Tag Archive for nba basketball Recap

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets Recap May 04 2012 ESPN

Los Angeles Lakers vs Denver Nuggets  Recap  May 04 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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DENVER — Ty Lawson scored 25 points and the Denver Nuggets raced to an early 24-point lead on their way to a 99-84 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night in Game 3 of their first-round series.JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the best-of-seven series at two games each on Sunday night at the Pepsi Center.The Nuggets grabbed a 55-39 halftime lead by stifling Andrew Bynum down low and forcing Kobe Bryant to work harder for his baskets.Although both Bynum and Bryant got it going after halftime and the Lakers cut their deficit to four points in the third quarter, the hole was too big to climb out of.Bryant finished with 22 points on 7-of-23 shooting and Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds.
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Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers Recap May 04 2012 ESPN

Chicago Bulls vs Philadelphia 76ers  Recap  May 04 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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PHILADELPHIA — Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth quarter to help the Philadelphia 76ers rally to beat the Chicago Bulls 79-74 on Friday night and take a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference playoff series.Hawes scored 10 clutch points in the fourth to give the eighth-seeded Sixers the surprising series lead.Game 4 is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Bulls-76ers matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
• Predictions: Simulator | SportsNation
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• Bulls Report | ESPN Chicago
Already playing the rest of the series without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls got another scare in the third quarter when Joakim Noah left with a sprained left ankle. Noah, who scored 12 points, returned in the fourth quarter and mostly hobbled around the court.With Rose out, the Sixers believed they were in perfect position to knock off the top-seeded Bulls and build a series lead on their home court.Good plan.The Sixers scored only 11 points in the third quarter and trailed by double digits early in the fourth before taking off against the battered Bulls.Hawes keyed the surge and buried two free throws to make it 71-70 with 3:28 left.After getting crushed on the boards all game, the Sixers scooped up a loose ball rebound and hit the open court, only to have Andre Iguodala miss a long and unnecessary 3-point attempt. Iguodala, bothered by right Achilles’ tendinitis, chucked the ball off the backboard to the dismay of a crowd that has seen him do that too many times to count.Nursing a one-point lead, Noah missed two free throws giving the Sixers new life.Hawes hit a 20-footer for a 72-71 lead and Evan Turner made two free throws for a three-point lead with 1:24 left.John Lucas III of the Bulls buried a 3-pointer to make it a one-point game and a send a shiver into a team that faded down the stretch after a 20-9 start.All of that is behind them now. Jrue Holiday hit two free throws to seal the win to the delight of 20,381 fans who packed the Wells Fargo Center.The Bulls missed 10 straight field goals over 5-plus minutes in the fourth to lose all of their 14-point lead.Holiday scored 17 points and Turner had 16 while reserve Lou Williams added 14.Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls and Richard Hamilton scored 17 points.Noah’s injury came midway through the third quarter when he stepped on Iguodala’s foot driving down the lane. His feet gave out from under him and he crashed to the court. Noah instantly grabbed his left ankle in pain — while a smattering of fans cheered the fallen Bull.Noah walked gingerly to the bench for a timeout but returned to shoot his free throws.He was on the bench after a few possessions and stayed there until the fourth.Noah hopped around trying to take pressure off the ankle. He put the pressure right on the Sixers and even nailed a 15-footer.The bumps kept coming for the banged-up Bulls.Boozer was whistled for his fourth foul with 4:36 left in the third and joined Noah on the bench. The duo had combined for 26 points and 15 rebounds by that point.That left Taj Gibson and Omer Asik in the frontcourt. With that lineup, the Bulls kept an ineffective Luol Deng in the game when he picked up his fourth foul about 2 minutes later.Before the quarter was out, Gibson became tangled with Thaddeus Young and was briefly down. No worries on this one. He buried a jumper for Chicago’s first double-digit lead of the game, 60-50.Hamilton hit a 3 for a 67-53 lead in the fourth and it appeared they were cruising toward the victory.Not so fast. With the Philly crowd standing and waving their rally towels, the Sixers seemed primed for a comeback. Hawes fought inside for a tough basket that pulled the Sixers to 69-64 to help them end the game on a stunning 26-7 run.The Sixers outscored Chicago 36-14 in the third quarter of Game 2, then followed with a 40-point first half on Friday. The Sixers missed 11 of their first 12 3-point attempts and shot only 30 percent through the first three quarters. Starting forward Elton Brand was scoreless on 0-for-5 shooting.The Bulls need to figure out a new way to play without Rose and to protect Noah if they don’t want this series to slip away.Game notes Hall of Famer Julius Erving returned to the Sixers as a strategic adviser. His deal runs through 2015 and he will be available to the franchise on an as-needed basis. … Actor Bill Murray was at the game. … The Sixers snapped a four-game home losing streak.
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Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics Recap May 04 2012 ESPN

Atlanta Hawks vs Boston Celtics  Recap  May 04 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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BOSTON — Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Celtics to a 90-84 overtime victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night and give Boston a 2-1 lead in the first-round playoff series.It was the seventh career playoff triple-double for Rondo, who missed Game 2 because he was suspended for bumping a referee in the closing minutes of the series opener.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Celtics-Hawks matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
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• Celtics Report | ESPN Boston
Game 4 is Sunday night.Ray Allen returned for Boston after missing almost a month and scored 13 points in 38 minutes. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Paul Pierce had 21 points one game after having 36 points and 14 rebounds to help the Celtics swipe home-court advantage with a Game 2 victory in Atlanta.Joe Johnson scored 29 points and Jeff Teague had 23 for the Hawks. Tracy McGrady had 12 points — his highest total since he had 40 for Houston in 2008 — but 10 were in the first half, before he landed awkwardly on his right ankle and went to the locker room. He did not have a field goal in the second half.Rondo scored Boston’s first two baskets of the overtime — the second by posting up Teague and knocking down a baby hook over him.Boston never trailed from there.The Celtics went on an 11-1 run to open a double-digit lead with 7 minutes to play in regulation, but Atlanta rallied and tied it 80-80 on Johnson’s 3-pointer with 1:23 left. Both teams failed to score on its next two possessions, leaving the Celtics with the ball out of bounds with 3.9 seconds left.Rondo inbounded to Pierce, who was defended by Johnson and had to take a long, fallaway jumper that bounced off the rim at the buzzer.The Celtics got Rondo back from his one-game suspension and Allen back on the court for the first time since April 10. He played just five games over the final month of the regular season because of bone spurs in his right ankle and missed the first two games of the playoffs as well.The Hawks kept losing players. With top centers Al Horford and Zaza Pachulia already out, forward Josh Smith was scratched with a sprained tendon in his left knee.Game notes Hawks C Erick Dampier scored six points in 23 minutes. He played 83 minutes over 15 games and scored just two points in the entire regular season. … Pierce’s next playoff game will tie him with Dennis Johnson and Bob Cousy for 10th on the Celtics’ all-time list with 109. Next up is current Celtics GM Danny Ainge, with 112. … John Havlicek played in 172. … Johnson scored eight points in the first quarter and McGrady had 10 points and four rebounds in the second. … Celtics G Avery Bradley went to the locker room in the third with a sore left shoulder. The team initially said he would return, then said he wouldn’t. … Bruins president Cam Neely sat courtside with Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck, getting a big cheer when he was shown on the scoreboard. … Allen, the NBA’s career 3-point leader, was 0-for-4 from 3-point range. He was 1-for-3 from the line and 6-for-12 from the field.
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Miami Heat vs New York Knicks Recap May 03 2012 ESPN

Miami Heat vs New York Knicks  Recap  May 03 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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NEW YORK — Frustrated and foul-prone for three quarters, LeBron James finally did what he usually does at Madison Square Garden.And the New York Knicks got the only result they know any more in the playoffs.
Heat Reaction
For a quick take after each game, check the Heat Reaction.
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James scored 32 points, including eight straight to start the fourth quarter and break open the game, and the Miami Heat took a 3-0 series lead, sending the Knicks to an NBA postseason-record 13th straight loss, 87-70 on Thursday night.James had 17 points in the final period for the Heat, who held the short-handed Knicks to eight field goals in the second half and will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon.”He just has to stay with it,” Heat coach Erik Spoeslstra said. “He had some turnovers, he had some mistakes but he was able to keep his head in it.”Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat and Mario Chalmers had 19, hitting consecutive 3-pointers in the fourth quarter when the Heat finally brought some beauty to what had been an ugly game.Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points but shot 7 of 23 for the Knicks, who are playing without Amare Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin and Iman Shumpert and needed a super effort from Anthony that he didn’t come close to providing.The Knicks broke the record set by Memphis from 2004-06. They haven’t won a playoff game since April 29, 2001, Game 3 of a best-of-five series against Toronto.In a sloppy game between two star-studded teams, Miami went 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half, followed by the Knicks managing just three baskets in the third quarter.Then James, who finished with eight turnovers, took over.He came off the bench to start the fourth after sitting most of the third in foul trouble, quickly providing the best offensive stretch in the game. He nailed a 3-pointer, followed his own miss, then hit again from behind the arc, turning the Heat’s two-point lead into a 66-56 cushion with 10:36 remaining.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Heat-Knicks matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
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• Heat Index | Knicks Report | ESPN NY
The Heat then put it away midway through the period, when Wade made a jumper before Chalmers hit twice in a row from behind the arc to make it 77-62 with 5:40 to play.Fans started leaving, realizing there was little hope of the Knicks making up 15 points on anybody with the lineup they have.The Knicks shot 32 percent, getting a 5-for-18 night from JR Smith.”Offensively we just didn’t have it,” Knicks interim coach Mike Woodson said. “We were so stagnant and I got to take the heat for that.”Lin is practicing again after knee surgery but is not ready to return. Shumpert tore a knee ligament in Game 1, and Stoudemire is hoping the hand injury he sustained punching a fire extinguisher case following Game 2 is healed enough to let him play Sunday.Chris Bosh had nine points and 10 rebounds hours after the birth of his first child. He flew to New York with the Heat on Wednesday, then quickly hopped on a flight back to Miami after learning his wife was in labor. He returned Thursday afternoon following the birth of his son, arriving at the arena about 30 minutes before the game.Desperate to see playoff success, Knicks fans were loud early, chanting “Beat the Heat! Beat the Heat!” but the Knicks gave them little to cheer about once the game started. They made one basket in the first 5 minutes and fell behind by as many as nine points, but then shut down the Heat from the field after Bosh’s basket with 4:59 left and tied it at 19 by period’s end.James came in averaging 29.9 points at the current Madison Square Garden, trailing only Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant among opponents who played here at least 10 games. Wade was just behind in fourth with 27.3 per game.Yet the superstars each started 1 of 6 from the field, James seeming particularly frustrated with the officials and even teammates. Once a fan favorite at Madison Square Garden — Knicks fans hoped he would sign here as a free agent in 2010 — he was booed, mocked and cursed by the crowd Thursday.He eventually would get on the roll he is accustomed to here.The Heat won the opener by 33 points and took Game 2 104-94 on Monday, when the Knicks’ biggest problems came after the game. Stoudemire punched a fire extinguisher case in the arena and badly cut his left hand, needing surgery Tuesday to repair a muscle. He sat on bench with his arm in a sling.Steve Novak started for him but took only two shots and missed them both.Game notes Knicks C Tyson Chandler was honored in a pregame ceremony for winning the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award. The Knicks also held a moment of silence for former coach and scout Andrew “Fuzzy” Levane, who died earlier this week at 92.
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Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap May 02 2012 ESPN

Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies  Recap  May 02 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — O.J. Mayo scored 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, and the Memphis Grizzlies bounced back to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 105-98 on Wednesday night.The Grizzlies blew a 27-point lead in losing Game 1 on Sunday night and letting the Clippers grab home-court advantage in the best-of-seven, first-round Western Conference series. They got back to their physical style and evened the series.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Grizzlies-Clippers matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
• Predictions: Simulator | SportsNation
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• Clippers Report | ESPN Los Angeles
Game 3 is Saturday in Los Angeles.Rudy Gay also scored 21 points as Memphis showed off its depth with six players reaching double figures. Mike Conley had 19, Zach Randolph 15, Marreese Speights 11 and Tony Allen 10.All-Star guard Chris Paul led the Clippers with 29 points. Blake Griffin had 22, and Mo Williams and Nick Young 11 apiece.The Grizzlies had the lead going into the fourth quarter for a second straight game. This time, the Clippers got no closer than four.Memphis led 75-69 at the start of this fourth quarter, and Paul’s four-point play with 8:06 left got the Clippers to 83-79. The Grizzlies answered with Conley scoring on a driving layup, followed by another 3 from Mayo. Bobby Simmons, starting with Caron Butler out with a broken left hand, scored seven of his nine points in the fourth.
Lob City Ledger
For a quick take on Game 2 between the Clippers and Grizzlies, check the Lob City Ledger.
It wasn’t enough as Gay and Randolph combined to score six straight points with Gay’s basket giving Memphis its biggest lead of the night at 97-84 with 3:52 remaining. The Grizzlies sealed the victory by hitting six of 10 free throws in the final 47.6 seconds.Both the Clippers and Grizzlies started this game as if they simply picked up Sunday night when Los Angeles finished the game on a 28-3 run.Playing aggressively, the Clippers jumped out to a 6-1 lead as the Grizzlies missed their first four shots. Memphis didn’t hit its first shot until Conley’s driving layup with 8:19 left in the first quarter, and Gay missed his first three shots before hitting a 15-foot jumper.The Clippers shot 64.7 percent (11 of 17) in the first quarter and hit 4 of 6 at the free throw line. But they just couldn’t match the Grizzlies who outrebounded the Clippers (37-2) with a big edge on the offensive boards (16-4), which they used to outscore them 18-6 on second-chance points. Memphis also had a 46-38 edge in the paint.The emotions are starting to boil in this series, and the Grizzlies brought out wrestler Jerry “The King” Lawler came out and delivered a pile driver to someone dressed up as a Clippers’ fan.That almost seemed to help spark the Grizzlies. They opened the second quarter hitting six of their first seven shots and took their first lead on a pair of free throws by Mayo at 31-30 early in the quarter. Nick Young tied it at 37 on a 3 with 6:22 left, then Marreese Speights tipped in a bucket with 5:53 left, and the Grizzlies never trailed or were tied again. Memphis led 51-47 at halftime.Memphis hit 11 3-pointers in Game 1 and reverted back to the team that ranked 25th in the NBA from outside the arc by missing its first eight attempts Wednesday night. Mayo finally ended the drought with his 3 over Griffin with 9:32 left, and he followed with a jumper on the next possession giving Memphis an 82-73 lead.Game notes Memphis notched its eighth straight playoff sellout going back to last spring. … The Grizzlies forced Los Angeles into 21 turnovers they converted into 25 points. Memphis had just 13 turnovers. … Titans linebacker Colin McCarthy tweeted that he was in the stands for Game 2. … Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Butler will see a specialist Thursday in Los Angeles.
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Indiana Pacers vs Orlando Magic Recap May 02 2012 ESPN

Indiana Pacers vs Orlando Magic  Recap  May 02 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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ORLANDO, Fla. — Danny Granger had 26 points and nine rebounds, Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and the Indiana Pacers beat the Orlando Magic 97-74 on Wednesday night to a take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.The Pacers regained home-court advantage with the victory, riding good shooting early and building a 29-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Pacers-Magic matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
• Predictions: Simulator | SportsNation
• Playoffs schedule | TrueHoop
They also dominated scoring underneath thanks to a 46-33 rebounding edge and have outscored the Magic 81-43 in the third quarter in the series.Glen Davis led the Magic with 22 points, and J.J. Redick added 13. The Magic never led, struggled to get any scoring in the paint, and made a series-low five 3-pointers.Game 4 is Saturday in Orlando.Indiana coach Frank Vogel’s implored the Pacers after each of the first two games to make better shot selections.They finally did it in Game 3.It translated into their best shooting of the series as the Pacers built a 23-point lead in the third quarter and led 76-55 entering the fourth.Indiana had its way both inside and out, shooting 47 percent for the game (37 for 79) and holding a 42-22 edge on points in the paint.Meanwhile, aside from Davis, Orlando’s offense stalled at several points and the Magic connected on only 30 of their 71 attempts from the field.Indiana led 44-38 at the half, but started the game on an offensive tear hitting nine of its first 10 shots from the field and shot 52 percent (18 for 34) for the half.The Magic had few answers for Hill, who scored 13 points in the opening two periods.Orlando survived the fast start, though, thanks largely to Davis’ 16-point second quarter. His scoring spree featured mid-range jumpers and some baskets in the post. It all came after Davis missed all three of his shots in the first quarter.The Pacers put the Magic in a 10-point first-quarter hole for the third straight game, jumping out to a 13-3 advantage.Orlando missed its first five shots before Hedo Turkoglu hit a 3-pointer to finally put the Magic on the board.Game notes Indiana outrebounded Orlando for the third consecutive game. … Orlando G Jason Richardson started Wednesday after jamming his left thumb in the Magic’s Game 2 loss. …About a dozen Magic fans sitting near midcourt wore homemade Davis-inspired “Baby’s Crazies” t-shirts. … Wednesday was Pacers G Paul George’s birthday.
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Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs Recap May 02 2012 ESPN

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs  Recap  May 02 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker scored 18 points and the San Antonio Spurs handed Utah its second-worst playoff loss in franchise history, beating the Jazz 114-83 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round series.NBA Coach of the Year Gregg Popovich practically put the Spurs on autopilot after a 20-0 run in the second quarter that stunned the Jazz, who had vowed to play better after the Spurs easily won Game 1. But this humiliating rout was even easier.
Eastern Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Spurs-Jazz matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
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The Jazz never quite greeted Parker with the hard fouls the All-Star was supposed to have coming, and the Utah frontcourt of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap wasn’t any more imposing on offense. Jefferson scored 10 points, and Millsap had nine.Game 3 is Saturday night in Salt Lake City.The only bigger embarrassment for the Jazz in the playoffs was a 42-point loss to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals.It’s the first time the Spurs have led a series 2-0 since opening the 2008 playoffs against Phoenix. San Antonio won that series in five, and unless the Jazz can shake this off, this one will be over just as quick.If not sooner.”We were aggressive and we wanted to make sure we matched their energy,” Parker said.It was a total collapse by the Jazz in spite of flying back to Salt Lake City and regrouping with two days of practice after losing the opener Sunday. Back home, Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin admitted feeling unusually nervous before that Game 1, but said before tipoff this time that those jitters were under control.By the second quarter, Corbin appeared to be wrestling with disgust.That’s when the Spurs held the Jazz scoreless for more than 7 minutes while rookie Kawhi Leonard and unheralded swingman Danny Green outplayed the Jazz’s stars. Utah shot 5 of 28 in the second quarter and the Jazz filed off the court at halftime walking slow, heads down and quiet.It had been only minutes earlier the Jazz were as close as 31-26. But the Spurs blew the game open so comfortably and quickly that Parker and Duncan never left the bench in the fourth quarter.Jefferson and Howard, who also had 10 points, were Utah’s leading scorers.It was the most lopsided postseason win for the Spurs since beating the Nuggets by 28 in 2005. San Antonio’s playoff record is a 40-point victory over Denver in 1983.Duncan finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Leonard scored 17 points, and Green had 13.At least the Jazz didn’t look the most embarrassed the entire night. Popovich again had to show off his coach of the year trophy before the game, this time for fans while standing between Duncan and Spurs great David Robinson. Popovich obliged for several seconds before scrambling to hand the trophy off to one of his assistants as fast as possible.Game notes The last Jazz team to rally from an 0-2 deficit and win a playoff series was 2007, when Utah came back to beat Houston in the first round. The Spurs later beat that team on their way to their fourth championship. … Backup Spurs C Tiago Splitter (sprained wrist) was available to play but the rout gave Popovich the luxury of letting the big man continue to heal. Popovich said Splitter should be better by Game 3.
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Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers Recap May 01 2012 ESPN

