- (#5) Hawks lead (#4) Magic 3-1. This series has been painful to watch. The boredom is criminal. The Hawks have taken both games in Atlanta, starting with Jamal Crawford luckboxing heroically nailing this 3-pointer at the end of Game 3 (Basketball-Reference):
Game 4 ended 88-85 (BBR) and I admit that I neglected it for lesson planning and the Blackhawks. Caught some of the final minutes between the 2nd and 3rd Period of the hockey game and was glad I missed it. Jason Richardson and Zaza Pachulia were both suspended for Game 4 following this Game 3 altercation where J-Rich responded to Zaza's double-headbutt with a double-faceshove, so blaming J-Rich for Game 4 isn't so bad:
Dwight Howard had 21 points, 15 rebounds, three blocks in Game 3 and 29 points, 17 rebounds, two blocks, but eight turnovers in Game 4; and Howard is well aware of how well he's playing (Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don't Lie). Orlando can't make shots (2-for-23 on 3s in Game 4), contain Crawford or Joe Johnson, or control their turnovers, Evan Dunlap noted in his last recap (Orlando Pinstriped Post). Game 5 in Orlando will be on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. on NBA TV. Bulls play the winner of this series.
- (#7) Hornets and (#2) Lakers are tied 2-2 with Chris Paul dominating Game 4 to threaten breaking the internet. CP3's 27 points, 15 assists, and 13 rebounds were all game-highs in the Hornets' 93-88 rebound in NOLA (BBR), after being smacked around in Games 2 and 3. CP3 shot 7-for-14 from the floor, hit 2-of-3 3s, nailed a perfect 11-for-11 at the FT line, with 17 of his 23 second half points coming in the fourth quarter. The Hornets took a game in L.A. and one in NOLA through four -- all without David West.
Rohan wrote after the game (At the Hive): "It is here that the inexpressibility of Paul's game really comes into view. Whenever Chris Paul has exploded in the past, it has come as an extension of his natural game. Where his vision is normally superb, it was astonishingly fatidic the night he had 20 assists in Los Angeles. Where his midrange game is generally on point, it was searingly infallible in his 2008 series against Dallas. And so on. Tonight, through strategy, his team's defensive awareness, and its sheer physicality, Phil Jackson ensured that Paul simply stepping up the various aspects of his game would not be enough. They bruised and bloodied him, they bossed him through tangled arms and elbows on every possession, they drove him to the brink of passing off prematurely, as he had all season, to the likes of Willie Green, Trevor Ariza, and Marco Belinelli. Pardon the use of another cliche I wouldn't normally employ, but the Lakers forced Paul to elevate his will to survive, to a level we had yet to see."
He spun Andrew Bynum in circles:
And elevated his game:
CP3's my second-favorite player of the last ten years, so the game was special. This series re-iterates that with four random NBA starters at the other four positions, CP3 is the point guard most likely to get the most wins with that team. Book it.
The legend won't stop there. CP3 drove to the hole and faced excellent defense. He showed why the Hornets with CP3 over recent years have the best offensive rating in "clutch" situtations across the NBA -- far beyond everyone else. It's because he's always the smartest player on the floor. He expressed valuing the correct decision over the macho facade. He understands the heroics of the former over the self-defeating destruction of the latter (Henry Abbott, TrueHoop):
- (#3) Celtics swept the (#6) Knicks. The Knicks just aren't very good at basketball and without Chauncey Billups, they were even worse. With Paul Pierce (38 points, 6-for-8 on 3s) and Ray Allen (31 points, 8-for-11 on 3s) doing whatever they wanted in Game 3, the Knicks barely resembled an NBA team in the 113-96 blowout. Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire combining for 22 points on 6-for-22 shooting will never be enough for this team unless they hit 9-of-20 3s as a team. Oh yeah, NY hit 9-of-20 3s in Game 3 (BBR). Game 4 was more exciting than it should've been in the second half, but the Cs pulled out the 101-89 blowout that got close and still ended in a blowout (BBR).
Rajon Rondo put on some clinics, Allen shot the lights out, the Cs' bench is a problem, Jermaine O'Neal looked like a legit NBA starter, and Pierce is still a madman, Tom Bellinger wrote in his series recap (Celtics Blog). Boston will face the winner of the Heat-76ers series.
- (#2) Heat couldn't finish the sweep in Game 4, lead (#7) 76ers 3-1. The Heat won Game 3 100-94 (BBR) behind epic two-man possessions involving Dwyane Wade (32 points, 10-for-19, 12-for-12 FTs, 10 rebounds, eight assists, two blocks) and LeBron James (24 points, 8-for-15, 7-for-10 FTs, 15 rebounds, six assists).
In Game 4 the Sixers came from behind to win 86-82 with awesome defense, solid ball movement, and some big-time 3-pointers (BBR). The Heat shot a .417 eFG, as the 76ers didn't cough up the rock to allow for more easy Miami buckets. D-Wade and LeBron had strong games, combining for 53 points on 20-for-41 in a same-ol, same-ol. The 6-foot-3 Wade led the team with eight rebounds with LeBron and Joel Anthony grabbing seven. Chris Bosh had 12 points and five rebounds in 43:05. Philly hit 8-of-18 3s and that was enough to pull ahead.
