 22
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Danny Green's 7 3s give Spurs 2-0 series lead with rout of Thunder
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs are rolling toward a return to the NBA Finals, and the Oklahoma City Thunder look powerless to slow them down.
Tony Parker scored 22 points, Danny Green made seven 3-pointers and added 21, and the Spurs used a dominant third quarter to decimate the Thunder 112-77 on Wednesday night and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.
Tim Duncan added 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw had 11 points apiece off the bench in San Antonio's second straight rout... Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each had 15 points, but the third-quarter barrage made spectators of both -- not that they accomplished much when they did play. The star duo combined to shoot 13 for 40, including 4 for 14 in the third quarter... Playing without Serge Ibaka and given two days to adjust to dropping Game 1 by 17 points, the Thunder performed worse... San Antonio closed the first half on a 25-8 run.
ESPN.com reports: The dribble penetration of Tony Parker and off-ball movement have helped lead the Spurs to a 2-0 lead. - Tony Parker has gone 9-of-11 on drives to the basket in the series, including 5-of-6 in Game 2. - The Spurs have shot 22-of-26 (84.6 percent) when receiving a pass on cuts to the basket this series (10-of-12 in Game 2). The Thunder have generated a total of 9 shots on cuts to the basket this series. - The movement through the interior only helps open up the perimeter. The Spurs are shooting 45.0 percent on 3-pointers this series. This is bolstered by open looks, as the Spurs are 9-of-17 (52.9 percent) on uncontested 3-pointers (Danny Green: 4-of-6).
The Oklahoman reports: "Two nights after the Spurs scored a whopping 66 points in the paint and won going away, Wednesday night became a blowout because of a 3-point barrage by San Antonio. The Spurs managed just one 3-pointer in the first quarter. Even though they got several open looks, Danny Green was the only player who knocked one down. But then in the second quarter, those open looks started to fall. Green splashed a three on the Spurs’ first possession, and then in the last couple minutes of the quarter, they hit three more. Green. Green. Manu Ginobili."
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 21
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
LeBron James sparks rally as Heat tie up series with Pacers
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- LeBron James and Dwyane Wade followed the same old script Tuesday night.
When Miami got into trouble, the All-Star duo bailed out the Heat. Again.
James scored the first six points in a decisive 12-2 run, and combined with Wade for Miami's final 20 points in an 87-83 victory over the Indiana Pacers that left the Eastern Conference final tied at a game apiece... Wade, who had 13 points in the Heat's 41-point first half, scored his final 10 in the fourth. James, who finished with 22 points, had 12 in the fourth. Together they helped Miami avoid falling into a 2-0 deficit for the first time since the first round of the 2010 playoffs.
Lance Stephenson tied his playoff career high with 25 points for the Pacers. Paul George scored 14... Miami coach Erik Spoelstra started Udonis Haslem instead of Shane Battier. Center Greg Oden again was inactive. ... George was just 1 of 11 from the field in the first half. ... There were 21 lead changes and seven ties after having none of either in Game 1.
The Miami Herald reports: An emphatic reverse dunk by Dwyane Wade with 21.6 seconds left gave the Heat an 86-78 lead, and fans clad in gold shirts began heading for the exits. Wade was the hero on this night, scoring 23 points and carrying the Heat for long stretches as LeBron James struggled to find his rhythm and Chris Bosh struggled to find shots. It took three quarters for James to assert himself, but he was clutch in closing time. He and Wade combined to score the Heat’s final 20 points of the game. James had 12 points in the final period. “The fourth quarters are our moments,” Wade said. The Heat returns to AmericanAirlines Arena for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday. Miami has knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs in the each of the past two seasons. James finished with 22 points, going 9 of 18 from the field and 1 of 5 from three-point range. Bosh had nine points and was 4-of-9 shooting.
The Indianapolis Star reports: If winning Game 1 was truly just the first ingredient thrown into the cauldron for beating the Heat, then Tuesday needed stronger elements. So, the effort was there; in early possessions Roy Hibbert twice tapped back loose rebounds until Stephenson made his work worthwhile with a long jump shot. Hibbert pulled down four of the Pacers' 15 rebounds during the first quarter. The execution was also evident; the Pacers played an early part of the game shooting 50 percent from the floor and once Stephenson found an open pathway to the rim, Bosh backed away as the forceful layup fell through. While Stephenson had shown his introspective and subdued side through Game 1, his face rarely revealing emotion, he returned to his true self on Tuesday. Snarling, screaming and perpetually magnetizing, an emotive Stephenson gave the Pacers the 20-12 lead at the 3:20 mark.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports: "Today was just about how bad we wanted it," Wade said. "It wasn't about Xs and Os. And we proved it. We showed it. We kept digging down deep, and eventually the game turned in our favor."
Backup point guard Norris Cole added 11 points off the Heat bench, as a much-needed spark on a night when points came at a premium.
Cole appreciated the way James and Wade dug deepest.
"That's why," he said, "they are the hundred-million-dollar guys."
That doesn't mean Cole didn't provide his own payoff, stepping up with late defense after Pacers guard Lance Stephenson was beating other Heat defenders with his dribble penetration.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 20
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
Tim Duncan scores 27, leads Spurs in series-opening rout of Thunder
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs were planning to attack the lane whether Oklahoma City big man Serge Ibaka was playing or not. The fact that the Thunder's athletic defender was absent only made things easier for them.
Tim Duncan scored 27 points and San Antonio took advantage of Ibaka's absence to dominate the paint, beating the Oklahoma City 122-105 on Monday night in the opener of the Western Conference finals.
Tony Parker did not appear limited by a hamstring injury, scoring 14 points and having 12 assists in 36 minutes... The Thunder got their usual offensive outputs from All-Stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who scored 28 and 25 points, respectively. But Oklahoma City's remaining starters, Nick Collison, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, combined to score five points with 13 rebounds and one assist.
But it was defensively where the Thunder struggled without Ibaka, who will miss the remainder of the postseason after suffering a calf injury in Oklahoma City's series clincher against the Los Angeles Clippers... Westbrook had 12 points in the third quarter, continually driving past Parker and the Spurs before they could settle in defensively.
With the exception of a pair of free throws by Derek Fisher, Westbrook and Durant scored all of Oklahoma City's points in a 23-22 third quarter.
ESPN.com reports: Without key defender Serge Ibaka in the lineup for the Thunder, the Spurs outscored the Thunder 66-32 in the paint Monday. In the four regular season matchup with Ibaka in the lineup, the Spurs had averaged 41.5 points in the paint.
- The Spurs shot 47.1% in the paint with Serge Ibaka on the court during the regular season compared to 61.3% with Ibaka off the court.
- Tim Duncan scored 20 points in the paint, 14 of which came when he was cutting to the basket. The other Spurs players were able to find him, as five different Spurs assisted on Duncan's seven cuts in the paint.
- The Spurs also scored 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting on drives to the basket. Eight of Tony Parker's 14 points came off of drives.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, MAY 19
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Paul George, David West lead Pacers past Heat in Game 1
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana is done talking about home-court advantage.
The top-seeded Pacers are ready to use it against the two-time defending champs.
They took the first step Sunday, when Paul George finished with 24 points and seven assists, David West added 19 points and seven rebounds, and suddenly surging Indiana led wire-to-wire in a 107-96 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals... For the first time in this year's playoffs, the Pacers won a series opener... All five Indiana starters and backup C.J. Watson scored in double figures, helping Indiana produce its highest point total of the playoffs. The Pacers limited the Heat to just four offensive rebounds and 6-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc. LeBron James went 1 of 5 on 3s and shot just two free throws, and Miami fell so far behind so fast, it never even had a chance to tie the score... Indiana shared the ball, limited its turnovers, maintained its poise and got contributions from everyone in a game it had to win. Roy Hibbert finished with 19 points and nine rebounds, Lance Stephenson had 17 points and eight assists, and George Hill added 15 points as the Pacers looked more like the team that was so dominant over the first half of the season, rather than the one struggled so mightily in the second half... James, who had 25 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, and Dwyane Wade, who had 27 points on 12-of-18 shooting, desperately tried to rally the Heat but got little help. Chris Bosh had nine points and two rebounds. Ray Allen finished with 12 points.
ESPN.com reports: The Pacers' +22 advantage in free throw attempts is the 2nd-largest they have ever had in a playoff game. They converted and attempted more free throws in the third quarter than the Heat had in the entire game.
This was the Pacers' highest offensive efficiency, free throw rate and effective field goal percentage and their second-highest effective field goal percentage in this playoffs... This is only the 3rd Conference Finals rematch over the last 20 years. In the previous two instances, the winner of the first meeting went on to lose the rematch. The last team to win consecutive Conference Finals against the same opponent were the Pistons in 1989-90 (defeated Bulls).
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, MAY 16
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Pacers pull away from Wizards, advance to conference finals
The AP reports: WASHINGTON -- The doubts raised about the Indiana Pacers were more than justified. The way they dispatched the Washington Wizards shows that perhaps the Pacers have dismissed any and all dysfunction.
Roy Hibbert revived himself in Game 2. Team defense smothered the way to a win in Game 3. Paul George went off for 39 points in Game 4. And, after an ugly Game 5, David West came up big in the clincher. West scored 29 points Thursday night, and the Pacers blew a 16-point second-half lead but pulled away late in a 93-80 win that ousted the Wizards in six games... On Thursday, it was West's turn. He went 13-for-26 from the field -- a career playoff high in shot attempts. His pair of jumpers, including a tough fadeaway, started a game-ending 20-6 run after Bradley Beal's 3-pointer gave the Wizards a one-point lead with 8˝ minutes to play... Marcin Gortat scored 19 points, and John Wall had 12 points and nine assists for the Wizards, who ended their best playoff run in decades. Washington won a playoff series for the first time since 2005 and a second-round game for the first time since 1982.
ESPN.com reports: The Pacers held the Wizards to 26% shooting on contested jump shots in their four wins this series, including 19% in Game 6 (5-of-27). For the series, the Wizards shot 11-of-50 (22%) when George Hill, Roy Hibbert or Lance Stephenson contested a shot. The Pacers also limited the Wizards' open looks in their four victories, allowing 19.8 uncontested shots per game. They allowed 26.5 such shots in their two losses... The Wizards took their first lead of the game on a Bradley Beal three with about eight and a half minutes left. But it would be their only lead as the Pacers finished the game on a 20-6 run to close out the series. The Wizards missed 12 of their last 14 shots, including 7 threes in as many attempts.
Kevin Durant, Thunder oust Clippers to reach West finals
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- When the Oklahoma City Thunder were down by 16 points and struggling to make any shot early in Game 6, they looked all but ready to fold up and head home for a series-deciding finale.
Instead, Kevin Durant shouldered the Thunder and carried them into the fourth quarter, where they demonstrated the poise of a championship contender.
Durant had 39 points and 16 rebounds, and Oklahoma City advanced to the Western Conference finals with a 104-98 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 6 on Thursday night. Russell Westbrook overcame a slow start to finish with 19 points and 12 assists as the Thunder reached the conference finals for the third time in four years, closing out Los Angeles with two straight wins... The league MVP hit five 3-pointers and Reggie Jackson added 14 points for Oklahoma City, which will face the Spurs in a rematch of the West's past two champions. The series begins Monday night in San Antonio.
Chris Paul had 25 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin had 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists before fouling out as the Clippers' exhausting postseason ended in disappointment... J.J. Redick scored 16 points for the Clippers, who followed their epic collapse in Game 5 with a disappointing second half at home. Despite a raucous home crowd, Los Angeles won't make its first trip to the conference finals after the best regular season in franchise history.
ESPN.com reports: Nick Collison came in for an injured Serge Ibaka at 7:24 of the third quarter and played well defensively. Clippers players were 3-of-11 for 7 points when Collison was the primary defender, all during the final 19 minutes. Clippers players were 7-of-14 for 16 points when Ibaka was the primary defender... Durant grabbed a season-high 16 rebounds, including 12 in the second half. He had plenty of opportunities as the Clippers went cold on uncontested jumpers, shooting 1-of-9 for two points on such shots in the second half. The Clippers were 6-of-10 for 15 points in the first half.
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 15
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Heat advance to East finals behind late rally, Ray Allen's 3
The AP reports: MIAMI -- LeBron James leaped onto a courtside table as the postgame celebration began, thumped his chest and punched the air.
Next stop: the Eastern Conference finals. Again.
James scored 29 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 and Ray Allen delivered two huge plays in the final seconds as the Heat rallied to beat the Brooklyn Nets 96-94 on Wednesday night, winning the second-round matchup 4-1... Down by eight with less than five minutes left, the Heat forced Brooklyn into nine straight missed shots while peeling off a 12-0 run to take the lead. Allen's 3-pointer off an assist by Mario Chalmers with 32 seconds remaining was the go-ahead moment, and the Heat wouldn't trail again.
Allen disrupted Joe Johnson's dribble on the game's final play, James then swiped the ball out of everyone's reach, time expired -- and the Heat advanced... Chris Bosh scored 16 and Allen finished with 13 for Miami. Johnson had 34 points, Paul Pierce scored 19 and Deron Williams had 17 for the Nets... Wade had 12 points in the first quarter, his highest-scoring output in an opening period in his past 179 regular-season and playoff games. ... Both of Johnson's 30-point games in these playoffs came on the road. He had 32 at Toronto on April 30.
ESPN.com reports: Including luxury tax, it cost Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov a league-high $193M to field his team this season. No picks in 2014 NBA Draft $85.1M in guaranteed contracts in 2014-15 (projected salary cap is $63.2M) Best free agency tool: Taxpayer mid-level exception (can sign any free agent to a contract with a starting salary up to $3.3M) Paul Pierce: unrestricted free agent Kevin Garnett: entering final season of current contract (the $12M he's due to make is fully guaranteed - was only $6M guaranteed at the time he signed the contract with the Celtics but the Nets agreed to make it fully guaranteed when Garnett agreed to waive his no-trade clause) Andrei Kirilenko ($3.3M), Andray Blatche ($1.4M) and Alan Anderson ($1.1M) have player options.