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Lakers  Recap  May 01 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES — The Denver Nuggets ran the court and drove the lane with all the intensity they lacked in their playoff opener. They double-teamed Andrew Bynum, harassed Pau Gasol and scored relentlessly in the paint.Nope, still not enough to beat Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers. Not even enough to get a lead.
More on Lakers-Nuggets Game 2
ESPN.com
Even if the focus of opponents is shifting more toward Andrew Bynum, the Lakers are still all about Kobe Bryant, J.A. Adande writes.
Story
ESPNLosAngeles.com
The biggest factor in the Lakers’ chances of playoff success just might be their health, Dave McMenamin writes. Story
• Land O’Lakers blog | ESPN LA
Bryant scored 38 points, Bynum followed up his triple-double with a career playoff-high 27 points and nine rebounds, and the Lakers weathered Denver’s late rally for a 104-100 victory Tuesday night, taking a 2-0 series lead.Gasol had 13 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the third-seeded Lakers, who still haven’t trailed in two games despite several dicey moments in Game 2. They survived a much-improved effort by the Nuggets and Ty Lawson, who scored 25 points and led the fourth-quarter charge.Bryant was too sharp in his 83rd career 30-point playoff game, more than anybody except Michael Jordan. After last season’s second-round ouster in their failed quest for a three-peat, Bryant and his teammates are healthier and happier — and they’ve been too much for Denver.
“I think we’re just playing much better,” Bryant said. “It’s tough to play against us, because there’s legitimately three guys you have to double-team.”Game 3 is Friday in Denver.
The Lakers didn’t get out of Staples Center without a little drama. Los Angeles’ 19-point lead in the third quarter dwindled to four with 3 minutes to play, but Ramon Sessions scored four key points in the final 1:14 before Bryant’s icing free throws with 9.4 seconds left.
Western Conference Playoffs
Get all the news and commentary on the Lakers-Nuggets matchup on ESPN.com’s matchup page.
• Predictions: Simulator | SportsNation
• More: TrueHoop | Schedule | Bracket
• Lakers Report | ESPN Los Angeles
“I think losing last season, and the way we lost, we’re approaching this postseason much more focused,” Gasol said. “We’re not overlooking any team, any game. We’re doing whatever it takes to be successful. … Overall, I think we played well again. We just allowed them to play their game a little more than in the first game.”Lawson shook his awful series opener with 17 second-half points, but the sixth-seeded Nuggets lost their ninth straight road playoff game despite playing much closer to their preferred speedy tempo after the Lakers muzzled them in Game 1.Kenneth Faried had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Danilo Gallinari and Corey Brewer added 13 points apiece, but Denver still couldn’t consistently defend Bryant or negate Bynum, who played another outstanding low-post game on both ends until disappearing a bit in a three-point fourth quarter.”It’s closer, (but) when you get down 19 points and try to battle back, it takes a lot of energy,” Lawson said. “I feel like we learned a couple of things from this game. At one point in the game, we’ve got to be up. It’s tough to be battling back the whole game.”Sessions scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter for Los Angeles, which played just enough fast-break ball of its own to stay ahead of Denver — and now the Lakers are halfway to the second round. They have only lost one playoff series in franchise history after winning the first two games, going 42-1.A 14-5 run in the final minutes eventually trimmed Los Angeles’ lead to 98-84, but Sessions hit a teardrop layup with 1:14 to play, and Bryant made a slick steal on the other end. JaVale McGee’s tip-in with 30 seconds left trimmed the Lakers’ lead back to four, but Sessions and Bryant hit their free throws.”The only thing I wish is the fight of this game is what we had in Game 1,” Denver coach George Karl said. “But we’re young, and we’re learning. You saw us play a lot of Nuggets basketball today. I think it’ll get a little better in Game 3. I think the home court will be good for us. We haven’t played a good defensive game yet, so we’ll learn from this.”Jordan Hill shook off brewing legal troubles to contribute six points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who used just three reserves. Denver’s bench outscored the Lakers’ reserves 35-8.Bynum blocked just two shots after swatting 10 in the Lakers’ series-opening victory, but Denver minimized his dominance with home run passes, speedy outlets and 30 fast-break points.Karl attempted to help through the media after Game 1, saying Bynum and the Lakers played illegal defense constantly during the opener. Karl tried another gambit before Game 2, saying Staples Center is not a noisy, intimidating road building, but more like “a Broadway stage.”The Lakers were called for no illegal defenses in Game 2, and their fans were screaming for encores.Denver cut Los Angeles’ lead to four points late on consecutive hustle plays by Faried, but Bryant scrapped for a loose ball on one end and led the break to the other, feeding Bynum for a dunk — his first points of the fourth quarter — and a foul with 2:15 to play.Hill produced another strong performance off the Lakers’ bench a day after news broke of a felony assault charge against him in Houston, where he played for the Rockets before a late-season trade. Hill said Tuesday night he was “shocked” by the charges, but thinks he won’t miss any time in the Lakers’ championship quest.Game notes Lakers F Metta World Peace served the third game of his seven-game suspension. … Before the game, Denver announced F Wilson Chandler had surgery Monday to repair a torn labrum in his left hip. He should be ready for training camp in the fall. … Bryant has never lost a first-round playoff series after winning the opener, going 11-0. … Fans near courtside included Lil Wayne, David and Victoria Beckham, Poppy Montgomery and Mario Lopez.
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Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks Recap May 01 2012 ESPN

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks  Recap  May 01 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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ATLANTA — Paul Pierce knocked down the free throws to clinch it, then dropped to a knee near midcourt.He wasn’t planning on Tebowing, but it just felt right.With a stunning performance, Pierce single-handedly led the Boston Celtics to a playoff win — even without their floor leader.Pierce battled through another tough shooting night to score 36 points and the Celtics wiped out Atlanta’s 11-point lead in the second half, stunning the Hawks 87-80 on Tuesday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference series.Boston heads home for Game 3 on Friday night tied 1-1. Rajon Rondo will be back for the Celtics in that one, his shorthanded team having claimed the home-court edge even while he served a one-game suspension for bumping a ref in the postseason opener.Pierce made sure the point guard wasn’t missed, outscoring the Hawks all by himself over the last 15:08.”I have a lot of experience, a lot of confidence from being in those moments,” Pierce said. “You believe in yourself, your coach believes in you, your team believes in you, it’s a combination of all those things.”Pierce scored Boston’s first nine points but struggled mightily through the second and third quarters. He came through when the Celtics really needed him, especially with the Rondo-less offense a bit out of sync and Ray Allen sitting out again with an injured right ankle.Down the stretch, the Celtics simplified things: Give the ball to Pierce and get out of the way.”Paul was great,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. “The only way we were going to win a game like this without Ray and Rondo was if Paul had a game like this.”After making a couple of foul shots with just over a minute remaining to clinch it, Pierce paused on his way back to the bench to copy the move named after NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, sinking to a knee and bowing his head for a brief prayer in the middle of the court.”You just want to thank God for putting you in those positions,” Pierce said. “It wasn’t pre-scripted. It just came to me.”The Hawks appeared to be in control when they pushed out to a 65-54 lead late in the third quarter. But Boston sliced it to 66-61 by the end of the period, and Pierce led a dominating fourth.In wiping out the double-figure deficit, Pierce outscored the Hawks all by himself, 18-15, including 13 points in the final quarter. That was more than he had in all of Game 1, when Atlanta held Pierce to 12 points on 5-of-19 shooting.”We expected him to come out and be aggressive offensively,” Hawks coach Larry Drew said. “He got going early.”The Celtics were up 74-72 when a quick spurt essentially finished the Hawks, especially when Josh Smith went out late in the game with a sprained left knee.Joe Johnson turned it over, part of another tough game for the Hawks star, sparking a fast break that ended with a give-and-go from Avery Bradley to Pierce for a dunk. After Jeff Teague missed badly on a jumper, Pierce came down and hit his first 3-pointer of the series after missing his 10, stretching the lead to 79-72 with 3 1/2 minutes left.The Hawks called a timeout, but no need.This one was over.Atlanta’s last hurrah ended when Johnson missed a free throw with a chance to close the gap to two points with 1:35 remaining. Kevin Garnett was hacked at the other end and made both his foul shots, Johnson missed a wild 3 from the top of the key and chants of “Let’s go Celtics!” erupted at Philips Arena while the red-clad fans headed for the exits.For good measure, Pierce also led his team in rebounding with 14. Garnett had 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Bradley, who shifted over to take Rondo’s spot at the point, chipped in with 14 points but only three assists — a far cry from what the Celtics usually get out of that position.Johnson had 22 points but never got many open looks, hitting just 7 of 17 from the field. Smith had 16 points and 12 rebounds, the state of his knee now becoming a major concern for the Hawks, who already have played most of the season without Al Horford.Smith, who went out for good with 4:20 remaining, will be re-evaluated Wednesday. The Hawks surely can’t afford to lose him, too.”He is one of our go-to guys down the stretch,” Drew said. “We were missing all of the things he brings to the table for us, especially down low.”Early on, Teague was a force at both ends for the Hawks. He made a great crossover move out beyond the 3-point stripe, split the Celtics defense and went right down the lane for a massive slam. Defensively, he showed off his speed when he got caught on the wrong side trying to double-team the ball, sprinting all the way to the other corner to swat a 3-point attempt by Keyon Dooling into the crowd.Teague thumped his chest defiantly and was patted on the back by a fan wearing a vintage Hawks jersey. He finished with 18 points but missed all four of his shots in the fourth.The game definitely appeared to be going the Hawks’ way by the third quarter. When Smith tried to pass the ball inside, Boston’s Greg Stiemsma got a hand on it, but the ball deflected into the corner — right to a wide-open Johnson, standing behind the 3-point arc. With no one around, he swished the 3 to push the Hawks to their 65-54 advantage.For the longest time, the Celtics struggled to do anything right. They botched a 3-on-1 when Mickael Pietrus tried an ill-advised bounce pass, which was about the only way Atlanta’s Kirk Hinrich had any chance of breaking it up. The Hawks took off the other way, and Smith laid in an easy one.Rivers stormed out of his seat, livid at his team’s sloppiness, and signaled for a timeout. He was so mad he didn’t even want to stand near his players as they trudged to the bench, remaining out near the foul line until he regained his composure.He was feeling a lot better by the end. The Hawks made just 4 of 19 shots in the final quarter, missing all four of their 3-point attempts. They also turned it over five times.”We wanted that one at home,” Teague said. “We’ll have to go on the road and try to get the next one.”Game notes The Celtics had hoped Allen would be able to return, but his ailing right ankle had a setback after feeling relatively good Monday. … The Hawks shot just 35 percent (29 of 83). … Boston held a 45-40 edge on the boards, even while collecting just three at the offensive end.—Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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Philadelphia 76ers vs Chicago Bulls Recap May 01 2012 ESPN

Philadelphia 76ers vs Chicago Bulls  Recap  May 01 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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CHICAGO — Jrue Holiday scored 26 points, Lou Williams added 20 and the Philadelphia 76ers beat Chicago 109-92 on Tuesday night to even their first-round series in the Bulls’ first game since Derrick Rose’s season-ending knee injury.The superstar point guard received a standing ovation and waved to the crowd as he limped onto the court to present the game ball, then watched from a suite as the 76ers simply blitzed the Bulls in the third quarter.
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They outscored Chicago 36-14 in the period, turning an eight-point deficit into an 83-69 lead, and pulled even with the league’s top-seeded team. Game 3 is Friday in Philadelphia.Holiday was 11 of 15 from the field, and the Sixers shot 59 percent overall. Williams came up big, going 8 of 13 after hitting just 1 of 6 shots in the opener, and Chicago product Evan Turner chipped in with 19 points, seven rebounds and six assists.Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 21 points and eight rebounds. John Lucas III scored 15 points, but Carlos Boozer scored just nine and Luol Deng finished with eight. More alarming, the Bulls simply couldn’t stop the Sixers, particularly in the third quarter.Turner scored 11 points in the period, and Philadelphia wiped out a 55-47 deficit.The Sixers were leading 68-61 midway through the quarter after a 12-0 run that Elton Brand started with a foul-line jumper. Then, after a basket by C.J. Watson, Andre Iguodala threw down a thunderous one-handed dunk over Deng for a three-point play that drew plenty of oohs, aahs and groans from a crowd that felt this one slipping away.Things didn’t get much better for Chicago after that.The 76ers continued to pour it on, with Iguodala throwing down another vicious dunk late in the quarter and then hitting Williams with an alley-oop pass that made it 83-69 heading into the fourth.It was a rough night for the Bulls, who insist they have enough to make a championship run even though they lost Rose to a torn ACL in his left knee near the end of Game 1.After all, they know how to win without him.Rose missed 27 games during the regular season because of a variety of injuries, and the Bulls did just fine, going 18-9. Throw in injuries to Richard Hamilton and Deng, and they were able to go with their projected starting five just 15 times, yet they still captured homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs for the second straight season.Game notes The Sixers shuffled their lineup from Game 1, with Turner starting for Jodie Meeks and C Spencer Hawes for Lavoy Allen. … Scottie Pippen says the Bulls still are the team to beat even without Rose. In an open letter to the team posted Tuesday on the Bulls’ website, Pippen wrote, “You’re still the best team in the NBA until an opponent proves otherwise.” The Hall of Famer also compared the loss of Rose to Michael Jordan’s first retirement and pointed out the 1993-94 team won 55 games. Pippen said the Bulls “believed in ourselves” and never “felt sorry for ourselves.” … Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau finished second in the Coach of the Year voting to San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich after winning the award last season.
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Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder Recap April 30 2012 ESPN

Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder  Recap  April 30 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Russell Westbrook scored 29 points, Kevin Durant added 26 in an off-shooting performance and the Oklahoma City Thunder clawed out a 102-99 victory over defending champion Dallas on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.Durant hit two free throws with 50.4 seconds left to give Oklahoma City a 98-97 lead, and James Harden hit four more foul shots to close it out for the Thunder.Jason Terry missed two 3-point attempts from the left wing in the final 5 seconds that could have tied it.Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 31 points and Shawn Marion scored 15. The Mavericks led in the closing minutes of both road games but couldn’t even manage a split.Game 3 is Thursday night in Dallas.Durant put the Thunder ahead to stay after salvaging two key points with Oklahoma City inbounding the ball with only 2.6 seconds left on the shot clock. He grabbed the inbounds pass from Harden while headed toward the sideline, and Terry was called for a foul for bumping him.Durant hit both foul shots, and Nowitzki missed his chance to answer with a short jumper from the left side at the other end.Marion fouled Harden on the rebound, and the league’s top scoring reserve — only eight days removed from a concussion as the result of Metta World Peace’s elbow to the head — also converted both free throws. He hit two more with 15.6 seconds left after Terry got the Mavs within one with a driving layup.After losing both of their home games to Dallas in last year’s Western Conference finals, the Thunder barely got by in the rematch. Durant hit a jumper with 1.5 seconds left to win the first game 99-98 on Saturday night.Dallas was up seven points with 2 1/2 minutes left in Game 1 and just a point in the final minute of Game 2.Beforehand, Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks downplayed a rivalry blossoming along Interstate 35.”Right now, they beat us one time last season. I don’t know if that’s considered a rivalry,” he said. “It takes more than one or seasons, but definitely it’s there for the making.”Maybe he spoke too soon.The tension escalated quickly after Serge Ibaka tried to block Nowitzki’s jumper midway through the first quarter and smacked him in the left eye on his follow-through, without getting called for a foul. Nowitzki hit another jumper along the baseline on Dallas’ next possession before he got shoved in the back by Kendrick Perkins while jockeying for rebounding position on a made 3-pointer by Durant.Perkins followed Nowitzki for a few steps before Nowitzki bumped him away, and Perkins responded by taking a swing at Nowitzki’s head with his open hand. Official Zach Zarba stepped in front of Perkins and backed him away, and both were assessed technical fouls.The Thunder erupted a few minutes later, scoring the final nine points of the first quarter — all within an 82-second span — to go up 32-24 and then carrying over the momentum after the break.Derek Fisher hit three jumpers and Dallas started the second quarter just 2 for 8 from the field and committed five turnovers as Oklahoma City charged to a 46-30 lead with 5:55 left before halftime to prompt Mavs coach Rick Carlisle’s third timeout in less than 3 1/2 minutes.When Nowitzki and Perkins finally got back on the court together, the Mavericks’ All-Star exacted some revenge while getting his team back in the game. He went on a personal 10-2 run, with all of the points coming while he was matched up against Perkins, to get the deficit down to 50-47.The Mavs pulled ahead in the first 5 minutes of the second half, as the game turned into a foul fest and the Thunder made only one basket in the first 7 minutes.Game notes After going back and forth responding to each other’s comments on how Oklahoma City’s defense on Nowitzki was officiated in Game 1, Brooks insisted any dispute with Carlisle wasn’t personal. Years ago, the two roomed together while playing in the Continental Basketball Association. “He was a good roommate. He didn’t snore,” Brooks said. “That’s all it takes. Buy me a meal every now and then and not snore, you’re a perfect roommate.” He later playfully retorted: “If you want it to be personal, I was a better player. How many years did I play in the league? How many years did he play? I played over a decade. He played three.” … Marion hadn’t made a playoff 3-pointer since 2007 before making two in Game 1. He had another in Game 2. … Ibaka, who tied his regular season best with 22 points in the first game, got into foul trouble and scored only two.
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New York Knicks vs Miami Heat Recap April 30 2012 ESPN

New York Knicks vs Miami Heat  Recap  April 30 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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MIAMI — Amare Stoudemire walked out of the visiting locker-room showers late Monday night with one towel wrapped around his waist, another over his left hand.He was silent as he briskly walked into the privacy of the training room. But this much is clear: What happened in the moments after Game 2 ended may hurt the New York Knicks more than anything that happened on the court against the Miami Heat.Stoudemire needed treatment and stitches from doctors and paramedics after cutting his left hand shortly after the Heat beat the Knicks 104-94, taking a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series and sending New York to its NBA-record-tying 12th straight postseason loss.”We’re all frustrated,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said.Dwyane Wade scored 25 points, Chris Bosh added 21 and LeBron James finished with 19 points, nine assists and seven rebounds for the Heat.”You never want to hear anyone gets hurt,” Wade said. “Hopefully he gets better. We want all their guns on the court.”Everything the Heat did seemed like old news quickly after the game, when all anyone really wanted to talk about was what was going on in the Knicks locker room. Miami-Dade paramedics — who staff every game — were summoned while reporters were kept outside much longer than the typical 10-minute cooling-off period.”I really don’t know what’s the situation with that,” said Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, who said he was “on the court” when whatever happened with Stoudemire occurred.Anthony scored 30 points on 12-for-26 shooting for New York, which got 18 points from Stoudemire and 13 apiece from Tyson Chandler and J.R. Smith. The only other team to lose 12 straight playoff games is the Memphis Grizzlies, who dropped their first dozen postseason contests from 2004 through 2006.New York’s last postseason win came April 29, 2001. The Knicks get another chance to snap the drought Thursday when they host Game 3.Mario Chalmers scored 13 points and Mike Miller and Shane Battier each shot 3 for 5 from 3-point range on their way to 11-point games for the defending East champion Heat, who shot 52 percent.”Every game we try to find our shooters, get them comfortable in the offense and once they catch them, they can let it fly,” James said. “It was concerted effort tonight to get them the ball and move the ball from one side to the other.”Baron Davis, who sat most of the first half and has been battling back issues, finished with 12 points for the Knicks.Along with the Grizzlies, the Knicks were one of four teams in NBA history with 11-game postseason losing streaks, according to STATS LLC, joining Denver (1988-94) and the Baltimore Bullets (1965-70).The Heat came into the game saying they expected Anthony to be much more aggressive. They were right.Anthony opened with an 11-shot quarter — the last time someone took more in the first 12 minutes of a playoff game was May 15, 2006, when Richard Hamilton got 12 shots off for Detroit against Cleveland. Anthony missed all seven of the jumpers he took in Game 1 when guarded by James, then got his first one to fall on the game’s first possession Monday.By halftime, Anthony was up to 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting, the Knicks needing all that and more. Wade, James and Bosh combined for 41 points in the first two quarters, helping Miami take a 53-47 lead.Unlike Game 1, it wasn’t over by halftime. And play was heated, just not overheated.Chandler, who set a back pick that sent James tumbling late in Saturday’s first half, picked up a technical for taunting early in the second quarter when he went over Miller for a putback dunk and then glared at him for a few moments. A few minutes later, James did a fist-pump toward the seats after a layup late in the half.But whenever Miami was on the cusp of pulling away, New York had answers.Consecutive baskets by James midway through the third quarter, the second of those good enough for him to merit it worthy of a chest-bump and long look at the Knicks bench, put Miami up 67-56 — then its biggest lead. Four minutes later, the Knicks were within four, a dunk by Chandler making it 72-68 with 1:37 left in the period.Miami’s margin was back to nine after a flurry ended the quarter. James drove right and got just about every Knick to shift with him, leaving Battier all alone for a 3-pointer, and James’ three-point play as the shot clock was running down had him laughing and the Heat up 78-69 going into the fourth.The Knicks never got any closer, and the Heat wound up holding serve at home.”We did what we’re supposed to do,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s not anything more than that. We’re already trying to leave this game behind.”Game notes It was Miami’s 57th straight home postseason sellout. … Knicks G Mike Bibby came out of one of his shoes during play early in the second quarter, then got miffed after Wade picked up the sneaker and tossed it out of his reach as New York took the ball into the offensive end. “I don’t think many people have done that before,” Wade said. … Stoudemire missed two free throws with 54.2 seconds left in the third quarter, then got to try the second one again after James was called for a lane violation — and missed that as well. … Heat F Udonis Haslem bought tickets for relatives of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. on Feb. 26. … Knicks G Iman Shumpert, who will have surgery this week to repair a torn ligament in his left knee, watched from the locker room. … It’s the first time the Heat have held a 2-0 series lead over the Knicks. All four previous matchups were split after the opening two games.
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Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies Recap April 29 2012 ESPN

Los Angeles Clippers vs Memphis Grizzlies  Recap  April 29 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Chris Paul begged coach Vinny Del Negro to put him back into the game for the fourth quarter and not give up despite being down 21 points.The result was another Clippers comeback — one of the greatest in NBA playoff history.Paul hit a pair of free throws with 23.7 seconds left, and the Clippers rallied from a deficit that had been as much as 27 to stun the Memphis Grizzlies 99-98 Sunday night in the opening game of their Western Conference series.The key, Paul said, is to keep believing.”Unfortunately, that’s how we play,” he said. “We get killed in the first three quarters and in the fourth quarter we like to try to stand up for ourselves, and we found a way to win tonight.”The Clippers tied the NBA playoff record for largest deficit overcome at the end of three quarters, when they trailed by 21.”I don’t think I’ve been part of a game like that ever,” Clippers forward Blake Griffin said. “It was unbelievable.”Rudy Gay missed a 15-footer with 0.9 seconds left after the Grizzlies squandered a lead they held for the first 47 minutes, with a 24-point cushion disappearing in about nine minutes.”Obviously, we gave it away, and everybody’s kind of down,” Gay said. “We’re still into it. It’s a long series, and we’re ready to fight. That’s all this means. We’ve got to fight hard.”The Clippers lost Caron Butler to a broken left hand, and he said he thinks he caught his hand in Gay’s jersey on a screen. Del Negro said other players will have to step up.Nick Young did just that, scoring 19 points off the bench with three 3-pointers in the midst of the Clippers’ 26-1 run. Paul finished with 14 points while playing a team-high 38 minutes despite a groin injury that kept him out of the regular season finale against the Knicks. Griffin had 17 and Butler 12 before leaving the game.Young said he didn’t even see the score, being on the court down the stretch for a change. He said he looked up late and saw they had a game when he started hitting his shots.”It’s crazy. It’s a blessing,” Young said. “It shows how hard we fought. How we rallied together as a team, and just made stops down the end.”Gay finished with 19 for Memphis. Mike Conley and O.J. Mayo had 17, and Marc Gasol scored 14.Game 2 is Wednesday night.The Clippers outscored the Grizzlies 35-13 in the fourth quarter, the most points in the final period by a Memphis opponent this season. Los Angeles also hit 13 of 17 from the floor, including 5 of 6 beyond the arc after hitting only one the first three quarters.The Grizzlies looked ready to roll as they ran out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and were up by 27 twice in the third, the last on a pair of free throws by Mayo with 1:34 left.The Clippers finally got going in the fourth, as the Grizzlies looked like they shut it down way too soon. They had five turnovers in the fourth. Even though the Clippers had seven themselves, the Grizzlies looked lost as they just lost the ball going into the lane or put up shots that had no chance of going in.”We just got careless,” Memphis coach Lionel Hollins said. “We just lost a little bit of our discipline from a defensive perspective. But offensively, we just started walking it up and trying to throw it into the post instead of running it in. We ran earlier. We attacked. We were in transition earlier. We just stopped doing that and got conservative and it cost us.”Reggie Evans gave the Clippers their first lead at 97-96 when he scored inside with 58 seconds left.Gay answered with 28 seconds to go with a 10-foot jumper on the right baseline over Paul, ending a drought where the Grizzlies went nearly 9 minutes without a field goal.Tony Allen fouled Paul, sending him to the line for the clinching free throws.Boston came back from 21 down after three quarters against New Jersey on May 25, 2002.The Grizzlies had won six straight overall and the last 11 on their home floor to grab the No. 4 seed and start this series at home. Mayo said there would be no sleep until they fix what went wrong.”We turned something that we worked so hard for — home-court advantage — to an ugly loss in Game 1,” Mayo said. “We’ve got to come back Game 2 with the attitude we can’t quit.”The Grizzlies seemed to be clicking all across the board. They even hit 11 of 16 from 3-point range after ranking 25th in the NBA this season beyond the arc at 34.5 percent. Against the Clippers, they opened by hitting their four. So did Conley, and he hit three straight, the last with 7:19 left in the third, putting the Grizzlies up 69-48.Memphis fans couldn’t have been more ready for this chance to start the postseason at home with a sellout crowd on hand. With a good luck charm in a St. Jude patient singing the national anthem, fans had their free T-shirts on and waving the free towels before tipoff.The Grizzlies were ready too. They opened the game hitting their first five shots and seven of the first 10 in jumping out 15-6, forcing Del Negro to take a timeout. They quickly led by as much as 20 and had a 34-16 lead by the end of the first quarter, tying the most points scored this season in that period.This is the Clippers’ first trip to the postseason since 2006. Paul has plenty of playoff experience with 23 games while in New Orleans, but this was the postseason debut for three starters — Griffin, Randy Foye and DeAndre Jordan — along with four of their teammates.Paul looked a little rusty in the first half with only one point and three assists, all in the first quarter. He sat out the Clippers’ final game of the season with a strained groin, and Los Angeles lost that game to the Knicks along with the chance to start this series at home. Paul picked up his third foul with 6.5 seconds left in the first half.The Clippers made a run in the second quarter and got within 50-39. But after Gay missed a pull-up jumper, the Clippers had a shot clock violation. The Grizzlies scored the final eight points, the last on a dunk by Gasol just before the buzzer for a 58-39 halftime lead.Game notes The Grizzlies scored 34 in a quarter three other times. … The Grizzlies went 17-1 when leading after the first and 16-1 when leading at halftime. The lone loss came in double overtime March 13 to the Lakers. … The Grizzlies made nine 3-pointers twice during the season, the last on April 3 against Golden State.
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Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks Recap April 29 2012 ESPN