Also, cheers to LeBron for not chucking a jumper at the end, but dude -- how do you stop your drive so short of the basket there?
- (#4) Thunder lead (#5) Nuggets 3-0 in a series that's been as fun as advertised, but one Denver win makes it as promised. The two teams went to the wire again in Game win, but OKC won in Denver 97-94, where the losing team shot a .400 eFG% and the Nuggets' NBA_best offense shot a .410 (BBR). The Nugs can pull out a Game 4, but OKC can close out the toughest road team in the NBA Playoffs in Game 5. The winner of this series plays the winner of the Spurs-Grizzlies series.
- #8 Grizzlies took a 2-1 series lead over the (#1) Spurs without Rudy Gay, thanks to bad rebounding and a "dagger" 3-pointer from Zach Randolph (BBR). Head. Uh. Sploding.
- (#6) Blazers look like the best shot for a road team to win a playoff series, tied 2-2 with the (#3) Mavs. Portland lost the first two games, but took the last two in Portland. They won Game 3 97-92, holding everyone not named Dirk Nowitzki or Jason Terry to 38 total points (BBR). Down 23 points in the 3rd quarter, the Blazers won the 4th 35-15 to pull out an 84-82 win in Game 4.
Ben Golliver wrote after the game (Blazers Edge): "Through three quarters, the Blazers shot 28.6% from the field, 15.4% from deep and had scored just 49 points, being held to 11 first quarter points and 14 third quarter points.
"And then Blazers guard Brandon Roy put together one of the greatest quarters in franchise history.
"Roy outscored the Mavericks 18-15 in the final quarter, abusing Shawn Marion with his step-back arsenal, hitting 8 of his 10 fourth-quarter shots, converting an improbable four-point play to tie the game and then nailing a mid-range jumper to give Portland its winning margin."
- Kobe Bryant was on crutches after spraining his ankle in Game 4 (Golliver, Eye on Basketball). He was unable to be available for the press in the pre-set theater and had to give comments from the trainers' room. Not good.
- Mike D'Antoni had some trash talk for Rondo before Game 4. "I'd like to see him play on Minnesota and see how he does.... They've got three Hall of Famers out there," he said (Matt Moore, EOB). The best part of all of this is that Antoni's neither won more than 42 games, nor even had a top five offense while neglecting defense without Steve Nash.
- Kings seem like they'll be staying in Sacramento (Mark Heisler and Lance Pugmire, LA Times). "Kings co-owner Joe Maloof told the Associated Press that he is 'as anxious as anybody' " to see if Sac-Town Mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson "can deliver" the amount of funding to keep the team there, Heisler and Pugmire reported, later adding: "A league official callEd Johnson's presentation 'amazing.' "
- David Stern sees a coach-challenge system in the NBA's future (Ken Berger, CBSSports.com). I'm fine with this, only in terms of deciding boundaries relating to the ball. Player-player contact can't be challenged, as that's like allowing for balls-strikes to be reviewed in basketball. But goaltending, possession determination in out-of-bounds plays, whether a shot is a two or a three. Also, because we're talking about court positioning and spatial boundaries, I could extend that to challenging charges where a defender is in the restricted area. I'd rather a referee at the scorers' table have unlimited challenges, but no say in the result of the decision.
- Yeah, J.R. Smith is done in Denver. He said the Nuggets "didn't have a pulse" in Game 2, adding there'sa "strong possibility" he'll not be in Denver next season. George Karl responded to Smith not being satisfied with his playing time: "He gives us minus-17 in six minutes. Those guys shouldn't get second chances." (Benjamin Hochman, Denver Post)
Karl limited Smith to 14:19 in Game 3, where he scored 15 points. Six of those were in the final minute of the game, when Smith re-entered having only scored nine in less than 14 minutes over two standard 7th-8th man reserve shifts in the middle of the two halves.
- Tristan Thompson declared for the NBA Draft (ProBasketballTalk). I love the guy's game. He's listed as the #16 prospect at DraftExpress.com, but not knowing the international bigs ahead of him, I'm feeling like he's going to be a size-asset for whoever grabs him. The 19-year-old was only 6-foot-8 coming out of high school, but has a 7-foot-2 wingspan that will cover a lot of space in smaller lineups at the five, where necessary, but Al Horford'ing him would be bad. Overall, he'll be a great tough-guy four, in my opinion, alongside a strong two-way center, if he takes care fo his body. We'll see.
- Derrick Caracter was arrested for allegedly assaulting a pregnant IHOP waitress while being drunk (Deadspin). Wow.
Filed under: Catch n' Shoot
Tags: 2011 nba playoffs, atlanta hawks, basketball, boston celtics, brandon roy, chris bosh, dallas mavericks, david stern, denver nuggets, derrick caracter, dirk nowitzki, dwight howard, dwyane wade, george karl, jamal crawford, jason richardson, jason terry, jr smith, kevin johnson, kobe bryant, la lakers, lebron james, memphis grizzlies, miami heat, mike dantoni, nba, new orleans hornets, oklahoma city thunder, orlando magic, paul pierce, philadelphia 76ers, rajon rondo, ray allen, relocation, sacramento kings, san antonio spurs, tristan thompson, zach randolph, zaza pachulia