Spurs cruise despite injury to Tony Parker, advance to West finals
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- The veteran San Antonio Spurs showed Portland a few things about succeeding in the playoffs. The biggest lesson was how not to panic when an All-Star goes down.
Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard each scored 22 points, and San Antonio overcame an injury to Tony Parker to close out the Western Conference semifinals with a 104-82 victory on Wednesday night.
Patty Mills scored 18 points and Tim Duncan had 16 points and eight rebounds for San Antonio, which had four blowout victories in the five-game series... LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points for Portland, while Damian Lillard added 17 points and 10 assists... San Antonio finished with 13 steals, including five for Leonard, while forcing 18 turnovers... The Spurs also had 24 assists on 42 baskets, shooting 47 percent from the field, and had 43 fast-break points... Green had the strongest effort of the postseason, going 4 for 6 on 3s.
ESPN.com reports: After shooting 40.4% on jump shots against the Rockets in the first round, the Trail Blazers had far less success in the West semifinals against the Spurs. The Blazers made 12-of-39 jump shots Wednesday and finished the series shooting 34.9%. Damian Lillard, the Blazers' hero against the Rockets, was less effective against the Spurs. He hit 1-of-13 contested 3-pointers against San Antonio after making 15-of-34 in the previous series against Houston... Kawhi Leonard was the Spurs' best defender Wednesday forcing six turnovers and limiting the Blazers to four points when he was the primary defender. Leonard held the Blazers to 6-of-20 shooting for the series (30%). In the previous series against Dallas, Leonard was less effective allowing opponents to score 11.9 points per game.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 14
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
Marcin Gortat leads way as Wizards blow out Pacers to force Game 6
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- The Wizards were tired of getting shoved around in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
So on Tuesday night, Marcin Gortat and his teammates pushed back hard.
Gortat delivered the best playoff game of his career, 31 points and 16 rebounds, and John Wall scored a playoff-best 27 points as Washington routed the Indiana Pacers 102-79 to cut the Eastern Conference semifinals deficit to 3-2... The Wizards made a stunning turnaround after losing three straight, two on their home court in incredibly demoralizing fashion. Washington scored a franchise-low 63 points in Game 3 and then blew a 19-point, second-half lead in Game 4... Gortat produced more points and rebounds in 36 minutes than he had in the previous two games combined (six points and 13 rebounds). He was 13-of-15 from the field, was 5-of-7 from the free throw line, tied his career-best point total, and finished with playoff career bests for points and rebounds... Wall seemed to enjoy himself, too.
The much more aggressive point guard went 11-of-20 from the field and 3-of-6 on 3s, finishing with five rebounds, five assists and five turnovers as he sliced through the Pacers' defense... David West led Indiana with 17 points and six rebounds, but Paul George struggled after playing 46 minutes in Game 4. He was 5-of-15 from the field with 15 points, one rebound, two assists and four turnovers.
ESPN.com reports: The rebounding advantage for the Wizards cannot be understated. The Wizards won the battle on the glass 62-23. This includes 18 offensive rebounds by the Wizards, which nearly matched Indiana's total... The Pacers were plus-42 in third quarters of the first four games of this series, but Washington turned the tables in this game. The Wizards outscored Indiana 31-14 in the third, largely powered by John Wall's 17 points in the quarter.
Thunder rally in final minute to stun Clippers, take 3-2 lead
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook finished off Oklahoma City's stunning comeback.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers believes he never should have had the chance.
Westbrook scored 38 points and made three free throws with 6.4 seconds remaining, and the Thunder overcame a seven-point deficit in the final 50 seconds to beat Los Angeles 105-104 on Tuesday night and go up 3-2 in the Western Conference semifinals... The play that led to Westbrook's free throws is in dispute.
Kevin Durant made a 3-pointer, then Los Angeles' Jamal Crawford missed in close before Durant made a layup with 17 seconds left. Westbrook stole the ball, and in a scramble, the Thunder got possession with 11.3 seconds to play, setting up Westbrook's play. The Clippers believed the ball went out of bounds off Oklahoma City's Reggie Jackson, but the officials awarded the ball to the Thunder. After review, the play stood... Durant scored 10 of his 27 points in the final 3:23 after shooting 3-for-17 through three quarters... Blake Griffin had 24 points and 17 rebounds, Crawford scored 19 points, and Paul had 17 points and 14 assists for the Clippers.
ESPN.com reports: There were several controversial plays in the final 11 seconds alone. Reggie Jackson losing the ball out of bounds and OKC getting the ball back sticks out, but Chris Paul's phantom foul on Westbrook's 3-pointer and the non-call on the final play also were contentious... Fouls: The Clippers committed 28 of them, compared to just 21 by the Thunder. That led to a big disparity in free throw attempts (36 for OKC, 20 for L.A.), which kept the Thunder in the game despite shooting so poorly (42.9 percent). The Clippers need to do a better job of corralling the Thunder's pick-and-roll attack and limiting penetration.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 13
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
LeBron James ties playoff high with 49 points, Heat take 3-1 lead
The AP reports: NEW YORK -- LeBron James had done his part to put the Miami Heat in control of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and one last free throw was meaningless except to him.
He missed, leaving him one shy of his first 50-point playoff game, muttering to himself after.
"That's the first time I've been disappointed in myself in a win," James said. Then he smiled, realizing his performance left nothing to complain about.
James tied his playoff career high with 49 points, Chris Bosh made the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 57 seconds left, and the Heat beat the Brooklyn Nets 102-96 on Monday night for a 3-1 lead... James was 16-of-24 from the field and 14-of-19 from the free throw line in matching the 49 points he scored for Cleveland against Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals. He missed his second free throw with 1.1 seconds left... Joe Johnson scored 18 points for the Nets, who were 15-of-25 from 3-point range in their Game 3 victory but only 5-of-22 in this one. Paul Pierce added 16 points.
"This is very difficult to swallow," Nets center Kevin Garnett said. "Hard to take, but it's what it is. Coulda, shoulda, woulda doesn't help us at this point."
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points on the night his Heat postseason record of 46 points was shattered. Bosh finished with 12.
ESPN.com reports: Chris Bosh, relatively silent for most of the game, hit the biggest shot of the night, giving Miami the lead for good on a 3-pointer with just under a minute left in the fourth... The Heat improved to 18-1 in the playoffs in the Big 3 era (since 2010-11 season) when finishing with an effective field goal percentage of 55% or higher... LeBron James' effective field goal percentage was 72.9%, his highest in the playoffs this season.
The Nets' effective field goal percentage dropped to 28.6% in the fourth quarter compared to 53.5% in the first three quarters.
Damian Lillard scores 25 as Blazers beat Spurs, stave off elimination
The AP reports: PORTLAND, Ore. -- Nicolas Batum had a simple question for his Portland teammates: "Why not us?"
No other team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series. But the Trail Blazers took the first step Monday night by beating the San Antonio Spurs 103-92 to stave off elimination and narrow the Western Conference semifinal series to 3-1. "Why not us? No, it's never been done before," Batum said. "We know it's going to be tough. It won't be easy, especially against this team.' The French forward had 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists and pestered fellow countryman Tony Parker all night. Damian Lillard had 25 points to lead the Blazers, who won their first second-round playoff game since a victory over Utah in the 2000 conference semifinals... Portland held Parker to 14 points after he had scored 29 points or more in three of his last four playoff games. Coach Gregg Popovich sat Parker and Tim Duncan after Portland built a 20-point lead in the final quarter... Portland got just six points off the bench in Game 3, but Will Barton provided a spark with 17 points on Monday night.
ESPN.com reports: Neither team could separate itself from beyond the arc in the first half, but the Trail Blazers hit 4 of 6 3-pointers in the third quarter, giving them a 17-point lead heading into the fourth. The Spurs, meanwhile, finished 3-for-18 from 3 on the evening... With a win Monday against the Trail Blazers, the Spurs can become the 14th team in NBA history to lose Game 7 of the Finals and get back to the Conference Finals in the following season. Of the previous 13 teams to accomplish this feat, only five won the NBA title in the season following a Game 7 Finals loss, most recently the 1988-89 Detroit Pistons.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, MAY 12
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Darren Collison ignites Clippers' late rally in win over Thunder
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- After being thoroughly outplayed for over 40 minutes, the Los Angeles Clippers fought back.
Leading the way was a player not known for coming up big in the clutch.
Darren Collison scored eight of his 18 points in the final 2:58, rallying the Clippers past the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-99 on Sunday to tie the Western Conference semifinal series 2-2... Russell Westbrook, who scored 27 points, missed a 3-pointer and Serge Ibaka's tip attempt was too late at the buzzer, allowing the Clippers to salvage a game they trailed until the final 1:23... Blake Griffin led Los Angeles with 25 points, making 9 of 11 free throws. Jamal Crawford added 18 points. DeAndre Jordan had 14 rebounds, helping the Clippers win the boards, 45-43 -- the first time in 11 playoff games the Thunder were outrebounded.
"We just willed this one. We found a way," said Chris Paul, who had 23 points and 10 assists.
Kevin Durant scored 40 points, hitting 15 of 18 free throws, for the Thunder.
ESPN.com reports: Blake Griffin replaced DeAndre Jordan with 8:44 remaining in the fourth quarter down by 14 points, joining Chris Paul, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford and Danny Granger. During that time, the Clippers scored 33 points, shot 12-of-15 and outscored the Thunder by 16 points. To combat this, the Thunder also went with a small lineup of Russell Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Caron Butler, Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka. In the 5:47 they were on the court together, they were outscored 21-8, shooting 2-of-7 and committing three turnovers... Of the Clippers' 22 field goal attempts in the fourth quarter, 14 came in the restricted area, and they made 12. In the first three quarters, they were 12-of-25 in the restricted area. *In the first three quarters, the Clippers shot 11-of-40 (27.5%) on jump shots, including 2-of-19 from 3-point range. In the fourth quarter, they took six total jumpers. Although they only made two jumpers in the fourth quarter, one was the go-ahead 3-pointer by Jamal Crawford, their third made 3-pointer of the game. *Instead of settling for jump shots, they attacked the lane in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points on drives and an additional 14 in transition.
Paul George scores 39 as Pacers rally past Wizards to take 3-1 lead
The AP reports: WASHINGTON -- Paul George had a career playoff-high 39 points and added 12 rebounds to lead the Indiana Pacers back from a 19-point deficit and past the Washington Wizards 95-92 on Sunday night to move one victory away from returning to the Eastern Conference finals.
The Pacers lead the second-round series 3-1 and can close it out Tuesday night, hosting Game 5. George played 46 minutes and scored 28 points after halftime Sunday, including making six of his franchise playoff-record-tying seven 3-pointers... Roy Hibbert had 17 points and nine rebounds, continuing his recent surge after a poor-as-can-be start to the series, the zero-point, zero-rebound showing in a Game 1 loss. But he has responded with 28 points in Game 2, then 14 in Game 3, before helping Indiana win its third consecutive game Sunday, when Hibbert said he got a motivational boost from what he called a heckling fan... The Wizards were up 17 at halftime, then made it 57-38 on Nene's basket to open the third quarter. That was thanks mainly to 30-somethings Al Harrington, Drew Gooden and Andre Miller, who combined for 28 points, 13 rebounds and six assists... John Wall (12 points, seven assists) gave Washington what turned out to be its last lead at 91-90 with about 2 minutes to go.
ESPN.com reports: The Wizards' effective field goal percentage dropped from 58.3% in the first half to 37.8% in the second. The Pacers are now 55-13 when holding opponents to lower than 50% effective field goal percentage... Paul George scored his playoff career-high 39 points, 26 of which came against Trevor Ariza. He scored more points against Ariza today than he did in the first three games combined.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, MAY 11
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Nets hit 15 3-pointers to knock off Heat in Game 3
The AP reports: NEW YORK -- Two losses in Miami didn't faze Paul Pierce, nor did 16 quick points by LeBron James.
The postseason, Pierce said repeatedly, is no time to panic. And the Heat, apparently, are nothing to fear.
"We're not scared of them," Pierce said.
Joe Johnson scored 19 points, Andray Blatche had career playoff highs of 15 points and 10 rebounds, and the Brooklyn Nets handed the Heat their first loss this postseason, 104-90 on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Pierce scored 14 points, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett bounced back from awful offensive efforts, and the Nets withstood James' 16-point first quarter and held him to two baskets over the final three quarters... James scored 28 points for the Heat, who hadn't even faced a fourth-quarter deficit in these playoffs before having their eight-game winning streak in the postseason snapped. It was their first loss since Game 5 of the NBA Finals... Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and James grabbed eight rebounds, but his night fell well short of what it could have been after his ferocious first quarter.
ESPN.com reports: The Heat are off to another hot start - and that is nothing new considering they've now gone 5-1 or better through their first 6 playoff games in every postseason dating back to when LeBron and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach. The Heat franchise record for consecutive wins to begin a postseason is 8 in 2004-05... LeBron James is shooting a career-high 56.3 percent from the floor in 6 games this postseason. To put that in perspective, he shot 48.7 percent in his first 3 postseasons with the Heat and has a career playoff shooting percentage of 47.5 percent.
Tony Parker's 29 help Spurs take 3-0 series lead over Blazers
The AP reports: PORTLAND, Ore. -- Spurs coach Gregg Popovich took pains to make sure guard Tony Parker was well rested for the playoffs.
"I barely played in April," Parker said. "I was joking with Pop if I was still with the Spurs."
The break has paid off.
Parker scored 29 points and San Antonio took a 3-0 lead in its Western Conference semifinal series against the Portland Trail Blazers with a 118-103 victory on Saturday night.
Parker has scored 29 or more points in three of his last four playoff games. He had 20 points in the first half alone in Game 3 against Portland... LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 12 rebounds for the Portland, which pulled within eight points in the third quarter but couldn't get any closer. The Blazers were hurt by 15 turnovers and only six points from their bench... The Blazers were without reserve guard Mo Williams, who has a groin injury. Williams played just 9 minutes in Game 2, and the Spurs' backups outscored Portland's 50-19.