Boston Celtics vs Atlanta Hawks  Recap  April 29 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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ATLANTA — The Boston Celtics lost Game 1 — and they may have lost their floor leader for Game 2.Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds as the Atlanta Hawks built a big lead early, then held on for an 83-74 victory over the Celtics in their opener of the Eastern Conference playoffs Sunday night.But this one will be remembered for what happened in the final minute, not the Hawks’ blistering start. While complaining about a call, Boston star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official and faces a possible suspension when the teams meet again Tuesday night in Atlanta.”I didn’t intentionally chest-bump him, but that’s what it appears to be,” Rondo said.The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the first half, were clinging to a four-point lead when Rondo lost his cool with 41 seconds remaining. Boston’s Brandon Bass was called for a foul on Smith tussling for a loose ball, with both players sprawled on the court out beyond the foul line. Rondo screamed at official Marc Davis, who quickly called a technical. Rondo then bumped Davis with his chest and was tossed out.A suspension could be coming, too.Rondo, who scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists, clearly appeared to stick out his chest to strike the official. That’s a huge no-no and will almost surely draw the wrath of NBA Commissioner David Stern.”It’s out of my control,” Rondo said. “Obviously, I want to be there for my teammates but other than that, it’s out of my control.”Getting in some immediate lobbying, Celtics coach Doc Rivers saw things a bit differently than the replay showed. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t think Rondo deserves a suspension.”I’m always worried, but I would be surprised if that happens,” Rivers said. “I thought Rondo was walking toward Marc, and Marc turned back toward him, and that’s when Rondo bumped him. … That’s all it was, in my opinion. But we’ll see.”Rondo had a similar take.”Obviously I was upset about the call and I said some words to Marc. I deserved the first tech,” Rondo said. “As I was walking, I thought he stopped. My momentum carried me into him. I even think I tripped on his foot.”At the beginning, the Hawks looked much quicker and faster than the aging Celtics. With every starter outside of Jason Collins contributing at least four points, Atlanta raced to a 20-6 lead with the game just over 5 minutes old. The Hawks twice pushed the margin as high as 19 points and settled for a 49-35 edge at halftime.Smith totally outplayed Boston’s Kevin Garnett over the first two quarters, going into the break with 15 points, 11 rebounds and two assists. Garnett had only two points on 1-of-9 shooting.”He was an animal,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said of Smith. “When he’s playing with that energy, he just makes us so much better.”Smith had to carry the load. The Hawks’ other big gun, Joe Johnson, had a miserable night with 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, committing more turnovers (four) than he made field goals. He was 0 of 9 from 3-point range.The Hawks got sloppy with the ball and made only 20-of-60 shots after their blistering performance in opening quarter. That allowed the Celtics to edge back into the game, and it looked as though they might just pull off the comeback until Rondo’s big blunder.”We came out like our jerseys were going to win the game, because we’re the Celtics,” Rivers said. “You’ve got to play to win the game.”Smith said he was definitely fouled as he scrambled for the loose ball with Bass.”That was the right call they made,” Smith said of the potentially series-altering play. “I’m not sure what happened with Rondo. That will be up to the league to see what he did wrong. You never know what’s going to happen, but we’ll definitely factor him in going to tomorrow.”Garnett bounced back to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Paul Pierce had only 12 points, going 5 of 19 from the field and missing all six of his 3-point attempts.”For us to win, I have to be a better player,” Pierce said. “I was a really big culprit.”Both teams were short-handed.Celtics guard Ray Allen missed a playoff game for the first time in his career, watching from the bench in a suit and tie because of an ailing right ankle. He would’ve already had surgery if it was earlier in the year, but the 36-year-old member of Boston’s Big Three is hoping to heal in time for possibly his last hurrah in Beantown.The Hawks, meanwhile, started third-stringer Collins at center. Al Horford missed most of the year with a pectoral injury and has been ruled out for the entire series, and the guy who took his place, rugged Zaza Pachulia, went down late in the regular season with a sprained left foot.Pachulia famously went forehead-to-forehead with Garnett during an opening-round series in 2008, and the Hawks wondered how they would fare without the Georgian’s toughness. Just fine, it turned out.Of course, the teams were much more closely matched heading into this series than they were in their last playoff meeting. In 2008, the Celtics won 66 games and were the top seed in the East, setting up for a run to their most recent NBA championship. The Hawks were the eighth seed, a team that went 37-45 and made the postseason for the first time in nine years. Still, they managed to push the Celtics to seven games.This time, Boston won the season series 2-1, the three games decided by a total of 10 points, and Atlanta finished one game ahead in the conference standings to earn home-court advantage.Now the big question is: Will Rondo get to play in Game 2?”I don’t think it was on purpose,” Pierce said, “but it’s up to the league.”Game notes Allen and Pachulia are both listed as day-to-day. … The Hawks have never beaten Boston in the playoffs since moving to Atlanta in 1968, losing six straight postseason meetings. … The teams met four times in the finals when the Hawks were based in St. Louis. Boston won three of those series, the Hawks only playoff win over the Celtics a 4-2 triumph to capture the title in 1958.—Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
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Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs Recap April 29 2012 ESPN

Utah Jazz vs San Antonio Spurs  Recap  April 29 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO — Tony Parker scored 28 points and the San Antonio Spurs won their first playoff opener in four years, beating the Utah Jazz 106-91 in Game 1 of their first-round series Sunday.Tim Duncan added 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Spurs dodge another early playoff letdown. Despite boasting the No. 1 seed again, San Antonio hadn’t won a Game 1 in its last six postseason series — including the one that began a shocking first-round ouster last year.Paul Millsap led Utah with 20 points. The Jazz hung close until the third, when the NBA’s top 3-point shooting team began burying Utah with three in a two-minute burst to finish the quarter.The Spurs have won 11 in a row.Game 2 is Wednesday in San Antonio.Gordon Hayward scored 17 points and Al Jefferson had 16 for the Jazz. It was Utah’s first playoff game without coach Jerry Sloan since 2008, but the younger Jazz couldn’t take advantage of their bigger frontcourt.The Spurs hadn’t won a playoff opener since beating Phoenix in double-overtime in 2008. That was also around the last time that the Spurs entered the playoffs as healthy as they are now, though they didn’t leave this game entirely scot-free.Center Tiago Splitter sprained his left wrist and didn’t return after scoring four points in 8 minutes. The severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known, but even with arguably the deepest Spurs team in the Duncan era, San Antonio would sorely miss their 7-footer.Parker shook off a slow start to shoot 10 of 19 from the floor. He also had eight assists in his best playoff game since scoring 43 against Dallas in 2009.The Jazz may be bigger, but are well short on playoff experience compared to the Spurs. To that end, Utah coach Tyrone Corbin put Josh Howard back in the starting lineup for Game 1, even though the Jazz rolled into the postseason winners of five in a row with DeMare Carroll at small forward.Howard had knee surgery in March and returned Tuesday against Phoenix. Whatever concerns Corbin harbored of Howard disrupting Utah’s recent chemistry were allayed by his six playoff stints in Dallas, including his starting role in the Mavericks’ run to the 2006 NBA Finals.”There was no apprehension,” Corbin said before tipoff. “We know who he is. We’re going to need all the experience we can get.”Yet Howard didn’t deliver any instant veteran dividend. He was 0 for 4 and played 16 minutes, sitting out much of the second half.The Spurs made their own lineup tweak. Boris Diaw started alongside Duncan in the frontcourt, making for a pairing that undersized San Antonio could stick with for the playoffs. Diaw arrived in San Antonio in March with a dismal defensive reputation, but coach Gregg Popovich said before the game that his newest big man has turned out to be a better than first thought.Not that Diaw’s scoring touch wasn’t needed. While Duncan labored through a rough first half — scoring 7 points on 3 of 8 shooting, including Derrick Favors eliciting more than few “oohs” for swatting one of Duncan’s would-be dunks — Diaw also scored 7 in the half while missing just one shot.Duncan, who turned 36 this week, finally found his groove in the second half. He was 7 of 14 from the floor in his first game in nearly a week after Popovich gave his Big Three an extended rest to ensure their health for the playoffs.Game notes The Jazz fell to 1-4 against the Spurs this year, with their only win coming in Salt Lake City when Duncan, Ginobili and Parker didn’t play. …The Jazz shot 4 of 13 from behind the 3-point line.
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Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder Recap April 28 2012 ESPN

