NBA Playoffs Last Night (5/6/12): Carmelo Anthony’s 41 prohibit a Heat sweep; Sixers, Celtics and Lakers also go up 3-1
(Debby Wong/US Presswire)
Dude…uh…why were you just standing there? You know you’re gonna hear it from Beans…
Interesting day of NBA playoff basketball. There was a fan that just walked on the floor in Denver, a straight beat down in Boston, an electric Madison Square Garden in the marquee game and a team doing what it’s supposed to do in Philly.
Philadelphia 89, Chicago 82. Sixers lead Bulls 3-1.
Let’s start in Philly, where the Sixers have suddenly become series favorites after the Bulls two most important players have been lost to injury. After Game 3, all the Sixers had to do was take care of home court. Much will be made about how Philadelphia has gotten out to a 3-1 lead. There is no question this series would have a different face if Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah were healthy. That being said, none of that matters now. The Sixers are now expected to take the series. Like I said at the end of the Game 3 recap, I had the Sixers in 7 but will it go that far? Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau told me “next man up” Taj Gibson (14 points, 12 boards, 4 blocks) and CJ Watson (17 points, 6 boards, 4 assists despite shooting 5-18) stepped up in Game 4. Carlos Boozer did what he’s capable of doing (23 points, 11 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals), but it wasn’t enough.
Being that Rose is out, I figured Jrue Holiday would be the catalyst. He’s gifted with the ball, plays stellar defense, is big for his position and athletic enough to get to the cup and finish. When I asked him about the magnitude of the moment before Game 3, he didn’t see what was to come. Dude’s a team player and despite being very confident, he’s not going to talk about himself. He had a nice game (20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists). Spencer Hawes was 9-11 and put in 22 and 8 boards (first Sixers center to have consecutive 20 point games since Moses Malone). Doug Collins told me Chicago is giving Sixers’ big men that open shot. Seems like they should make an adjustment huh? Andre Iguodala had 14 and 12 boards despite a sore Achilles.
“First of all, we knew we were going to get a tremendous effort from the Bulls today. I figured they’d go to more of a power game and they did. We got off to a good start and then in the second quarter, I think they were seven for 25 in the first quarter, and our defense was doing the job, we were getting in the open court.
[Taj] Gibson came in the game in the second quarter. I was really worried about him. He always plays well against us. He had 12 points, they had 14 points in the paint in the second quarter. They were 12 of 18 shooting in the second quarter. If you take out that one quarter, they were 22 for 67 the rest of the game, so I thought we did a much better job after the second quarter defending the paint. They ended up with 26. They had 14 of them in one quarter.
One of those games where, I look at our shooting and we were four for 25, I think, at halftime from Lou [Williams], Jrue [Holiday], and Evan [Turner], and we were up two. And so that was pretty amazing.
Spencer [Hawes] hit a big shot going into half for us. He’s been playing incredible. But the guy I’m really proud of today is Jrue Holiday. He’s got a coach who’s got no conscience when it comes to shooting, and it’s the one thing I’ve tried to impart with our team is, if you’ve got a shot, you’ve got to take it. Jrue was 0 for the world and hit two huge threes to give us a little bit of a cushion. That’s the kind of growth and maturity I love to see from my young guys. Don’t fear the consequences. We always talk about, if you miss, you miss.
We did a terrific job defensively, like I said before. We knew [Carlos] Boozer was going to get shots. I was so happy for Dre [Andre Iguodala] tonight, he had 12 rebounds, but to step up to the line tonight up four and make those two free throws was so great for him, here in front of our crowd and our fans, and for us to finish the game.
Michael Curry spoke to the team after the game. He talked about being a number one seed in Detroit playing a number eight seed in Orlando and Orlando going up 3-1, and Orlando coming in and giving away game five, thinking they were just going to go home and win game six. They lost game six and then they lost game seven. The message is, what I tried to impart as well, is that game five has to be as important to us as it is to the Bulls. When we go to Chicago it has to be as important. You don’t give away playoff games. You can’t do that.
I talked to them about how things change so quickly. Joakim Noah the other day steps on an ankle. We saw Derrick Rose blow out a knee.