ESPN.com reports: Tony Parker was 8-of-13 for 18 points on shots from 15 feet or longer in Game 3. Parker was 9-of-24 for 19 points on such attempts in Games 1 and 2... The Spurs hold a 2-0 lead over the Trail Blazers as the series shifts to Portland. If the Trail Blazers have any hopes of making this a series, they'll have to sort out a few things on the defensive end of the floor. According to NBA.com player-tracking data, only 53.1 percent of San Antonio's field goal attempts have been contested this series (64.0 percent of Portland's field goal attempts have been contested).
NBA DAILY FOR SATURDAY, MAY 10
Recaps of NBA games played Friday
Pacers use balanced attack to rout Wizards, take 2-1 series lead
The AP reports: WASHINGTON -- With an emphasis on defense, Paul George, Roy Hibbert and the rest of the Indiana Pacers are suddenly performing the way they did at the start of the season.
And they don't care how ugly the product might look.
Playing precisely the way they did to earn the No. 1 seed -- before a late-season swoon -- the Pacers held the Wizards to a franchise-low scoring total Friday night to win 85-63 and take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series... Set aside George's 23 points, and neither team looked good on offense. Not at all. It was 17-all after the first quarter, and the Pacers led 34-33 at halftime, only the 13th time teams combined for 67 or fewer points in a playoff game in the shot-clock era, according to STATS... "This was probably the ugliest game of the postseason thus far. This is our style of basketball," said George, who helped limit Bradley Beal to 6-for-19 shooting... Washington made only 24 field goals, a team postseason worst, on 73 attempts, 32.9 percent. That included 4-of-16 on 3s, and it didn't get much better on free throws, where the Wizards were 11-of-21.
ESPN.com reports: The Wizards were 3-of-26 (12%) on contested jump shots in Game 3, including 1-of-17 during the first three quarters. In Games 1 and 2, they shot 42% and scored 56 points on such shots... The Pacers held the Wizards to 49 half-court points in Game 3 after allowing 81.0 half-court points in Games 1 and 2.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook combine for 59 as OKC goes up 2-1
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- Neither team budged through three tight quarters. Then the Thunder went to a smaller lineup in the fourth and the Clippers' defense shriveled.
Oklahoma City couldn't be stopped in the final 12 minutes and went on to a 118-112 victory Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference semifinals.
Kevin Durant scored 36 points, Russell Westbrook added 23 points and 13 assists, and Serge Ibaka, despite early foul trouble, had 20 points for the Thunder in a game that neither team ever led by double digits.
The Thunder have won two straight since getting blown out by 17 points in Game 1 at home... Blake Griffin scored 34 points, and Chris Paul added 21 points and 16 assists for the Clippers, who saw their four-point lead disappear for good early in the fourth quarter. Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford added 20 points... J.J. Redick, who got off to a hot start in Game 2, was held to five points on 1-of-6 shooting. DeAndre Jordan was never a factor for the Clippers either, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Barnes gave them a lift with 14 points... J.J. Redick, who got off to a hot start in Game 2, was held to five points on 1-of-6 shooting. DeAndre Jordan was never a factor for the Clippers either, with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Matt Barnes gave them a lift with 14 points.
ESPN.com reports: It was in a losing effort, but Friday marked the 2nd time in Chris Paul's career that he had a playoff game with at least 20 points, 15 assists, and no turnovers. Since 1990, Magic Johnson is the only other player to accomplish the feat... he did so in Game 1 of the 1991 Western Conference Semis against the Warriors... Chris Paul scored or assisted on 55 of the Clippers' 102 points with him on the court. When Paul was on the bench, the Clippers shot 27% and were outscored by 10 points in six minutes.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, MAY 9
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Heat pull away from Nets for 8th straight playoff win
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Strange as it sounds, missing shots worked wonders for the Miami Heat.
And after the Brooklyn Nets went nearly 2 minutes -- a basketball eternity -- without the ball down the stretch, the two-time defending NBA champions would soon find themselves two wins from another trip to the Eastern Conference finals. LeBron James scored 22 points, Chris Bosh added 18 and the Heat pulled away late to beat the Nets 94-82 on Thursday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the East semifinals... Dwyane Wade had 14 and Ray Allen scored 13 for the Heat, who tied a franchise record with their eighth straight playoff victory. They'll go for No. 9 on Saturday night, when the best-of-seven series shifts to Brooklyn for Game 3.
For the second straight game, Miami had five players in double figures... Mirza Teletovic set a Nets playoff record with six 3-pointers, on his way to a 20-point night off the bench. Shaun Livingston scored 15, and Paul Pierce and Joe Johnson each added 13 more for the Nets.
Deron Williams was 0 for 9 from the field, the worst shooting night of his career... Mason Plumlee had three first-half fouls for the Nets, matching the entire Heat total. Brooklyn didn't take any free throws until the third quarter.
ESPN.com reports: Chris Bosh, who imposed his presence on both ends of the floor, had 18 points on 7-for-13 shooting. But his impact might have been greater on defense, where he defended the rim and continuously broke up Brooklyn's offense... Ray Allen scored all of his 13 points in the second half, a huge complement to the efforts of Bosh and LeBron James. Allen also had eight rebounds, which were the most by any Miami player for the game.
Spurs roll to 2-0 lead over Trail Blazers using balanced effort
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Portland coach Terry Stotts is running out of adjectives and analogies to describe the San Antonio Spurs' dominance in the second quarter.
Kawhi Leonard scored 20 points, Tony Parker had 16 points and 10 assists, and San Antonio rolled to a 114-97 victory over the Trail Blazers on Thursday night for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference semifinals... Boris Diaw scored six straight points to ignite a 23-8 run that gave San Antonio a 54-36 lead with 7 minutes remaining in the first half.
The Spurs outscored the Trail Blazers 41-25 in the second quarter, raising their advantage to 77-48 in that period in winning the first two games of the best-of-seven series convincingly.
Nicolas Batum scored 21 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 19 points and LaMarcus Aldridge added 16 points and 10 rebounds, but the Trail Blazers' All-Star duo put up 43 shots.
Aldridge was 6 for 23, missing back-to-back dunks in the second quarter... Manu Ginobili added 16 points, Marco Belinelli scored 13 and Diaw had 12 as San Antonio's reserves outscored Portland's 50-19.
Making matters worse for the Trail Blazers, reserve Mo Williams was limited to 9 minutes due to a groin injury. He finished with four points... The Trail Blazers, who found a snake in their locker room before the game, had a much better start than in Game 1.
ESPN.com reports: Kawhi Leonard was on fire from the start, scoring 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter. Though his offense slowed down somewhat as the game progressed, he still hit a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter that quelled Portland's comeback attempt... LaMarcus Aldridge just can't seem to figure out this San Antonio defense (he's not the only one). Scoring just 16 points on 6-of-23 shooting, Aldridge never came close to finding a comfort zone, struggling to get in good position for any easy looks.
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 8
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Roy Hibbert busts out of slump with 28 points as Pacers even series
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Big Roy came up with a big answer for his critics and his teammates Wednesday night.
He played like an All-Star when the Pacers really needed it.
After 48 hours of questions and criticism, Roy Hibbert scored a season-high 28 points, grabbed nine rebounds, blocked two shots and altered a handful of others to help the Pacers get even in the Eastern Conference semifinals with an 86-82 victory over Washington... Hibbert went into Wednesday with a combined total of 37 points and 24 rebounds in Indiana's first eight playoff games. Twice in the previous four he failed to score a point or grab a rebound... George Hill finished with 14 points, Paul George had 11 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Lance Stephenson added 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists. And for the first time this postseason, the Pacers held an opponent to fewer than nine 3-pointers. Washington finished 5-of-21 from behind the arc, the lowest percentage (23.8) in the playoffs this year... Marcin Gortat finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Bradley Beal had 17 points and Nene added 14.
ESPN.com reports: The Wizards led by three points with 5 minutes remaining on Wednesday, but they were outscored by seven points in the last 5 minutes. Through two games this series, the Wizards' average shot distance in the final 5 minutes has been almost 5 feet farther from the basket... The Pacers are now 9-26 when having a worse effective field goal percentage than their opponent. In a four-point victory, the Pacers outscored the Wizards by 13 on free throws. Game 2 had 13 fewer possessions than did Game 1.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook help Thunder pull even with Clippers
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant stood before his adoring home crowd, proudly holding his MVP trophy above his head during a pregame ceremony.
He spent the next few hours showing how he earned it.
Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Los Angeles Clippers 112-101 on Wednesday night to tie their Western Conference semifinal series at one game apiece... During his emotional MVP acceptance speech on Tuesday, Durant called teammate Russell Westbrook an MVP-caliber player. Westbrook backed up Durant's words with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for his third triple-double in his past five playoff games... Serge Ibaka and Thabo Sefolosha each scored 14 points for the Thunder, who shot 51 percent from the field and outrebounded the Clippers 52-36... J.J. Redick scored 18 points, Paul had 17 points and 11 assists, and Blake Griffin added 15 points for the Clippers. Los Angeles made 15 of 29 3-pointers in Game 1, but just 9 of 27 in Game 2.
ESPN.com reports: Kevin Durant (32 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists) and Russell Westbrook (31 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) were at the pinnacle of their powers, carving up the Clippers' porous defensive and getting to the rim with ease. Had Durant dished out one more assist, they would've become the first set of teammates to register triple-doubles in a playoff game... Blake Griffin struggled to find his rhythm offensively, scoring a playoff-low 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Over half of his shot attempts came from 16 feet and further, as Ibaka and Steven Adams were able to push him out of the paint with their length and physicality. Defensively, he wasn't much better, blowing rotations and providing little resistance at the rim.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, MAY 7
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
LeBron James, Ray Allen spark Heat's rout of Nets in Game 1
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Turns out, the Miami Heat can beat the Brooklyn Nets.
And rest hardly led to rust for the two-time defending NBA champions.
LeBron James scored 22 points, Ray Allen added 19 and the Heat stayed perfect in this postseason by beating the Nets 107-86 on Tuesday night in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series. It was the first win for Miami in five meetings with Brooklyn this season... Chris Bosh scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade finished with 14 points and Mario Chalmers had 12 for Miami, which recorded at least one regular-season win against every team except Brooklyn, losing four times by a total of 12 points.
This one was a different story. A 24-9 run in the third quarter blew things open for the Heat, who hadn't played in eight days after sweeping Charlotte in the opening round... Deron Williams and Joe Johnson scored 17 points each for the Nets, who got only eight from Paul Pierce and no points from Kevin Garnett in 16 minutes... Pregame lineup moves by both clubs lent more intrigue. Miami brought Shane Battier -- who played 2 minutes, total, in the first round against Charlotte -- back into the starting five, while Brooklyn reinserted Shaun Livingston into its lineup after using him off the bench late in the Toronto series.
ESPN.com reports: Maybe the highest-paid X factor in the league, Chris Bosh blitzes pick-and-rolls on defense and stretches the floor on offense with his ability to knock down 3-pointers. In Game 1, he only hit only one 3-pointer but scored 15 points and pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds... Throwing his weight around like few perimeters players in the league have ever been able to do, James backed down Brooklyn's Shaun Livingston and missed an attempt at the rim but had no problem grabbing his own rebound and scoring. The basket was part of an 18-5 third-quarter run and underlined the physical dominance Miami has in this series.
Tony Parker scores 33 as Spurs take Game 1 with rout of Blazers
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- After nearly falling on their face in the opening round of the playoffs, the San Antonio Spurs found their footing Tuesday night and ran the Portland Trail Blazers off the court.
Tony Parker had 33 points and nine assists and San Antonio never trailed in a resounding 116-92 victory over Portland, bullying the younger Trail Blazers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.
"He's been doing that for a lot of years," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said... Parker, who had 32 points in Game 7 against Dallas, scored 13 points in the first quarter on a series of drives and capped it with a corner 3 as San Antonio built a 10-point lead 8 minutes into the game... Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and Tim Duncan added 12 points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio... Marco Belinelli had 19 points and the Australian connection of Aron Baynes and Patty Mills had 10 points apiece... Aldridge had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Damian Lillard had 17 points for Portland, but the All-Star duo combined for just 17 points in the first half as San Antonio built a 26-point lead.
ESPN.com reports: Nicolas Batum is one of the unspoken threats of the Blazers' offense, sinking 3-pointers as the defense focuses all of its attention on LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard. On Tuesday night, however, Batum was ineffective, hitting just one of his five 3-point attempts... The Spurs pounced on the Blazers from the get-go, jumping out to a 29-16 advantage in the first quarter. Portland shot just 21 percent in the quarter, and Parker outscored the Blazers' starters, 13-12. This was over almost before it began.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, MAY 6
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
Bradley Beal helps Wizards win first second-round game since 1982
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Washington keeps finding ways to break through old, stubborn barriers.
Even in the unlikeliest place of all -- Indiana.
Bradley Beal scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Trevor Ariza added 22 and the Wizards held off the Pacers with a stout defense over the final 7˝ minutes Monday night to get a 102-96 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals... Paul George and George Hill scored 18 points each to lead the Pacers, though half of Hill's points came on three 3s in the final minute when it was too late to come back. David West added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
The Wizards trailed once all game, 31-30, and retook the lead on the ensuing possession.
But Washington won this one in large part because it beat Indiana at its own game.
Marcin Gortat had 15 rebounds, six on the offensive end where Washington held a 17-6 advantage. The defense limited Indiana to 40.7 percent shooting and never allowed them to get closer than six points until the final minute of the game.
By then it was too late.
ESPN.com reports: Trevor Ariza was 6-of-6 and scored all 17 of his first half points on shots at least 20 feet away from the basket. On the defensive end, he has held Paul George to 1-of-6 from the floor for three points... Trevor Ariza was a perfect 7-of-7 for 20 points from shots further than 15 feet away from the basket Tuesday (0-of-3 on shots from 15 feet and in). Ariza shot 43% from outside 15 feet against Chicago in Round 1. Ariza also did it on the defensive end, as he held Pacers players to 1-of-11 from the floor as the primary defender, including holding Paul George to three points on 1-of-8 shooting.