Dallas Mavericks vs Oklahoma City Thunder  Recap  April 28 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY — Kevin Durant scored 25 points and hit the game-winning jumper from the foul line with 1.5 seconds left to lift the Oklahoma City Thunder to a 99-98 victory over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.Durant maneuvered to the free throw line and got off a high-arcing shot over Shawn Marion that hit off the front of the rim and then off the backboard before falling through.The defending NBA champion Mavericks, who were out of timeouts, could not get a shot off before the buzzer.Dirk Nowitzki scored 11 of his 25 points in the final 5 minutes and hit two free throws with 9 seconds left to put Dallas ahead. Jason Terry added 20 points and Marion scored 17.Russell Westbrook led the Thunder with 28 points and Serge Ibaka chipped in 22 points and five blocks.James Harden scored 19 in his first game since suffering a concussion when the Los Angeles Lakers’ Metta World Peace hit him with an elbow last Sunday and earned a seven-game suspension.The second-seeded Thunder played catch-up most of the night and had to wipe away a 94-87 deficit in the final 2 1/2 minutes to come away with the win. Durant capped a string of seven straight Oklahoma City points on a right-handed slam with 1:27 remaining.Dallas went back ahead with an out-of-control possession, with Harden knocking the ball away from Jason Kidd and then Nowitzki losing it, too, before Vince Carter missed a desperation baseline jumper. Ian Mahinmi rebounded the miss and got fouled, stepping to the line to hit two free throws with 1:03 to play.Durant drove to set up Ibaka’s three-point play at the other end, bumping the Thunder ahead 97-96. Nowitzki committed a turnover and Durant missed along the baseline before the two All-Stars came through in the clutch — with Durant getting the last chance.Durant, who hit the third and most recent buzzer-beater in his career to beat Dallas in the fourth game of the regular season, had another dramatic shot in store.Considering his dominance in last year’s West finals, when he averaged 32.2 points, Nowitzki had been relatively quiet until the final 5 minutes. That’s when he put Dallas in control with a personal 7-1 run, finished off by his three-point play that made it 92-85 with 3:23 to go.He then answered Westbrook’s layup with a foul line jumper to restore the seven-point advantage, but it didn’t prove to be enough.The Mavs had eliminated the Thunder in five games in last year’s Western Conference finals, winning both games in Oklahoma City and overcoming fourth-quarter deficits of 15 and eight points in the final two games.This time, the roles were reversed.The Mavericks opened an early eight-point lead as Durant missed his first four shots, only to give it back when Durant hit his next three to fuel a 12-3 comeback. The game continued to swing back and forth, with Terry hitting a 3-pointer and a banked-in jumper during a string of nine straight points to make it 35-27 after a rare Nowitzki basket.Ibaka had a pair of two-handed slams during Oklahoma City’s immediate 10-1 response, only for Dallas to recover for a 51-48 halftime lead.Another 9-0 burst, featuring Terry’s fourth 3-pointer, gave Dallas a 73-66 edge in the final minute of the third quarter.Nowitzki, like Durant, came out cold and missed his first four shots and seven of his first nine. He even missed a first-quarter free throw, a rare sight in last year’s West finals when he went 59 for 61 at the line and made all 24 of his attempts to set an NBA record in Game 1.Game notes A shot originally ruled a 3-pointer by Terry in the final minute of the first quarter was corrected to a 2 when instant replay showed his left foot was on the line. … Oklahoma City won three of the four regular-season games between the teams. … Backup center Nazr Mohammed was dropped from the Thunder rotation. He played in 63 of 66 regular-season games but didn’t play in the final two games against Dallas despite being healthy.
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Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz Recap April 24 2012 ESPN

Phoenix Suns vs Utah Jazz  Recap  April 24 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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SALT LAKE CITY — Al Jefferson got two stiches over his left eye and returned to the game. Nothing was going to keep him from getting the Utah Jazz into the playoffs.When it mattered most, Jefferson came up huge, scoring eight straight points late in the fourth quarter to seal Utah’s 100-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns and earn the Jazz the Western Conference’s last playoff berth.”It’s good to make people eat their words,” Jefferson said of doubters who thought Utah was too young and inexperienced to reach the postseason. “That’s what we did. Now it’s time to go and shock the world.”Jefferson left the game with 7:30 remaining in the third quarter after suffering a gash over his left eye.”You should have seen me back there rushing the doctors,” Jefferson said.He returned just as teammate Derrick Favors picked up his fourth foul. Then in the fourth, April’s Western Conference player of the month took over.The Suns trailed 85-80 when Jefferson dunked off a baseline move then hit an 18-footer to start his personal run. He finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds, accepted high-fives from his teammates then raised his right index finger skyward and punched the air as the final buzzer ended.”We contained Al for three quarters and then he started scoring all over the place,” Phoenix center Marcin Gortat said. “He got hot.”Jefferson had put all the pressure on himself, calling Tuesday the biggest game of his career as he sought to get back to the playoffs for the first time since he was a rookie with Boston in 2005.The victory halted Utah’s seven-game losing streak to the Suns, dating to March 2010.The Jazz can still move up to the No. 7 seed if they beat Portland on Thursday at home and Denver loses its final two games.The Suns, meanwhile, will miss the playoffs for the second consecutive season.Phoenix’s regular-season finale at home against San Antonio on Wednesday could be Steve Nash’s final game for the Suns. The two-time MVP and eight-time All-Star will become a free agent this summer and is seeking a three-year deal.”Phoenix feels like my team,” he said as he iced down and enjoyed a beer with Jazz assistant Jeff Hornacek in the locker room. “It has the feel — and you don’t always get it in professional sports — but it feels like a high school or college team. I spent so many years here and had so much success here. It’s a special place for me, no question.”Nash finished with 14 points and 11 assists but also had 5 turnovers.Jared Dudley and Michael Redd scored 15 apiece for Phoenix, and Hakim Warrick had 12 for the Suns, who were without 6-foot-11 forward Channing Frye because of a shoulder injury.Forward Grant Hill tried to play after missing four games with a sore knee. But he started 0-for-3 and lasted only 3 minutes.”Their bigs gave us a really hard time,” Nash said. “Without Channing and Grant, it would have been just too much to ask.”It didn’t help that the Jazz have a new big three. It used to be Karl Malone, John Stockton and coach Jerry Sloan.Now it’s a lineup that features Jefferson at center, moves Paul Millsap to small forward and inserts Favors, a second-year pro, at power forward. Tuesday night they combined for 57 points, 42 rebounds and 8 blocked shots.”On the offensive end, it creates a mismatch,” said Millsap, who led Utah with 26 points and 15 rebounds. “On the defensive end you got me out there roaming, and got two shot-blockers down the middle. We got the best of both worlds.”The Jazz return to the playoffs after missing out last season after Hall of Famer Sloan abruptly resigned Feb. 10, 2011, and the team traded superstar point guard Deron Williams two weeks later.They did it despite being two games under .500 after a March 14 loss at Phoenix, playing lineups jumbled by injuries and by giving their under-21 players plenty of playing time.Utah also has played seven overtime games, including a double-OT loss to Toronto, triple-OT win over Dallas and quadruple-OT loss in Atlanta. Seventeen other games have been decided by five points or fewer.The Jazz go into the playoffs with seven of their 14 players age 26 or younger, including four who are 21 or younger — Gordon Hayward, Favors, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.Though young, they are on a roll. Tuesday’s win was their fourth straight, much to the delight of the crowd, which rose to its feet and chanted “playoffs, playoffs” toward game’s end.Jefferson cracked up at the thought.He’s used to hearing chants for the No. 1 draft pick.”Seven long years, seven long years since I’ve been in the playoffs,” Jefferson said. “It’s a great opportunity. A lot of people counted us out. It’s a great group of guys and everyone on our team deserves it.”Game notes The Jazz announced backup PG Earl Watson won’t play again until next season after right knee surgery April 17. … Jazz SG Raja Bell was active for the first time after missing 13 games with a knee injury but did not play. … Favors’ five blocks in the first half tied his career high. … Hayward tied a career high with eight assists.
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Portland Trail Blazers vs San Antonio Spurs Recap April 23 2012 ESPN

Portland Trail Blazers vs San Antonio Spurs  Recap  April 23 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO — The San Antonio Spurs have locked up another No. 1 seed.Now comes trying not to blow it again.Tim Duncan scored 18 points in what might have been his last game before the playoffs start this weekend, now that the Spurs have clinched the top spot in the Western Conference after beating the Portland Trail Blazers 124-89 on Monday night.The Spurs won their eighth straight but won’t care about the streak or little else with two now-meaningless regular season games left. All that will matter is their Big Three reaching the postseason fully healthy for the first time since 2008, and that likely means an easy week ahead for Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.”It’s great to be in that situation, but as we showed last year, someone can sneak up and take you out easily,” Duncan said. “Hopefully we get a much better effort this year and do a much better job this year, and we stay away from those injuries.”After cruising to the No. 1 spot last season against all expectations, the Spurs bowed out as just the fourth top seed to lose in the first round. This latest one — their sixth top seed in the Duncan era — is somehow even more surprising. Two days before Duncan turns 36, the NBA’s standard-bearers beat out the young Oklahoma City Thunder for ultimate home-court advantage.Wesley Matthews had 24 points for the Trail Blazers, who lost their sixth straight and have one game left in a tumultuous season in which the franchise effectively hit the reset button.J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Portland. Raymond Felton scored 13 points and Jonny Flynn had 10 on a night when the injury-depleted Trail Blazers again only used nine players.”If we knew we were going into the playoffs, of course we’re going to keep playing,” Matthews said. “But now, short-handed, nine players — I’m never going to say I’m looking forward to not playing basketball. But the season’s winding down for us and we got one more left.”San Antonio could also know its first-round opponent as early as Tuesday. That’s when Phoenix plays at Utah in a game that could decide the No. 8 seed.Danny Green also had 18 points for the Spurs, while Parker scored 13 and Stephen Jackson and Gary Neal both added 12.Neal left in the fourth quarter clutching his shoulder after colliding with Portland’s Kurt Thomas. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said X-rays were negative and called it a stinger.Duncan wouldn’t predict how Popovich would set his lineup the rest of the week to prevent any other scares.”Obviously, we don’t want to do to go into a game somebody get hurt from some silly play,” Duncan said.Portland is skidding toward a merciful end of its first season out of the playoffs in four years. Their losing streak is at a season high and interim coach Kaleb Canales — who grew up two hours south in the border city of Laredo — was humiliated in his homecoming.”It was a great challenge for us coming in, playing a team that had a lot to play for tonight. We’re getting thrown into the fire and we just didn’t respond on the defensive end of the floor,” Canales said.It was the Trail Blazers’ most lopsided defeat since Canales took over in March after Nate McMillan was fired. Before the game Canales, the NBA’s first Mexican-American coach, played down the emotion of being home with a caravan of friends and family watching in the stands.Not to mention working down the bench from the coach who taught him basketball basics as a kid.Canales is 33. Popovich, when he was an assistant under then-Spurs coach Larry Brown in the late 1980s, would join other Spurs coaches and players on promotional bus tours along the Texas border to drum up interest. Popovich still recalls one of the youngsters at a stop outside a Laredo grocery store.”I taught him all he knows as far as dribbling skills are concerned in the parking lot at the H-E-B,” Popovich said.Game notes The 35-point win tied for San Antonio’s biggest blowout this season. …Canales said he cold-called Spurs general manager R.C. Buford while trying to get his break in the NBA. Buford had nothing for him, but Canales said he was nice enough to call back.
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Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers Recap April 22 2012 ESPN

