#6 ORLANDO MAGIC 87 @ #3 INDIANA PACERS 105
EAST 1st Round * Game 5 * Pacers WIN series, 4-1
Jameer Nelson did his best to keep the Magic in the series earlier tonight. He scored 15 of his 27 points in the 3rd quarter. Orlando was, in fact, up by 2 (71-69 after three).
But the Magic went on a drought for three minutes in the 4th quarter and the Pacers broke it open there. The Pacers eventually outscored the Magic, 36-16, in the last period as the Pacers beat the Magic and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time in seven years.
Danny Granger scored 25 points to lead the Pacers. Indiana awaits the winner of the Heat/Knicks series. And, of course, the Indiana crowd was chanting, "Beat the Heat!"
#4 BOSTON CELTICS 86 @ #5 ATLANTA HAWKS 87
EAST 1st Round * Game 5 * Celtics lead series, 3-2
Al Horford had one hell of a game tonight (he returned Game 4 but, of course, that was a blowout). But this game was just a game of runs. 10-0 run by Boston at the end of the third. Another 9-3 run by the Celtics. 10-1 run by the Hawks.
With 10 seconds left and the Hawks up, 87-86, Rajon Rondo stole an inbounds pass by Josh Smith. But Rondo couldn't get off a good shot or play as Horford forced him on the sideline. The Hawks survive and live to fight another game.
A banged-up Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett led the Celts in scoring with 16. Rondo finished with 13 points, 12 assists, and 5 steals. Horford led the Hawks with 19 points and 11 rebounds while Smith had 13-16-6.
#8 PHILADELPHIA 76ERS 69 @ #1 CHICAGO BULLS 77
EAST 1st Round * Game 5 * Sixers lead series, 3-2
The Bulls and Sixers had a dogfight (there was even a scuffle between Elton Brand and Taj Gibson). The halftime score was 35-26 in favor of the Bulls. TWENTY-SIX.
The Sixers never got closer than seven points in this game but Taj Gibson sprained his ankle. He did say he was going to play. We'll see how effective he is come Game 6.
Jrue Holiday led the Sixers with 16 points while Luol Deng (ALL-STAR!) led Chicago with 24 points.
Scottie Pippen likes that.
#6 DENVER NUGGETS 102 @ #3 LOS ANGELES LAKERS 99
WEST 1st Round * Game 5 * Lakers lead series, 3-2
While Andrew Bynum said closeout games are easy, this definitely did not prove to be easy. The Nuggets played desperate. Andre Miller was busting out them old man YMCA moves on the Laker guards... and JaVale McGee was dunking all over Staples Center. On the other side, the Nuggets frontline was bullying Bynum and Pau Gasol. Kobe Bryant was the only one getting anything going. Denver led, 90-75, with about 6:30 to go.
Then Kobe went on a furious run on his own. He made four three-pointers to get the Lakers back in it. Then Ramon Sessions made a three of his own to cut the lead down to one. After two Miller foul shots, Kobe missed a three... then Sessions missed a three at the buzzer. Lakers now have to go back to the Pepsi Center.
Miller led the Nuggets with 24 points while McGee had his best playoff game yet with 21 points and 14 boards. Kobe finished with 43 points but you know he'd rather close this series out. Poor Kobe (picture not from tonight's game).