Chris Paul's 32 points lead Clippers in Game 1 rout of Thunder
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers showed what they can do when their minds are on basketball.
Paul made a career-high eight 3-pointers and scored 32 points to help the Clippers beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 122-105 Monday night in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal... Paul, who had never made more than five 3-pointers in a game, also had 10 assists... Griffin scored 23 points, Jamal Crawford had 17 and J.J. Redick added 12 for the Clippers.
Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant had 25 and Serge Ibaka added 12 for the Thunder, who suffered their worst home loss since moving to Oklahoma City.
ESPN.com reports: Chris Paul was 10-for-12 for 28 points on pull-up jump shots Monday, including 8-of-9 from three. Paul ranked third in the NBA averaging 8.0 points per game on pull-up jumpers during the regular season (averaging 11.1 points per game in the postseason). It did not matter who was guarding Paul Monday. Paul made at least one pull-up jump shot against eight different Thunder defenders... Russell Westbrook was highly inefficient through the first 5 games against the Grizzlies, averaging slightly more field goal attempts (25.6) than points per game (25.4) while shooting 34.4% from the field. But in Games 6 and 7, Westbrook still managed to average slightly more points (26.0) despite shooting about 7 less shots while shooting over 51 percent from the field.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, MAY 5
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Paul Pierce's block leads Nets past Raptors in Game 7
The AP reports: TORONTO -- Slowed by foul trouble and struggling with his shot, Paul Pierce still found a way to come up big for the Brooklyn Nets.
And, right when they needed him most.
Pierce blocked Kyle Lowry's shot from the lane on the final play of the game, and the Nets held off the Toronto Raptors 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday to advance to the second round of the playoffs... Toronto used a timeout and gave the ball to Lowry, whose driving shot was blocked by Pierce as time expired. Lowry lay prone in the key as the Nets surged onto the court in celebration... Joe Johnson scored 13 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Nets. Marcus Thornton scored 17, Garnett had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the series, and Deron Williams added 13 points... Amir Johnson fouled out with 20 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, which trailed by 10 with just over six minutes remaining before storming back and having a chance to win it at the buzzer... Lowry finished with 28 points and DeMar DeRozan 18 for the Raptors, who fell to 0-2 in franchise history when playing in a Game 7. Toronto lost Game 7 of the conference semifinals to Philadelphia in 2001.
ESPN.com reports: The Raptors had no answer for Joe Johnson. If they double-teamed him, the Nets were a ball swing away from an open 3-pointer and a look at an offensive rebound. Against single coverage, well, I'll point you toward the fourth-quarter 13-point barrage that laid the Raptors to rest... After a breakout series, Jonas Valanciunas came up empty in Game 7. The Nets constantly beat him on the boards, and he couldn't get anything going offensively. The Raptors were noticeably more effective with him on the bench.
Tony Parker leads way as Spurs smack Mavs to move on
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Faced with the possibility of having a second straight season end with a Game 7 loss, the San Antonio Spurs played with emotion and let Tony Parker have some fun.
Parker scored 32 points and San Antonio led by as many as 31 on its way to a 119-96 victory over the Dallas Mavericks, closing out a stressful first-round series Sunday in seven games.
The finale featured Tim Duncan diving into Dallas' bench to save a ball and the Spurs' reserves continually on their feet to celebrate baskets. But no one had as much fun or hit the floor more than Parker. The All-Star point guard was 11 for 19 from the field and 10 for 13 on free throws as Dallas was unable to keep him from attacking the lane, despite a series of hard fouls... Manu Ginobili scored 20 points, Danny Green added 16 points and Duncan and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points apiece for San Antonio.
Dirk Nowitzki had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Dallas... The Spurs got off to a quick start as they had done at home all series, but the Mavericks were unable to respond as they did in winning Game 2 on the road.
ESPN.com reports: Danny Green showed up to play for the Spurs, something that could be debated about his first five games of the series. Green scored 16 points on 5-for-7 shooting in Game 7 and helped harass Monta Ellis into shooting 3-for-11 from the floor... With the Spurs up by eight points as the first quarter wound down, Parker zigged and zagged by DeJuan Blair for a layup. On his way up the court, Parker got in Blair's face and drew a technical foul. It was all in fun, Parker said after the game, but the tone had been set for the Spurs.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, MAY 4
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Paul George scores playoff career-high 30 as Pacers advance
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana salvaged its season Saturday by reverting to form: its first-half form.
Paul George scored a career playoff-high 30 points, Lance Stephenson added 19 and Roy Hibbert finally came up big against the more nimble Atlanta Hawks as the Pacers survived a first-round scare with a 92-80 victory in the decisive seventh game.
Two days after staving off elimination in Atlanta, the top-seeded Pacers did it again and advanced to a second-round series against Washington that starts Monday in Indiana... George sparked the two biggest runs of the game, finished 11-of-23 from the field and grabbed 11 rebounds for a league-leading sixth double-double in the playoffs.
Stephenson added nine rebounds and five assists, and wiggled his hips after a game-clinching dunk with 80 seconds to go. Hibbert awoke from his recent slumber with 13 points, seven rebounds and five blocks... Kyle Korver led the Hawks with 19 points and Teague had 16. Paul Millsap added 15 points and 17 rebounds -- not enough for Atlanta to become the team with the fewest regular-season wins (38) to reach the second round since Detroit's 36-win team in 1976.
ESPN.com reports: The Roy Hibbert who was selected to the All-Star Game finally showed up to the second half of the season. Hibbert had 13 points, seven boards, five blocks and was a team-high plus-16... Hibbert improved his performance on the defensive end Saturday. The Hawks shot 3-15 with Hibbert as the primary defender, including 3-12 by Paul Millsap. Millsap had shot 9-20 (45%) with Hibbert as his primary defender in Games 1-6.
Durant scores 33, Westbrook has triple-double in Game 7 rout
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant got back to playing like he's used to against a Memphis team that had to change things up at the worst possible time.
Durant scored 33 points, Russell Westbrook had a triple-double, and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Grizzlies 120-109 on Saturday night in Game 7 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series.
Durant looked like his usual self after struggling against Memphis' rugged defense for much of the series. The regular-season scoring champion made 12 of 18 field goals and all five of his 3-pointers after struggling from long range throughout the series... With top scorer Zach Randolph suspended, the Grizzlies shook things up and traded their grind-it-out style for Oklahoma City's faster pace... Westbrook had 27 points, 16 assists and 10 rebounds. His assist total tied the franchise record for a playoff game set in 1987 by Nate McMillan when the team was still in Seattle. It was Westbrook's second triple-double in the past three games. He made 10 of 16 shots from the field, both of his 3-pointers and five of his six free throws... Marc Gasol led Memphis with 24 points, and he made 10 of 11 free throws.
Point guard Mike Conley had 20 points and nine assists while playing with a strained right hamstring. He wasn't sure how much court time he would get, but he fought through the pain to play 36 minutes.
ESPN.com reports: The Thunder outscored the Grizzlies by 45 points with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the court together in Games 6 and 7 as the duo stepped up their play. In the first 5 games of the series Oklahoma City outscored Memphis by 11 points with them on the floor together... Russell Westbrook had a playoff career high 16 assists Saturday, 8 of which were to Kevin Durant. Before tonight, Westbrook only averaged 2.7 assists per game to Durant in the series (3.2 APG to Durant during Regular Season).
Clippers hold off Warriors to win Game 7, series in nail-biter
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- When the final buzzer sounded on the longest two weeks of the Los Angeles Clippers' careers, they felt more exhaustion than elation. While coach Doc Rivers high-fived fans and pumped his fist at the crowd, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul quietly congratulated each other.
They had just persevered through seven exhausting playoff games amid enormous distractions leading to their owner's lifetime banishment from the NBA.
A franchise that once redefined losing was a winner despite it all -- and there's no telling how much farther these new Clippers can go. Griffin scored 24 points, Paul had 22 points and 14 assists, and the Clippers outlasted the Golden State Warriors 126-121 in Game 7 on Saturday night to win their first-round playoff series... Jamal Crawford scored 22 points for the third-seeded Clippers, who earned the franchise's third playoff series win in 38 years with the highest degree of off-court difficulty imaginable... Stephen Curry had 33 points and nine assists, but Golden State blew a lead with 2:10 left in Game 7. Draymond Green scored 24 points for the Warriors, who lost their first Game 7 since 1977 and failed to advance in consecutive postseasons for the first time since that same year.
ESPN.com reports: After struggling with a hamstring injury the past few games, Chris Paul returned to form. He guided the offense with 22 points and 14 assists and hounded Steph Curry as best he could defensively. Whenever the Warriors made a run late, Paul manufactured a basket to quell their comeback... Doc Rivers is normally a man of composure, but with two seconds remaining and the game sealed, he let the moment overwhelm him. He began yelling and pumping his fists, and then turned to the crowd and high-fived a fan. With all his team has been through in the past week, it was probably therapeutic to let loose.
NBA DAILY FOR SATURDAY, MAY 3
Recaps of NBA games played Friday
Deron Williams helps Nets trounce Raptors to force Game 7
The AP reports: NEW YORK -- Deron Williams had the Brooklyn Nets speeding toward a Game 7 when suddenly everything stopped.
He had just crashed to the court with what looked like yet another ankle injury. Kevin Garnett waved for help, and Williams slowly began limping back toward the bench. Then he decided to stay in. For all the big names and big salaries on the Nets, Williams knows they aren't going anywhere unless he leads them.
Williams shook off his second-half injury to score 23 points and Brooklyn forced a seventh game in its first-round series by beating the Toronto Raptors 97-83 on Friday night... DeMar DeRozan scored 28 for the Raptors, who will have to go the distance if they are to win a seven-game series for the first time in franchise history. They haven't won any postseason series since 2001, and never really had a chance to wrap this one up after falling behind by 26 points... Lowry shot 4-of-16 for 11 points after scoring 36 in the Raptors' Game 5 victory. He was the only other Toronto player in double figures.
ESPN.com reports: Deron Williams got banged-up both on the court, where he twisted his ankle badly, and off, where mocking "missing person" signs bearing his name hung outside Barclays Center. But he silenced the critics with 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, plus a dagger 3-pointer to seal the win... The Raptors scored 92 points per 100 possessions, their lowest output of the series and sixth-lowest rate of the season. The Nets improve to 8-0 when holding their opponents to 92 points per 100 possessions or fewer.
Monta Ellis helps Mavericks rally past Spurs to force Game 7
The AP reports: DALLAS -- Monta Ellis is headed to his first Game 7, and DeJuan Blair gets a chance to play his old team in San Antonio one more time after all.
Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki will return to the site of one of the best moments of his stellar career.
Ellis scored 12 of his 29 points to lead a fourth-quarter comeback that also got an energetic boost from Blair in his return after getting suspended, and the Mavericks forced a deciding game in their first-round series with top-seeded San Antonio, beating the Spurs 113-111 on Friday night... Tony Parker matched Nowitzki with 22 points to lead the heavily favored Spurs, who are stuck in a tossup series after they won all four games against the Mavericks during the regular season and had a 10-game winning streak against them after taking the opener... And Blair will be there. He missed Game 5 in South Texas after the league suspended him for kicking Tiago Splitter in the head when he was called for a foul when the pair got tangled up and fell to the court in Game 4.
He never said he was mad that the league suspended him, but he showed it, knocking Parker the court with a hard screen that led to a three-point play at the end of the first half for Devin Harris.
Then, he had four rebounds and two steals in the fourth quarter -- and finished with 10 points and 14 boards for his second double-double of the series.
ESPN.com reports: Monta Ellis: The Spurs had no answer, especially in the fourth quarter, for Ellis, who finished with a game-high 29 points on 11-for-22 shooting from the floor. Ellis' athleticism in the open court was difficult for San Antonio to corral... Dirk Nowitzki scored 12 of his 22 points Friday when guarded by Tiago Splitter. Nowitzki had struggled in the playoffs, shooting 35.3% (12-34) with Splitter as his primary defender
Damian Lillard's 3 at buzzer caps dramatic win, sends Rockets packing
The AP reports: PORTLAND, Ore. -- In the frenzied celebration following his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to eliminate the Houston Rockets from the playoffs, Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard grabbed the public address microphone and shouted:
The hometown crowd roared.
The shot gave Portland a 99-98 victory in Game 6 on Friday night and propelled the Blazers to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time in 14 years... Dwight Howard made four consecutive free throws to tie the game at 91 before making a bank shot that put Houston ahead with 3:04 to go. Robin Lopez scored on a tip shot to give the Blazers a 94-93 lead with 2:15 left, setting up a wild finish... Lillard prevented the series from going back to Houston with his 3-pointer as time ran out. He finished with 25 points... LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 30 points and 13 rebounds. He averaged 29.8 points during the series... James Harden led the Rockets on Friday night with 34 points. Howard had 26 points and 11 rebounds as Houston -- which earned the nickname "Clutch City" back in the mid-1990s when the team won back-to-back NBA championships -- failed to become the ninth team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series and advance.
ESPN.com reports: The Rockets scored almost 40% of their first-half points on shots outside the paint. Houston didn't hit a single three-point field goal after halftime, finishing with 6 points in the last two quarters from outside the paint... Damian Lillard - who is playing in his first postseason - is averaging 25.6 points, 7.4 assists and 6.4 rebounds through 5 games of this series. The only players over the last 35 years to average at least 25 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds through their first 5 career playoff games were LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, MAY 2
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Pacers close game with 16-4 run, force Game 7 against Hawks
The AP reports: ATLANTA -- The Indiana Pacers have changed who they are, going to a different style in hopes of surviving the opening round of the playoffs.
No matter what, they can always count on David West. With the top-seeded Pacers poised for an early summer, West fearlessly led a 16-4 run to end the game, extending the season with a 95-88 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday night... West seemed to make every big play down the stretch, scoring four straight points and forcing a huge turnover to begin the turnaround. He hit two more baskets in the final minute to wrap things up, finishing with 24 points... Paul George also scored 24 points for the Pacers, making four straight free throws to help fend off a team that was trying to become only the sixth No. 8 seed to win a playoff series... Teague scored 29 points, nearly pulling out a victory on a night when Atlanta shot just under 36 percent.