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Los Angeles Lakers  Recap  April 22 2012  ESPN

Source:ESPN.com news services
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ESPN.com news services
LOS ANGELES — Metta World Peace was subdued and contrite in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room, apologizing to Oklahoma City’s James Harden for throwing the elbow that sent them both to the locker room in the second quarter and left Harden with a concussion.They both missed a beauty of a game that could echo into the postseason for two division leaders.Kobe Bryant scored six of his 26 points in the second overtime alongside an unorthodox Lakers lineup, and Los Angeles rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half for a 114-106 victory over the Thunder on Sunday.Pau Gasol had 20 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who made an impressive comeback in their regular-season home finale against off-target Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined to miss 42 of their 56 shots. Los Angeles’ rally stunned the Thunder and set an early tone for their possible second-round playoff matchup.
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“It’s not so much that we beat Oklahoma, but how we did it,” said Bryant, who shook off his own woeful shooting game with two key 3-pointers late in regulation. “In the playoffs, particularly if you don’t have home-court advantage, you’re going to have games like this. We have to have the poise and the confidence to just keep chipping away.”Yet everything after halftime was colored by the drama and violence that occurred 1:37 before the break.World Peace had just dunked over Durant and Serge Ibaka on a fast break and was headed back upcourt when he ran into Harden. While pounding his chest with his right arm, World Peace raised his left elbow over Harden’s shoulder and cleanly hit Harden in the back of the skull.Harden dropped to the court and stayed down for about a minute before heading to the locker room. Ibaka and other Thunder players challenged World Peace, but were kept apart, and World Peace was ejected after officials reviewed the tape.”I got real emotional and excited, and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with the unintentional elbow,” said World Peace, who had scored 12 points and played solid defense on Durant. “I hope he’s OK. Oklahoma, they’re playing for a championship this year. I apologize to the Thunder and James Harden. It was just unfortunate.”Later, World Peace took to Twitter to share his thoughts and expressed remorse over the incident. “I just watched the replay again….. Oooo.. My celebration of the dunk really was too much… Didn’t even see James ….. Omg… Looks bad,” World Peace tweeted.The Thunder initially declined to disclose Harden’s condition, but later confirmed the concussion. Harden, who scored 14 points, now faces a rigorous process before he can return to action under the NBA’s recently instituted concussion policy.If a player is diagnosed with a concussion, he will have to complete a series of steps to confirm that he’s healthy enough for competition. Once he is symptom free, the player must make it through increasing stages of exertion — from a stationary bike, to jogging, to agility work, to non-contact team drills — while ensuring the symptoms don’t return after each one.Bryant and other Lakers acknowledged World Peace is likely to face a multigame suspension with just one game left in their regular season.”I can’t speculate (how many games),” Bryant said. “I’m sure he’ll have some type of a suspension. And James, I hope he’s OK. I haven’t heard anything about how he’s doing, but he’s one of my favorite players in the league, one of my young boys, so I hope he’s doing all right.””I’m just happy my teammate is all right,” said Durant, who scored 35 points on 11-for-34 shooting. “It was a bad play. Hopefully Ron didn’t do it intentionally or have any malicious intentions on that. We’ve got to move past that.”Ibaka had 18 points and 14 rebounds for the Thunder, who led by 11 points with 4 minutes left in regulation. Westbrook had 14 points on 3-for-22 shooting and 10 assists as Oklahoma City fell a full game behind San Antonio atop the Western Conference with just its third loss in nine games.Despite the loss, Durant finally passed Bryant in the race for both superstars’ third NBA scoring title. Durant, the two-time defending scoring champion, is averaging 27.906 points with two to play, while Bryant — the NBA’s top scorer for nearly the entire regular season — slipped back into second at 27.862 points per game with just one game left.The Lakers rallied with seldom-used Devin Ebanks and Jordan Hill alongside Bryant, Gasol and backup point guard Steve Blake, who hit three key 3-pointers. Ebanks had eight points and two key defensive plays in the final minute, while Hill had 14 points and a career high-tying 15 rebounds.”Being down double digits against a very good team, we could have folded easily,” Lakers coach Mike Brown said. “This might have been our best team win of the year.”Bryant struggled through the first three quarters of his first home game since April 6 before coming alive down the stretch during Los Angeles’ rally. Bryant then hit the tiebreaking fall-away jumper with 52 seconds left in the second overtime, followed by two free throws as the Lakers hung on.Even with Harden unavailable to provide his usual offensive boost, the Thunder could only blame themselves for a 4-for-19 fourth quarter with four turnovers, followed by a 5-for-17 effort in the two overtime periods.”I believe in Kevin, I believe in Russell, I believe in what our guys do,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “Some nights they’re not going to fall for you, but if the execution is good and the shots are good, you have to live with the results.”World Peace was making major contributions to the Lakers on both ends of the court before his ejection for yet another unpredictable outburst in the erstwhile Ron Artest’s long history of misbehavior.World Peace, who changed his name last year, has been mostly well-behaved during his three seasons with the Lakers, even winning an award as the NBA’s citizen of the year for his extensive charity work around mental-health issues. Yet he’ll always be most famous for his 86-game suspension for participating in the brawl in the Palace of Auburn Hills stands while playing for Indiana in November 2004.The Lakers pulled within one point on World Peace’s dunk, but fell apart after the ejection, managing just 14 points in the next 14 minutes.Game notes The Lakers missed their first eight 3-pointers before Blake’s 3 with 4:36 to play. … Bryant wore no support on his knees, and Lakers point guard Ramon Sessions ditched the harness he has worn for several games on his sprained left shoulder. … Derek Fisher got another loud ovation from his longtime Lakers fans when he checked in for the Thunder. The veteran point guard had five points. … Jack Nicholson celebrated his 75th birthday in his usual courtside seat. Other fans near courtside included Denzel Washington, Will Ferrell, Mark Harmon, Ashton Kutcher, Steven Spielberg, Jerry Ferrara and Flea.Information from The contributed to this report.
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Houston Rockets vs Miami Heat Recap April 22 2012 ESPN

Houston Rockets vs Miami Heat  Recap  April 22 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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MIAMI — As LeBron James was walking to Miami’s home bench for the final time this season, he raised his left arm to acknowledge the roars of another sold-out crowd. And when the obligatory “M-V-P” chants started up, James waved again.He’ll be back next weekend, with bigger goals in mind.James finished with 32 points and eight rebounds, Norris Cole added 16 points and the Heat pulled away in the final minutes to beat Houston 97-88 on Sunday night and eliminate the Rockets from postseason contention.”It’s very humbling, honestly,” James said. “The fans have been amazing this year and they’re going to continue to be amazing going into the postseason. … It’s humbling.”Mike Miller scored 11 for injury-depleted Miami, which still has a mathematical chance of catching Chicago for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Joel Anthony added 11 for the Heat on 5-for-5 shooting.But James controlled the game, especially late as Miami needed a 31-19 fourth quarter to win its regular-season home finale. The Heat played without starters Dwyane Wade (dislocated left index finger), Chris Bosh (leg muscle fatigue) and Mario Chalmers (flulike symptoms). Backup center Ronny Turiaf missed his seventh straight game while recovering from a hamstring problem.On this night, they could relax and enjoy.”I think LeBron is having a historic season,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.Chandler Parsons scored a career-high 23 for Houston, which led by as many as 13 in the first half. Parsons tied the game at 83 with a layup late in the fourth, before James’ 3-pointer sparked an 8-0 run that put Miami in control.Goran Dragic scored 16, while Courtney Lee and Patrick Patterson had 14 apiece for the Rockets. Luis Scola scored 12.”We had chances,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “The game was kind of in the balance at 83-all. They got some separation. LeBron is a hell of a player.”It’s unclear if Wade — who after getting hurt on Saturday said he will be ready for Game 1 of the playoffs next weekend — will play in either of Miami’s two remaining regular-season games, at Boston on Tuesday and at Washington on Thursday.Miami would like to have Bosh and Turiaf back for at least a portion of that road trip, and Chalmers is listed as day-to-day. He was a late scratch from Miami’s starting lineup on Sunday.And for that matter, James — who sat out Saturday’s loss to rest, though said it wasn’t exactly a refreshing one-day break — might not play again before the postseason starts, either, saying he would like some rest, although Spoelstra said he’ll evaluate the who-plays-and-who-doesn’t issue daily.So it was yet another pieced-together starting lineup that Miami sent to open the game, the 16th different one for the Heat this season — and their seventh in their last seven games.And things didn’t start well.The Heat missed their first six shots and trailed 23-10 after Scola made a hook shot with 3:54 left in the opening quarter. Houston’s lead was still double digits at 38-28 with 6:59 remaining until halftime, before Miami used a 17-6 run to take a one-point lead at intermission. Miller’s 3-pointer with 25 seconds left gave the Heat their first — and only — lead of the half, 45-44.Parsons had his second-best scoring quarter of the season in the third, finishing with 12 of Houston’s 25 as the Rockets took a 69-66 lead into the fourth. Back and forth it went, the game being tied on four separate occasions in the final quarter, the last of those coming when Parsons drove on James for a layup and his 23rd point, setting the season best for the rookie.”Fortunately, I hit shots,” Parsons said. “My teammates got me open. I just hate losing so at the end it doesn’t matter how well I played. A loss is a loss.”Playing back in his home state for the first time as a pro, Parsons finished 10 for 13 from the floor. He spent four seasons at Florida, appearing in 142 games and averaging 10.2 points before the Rockets grabbed him in the second round of last year’s draft.”It was great,” Parsons said. “I had a lot of family and friends here. You always want to play well for them but at the end of the day you want to get the win. It was a good learning experience and it’s exciting to be back in Florida.”After that last tie, James took aim from the left wing and hit a 3-pointer over Parsons to put Miami up for good. And following a steal by Shane Battier, Miller added another 3 from the right corner 24 seconds later to give the Heat what was then their biggest lead at 89-83.”Those are the kind of wins that coaches like, when there’s segments of the game where it’s just tough and ugly,” Spoelstra said. “We went through a few spells offensively where the ball was just not going in. and we stayed in it mentally.”Game notes Miami finished the regular season 28-5 at home, the second-best percentage in team history. The Heat will finish no worse than tied for the NBA lead in home wins this season. … Houston’s Kyle Lowry did not play and is expected to sit the Rockets’ regular-season finale against New Orleans as well. He missed 15 games after the All-Star break because of a bacterial infection and struggled since returning. … Udonis Haslem had a game-high 11 rebounds for Miami.
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Los Angeles Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs Recap April 20 2012 ESPN

