The second week of the NBA playoffs started with FOUR games. Check 'em.
#3 INDIANA PACERS 101 @ #6 ORLANDO MAGIC 99 (OT)
EAST 1st Round * Game 4 * Pacers lead series, 3-1
It looked like the Pacers were on their way to an easy victory. They smacked the Magic around with another patented 3rd quarter run (David West scored 12 in that period)... and then they turned it up at the start of the 4th to take an 82-63 lead with about 8 minutes to go.
Somehow, the Magic made one last gasp. The Magic ran off 14 straight points to cut the lead down to 5. Ultimately, J.J. Redick made a handsome three-pointer with 38 seconds left. The game was sent to overtime.
They went back and forth in overtime before Jameer Nelson's foul sent George Hill to the line with 2.2 seconds left. That gave Indiana a 101-99 lead. The Magic decided to go down to Big Baby for the final play but fell way short on his shot. If there was any reason to push down a kid for Davis, it would be this moment.
West led the Pacers with 26 points. Jason Richardson scored 25 for the Magic and Baby finished with 24. The Pacers are one game away from the second round.
#4 MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES 86 @ #5 LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 87
WEST 1st Round * Game 3 * Clippers lead series, 2-1
First of all, Caron Butler started the game even though he has a broken hand. Straw-chewing probably gives some incredible healing powers or an incredible pain threshold.
The Grizzlies were leading in the fourth, 78-73, in front of a raucus Staples Center crowd (not often you hear that). Then once again, things melted down for the bears. After an Eric Bledsoe lay-up (plus the foul), Reggie Evans rebounded the missed foul shot and scored. Randy Foye makes a three-pointer. Chris Paul makes a jumper. Then Blake Griffin punctuates the run with a dunk. After CP3 foul shots, the Clippers led, 86-80, with 23 seconds left. The Clips busted the Grizz with a 13-2 run.
But freethrows were the Clippers' weakness. Bledsoe made only 1 of 4 foul shots and Evans missed both of his. In between all of that, Rudy Gay made back-to-back threes, the last one cutting it to an 87-86 lead. After Bledsoe missed his last 2 foul shots, the Grizz had one final shot to win the game with eight seconds left. But Mike Conley seemed to pull back a bit when I thought he should be going forward. He passed it to Gay for a long jumper that went empty after it was contested. The Clippers ESCAPED with that victory. Both of the Clips' victories in this series so far have been won by one point.
Point God Chris Paul led the Clippers with 24 points, 11 dimes, and 4 steals. Gay led the polar bears with 24 points... though I'm sure all of Memphis wished he scored 26 instead.
#2 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER 103 @ #7 DALLAS MAVERICKS 97
WEST 1st Round * Game 4 * Thunder WIN series, 4-0
Dallas made another adjustment to avoid the sweep and started Jason Terry. Then in the 3rd quarter, the Mavs went on a flurry that continued into the 4th. Dirk Nowitzki, the reigning Finals MVP, scored 12 points in the 3rd. After a Terry three with 9:44 left, the Mavericks led, 86-73. But as we've seen in these playoffs, no lead is safe.
James Harden basically took over. Harden scored 9 points in a 12-0 run. The Mavs, this time, couldn't stave off the rally. A Serge Ibaka fastbreak dunk took the lead for OKC. Finally, with the Thunder hanging on to a 100-97 lead, Harden (whose beard might as well be a forest fire) slashed down the middle for a fingerroll with 10 seconds left that put away the game. The Mavericks' reign as champion is over in a sweep. The Mavs were competitive in three of those four games but in the end, they lost all three of those close games. Dallas wished they had won one of those games in Oklahoma City.
Harden led the Thunder with 29 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals. Dirk did all he could. He scored 34 points. The Thunder now await the winner of the Nuggets/Lakers series. And, yes, Laker fans are already counting on Lakers/Thunder in the 2nd round.
#1 SAN ANTONIO SPURS 102 @ #8 UTAH JAZZ 90
WEST 1st Round * Game 3 * Spurs lead series, 3-0
It's the first home playoff game for Utah since Jerry Sloan resigned. And Devin Harris acted like he knew it. He scored 12 points in the first quarter.
It was close for a while before the Spurs broke it open after a 60-60 deadlock. Guys like Tiago Splitter (10 points) and Stephen Jackson (13 points) contributed to the run before Tony Parker (27 points) finished it off by scoring the Spurs' last 12 points. While most of the people watched Floyd Mayweather beat Miguel Cotto on PPV, the Spurs quietly beat down the Jazz to take a 3-0 lead.
Harris and Al Jefferson led the Jazz with 21 points.
Four more games tomorrow! Hope you're getting drunk tonight for Cinco De Mayo!
PHOTO CREDITS: 1) Stephen Dunn/Getty Images. 2) Colin E. Braley/AP.
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