ESPN.com reports: From Elias: Roy Hibbert has posted consecutive scoreless playoff games after making the All-Star team earlier this season. Hibbert is the second player in NBA history to post consecutive scoreless playoff games after making the All-Star team that same season. The other: Jim King of the San Francisco Warriors in April 10 & 13, 1968. NOTE: King missed one game in between his scoreless performances.
Kevin Durant's 36 points, 10 boards help Thunder take Griz to Game 7
The AP reports: MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Kevin Durant insisted the Thunder facing elimination was all the motivation he needed.
Thanks to the NBA's best scorer, the Thunder remain alive and can finish off the Memphis Grizzlies back in Oklahoma City.
Durant scored 36 points to break out of a slump, and the Thunder routed the Grizzlies 104-84 on Thursday night to force a deciding seventh game in the first-round Western Conference series. His performance came on a day where the hometown newspaper questioned his struggles with a headline calling him "Mr. Unreliable." ... Russell Westbrook added 25 points for the Thunder, who haven't been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2010. They took control early with Durant scoring 14 points in the first quarter, led by 15 at halftime and never let Memphis get that close again in the second half in the first game in the series that didn't go to overtime since the opener... Marc Gasol had 17 points and Zach Randolph 16 for Memphis. Guard Mike Conley strained his right hamstring, briefly returned and left for good with 8:48 left. Conley went down in the third quarter near midcourt dribbling when Kendrick Perkins reached in for a steal. The Memphis guard returned briefly, but Conley was limping noticeably.
ESPN.com reports: Kevin Durant matched his postseason high with 36 points Thursday after scoring 41 points combined the past two games. How was Durant able to get off the "slide"? - Durant scored 16 points in the paint Thursday, his most in regulation this postseason. Durant was 8 of 13 on attempts in the paint. - The Thunder were able to get Durant more touches in prime scoring areas. Only 5 of his 23 field goal attempts (22 percent) came on touches that started beyond the three-point line in Game 6. Entering the game, 47 percent of his attempts came on touches that originated beyond the arc. - For this first time this series, Tony Allen wasn't the primary defender on Durant. Durant attempted only 7 of his 23 field goals against Allen Thursday, including 2 in the first half. Durant went 3 of 7 with 9 points against Allen overall in Game 6, but went 8 of 16 with 26 points against all others. Allen has held Durant to 35.1 percent shooting on the series.
Stephen Curry-led Warriors outlast Clippers to force Game 7
The AP reports: OAKLAND, Calif. -- After a first-round series filled with drama on the court and off it, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers will put the focus back on basketball in the biggest way possible.
Next up: Game 7.
Stephen Curry scored 24 points and dished out nine assists, and the Warriors forced a winner-take-all series finale by outlasting the Clippers 100-99 on Thursday night.
"We are going to a Game 7 despite all the sideline music, and I like my chances because I've got a group of guys that want to do whatever it takes to win," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.
Andre Iguodala added 15 points, and Draymond Green had 14 points and 14 rebounds for the Warriors, handing Los Angeles one more obstacle to overcome in a week full of them after Clippers owner Donald Sterling earned a lifetime ban from the NBA for his racist remarks... The Warriors limited big men Blake Griffin (17 points, nine rebounds) and DeAndre Jordan (19 rebounds, nine points) even after center Jermaine O'Neal left with a sprained right knee in the second quarter. The Clippers simply ran out of time in the closing minute, missing three shots before Matt Barnes made a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds to play.
ESPN.com reports: Fouls. Fouls! FOULS! Key players for both teams were plagued with foul trouble throughout the evening, with Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and David Lee all fouling out and Chris Paul, Draymond Green and DeAndre Jordan all flirting with disqualification. It's tough to know whether the poor shooting came at the expense of the multitudes of whistles, or if the players were forcing the contact because of poor offensive nights. Either way, it was tough to watch.
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, MAY 1
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Tony Parker, Spurs turn back Mavericks, take 3-2 series lead
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Tony Parker was nursing a sprained left ankle and playing a critical playoff game on no sleep only hours after the birth of his first child.
It was the perfect formula for a resurgent performance from the San Antonio Spurs point guard.
Parker had 23 points and five assists and San Antonio never trailed in a 109-103 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night, taking a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
"Coming into the game I told him this is perfect for you," Spurs forward Tim Duncan said... Vince Carter scored 28 points on 10-for-16 shooting for the Mavericks... Manu Ginobili had 19 points and Tiago Splitter added 17 points and 12 rebounds as San Antonio regained home-court advantage. Duncan added 16 points and 12 rebounds and Kawhi Leonard had 15 points for the Spurs.
After averaging 16 points in the series' first four games, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki found the stroke in scoring 26 points on 10-for-20 shooting. But it wasn't enough to overcome Parker and the Spurs returning to form.
ESPN.com reports: Tiago Splitter: The big Brazilian continued to harass Dirk Nowitzki, though Dirk had his best offensive game of the series, and sparked the Spurs' offense in the second half with back-to-back and-1s and four second-half assists. Splitter finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and five dimes... The Spurs outscored the Mavericks by 26 points in the paint during Game 5, tied for the Mavericks' fourth-worst differential this season (regular season or postseason). The Spurs are 3-0 in the series when they outscore the Mavericks by at least 15 paint points.
Kyle Lowry, Raptors edge Nets in Game 5 after blowing 26-point lead
The AP reports: TORONTO -- Kyle Lowry's prolific offense carried the Toronto Raptors to a big lead, and his defensive smarts saved the game.
Lowry scored a career playoff-high 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer after Toronto had blown a 26-point lead, and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 115-113 to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.
"He was definitely carrying them in the first half," Nets guard Deron Williams said. "He's just tough to guard when he gets like that. He's got a lot of confidence right now."
Joe Johnson scored 30 points and Mirza Teletovic had 17 for the Nets, who scored 44 points in the fourth quarter but lost their final chance when Andray Blatche fired a pass well over Deron Williams' head into the backcourt for a turnover... DeMar DeRozan had 23 points, Jonas Valanciunas scored 16 and Greivis Vasquez added 15 for the Raptors, who would advance to face Miami in the second round with a victory in Game 6 on Friday in Brooklyn.
ESPN.com reports: Down by 22 points at the end of three quarters, the Nets almost completed the biggest fourth-quarter playoff comeback of all time, outscoring the Raptors 44-24 in the final 12 minutes... After Kyle Lowry's career playoff high of 36 points on Wednesday, he's now averaging 5 more points per game than Deron Williams in the playoffs with better shooting percentages. That's a very big deal considering that Deron Williams made nearly THREE times what Lowry did this season. Good news for Lowry, who is a free agent to be this offseason.
Rockets ride Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin past Blazers to avoid ouster
The AP reports: HOUSTON -- Jeremy Lin was so unhappy with his performance in Houston's Game 4 loss to Portland that he hardly slept at all after the game.
Lin should sleep like a baby after his work in Game 5.
Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds, and Lin came off the bench to score 21 points and help the Rockets beat the Trail Blazers 108-98 on Wednesday night to avoid elimination... A basket by Damian Lillard got the Trail Blazers within two points before James Harden stepped back and swished a 3-pointer to make it 103-98 with about three minutes left. The shot brought the crowd, which was clad almost completely in red shirts emblazoned with the words "Clutch City" on them, to its feet... Houston finally slowed down LaMarcus Aldridge, limiting him to eight points, after he averaged 35.3 points in the first four games. Wesley Matthews led the Blazers with 27 points and Lillard added 26.
ESPN.com reports: Dwight Howard's team-high 22 points were scored on a variety of impressive post moves, including an unstoppable left-handed hook shot. But just as important was his defense out on LaMarcus Aldridge down the stretch. For good measure, he also grabbed 14 rebounds... With Patrick Beverley sick and limited, Jeremy Lin stepped up in a major way, scoring 21 points in 30 minutes of action. James Harden struggled again, but Lin's 9-of-15 shooting helped save Houston's season.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, APR. 30
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
Wizards knock out Bulls for rare postseason series victory
The AP reports: CHICAGO -- Playoff appearances were rare enough for the Washington Wizards let alone series victories. Never mind all that now.
John Wall finished with 24 points, Nene scored 20, and the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 75-69 on Tuesday night to clinch their first-round series in five games.
Bradley Beal scored 17 points, and the fifth-seeded Wizards advanced in the postseason for just the third time since the 1970s... Nene was back to wreaking havoc after serving a one-game suspension for grabbing Butler's head, whether he was knocking down jumpers or scoring inside. He hit 10 of 17 shots and grabbed seven rebounds.
Wall also had seven boards and hit 9 of 11 free throws. Marcin Gortat grabbed 13 rebounds, and the Wizards did something they have rarely done the past three-and-a-half decades -- they moved on.
ESPN.com reports: They won Game 4 without him, but Nene Hilario's presence was a huge reason why the Wizards won Game 5 and advanced to the second round. His numbers (20 points, seven rebounds) were solid, but what mattered more was his knack for being in the right place at the right time... Injuries to Joakim Noah, who didn't look right for the majority of the second half, and Taj Gibson, who left the game with an ankle injury, destroyed any chance the Bulls had to keep this series alive. When Chicago needed a big board, there was no one to get it.
Grizzlies take 3-2 lead over Thunder as teams play 4th straight OT game
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- It took a fraction of a second for the Memphis Grizzlies to take control of their first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
With 2.9 seconds remaining in overtime, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant missed a long 3-point attempt. Teammate Serge Ibaka tipped the ball in on the rebound, sending the crowd into a celebration.
The shot was reviewed, however, and it was determined that it was released just after the buzzer, giving Memphis a 100-99 victory Tuesday night and a 3-2 lead in the series... Mike Miller scored 21 points, Randolph had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Conley added 17 points for the Grizzlies.
Russell Westbrook had 30 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for the Thunder, but he made just 10 of 31 shots from the field. Durant scored 26 points on 10-for-24 shooting. He has struggled throughout the series, but Thunder coach Scott Brooks said he's not worried.
ESPN.com reports: Zach Randolph got a bit of his groove back Tuesday, posting a typical Z-Bo 20 points and 10 rebounds. OKC has struggled to defend the paint all series, and it was no different in Game 5 as Randolph had his way down low... No playoff series had gone to four straight overtimes ... until Tuesday. As has been the M.O. for the Thunder/Grizzlies battles, four quarters weren't enough to decide this game. How either of these teams are still standing is nothing short of amazing.
DeAndre Jordan's 25 points, 18 boards carry Clips to 3-2 series lead
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- On an exceptional, emotional night, the Los Angeles Clippers returned to their "safe haven" and moved to the brink of winning just their third playoff series since Donald Sterling bought the team in 1981.
Sterling wasn't there to witness the 113-103 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday, and he won't be at future games.
The Clippers' stirring victory at energized Staples Center came hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling for life, fined him $2.5 million and called on NBA owners to force him to sell the team for making racist comments. DeAndre Jordan had 25 points, a playoff career high, and 18 rebounds while Chris Paul scored 20 points as the Clippers took a 3-2 lead in the first-round series... Clippers coach Doc Rivers high-fived each of his players near the bench in an uncommon display of excitement as the final seconds ticked away. Guard Jamal Crawford hugged and slapped hands with fans at courtside on the way to the locker room... Blake Griffin scored 18 points and Darren Collison had 15 for the Clippers.
Klay Thompson led the Warriors with 21 points. David Lee and Andre Iguodala scored 18 apiece while Stephen Curry had a so-so game with 17 points, including four 3-pointers.
ESPN.com reports: After a tumultuous 72 hours and rampant speculation as to how their fans would respond, the Clippers played in front of their most energized crowd of the season. The highlight was a "We are one" chant, which was one of those bone-chilling moments that transcends sports... Though he led the league in turnovers, it was odd to see Curry so flustered and careless against the Clippers' aggressive pick-and-roll defense (he finished with eight turnovers). Furthermore, he only attempted 10 field goals and three free throws, a steep drop-off from Game 4.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, APR. 29
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
LeBron James scores 31 as Heat complete sweep of Bobcats
The AP reports: CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- LeBron James heard the cheers from the crowd as he lay on the court holding his right thigh and writhing in pain.
It only seemed to awaken the four-time league MVP.
James scored 19 of his game-high 31 points after sustaining a thigh bruise early in the third quarter, helping the Miami Heat earn a first-round sweep of the Charlotte Bobcats with a 109-98 victory Monday night. He finished Game 4 10 of 19 from the field and had nine assists. "It's definitely sore," James said. "I'm fortunate we were able to close out tonight and I can give it a little rest." ... The Bobcats played without Al Jefferson, their leading scorer and rebounder who has been bothered by a foot injury since the first quarter of Game 1.
"If you take away the best offensive player from any team in the league it dramatically changes your team," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.
Kemba Walker picked up the slack, playing tough throughout and finishing with 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting.
ESPN.com reports: LeBron James was much more assertive and efficient after injuring his thigh in a collision with Bismack Biyombo at the 8:40 mark of third quarter... The Heat scored 22 points off turnovers in Game 4, including outscoring the Bobcats 15-0 in the third quarter. The Bobcats allowed an NBA-low 14.0 points per game off turnovers during the regular season.
Hawks use 41-point second quarter to push Pacers to brink
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta's Mike Scott hit Indiana with the first 3-point barrage Monday night.
The Hawks' defense staggered the Pacers with some late stops.
Now Atlanta is heading home with a chance to deliver the knockout punch to the Eastern Conference's top seed. Scott scored all 17 of his points during the Hawks' incredible second-quarter run, and the defense fended off the Pacers' frantic fourth-quarter charge to hold on for a 107-97 victory and a stunning 3-2 lead in the first-round series... Shelvin Mack led the Hawks with 20 points, while Paul Millsap had 18... Roy Hibbert finished without a point or a rebound for the first time in his playoff career. Indiana was outrebounded for the first time in the series and its rebuilt bench was outscored 45-23.