Los Angeles Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs  Recap  April 20 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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SAN ANTONIO — Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili all scored at least 20 points to help the San Antonio Spurs beat the Los Angeles Lakers 121-97 on Friday night and spoil Kobe Bryant’s return.Bryant had missed the previous seven games with a bruised left shin, and the Lakers went 5-2 without the NBA’s scoring leader. But with only two games left in the regular season for Los Angeles (40-24), Bryant returned as he aims to get into a rhythm before the playoffs begin.
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Bryant wore a black sock over his lower left leg, with what appeared to be a shin guard protecting the injured area. He scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting.The Spurs (46-16) stayed atop the Western Conference with their sixth straight victory while the Lakers missed a chance to clinch home court in the first round of the playoffs.These teams could meet in the opening round, and judging by their latest meeting, it would be a mismatch.San Antonio has given Los Angeles its two worst losses of the season the worst Friday night and 112-91 on Tuesday. Duncan had 21 points and eight rebounds, Parker had 20 points and 10 assists, and Ginobili added 20 points and seven assists.San Antonio hit 47 of 77 shots from the field and broke the game open in the third quarter, when Bryant played his best. The Lakers’ star hit 5 of 6 shots in the quarter, directing his teammates on offense and yelling at them to “D-up” on defense.It hardly mattered, though, as he was repeatedly on his heels on defense as the Spurs pushed the ball. San Antonio scored 18 points in the paint in the quarter to only two for Los Angeles.While Bryant was sidelined, several Lakers increased their scoring, none more than Metta World Peace. World Peace more than doubled his scoring average with Bryant out of the lineup, but he had only 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting against the Spurs.”We counted on all our guys (when Bryant was out),” Lakers coach Mike Brown said before the game. “I thought Metta stepped up . all our guys stepped up. Hopefully they just stay aggressive. I think we’ll be fine, but we’ll see how we blend or gel.”Andrew Bynum scored 17 points for the Lakers, while Matt Barnes had 14 and Pau Gasol 11.”I think Kobe knew that if he came back too early from this injury, it would set him back,” Brown said. “We didn’t want to have any setbacks this time of year. He’s been great the whole time.”He certainly got off to a strong start, going down low on Kawhi Leonard for a short jumper and a foul on the Lakers’ first possession. Bryant hit the ensuing free throw, but he didn’t score again until he hit a 15-foot jumper with 34 seconds left in the quarter.Game notes Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong sat courtside for the game. . The Spurs hit 10 of 15 3-pointers for a season-high 66.7 percent. . Lakers G Devin Ebanks, who started with Bryant out, played only 8 minutes and didn’t score. . Spurs C Tiago Splitter started and DeJuan Blair came off the bench against the tall Lakers’ frontline. Splitter is 6-foot-11, and Blair is 6-7. . With Magic C Dwight Howard possibly out for the Summer Olympics after electing to have back surgery, Bynum looks like a possible replacement. “It’s the same thing for any coach who has a player playing,” Brown said. “Rest, rest, rest.’ You worry about the injuries, but at the end of the day, it’s a significant honor.”
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New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers Recap April 20 2012 ESPN

New York Knicks vs Cleveland Cavaliers  Recap  April 20 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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CLEVELAND — Amare Stoudemire’s return from a back injury didn’t help the playoff-bound New York Knicks, who were stunned 98-90 by the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.Stoudemire had missed New York’s previous 13 games with a bulging disk. But even with him in the lineup, the Knicks couldn’t handle the Cavs, who snapped a three-game losing streak and won for just the fourth time in 19 games.Stoudemire finished with 15 points and Carmelo Anthony had 12 before sitting out the fourth quarter.Manny Harris had 19 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Cavs, and rookie Kyrie Irving scored 21 in his second game back from a shoulder injury.Harris banked in a desperation 3-pointer from 42 feet as the 24-second shot clock expired in the fourth to keep Cleveland comfortably ahead.
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Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat Recap April 19 2012 ESPN

Chicago Bulls vs Miami Heat  Recap  April 19 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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MIAMI — The earliest Miami and Chicago could meet again is Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.Good thing. The tempers could use a little time to cool down. And after a game filled with shoves and takedowns, the race for the No. 1 seed in the East is still going strong.LeBron James had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Dwyane Wade scored 18 points and Miami tightened up the race in the East by beating the Bulls 83-72 in a scuffle-filled matchup on Thursday night.
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Mario Chalmers scored 16 points and Udonis Haslem grabbed 10 rebounds for Miami, which held the Bulls to a season-low point total and moved within 1½ games of Chicago.John Lucas scored 16 points for Chicago, again without reigning MVP Derrick Rose because of injuries. Joakim Noah scored 15 points, Luol Deng added 11 and Carlos Boozer had 10 for the Bulls, who split four games with Miami this season.The teams combined for four technicals, two flagrant fouls and Miami reserve James Jones was ejected.But above all else, Miami decided this one with defense. The Bulls went up 21-20 on a layup by Deng with 3:36 left in the first quarter, making them 10 of 14 from the field at that point. They shot 15 for 56 — 27 percent — the rest of the way.Chicago (47-16) has games with Dallas, Indiana and Cleveland left, while Miami (45-17) still has matchups with Washington (twice), Houston and Boston.In case anyone forgot that the Heat and Bulls don’t particularly care for one another, the refresher courses came often in this one.The first real salvo came with 6:05 left in the first half, when Jones was ejected after being assessed a flagrant-2 for excessive contact against Noah while trying for a rebound. Jones stretched out both arms to move Noah out of the way, making contact around the head.By the end of the game, that play seemed like a love tap.Wade and Chicago guard Richard Hamilton — rivals for years — raised the level of angst a few more notches early in the third quarter.Hamilton led with his elbow and shoulder to create some space, and Wade took exception — so he delivered an elbow and shoulder back, sending the Bulls’ guard sprawling to the court. The jousting then turned verbal, enough to merit a technical foul for each, plus a flagrant-1 on Wade.And then things really got hot a few minutes later, not long after James was pulled down under the basket. James set a screen and was run into by Lucas, who gives up 9 inches and 85 pounds to the two-time NBA MVP. Predictably, Lucas went flying. Even more predictably, Lucas — who was leapfrogged for a dunk by James in Chicago’s first trip to Miami this season — got angry.After Deng fouled Chalmers to stop the play, and reopened a cut over his own left eye in the process, Lucas ran at James and the other eight players on the court at the time quickly converged on the area. It took referees about 5 minutes to sort out the mess, which only resulted in a personal foul on Deng and technicals on Lucas and James (who, upon hearing his name announced, shouted, “For what?).James shrugged off the next hit, a hard foul by Chicago’s Omer Asik about a half-minute later, converting a three-point play in the process.”A physical Eastern Conference game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the third quarter in a televised interview. “It’s an emotional game, a passionate game.”Game notes The Bulls were 2 for 16 from 3-point range, meaning Miami’s last two opponents have gone a combined 3 for 32 from beyond the arc. … James made his first five shots, making him 23 of 27 over a span of parts of three games, starting late in the third quarter of Monday’s game at New Jersey (6-7) followed by Wednesday’s win over Toronto (12-15). … Neither team led by more than three points in the final 10:54 of the first half. … Jones’ ejection was the first of his nine-year career, according to STATS LLC.
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Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks Recap April 17 2012 ESPN

Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks  Recap  April 17 2012  ESPN

Source:Associated Press
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NEW YORK — As the Celtics staggered to the locker room after getting hit by an NBA record-tying 3-point assault, the halftime musical selection perfectly summed up how they must have felt.It was “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” — and Carmelo Anthony and two sharpshooting subs sure did.Anthony had 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists for his second career triple-double, and the New York Knicks made 19 3-pointers to keep alive their Atlantic Division title hopes with a 118-110 victory over Boston on Tuesday night.
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J.R. Smith and Steve Novak both scored 25 points for the Knicks, who overcame a season-high 43 points from Paul Pierce and moved into sole possession of seventh place in the Eastern Conference while trimming Boston’s division lead to 3½ games.Novak hit eight 3s in the highest-scoring game of his career. Smith made all seven of his 3s in the first half, equaling a team record.”Our bench was great tonight,” Anthony said. “Novak and J.R., them guys combined for 50 points off the bench. When they get hot like that, it’s hard to deal with.”The Celtics would have wrapped up their fifth straight Atlantic title with a victory. Instead, the Knicks stunned them with a record-tying 14 3-pointers in a 72-point first half and equaled their season high by finishing 19 of 32 behind the arc. They improved to 14-5 under interim coach Mike Woodson.Tyson Chandler had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting for the Knicks, who finished one short of their franchise record for 3s, set last season.”We didn’t defend the 3 at all tonight,” Pierce said. “We dug ourselves a huge hole that we couldn’t climb out of.”Kevin Garnett scored 20 points for the Celtics, who fell out of a three-way tie for fourth in the East with Atlanta and Orlando. Rajon Rondo had 13 points and 13 assists.The Celtics watched Anthony score 42 points in a losing effort against Miami on Sunday and apparently overreacted to it, trying so hard to get the ball out of his hands that they didn’t pay enough attention to his supporting cast.”We panicked,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “We trapped too early. We were doing things that we shouldn’t have done. It happens. We talked about it at halftime. I thought we were better at it and then we did it again in the fourth quarter out of nowhere. Good lesson though. I told our guys it was a really good lesson for us: Don’t overreact to one great player and I thought we did that.”Playing without the injured Ray Allen, the Celtics got a brief scare in the third quarter when Rondo landed hard on his back going for a rebound and remained on the court for a few minutes while being attended to before remaining in the game.Woodson has repeatedly said the division title was his goal, even though the Knicks’ 18-24 record when he took over always made that unlikely. Rivers said he’s never talked to the Celtics about winning a division title or congratulated them for doing so, but there’s no doubt it’s worth having this season. Division winners are guaranteed to be seeded no worse than No. 4, avoiding Chicago or Miami until at least the second round.
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Allen missed his fifth straight game when he felt pain in his right ankle Tuesday morning. He had gone through the morning shootaround and Rivers assumed he was set to play before the pain returned. Neither was sure if Allen would play Wednesday against Orlando.Allen, the NBA’s career leader in 3-pointers made, would have fit in perfectly in this game.The Celtics jumped to an 8-2 lead, but the rest of the first half belonged to the Knicks. New York scored the final 10 points of the first quarter, going up 32-26 behind 12 points from Anthony and 63 percent shooting.The Knicks then scored eight straight points to open the second quarter, capping an 18-0 run when Smith’s 3-pointer made it 40-26 with 9:16 left. Consecutive 3s by Mike Bibby and Smith later made it 54-35 midway through the second, and the lead reached 20 points when Novak was fouled while making a 25-footer, falling backward out of bounds and into the arms of Woodson — the only time anyone got near a Knicks shooter in the half.Novak hit two more before halftime, the Knicks taking a 72-53 lead into the locker room. He is shooting an NBA-best 47.2 percent from behind the arc.”He’s the best 3-point shooter in our league by far. I mean it’s not even close,” Smith said. “The guy’s shooting 50-something percent from 3, so people are starting to catch onto it but not fast enough.”Pierce, who was 17 of 18 from the free throw line, had 17 points in the third quarter to get the Celtics back into it, and the Knicks led 96-84 after three.The Celtics finally got within single digits late in the game, with Pierce scoring four straight to cut it to 112-106 with 3:07 left. But Novak hit two 3-pointers around a jumper by Rondo, putting it away at 118-108.Game notes Woodson said Amare Stoudemire could return Friday at Cleveland. He hasn’t played since March 24 because of a bulging disk in his back. … The Celtics played without swingman Mickael Pietrus, who was sent back to Boston with knee pain that Rivers assumed was caused by playing on three straight nights after a lengthy absence with a head injury. … The Knicks play their next three on the road and have just one home game remaining, next Wednesday against the Los Angeles Clippers. … The Celtics finished 1-6 this season on the road against division rivals. … Milwaukee also hit 14 3-pointers in a half in 2006.
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