You’ve got to take care of your business. A closeout game is the hardest game to win in sports. We’ve got to go into Chicago with the idea that we’ve got to try to get that win.”
Celtics 101, Hawks 79. Boston leads Atlanta 3-1
Rajon Rondo had 13 assists by halftime. The Celtics were hitting everything. Paul Pierce started hot, appeared to hyper extend his knee, went to the training room, came back and continued his shooting. He was 10-13 and scored 24 in 17 minutes. Six Celtics were in double figures. The aforementioned Rondo had 20 points and 16 dimes. Doc Rivers is probably happy he got to use his bench in the blowout.
The Hawks shot 40%. Josh Smith had 15 points, 13 rips and 5 dimes in his return after being out Game 3. No other Hawks’ player did anything significant in any aspect of the game, but it was good to see Al Horford (12 points) out there running around after missing so many games. That team is so frustrating because just when you think they are going to take a playoff turn, they go down 3-1 in the first round to the old heads.
Lakers 92, Nuggets 88. Los Angeles leads Denver 3-1.
Ramone Sessions and Steve Blake hit big threes in the clutch to spur the Lake show. Classic Beans (22 points, 8 boards, 6 dimes) here: “Sessions has hit big 3s. Even when I was out he hit some big 3s to win games. He did it again tonight. I have confidence in him,” Bryant said. “If you’re observing the game in the third quarter I hit Sessions for an open shot, Blake for an open shot and (Matt) Barnes for an open shot and they missed all three of them. George (Karl), being observant as he is, saw I was (ticked). I was and didn’t think I would trust them at the end of the game to knock down those shots, but they stepped up and knocked them down.” Hilarious huh? Pau Gasol had 13 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Lakers had 6 in double figures. Jordan Hill had 12 and 11. I tell you what, if Andrew Bynum continues this play (8-12, 19 points), I honestly see the Lakers getting to the Finals. Yeah I said it.
Danilo Gallinari had 20 points and 6 rebounds. He took a helluva pick by Gasol that led to the Sessions three with 48 seconds left. Danilo grabbed his throat but was OK. Andre Miller had 15 points and 7 boards.
The fan who inexplicably walked onto the floor is Savannah McMillan-Christmas of Denver. Apparently she’s known for stalking Kenyon Martin. Kenyon is in LA. Sure got a good chuckle but he better come get his girl. If you look at the Nuggets players, they weren’t fazed because her face is familiar…
Marv Albert: “She is literally…out there.” LOL
Knicks 89, Heat 87. Miami leads 3-1.
Carmelo Anthony put in 41 but his misses on free throws set the stage for fans everywhere wondering what happened on the Heat final possession. Dwyane Wade was isolated on the top of the key…a pick and roll…Amar’e Stoudemire guards Wade on the switch. Wade goes to the cup, ball slips in his hands and prohibits him from shooting what would have been a 5 footer…he dribbles out to the three point line on the right side, puts up a fadeaway three that bounces off the tin and the Knicks win their first playoff game in 13 tries. This was a dramatic game. LeBron was great. How he is left standing on the left elbow on the final play is perplexing. At least have him trail Wade and crash the boards in the event of a rebound. But…it was just one game and the Heat are expected to finish the Knicks out in Miami in Game 5.
LeBron James had 27 points, 4 assists and 4 boards despite shooting 9-21. Dwayne Wade had 22 points, 6 assists, 4 steals, 3 blocks and 3 boards. Chris Bosh was 4-10 for 17 and had 9 boards as well. Stat was 8-13 in his return after injuring his hand after Game 2. He had 20 and 10. J. R. Smith had a bad shooting day…3-15 for just 7 points. Baron Davis went down with a dislocated knee cap in the 3rd. Impressive the Knicks continued to go on a run after the gruesome injury to Davis. What does everyone think the Knicks have left in them? Much was said about both teams horrid three point shooting (Miami, 3-19 (.158) and New York, 5-22 (.227)) but that’s what happens when defense is played. Can the Knicks extend the series? Jeremy Lin might be forced to play before he’s ready. Should be interesting Wednesday.