Paul George led the Pacers with 26 points and 12 rebounds. George Hill, Lance Stephenson and David West all had 16 points, not quite enough to rally on a night they were again serenaded with boos in the first half.
ESPN.com reports: The Hawks have made at least 10 3-pointers in all 5 games vs the Pacers in their first-round series. The Pacers had only one instance during the regular season in which they had back-to-back games allowing double-digit 3-pointers (Oct. 30 vs Pelicans, Nov. 2 vs Cavaliers). For the season, the Pacers allowed just 6.6 3-pointers a game, which was tied for the 3rd-fewest in the NBA. The Hawks are averaging 11.8 a game in this series.
Spurs even series with Mavs despite blowing 20-point lead in 3rd quarter
The AP reports: DALLAS -- Boris Diaw's big third quarter wasn't enough to hold off a Dallas comeback.
The San Antonio veteran's decisive shot in the final minute was.
Diaw hit a go-ahead 3-pointer for the last of his 17 points, Manu Ginobili scored 23 and the top-seeded Spurs held on to beat the Mavericks 93-89 in Game 4 on Monday night, pulling even in their first-round playoff series. "You've got to give up something," said Dirk Nowitzki, who was running at Diaw as the shot was released. "That was a tough one." ... Nowitzki, who had 19 points, had a putback on a missed 3 by Monta Ellis to get Dallas within 90-89 with 19 seconds to go. But the Mavericks let nearly 10 seconds run off the clock before fouling Ginobili... Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter had double-doubles for the Spurs, with Duncan getting 14 points and 10 rebounds and Splitter adding 10 points and 12 boards.
ESPN.com reports: Dirk Nowitzki missed all five of his attempts on post-up plays in Game 4, despite his average field goal distance being more than 7 feet closer than in the first three games... Boris Diaw scored 15 of his 17 points when guarded by Dirk Nowitzki in Game 4. For the series Diaw is 10-for-16 for 23 points with Nowitzki as his primary defender.
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, APR. 28
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Trevor Ariza scores 30 points as Washington Wizards take 3-1 lead
The AP reports: WASHINGTON -- In his customary seat next to the bench, Ted Leonsis sported a No. 42 jersey in support of his suspended forward. By the time the game was over, the Washington Wizards owner stood and cheered as the crowd chanted "Free Ne-ne!!"
Trevor Ariza had a career playoff-high 30 points, and the Wizards scored the first 14 points of the game and barely looked back Sunday, overcoming the absence of their so-called "X-factor" as they beat the Chicago Bulls 98-89 to take 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference series. Ariza made 6 of 10 3-pointers, John Wall added 15 points and 10 assists for the Wizards, who forced 16 turnovers and committed only six. The other big difference came at the 3-point arc, where Washington went 8 for 19 and Chicago just 4 for 19... Taj Gibson scored a career-high 32 points on 13 for 16 shooting for Chicago, but his teammates combined to go 22 for 62 from the field. He made more field goals in the first half (8) than the rest the Bulls combined (7). According to ESPN Stats & Info, Gibson is the first Bulls player with at least 30 points and five rebounds off the bench in a playoff game since starters and subs were first tracked in 1970.
Mike Dunleavy, who scored 35 points in Game 3, could barely get a look for the Bulls, much less a basket. He went 0 for 3 from the field in the first half and finished 3 for 8 with six points.
ESPN.com reports: Trevor Ariza simply could not be stopped. His six 3-pointers (four of which came in the first half) tied a Wizards playoff record, while his dunk with just under a minute left in the game was the deciding nail in the Bulls' coffin.
Steph Curry has seven 3-pointers as Warriors even series at 2
The AP reports: OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Clippers made a silent protest against owner Donald Sterling before Game 4 of their Western Conference playoff series against Golden State. The Warriors made a different kind of statement during the game.
And just like that, a series pulled into a race-related scandal took another twist.
Stephen Curry made a career playoff-high seven 3-pointers and scored 33 points, leading the Warriors past the Clippers 118-97 on Sunday to even their first-round series at two games apiece... Andre Iguodala added 22 points and nine assists, and David Lee, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes each scored 15 as the Warriors went to a smaller lineup to regain their shooting touch in front of a roaring, gold-shirt wearing sellout crowd of 19,596 that stood after every swish.
"It just all came together," said Iguodala, who also had nine assists and four rebounds.
Jamal Crawford scored 26 points, and Blake Griffin had 21 points and six rebounds for a Clippers team wrapped up in the most talked-about topic in sports.
ESPN.com reports: Stephen Curry has been held in check for most of the series, but Sunday he went off for 33 points and seven 3-pointers. In the first quarter alone he made five long-range shots, giving the Warriors a comfortable lead early that the Clippers could never overcome.
Raptors even series with Nets despite squandering 17-point lead
The AP reports: NEW YORK -- The most pressure-packed moments of playoff basketball, when the legs get heavy and the palms sweaty, seem to suit those young Toronto Raptors just fine.
Instead, it's the veteran Brooklyn Nets who are fizzling at the finish.
DeMar DeRozan scored 24 points, Kyle Lowry added 22, and the Raptors beat the Nets 87-79 on Sunday night to even their Eastern Conference first-round series at two games apiece. When a fourth-quarter rally fell just short in Game 3, the Raptors just shook it off and handled the final period even better this time... Amir Johnson had 17 points for the Raptors, who started fast, gave up all of a 17-point lead, then shut the Nets down over the final 5 minutes to snap a 13-game road losing streak in the playoffs that went back 13 years... Paul Pierce scored 22 points for the Nets, who were 3 for 17 in the fourth quarter and didn't have a field goal after Pierce's basket with 6:13 left gave them a 77-73 lead.
ESPN.com reports: Amir Johnson finally came through. He excelled in finding pick-and-roll space, finishing with 17 points, but he made his money on defense. Despite picking up five fouls, Johnson shouldered the Raptors' defense and helped hold the Nets to 12 fourth-quarter points... The Nets missed all 10 of their field goal attempts outside the paint in the fourth quarter. They were 8-for-25 on such attempts in the first three quarters.
Blazers put Rockets on brink with win in another OT session
The AP reports: PORTLAND, Ore. -- There was some shouting going on in the Trail Blazers' locker room after they fell behind by 10 points at halftime to the Rockets.
Up 2-1 in their first playoff series since 2011, the Blazers didn't want to mess up Game 4, especially in front of their hometown fans.
"In the words of Chuck -- Charles Barkley -- we were playing like wussies," Portland guard Wesley Matthews said. "That was the message to each other." ... LaMarcus Aldridge had 29 points and 10 rebounds in the first win for the home team in the series, while Nicolas Batum added 25 points. It was the third game in the series decided in overtime... James Harden had 28 points, and Dwight Howard added 25 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets.
ESPN.com reports: LaMarcus Aldridge gets the game ball for scoring 29 points, grabbing 10 boards and battling Dwight Howard in the post with some tremendous late-game defense. Aldridge missed two late free throws that kept Houston's hope alive, but at this point, Portland would be lost without him... Chandler Parsons was 5-for-5 for 12 points in the first half when Nicolas Batum was his primary defender. In the second half and overtime Parsons was 1-for-4 for two points when guarded by Batum.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, APR. 27
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Key 3-pointers help Pacers even series with Hawks
The AP reports: ATLANTA -- The Indiana Pacers knew what they were up against. This was a game they had to have.
Paul George and David West made sure they got it.
George and West hit key 3-pointers down the closing minutes, and top-seeded Indiana held off the Atlanta Hawks 91-88 to even the opening-round series at two wins apiece Saturday. Finally, the Pacers showed some grit and resilience, regaining the home-court edge that slipped away when they were stunned by the No. 8-seeded Hawks in Game 1... Unfortunately for the Hawks, Paul Millsap couldn't provide the matching punch. Even though he led the Hawks with 29 points, the All-Star forward turned it over with a bad pass with 33 seconds to go. Then, after Stephenson lost the ball and the Hawks gained possession off a jump, Millsap missed a spinning shot in the lane as Atlanta passed on going for a tying 3-pointer.
ESPN.com reports: Paul George came up big to lead the Pacers, who tied the series at two games apiece. George scored 24 points, none of which were bigger than the 3-pointer he hit to take the lead with 2:11 left in the game... Including Saturday, Paul George has as many 20-point, 10-rebound, 5-assist games (3) in 4 postseason games this season as he did in his first 35 career postseason games. Despite the criticism, George is definitely doing the part to get the Pacers past the Hawks.
Vince Carter's buzzer-beating 3 lifts Mavs to 2-1 series lead over Spurs
The AP reports: DALLAS -- Vince Carter knew right away the exact date of the last time he had a buzzer-beating try in a playoff game -- 13 years ago.
It's seared in the memory of the 16-year veteran because he missed that one. He was on target Saturday.
Carter hit a double-pump 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Dallas Mavericks a 109-108 victory in Game 3 and a first-round series lead over the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs. With 1.7 seconds left, Carter took an inbound pass from Jose Calderon in the left corner. After a quick pump fake got Manu Ginobili in the air -- moments after the Argentine guard had given the Spurs the lead -- Carter released the ball just in time... Monta Ellis kept the eighth-seeded Mavericks close in the fourth quarter and finished with 29 points.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 22 points.
ESPN.com reports: Monta Ellis had it all. After an uneven first half, Ellis came alive in the fourth quarter, going 5-for-5 from the field and scoring seven points in the final 1:37 of the game, including a crucial and-1 running jumper. Ellis' frenetic closing rush is also what distracted the Spurs' defense on the final possession of the game... The Spurs lost Game 2 and 3 despite having a 57.8 and 58.0 effective field goal percentage, respectively. Coming into this series since 1996-97 season, the Spurs were 22-2 when having an effective field goal percentage of at least 57.8% in the playoffs.
LeBron James, Heat move to 3-0, push Bobcats to brink
The AP reports: CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- LeBron James stripped the ball at midcourt, raced the length of the floor and lifted off for a powerful one-handed dunk.
Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, seated on the Charlotte bench, could only look on helplessly.
James was taking over and the Miami Heat, well, they were starting to look like the Miami Heat of the past two seasons. Unlike the first two games of the series, James made sure this game wouldn't be close.
James had 30 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat easily defeated the Bobcats 98-85 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference first round. Dwyane Wade added 17 points for the Heat, who can close out the best-of-seven series Monday night... James went 10 of 18 from the field and pushed his record to 18-0 against the Bobcats since joining the Heat in 2010. Miami has won 19 straight overall against Charlotte... Al Jefferson finished with 20 points -- 15 in the first quarter -- for the Bobcats, who are still searching for the first postseason win in franchise history.
ESPN.com reports: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was 0-for-5 from the restricted area of the paint (shot 59.1% from the restricted area during the regular season)... The Heat scored 31 points on catch-and-shoot shots in Game 3 on 11-for-20 from the floor (55%), including 9-for-13 from three. The Heat shot 39% on catch-and-shoot shots in Games 1 and 2 (19-for-46).
Thunder survive off night from Durant and Westbrook, win in OT
The AP reports: MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Reggie Jackson came off the bench and outscored teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook by himself. The Oklahoma City Thunder needed every point from their top reserve to win yet another overtime game against Memphis.
Jackson scored a personal playoff-best 32 points, and the Thunder beat the Grizzlies 92-89 on Saturday night, tying up their first-round Western Conference series at two wins apiece... Jackson had scored only 15 points combined in this series, but the guard shook off his shooting woes by hitting 11 of 16. Durant and Westbrook struggled through their worst scoring game of the series, going a combined 11-for-45 with 15 points apiece... Ibaka added 12 points for Oklahoma City. The Thunder outrebounded Memphis 58-49, and got 12 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
Marc Gasol led Memphis with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Allen had 14 points and 13 rebounds, Conley had 14 points, and Zach Randolph added 11.
ESPN.com reports: Kevin Durant went 4-for-19 (21%) on shots at least 10 feet from the basket in Game 4. Durant is shooting 16% on such shots in the Thunder's last two games... Reggie Jackson was 6-for-7 for 14 points on drives in Game 4, including 4-for-4 when Mike Conley was guarding him. Jackson was 1-for-6 with four points on drives in Games 1-3.
NBA DAILY FOR SATURDAY, APR. 26
Recaps of NBA games played Friday
Raptors' late run comes up short as Nets hold on, take 2-1 series lead
The AP reports: NEW YORK -- Paul Pierce climbed high for the dunk, Kevin Garnett went to the floor for a loose ball, and Brooklyn suddenly looked and sounded like Boston.
The Nets brought the two champions here so it would be like this, not the way it was for their last home playoff game.
"This is a totally different team, totally different feeling," guard Deron Williams said. "I think we're poised to make a run."
Joe Johnson scored 29 points, Pierce and Garnett brought a charge to their first playoff game in Brooklyn, and the Nets held off the Toronto Raptors 102-98 on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in the first-round series... Pierce had 18 points, and he and Garnett provided the game's signature plays late in the second quarter, a reminder that the Nets brought the veterans here as much for their bravado as their basketball... DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points for the Raptors, who have lost 13 straight road playoff games. Patrick Patterson added 17 points but missed two free throws with a chance to tie for Toronto, whose last postseason victory was May 6, 2001, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Philadelphia.
ESPN.com reports: Joe Johnson nailed three treys, shot 64 percent from the field and hit the game's clinching free throws to finish with 29 points. Among the Nets' slew of veterans, Johnson has been the most consistent over three games... Paul Pierce scored 16 points on 5-for-9 from the field in the first three quarters Friday. Pierce was 2-for-13 for 7 points in the first three quarters of Games 1 and 2.
Mike Dunleavy scores 35 to help drop Wiz, give Bulls new life
The AP reports: WASHINGTON -- Mike Dunleavy was making so many 3-pointers the Washington Wizards overguarded him at the arc and let him drive for a three-point play instead.
The points were coming so easily Bradley Beal guaranteed at halftime Dunleavy wouldn't score again -- and then clobbered the Chicago Bulls veteran during a 3-point attempt during the third quarter. The ball went in anyway, and Dunleavy completed a four-point play.
"He was in the zone, man," Beal said. "I guess the hoop looked like an ocean to him."
The Bulls needed a go-to guy after their offensive struggles put them in a 2-0 hole in their Eastern Conference first round series. For one night, at least, they found him. Dunleavy scored 35 points, one short of his career-high, and Jimmy Butler hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining Friday for a 100-97 Game 3 win... Dunleavy went 12 for 19 from the field, including a career-high eight 3-pointers on 10 attempts. Not bad for a 33-year-old who was playing in only his 12th playoff game. His teams' records in those games before Friday: 1-10. He had almost become a forgotten man in this series, scoring 20 points combined in the first two games... Wall added 23 points and seven assists for the Wizards, who will have to wonder whether they'll have Nene for Game 4. The Brazilian forward was ejected in the fourth quarter after a forehead-to-forehead confrontation with Butler. Nene grabbed Butler by the back of the neck and the side of the head before they were separated.
ESPN.com reports: Jimmy Butler couldn't hit a 3-pointer to save his life coming into Game 3. While he hit only 2 of 5 on Friday night, one of them was the biggest of the game, giving the Bulls the lead for good... Mike Dunleavy's big night came out of nowhere, he more than doubled his previous playoff scoring high, and set the Bulls record for most threes made in a postseason game. In Dunleavy's previous 11 postseason games prior to Friday he averaged 8.5 points per game.
Troy Daniels' 3-pointer in overtime sends Rockets past Blazers
The AP reports: PORTLAND, Ore. -- James Harden snapped out of his slump. Omer Asik stopped LaMarcus Aldridge. But it was rookie Troy Daniels who made all the difference for the Houston Rockets.
Daniels, who spent time in the D-League this season and didn't make his pro debut until March 5, hit a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to lift the Rockets a 121-116 overtime victory over the Trail Blazers on Friday night and narrow Portland's first-round playoff advantage to 2-1.
Harden finished with a career playoff-best 37 points and Dwight Howard added 24 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets.
Aldridge had more than 40 points in each of Portland's victories in the first two games in Houston. But Asik did a good job of shutting him down in Game 3, holding the All-Star forward to 23 points. The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 30 points... Daniels finished with nine points in the game, all 3s.
ESPN.com reports: With 11 seconds left in overtime and the score tied, a loose ball ends up in the hands of Troy Daniels. The rookie drains a 3-pointer and Houston never looks back. Basketball doesn't get any crazier... Dwight Howard compensated for a Rockets team that had difficulty scoring in the restricted area of the paint on Friday. Howard shot 71% in the restricted area; the rest of the team shot 39%.
NBA DAILY FOR FRIDAY, APR. 25
Recaps of NBA games played Thursday
Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver lead Hawks past Pacers to take 2-1 series lead
The AP reports: ATLANTA -- As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Atlanta Hawks celebrated and their fans serenaded the Indiana Pacers with chants of "Overrated!"
Game 3 did nothing to change that perception.
The top-seeded Pacers are on the ropes again at the hands of the eighth-seeded Hawks, who finished six games below .500 during the regular season but truly believe they can pull off a major upset in the opening round of the playoffs. Atlanta is playing with confidence and swagger -- and even got a crucial call to go its way.
Jeff Teague flung in a wild 3-pointer after the officials missed him stepping out of bounds, and Kyle Korver finished off Indiana from beyond the arc to lead the Atlanta Hawks to a 98-85 victory Thursday night and another lead in the series... Teague scored 22 points and Korver added 20 to lead the Hawks, who are having their way with an Indiana team that struggled down the stretch and is still scrambling to regain the form it showed much of the season.
Lance Stephenson led the Pacers with 21 points, and Luis Scola added 17 in another stellar performance off the bench. But Paul George was held to 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting, George Hill made only 1-of-11 from the field, and Roy Hibbert continually missed shots close to the hoop.
ESPN.com reports: In a game filled with poor offense, Kyle Korver and DeMarre Carroll pushed the Hawks ahead. Korver and Carroll were a combined 12-for-17 from the field and 8-for-10 from behind the arc... Since the 1st round expanded to 7 games in 2003, the Pacers are the 5th number 1 seed to trail 2 games to 1. Three of the previous four top seeds to do it lost in 6 games. Only the Pistons in 2003, who trailed 3 games to 1, came back to win the series.
Grizzlies survive furious late rally by Thunder to win in OT, take 2-1 lead
The AP reports: MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Grizzlies know they have to stop blowing fourth-quarter leads. Consecutive overtime wins makes the needed corrections much easier for Memphis.
Mike Conley scored five of his 20 points in overtime, and the Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 98-95 Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round Western Conference series... Still, the Grizzlies won their second straight overtime game this time after leading by 17 before going cold for most of the final 7:43 of regulation. Courtney Lee clinched the win, hitting three of four free throws in the final 10.9 seconds of OT... NBA scoring champ Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 30 for the Thunder, who even got another four-point play in the final minute to force overtime. This time, it was Westbrook's turn with 26.6 seconds left.
But Durant missed all eight 3-point attempts and was 10 of 27. Westbrook was 9 of 26, though he grabbed 13 rebounds. The Thunder hit only 3 of 12 overall in overtime.
ESPN.com reports: Z-Bo didn't shoot it all that well, but he had an otherwise great all-around game with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Time and again, Memphis went to him in the low post, where Kendrick Perkins (five fouls) was just no match for him. .. The Grizzlies scored 62 points in the paint Thursday, 40 of which came in the second half and overtime. After shooting 47.3% in the paint in the first two games of the series, the Grizzlies shot 57.4% in Game 3.
Blake Griffin's 32 help Clippers take 2-1 series lead on Warriors
The AP reports: OAKLAND, Calif. -- Chris Paul pounded his chest and shouted toward the Golden State Warriors' bench. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan high-fived, and the Los Angeles Clippers soaked in the silence of the once-roaring, gold-shirt-wearing crowd as they walked off the court together.
The sound of stealing back home-court advantage was the sweetest thing of all.
Griffin scored 32 points and grabbed eight rebounds, Jordan had 14 points and 22 rebounds, and the Clippers outlasted the Warriors 98-96 on Thursday night to take a 2-1 lead in their first-round series... Thompson scored 26 points, and Curry had 16 points and 15 assists to rally the Warriors back.
But Curry forced a contested, step-back 3-pointer over Paul in the final seconds to seal the Clippers' victory, although the Warriors wanted a foul on Paul, who appeared to make contact with Curry's hip on the way down.
ESPN.com reports: For as unstoppable as Blake Griffin was offensively, tonight was about DeAndre Jordan's dominance. The human pogo stick tallied his best game of the series with 14 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks. He's looked like a man among boys and has pushed around whomever the Warriors have thrown at him... Stephen Curry's 3-point heave to win the game fell short, in large part because of Chris Paul's stellar on-ball defense. But was it a foul? The replay showed Paul's hand made contact with Curry's elbow, but no call was made.
NBA DAILY FOR THURSDAY, APR. 24
Recaps of NBA games played Wednesday
Heat hold off pesky Bobcats to take 2-0 series lead
The AP reports: MIAMI -- LeBron James drove to the rim as time was winding down, got clobbered by Josh McRoberts and sat on the hardwood gathering himself for a few seconds afterward.
It was fitting. Miami took Charlotte's best shot, and survived.
James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat wasted two big leads before hanging on to beat the Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series... Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to seal the win for Miami. He stripped the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with the Heat protecting a three-point lead with about 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats never got another shot off... Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 22 points for Charlotte, which got 18 points and 13 rebounds from Al Jefferson, who played through a left plantar fascia strain and shot 9 for 23.
ESPN.com reports: Chris Bosh shot 4-for-5 from the arc, and each 3-pointer seemed to come just as the Bobcats were building up some momentum. Further proof he doesn't have to light it up all the time from distance, just consistently... LeBron James scored 12 of his game-high 32 points on drives to the basket. As a result, his average field goal distance was 11.5 feet, compared to 18.2 feet in Game 1.
Mavericks' balance too much in win over turnover-prone Spurs
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- Blowing their playoff opener turned out to be great therapy for the Dallas Mavericks.
Eighth-seeded Dallas rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Dallas didn't relent in Game 2 after watching a 10-point lead evaporate in the final eight minutes of the series opener Sunday.
"Game 1 actually helped a lot more than today," Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said... Monta Ellis scored 21 points, Shawn Marion added 20 points, Nowitzki had 16, Devin Harris had 18 and Calderon 12 for Dallas, which never trailed after the opening minutes of the second quarter.
Manu Ginobili had 27 points, Tony Parker added 12 and Tim Duncan 11 for the Spurs, who did not have any other player score more than seven points.
ESPN.com reports: It's hard to argue with what Shawn Marion did to the Spurs in Game 2. The Matrix scored 20 points on just 10 shots, while grabbing four rebounds and nabbing three steals. He also helped toss the wrench into the Spurs' offense, using his length to get in passing lanes and harass ball handlers... Manu Ginobili doesn't score 27 points on 12 shots very often anymore. It's pretty rare. But that's exactly what he did in Game 2 for San Antonio. But he didn't get near enough help on the offensive end as Dallas took home-court advantage from the Spurs.
LaMarcus Aldridge's 43 help Blazers put Rockets in 2-0 hole
The AP reports: HOUSTON -- LaMarcus Aldridge's son JJ, who turned 5 on Wednesday, texted him after the Portland Trail Blazers' playoff win and told him he looked like Spider-Man on one of his dunks.
To the Houston Rockets the Portland star probably looked like a superhero on more than just that one play.
Aldridge continued his dominance against the Rockets, scoring 43 points to lift the Trail Blazers to a 112-105 victory and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series... Aldridge became the first player with consecutive games of 43 points games in the playoffs since Tracy McGrady did it in April 2003 after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1. He's also the first player Trail Blazers history to have two 40-point games in the postseason and his 89 points in a team's first two playoff games trail only Michael Jordan (1986, 1988) and Jerry West (1965) in the last 50 years... Dwight Howard was unstoppable early and scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half.
ESPN.com reports: As Aldridge swished jumper after jumper, the Houston Rockets refused to alter their defensive coverage. It's difficult to double a guy who shoots on the catch, but there were a few instances when Aldridge put it on the floor and no Rockets were in position to slide over to force a pass. The strategic indecision was a huge part of why they lost... James Harden has shot 14-of-47 (29.8%) so far in the 2014 NBA playoffs, including 8-of-32 on jump shots. Of his 32 jump shot attempts, 27 of them have been contested.
NBA DAILY FOR WEDNESDAY, APR. 23
Recaps of NBA games played Tuesday
Pacers bounce back to rout Hawks and even series at 1-1
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- When the Indiana Pacers needed a lift, Paul George stepped up. All over the court, over and over again.
George had 27 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, and the Pacers used a big second-half run to rally for a 101-85 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
George Hill scored each of his 15 points in the second half, helping top-seeded Indiana earn a split of the first two postseason games at home. George also had four steals and blocked a shot while helping keep Hawks point guard Jeff Teague in check... Indiana limited the Hawks to 33 second-half points and dominated the third quarter. Next up is Game 3 on Thursday in Atlanta, where the Pacers have only two wins since December 2006 -- though one of those closed out last year's first-round playoff series in six games... George was 9 for 16 from the field, including a 5-for-7 performance from 3-point range. He also went 4 for 4 at the line. According to ESPN Stats & Information, it was the first time that George had shot better than 50 percent from the field since March 14, snapping a career-long 16-game streak. He also was the first NBA player in 859 playoff games -- dating to New Jersey's Jason Kidd in 2003 -- to fill up the boxscore with at least 27 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, four steals and a blocked shot, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
ESPN.com reports: Luis Scola quite literally saved the Pacers in the first half. Indiana was having trouble manufacturing offense until Scola came off of the bench and hit his first four attempts from the field. Scola finished with 20 points and seven rebounds... The Hawks combined for 4-of-11 shooting for 9 points against Paul George as their primary defender. George forced seven turnovers when he was the primary defender. - Paul George was also 9-of-16 shooting on Tuesday, first time since March 14 he shot better than 50% from the field (16 games).
DeMar DeRozan scores 30 as Raptors drop Nets, even up series
The AP reports: TORONTO -- DeMar DeRozan put his playoff jitters aside and turned in an All-Star performance for the Toronto Raptors.
DeRozan scored 30 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 15 points and 14 rebounds and the Raptors beat the Brooklyn Nets 100-95 on Tuesday night, evening their first-round playoff series at one game apiece.
A first-time All-Star this season, DeRozan struggled in his postseason debut on Saturday. He went 3 for 13 from the field and scored 14 points in Toronto's 94-87 loss. On Tuesday, DeRozan eclipsed that total in the fourth quarter alone, scoring 17 of Toronto's 36 points... DeRozan made nine of 21 shots and went 12 for 14 at the free-throw line, hitting nine of 11 attempts in the final quarter... Amir Johnson scored 16 points and Lowry had 14 for the Raptors, who outrebounded the Nets 52-30. It was Valanciunas' second straight playoff double-double... Joe Johnson scored 18 points, Williams had 15 and Mirza Teletovic 14 for the Nets, who will host Game 3 on Friday night.
ESPN.com reports: Jonas Valanciunas' 7-foot frame was a constant problem for the Nets' smaller defenders. He thrashed Brooklyn on the boards, finishing with his second double-double of the series. After an up-and-down season, Valanciunas is finding consistency down low... The Raptors won, despite turning the ball over on 24% of their possessions Tuesday. They are the sixth team in the last 15 seasons to win a playoff game with a turnover percentage of at least 24 percent. NBA teams are a combined 6-38 in such games. The Raptors grabbed 50% of their missed shots Tuesday, which ties the highest offensive rebounding percentage the Nets have allowed in any game since April. 10, 2011 (Raptors).
Bradley Beal, Nene star as Wizards cap rally in OT to go up 2-0
The AP reports: CHICAGO -- This one looked like it was slipping away from the Washington Wizards. Then, in a flash everything changed.
Bradley Beal came on strong late in regulation to finish with 26 points, Nene scored six of his 17 points in overtime and the Wizards beat the Chicago Bulls 101-99 Tuesday to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Game 3 is Friday at Washington.
"We've got to come out like we're down 0-1 or 0-2," said Beal, who scored 11 in the fourth quarter... D.J. Augustin led Chicago with 25 points but cooled off late in the game with Ariza guarding him. Taj Gibson had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Noah added 20 points and 12 boards, but the Bulls find themselves in a huge hole after dropping two at home... John Wall had 16 points and seven assists for Washington.
ESPN.com reports: When the Wizards needed it most, Bradley Beal put them on his back. Chicago built a 10-point lead with just less than seven minutes left in the fourth. Beal then calmly collected nine points as the Wizards closed regulation on a 14-4 run to send the game into overtime... Washington punched first by building a 17-point lead with about two minutes left in the first quarter. It had to know that wouldn't last, as Chicago returned the punch and slowly chipped away, eventually taking the lead. The reeling Wizards then missed 11 free throws in the second half (5-16), but they made them when they had no other choice, going 4-4 in OT to hold the contest.
NBA DAILY FOR TUESDAY, APR. 22
Recaps of NBA games played Monday
Grizzlies withstand Thunder's rally in regulation to notch OT victory
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nothing rattled the Memphis Grizzlies.
Not squandering a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter and a five-point lead in the final 19 seconds of regulation. Not Kevin Durant's 20 points after the third quarter. Not even giving up an improbable game-tying putback that forced overtime.
The Grizzlies remained steady and took care of business in the extra period. Zach Randolph scored 25 points to help Memphis defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime on Monday night and tie their first-round playoff series at one game apiece... Mike Conley added 19 points and 12 assists for the Grizzlies, who executed their game plan perfectly and put themselves in position to take control of the series in Game 3 Thursday night in Memphis... Oklahoma City's stars put up big numbers, but they worked for everything they got. Durant had 36 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just 12 of 28 shots and had just eight points at halftime and 16 through the first three quarters. Russell Westbrook scored 29 points for Oklahoma City, but he made just 11 of 28 shots. Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Thunder, who shot just under 40 percent from the field.
ESPN.com reports: Tony Allen is the soul of Grit 'N' Grind, but Z-Bo is its beating heart. Even after Kevin Durant hit his crazy, fallaway 3-pointer, Marc Gasol had fouled out and Kendrick Perkins sent the game into overtime, Randolph (25 points) wouldn't let his team quit... Kevin Durant (36) and Russell Westbrook (29) combined for 65 Pts in the Thunder loss. It's the most combined points by teammates in a playoff loss since... Westbrook (43) and Durant (28) combined for 71 in the Thunder's Game 4 loss to the Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Blake Griffin, Clippers rout Warriors to even playoff series at 1-1
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- After getting knocked down in their playoff opener, Blake Griffin and the Clippers answered with a dominant performance in shutting down the Warriors as soon as the game began.
Griffin scored a career playoff-high 35 points without a foul and Los Angeles led all the way in a 138-98 rout Monday night to even their first-round series at a game apiece... Chris Paul added 12 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who started the game on a 14-4 run and kept on going, maintaining a sizeable double-digit lead through the final three quarters. They finished with franchise records for points and largest victory margin in a playoff game... Stephen Curry scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter, when the Warriors never got closer than 25 points, while he played with four fouls. Klay Thompson finished with seven points -- 15 under his average -- and four fouls. Andre Iguodala, who fouled out of Game 1, and Jermaine O'Neal had four points and three fouls each.
ESPN.com reports: Blake Griffin scored a playoff career-high 35 points on 13-of-17 shooting, dominating any and every defender in his way. Thus far, the Warriors have no answer for him. He's averaging more than one point per minute (51 points, 49 minutes) in the series... The Warriors turned the ball over on 26% of their possessions Monday, their highest in any game since Feb. 27, 2002 (Nuggets).
NBA DAILY FOR MONDAY, APR. 21
Recaps of NBA games played Sunday
Tim Duncan scores 27 points, lifts Spurs past Mavericks in Game 1
The AP reports: SAN ANTONIO -- The Spurs rode the wide shoulders of Tim Duncan to victory.
The Mavericks were not going to let San Antonio beat them with 3-pointers, and they did not want Tony Parker using the lane as his personal playground. So the veteran Duncan overcame a brief injury scare to score 27 points. The Spurs held Dallas to one field goal in the final seven minutes to rally for a 90-85 win Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. The Mavericks also went scoreless for 5˝ minutes during that stretch, their lone field goal coming with less than a second remaining.
San Antonio won despite going 3 for 17 on 3-pointers and getting only 23 points from its normally potent bench... Parker had 21 points, and Manu Ginobili added 17. Kawhi Leonard had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Tiago Splitter pulled down 11 rebounds for top-seeded San Antonio, which has won 10 straight against Dallas.
Devin Harris scored 19 points for the Mavericks, who nearly pulled off a huge upset.
ESPN.com reports: The Spurs are 147-45 (.766)in games which Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili each score at least 15 points (Regular Season and Playoffs combined)... The Mavericks produced only four points on seven Monta Ellis drives Sunday, all by Ellis. According to NBA.com player tracking, the Mavericks averaged an NBA-best 12.5 points off of Ellis drives (averaged 10.1 drives per game).
Heat use 18-4 run in 4th quarter to seal Game 1 win vs. Bobcats
The AP reports: MIAMI -- Each of the last two Miami championship runs has been highlighted by moments where a sharpshooter enters a game and immediately provides a surprise spark.
James Jones got his turn Sunday.
And the lift he brought, combined with the expected playoff showings from LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, have the Heat off and running in these playoffs. James scored 27 points, Wade added 23 and the Heat rode two big runs -- one late in the first half, the other down the stretch -- to beat the Charlotte Bobcats 99-88 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series. Miami trailed for much of the first half, but rallied and has now topped Charlotte 17 straight times... Kemba Walker scored 20 points for the Bobcats, who started fast behind Jefferson -- who was diagnosed with a strained left plantar fascia after a misstep in the first quarter, and got a pair of injections just to continue playing... Jefferson still finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds -- yet in what can't be a real exciting sign for Charlotte, he left the arena in a walking boot.
ESPN.com reports: LeBron James passed Larry Bird for 8th on the NBA's all-time career playoff scoring list... The Heat are 15-0 against the Bobcats since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in South Beach back in the summer of 2010, their best record against a single opponent during that span. Miami is 4-0 with an average margin of victory of 10.5 points per game against Charlotte this season. LeBron averaged 37.8 points per game in those contests and put up a career-high 61 points in the last meeting between the teams back on March 3rd.
Nene leads way as Wizards grab Game 1 from Bulls
The AP reports: CHICAGO -- Nene started thinking about how it would all unfold in the middle of the night. No way could he have scripted it any better than this.
Nene dominated with 24 points, Trevor Ariza scored 18, and the Washington Wizards rallied from 13 down to beat the Chicago Bulls 102-93 in their playoff opener on Sunday night.
John Wall scored 16 in his postseason debut. Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 13 rebounds, and the fifth-seeded Wizards pulled out the victory even though they looked like they were ready to be blown out... Washington shot 49 percent and outrebounded Chicago 45-39 with Nene setting the tone inside. He hit 11 of 17 shots and grabbed eight rebounds.
Andre Miller came on strong down the stretch, scoring eight of his 10 points in the fourth, and the Wizards pulled this one out even though Wall and Bradley Beal (13 points) combined to shoot just 7 of 25. Kirk Hinrich and D.J. Augustin each scored 16 points, and Butler had 15. But after posting more wins since Jan. 1 than any other Eastern Conference team, the Bulls find themselves in a hole.
ESPN.com reports: Andre Miller got off to a slow start in the first half, looking surprisingly rusty for a vet (but also one who's never been out of the first round of the playoffs). But early in the fourth quarter, once the Wizards had built momentum in the third, Miller scored eight of his 10 points on an array of crafty moves. .. Nene scored a game-high 24 points, including 7-of-13 on field goals outside of 10 feet. He set a career high in makes (7) and attempts (13) from that distance.
LaMarcus Aldridge's 46 points lead Blazers over Rockets in OT
The AP reports: HOUSTON -- LaMarcus Aldridge had just fouled out late in overtime after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 points when he went to Portland teammate Damian Lillard with a simple message.
"I said: `Take it over," Aldridge said.
Lillard did just that, finishing with 31 points and making the go-ahead free throws in overtime to lift the Trail Blazers to a 122-120 victory over the Houston Rockets on Sunday night in a thrilling first-round series opener. Aldridge fouled out with about a minute left in overtime and Lillard, who was making his playoff debut, scored Portland's next five points and put the Trail Blazers on top by one point with a pair of free throws with 17 seconds left... James Harden and Dwight Howard each scored 27 points for Houston, and Howard grabbed 15 rebounds.
ESPN.com reports: Dwight Howard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Patrick Beverley and Robin Lopez all fouled out of a tight playoff game that spilled over into a heated overtime period. This series will be fun... In the second half, the Trail Blazers' Nicolas Batum was the primary defender on James Harden, limiting him to one field goal in seven attempts, including 0-for-4 in overtime. In the first half, Harden shot 2-for-9, including 2-of-7 when guarded by Wesley Matthews.
NBA DAILY FOR SUNDAY, APR. 20
Recaps of NBA games played Saturday
Nets claim opener from Raptors as Deron Williams scores 24
The AP reports: TORONTO -- The Brooklyn Nets made a case for the important of playoff experience in their opening victory over the Toronto Raptors.
Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 24 points, Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Nets beat the Raptors 94-87 Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round series.
Playing in his 137th career postseason game, Pierce connected on four of his five shot attempts in the fourth as the Nets kept the Raptors at bay... Shaun Livingston scored 10 points and Kevin Garnett had five as the Nets won despite making 4 of 24 3-pointers... Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors... Greivis Vasquez had 18 points for the Raptors and DeMar DeRozan had 14 in his playoff debut, making three of 14 field goal attempts.
ESPN.com reports: The Raptors had no answer for "Iso" Joe Johnson this afternoon. The Nets dealt with foul trouble, struggling veterans and an abysmal showing from beyond the arc (3-for-24), but Johnson was the steady hand, leading Brooklyn with 24 points, eight rebounds and four assists. .. Paul Pierce struggled in the early going, but in the fourth quarter, "The Truth" suited up. Nine of Pierce's 15 points came in the fourth, in the form of run-stoppers, crowd-silencers and late daggers.
Klay Thompson leads way as Warriors top Clippers in Game 1
The AP reports: LOS ANGELES -- The Golden State Warriors stumbled out of the gate, missing their first eight shots while falling behind by 11 points and forcing coach Mark Jackson to call two timeouts to steady his young team.
Stephen Curry glanced at the clock and realized there was still plenty of time left to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points, spiking the ball as time expired, and Golden State beat Los Angeles 109-105 after getting Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday... David Lee had 20 points despite his own foul trouble and Curry scored 14 for the Warriors, who rallied in the third when Griffin and Paul were on the bench together... Paul led the Clippers with 28 points, and J.J. Redick added 22 points in 30 minutes. Griffin finished with 16 points, fouling out with 48 seconds left and the game tied at 105. DeAndre Jordan had 11 points and 14 rebounds.
ESPN.com reports: The Clippers scored 42 paint points, shooting 51% in the restricted area (18-for-35) and 25% outside the restricted area (3-for-12). During the regular season, the Clippers shot 68% in the restricted area, second best in the NBA... Klay Thompson scored 14 of his 22 points on catch and shoot shots, going 5-for-8 from the floor on such plays. Thompson averaged 9.1 points per game on catch and shoot shots in the regular season, best in the NBA.
Hawks take 1-0 lead as Pacers' late-season swoon continues
The AP reports: INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta's Jeff Teague demolished the Pacers' grand playoff plan.
As his teammates set up around the 3-point line, Teague simply blew through open lanes to the basket repeatedly.
The Pacers didn't have an answer.
Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points, Paul Millsap added 25 and the eighth-seeded Hawks won their first road playoff game in three years, shocking top-seeded Indiana 101-93 to take a 1-0 lead in the first-round series... Paul George had 24 points, 10 rebounds and five assists, while Lance Stephenson finished with 19 points and seven rebounds and George Hill added 12 points. But the Hawks' ability to spread the floor essentially nullified All-Star center Roy Hibbert, who had eight points and eight rebounds, and David West, who had eight points and three rebounds.
ESPN.com reports: Roy Hibbert has not shot well for the Pacers leading into the postseason, and continued to be a non-factor in Game 1. Hibbert was 4-for-9 from the floor Saturday and has not made a shot outside the paint since April 4 (0-for-13 in six games)... After the game was tied at halftime, the Hawks broke it open in the third quarter, outscoring the Pacers 30-16. Twelve of those thirty points came in the paint on 6-of-9 shooting (8-of-18 for 16 points in the paint during the rest of the game).
Kevin Durant scores 33 as Thunder handle Grizzlies in Game 1
The AP reports: OKLAHOMA CITY -- Kevin Durant put a dazzling end to Memphis' gritty comeback.
The Grizzlies erased most of a 25-point deficit before Durant, the league's scoring champion, got hot. He scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Memphis 100-86 on Saturday night in the opening game of their first-round playoff series.
The Thunder already were regaining control in the fourth quarter before Durant took over. He scored 11 points in a 5-minute, 21-second surge that stretched Oklahoma City's lead from seven points to 14 and put the game out of reach... Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder.
Zach Randolph led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but he made just seven of 21 shots and got into foul trouble in the second half. Mike Conley had 16 points and 11 assists, Marc Gasol scored 16 points and Tony Allen added 13 points for the Grizzlies. Memphis might have stolen the game if not for a miserable first half.
ESPN.com reports: The Grizzlies had a horrible first half shooting against the Thunder, making just 12-of-48 shots from the field. That field goal percentage of 25% was a franchise-low for Memphis in any half... The Grizzlies missed their first 18 shots from outside the paint Saturday before hitting their last attempt of the second quarter. The Thunder outscored the Grizzlies 23-3 outside the paint in the first half, making up most of Memphis' 22-point halftime deficit.