ATLANTA, GA - MAY 01: Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics yells to his teammates against the Atlanta Hawks in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

NBA Playoffs: Bulls Stumble Without Rose, Celtics Pull Even, Kobe Leads Lakers

The Celtics and Bulls went in opposite directions playing without their All-Star point guards, while the Lakers moved to 2-0 over the Nuggets.

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40 Total Updates since May 1, 2012
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Now Are The Bulls Totally Screwed?

The Bulls may have lost Joakim Noah to a nasty ankle injury. Can we finally offer up a eulogy or is there still some life left?

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NBA Playoffs 2012 Scores And More: Sixers Stifle Bulls, Lakers Defeat Denver, Paul Pierce Problematic For Hawks

The 2012 NBA Playoffs are well underway with a trio of Game 2s happening on Tuesday night and, while none of the three games were must-watch, there was some fun basketball being played across America. That'll be the case for the foreseeable future, of course, but let's take a quick look back at what happened Tuesday.

The closest game in terms of the actual score was the Los Angeles Lakers' 104-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets. It didn't really seem as close as the final score indicates, however, as Kobe Bryant dominated to the tune of 38 points while big man Andrew Bynum scored 27 points to go with his nine rebounds. The Nuggets were led by 25 points from point guard Ty Lawson while rookie Kenneth Faried put up a 14-point, 10-rebound double-double in defeat.

Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics picked up what was most likely the least-expected win on Tuesday night when factoring in that they were missing their backcourt as Rajon Rondo served a suspension while Ray Allen dealt with injury issues. The Celtics picked up an 87-80 victory over the Atlanta Hawks thanks to 36 points and 14 rebounds from Pierce. The Hawks got 22 points from Joe Johnson while Josh Smith turned in another double-double before suffering a knee injury.

The third game of the evening saw the Chicago Bulls, in their first game without Derrick Rose, get blown out by the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers tied the series on the strength of Jrue Holiday's 26 points, though it certainly doesn't hurt to be able to bring Lou Williams in to score 20 points off the bench. Chicago's leading scorer was Joakim Noah with 21 points. John Lucas III scored 15 points and dished four assists after beginning the game on the bench.

For all of the gifs, videos and reaction from Tuesday night's slate of games, be sure to visit our StoryStream.

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Paul Pierce, Wisdom And The Mastery Of The Moment

How could Paul Pierce put the short-handed Celtics on his back when they needed him most? Because few others have been there before as often as he has.

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Lakers Vs. Nuggets, NBA Playoffs 2012 Game 2: Kobe Bryant Scores 38 In 104-100 Victory Over Denver

The Los Angeles Lakers have taken a 2-0 series lead against the Denver Nuggets in this opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs following Tuesday's 104-100 victory. Los Angeles held off a late Denver rally and, as the series shifts to Denver, are now halfway to advancing to the second round.

Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum once again led the way for the Lakers. Bryant sank shot after shot -- 15-of-29 from the field, 6-of-7 from the line -- for a game-high 38 points. Bynum followed up his triple-double from Game 1 with 27 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. Pau Gasol added a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Nuggets came close to a comeback late in the final quarter, but they couldn't quite make it over that hump. They have yet to lead in either game this series. Ty Lawson led the way for the Nuggets with 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting and dished out the ball for seven assists. Rookie Kenneth Faried finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

The two teams will travel to Denver for a Friday game at the Pepsi Center. The teams split the two-game series there during the regular season

For more on the Lakers, head over to Silver Screen and Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Nuggets, head over to Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Bulls Vs. 76ers, NBA Playoffs 2012 Game 2: Final Score, Philly Wins 109-92 With Stellar Performance

Joakim Noah had a fantastic first half for the Chicago Bulls while backup point guards C.J. Watson and John Lucas chipped in with great contributions, but things fell apart for the Bulls in the second half on both ends of the floor. They struggled defensively, turned the ball over and couldn't buy a basket in the third quarter, where they were outscored by the Philadelphia 76ers 36-14. After that, they coasted through the fourth quarter en route to a 109-92 win.

Without Derrick Rose to defend them, Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams looked virtually unopposed for parts of Game 2. Holiday scored 26 points, while Williams scored 20 off the bench. Evan Turner also had a big game for the Sixers, scoring 19 points after being added to the starting lineup.

Noah and Lucas didn't fall off significantly in the second half, but they got very little help. Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng both needed to pick up the scoring load in Rose's absence and failed to do so. Deng scored eight points and Boozer scored nine.

Philadelphia heads home with a 1-1 road split in Chicago, and on the basis of this performance by the Bulls, the 76ers might have just become favorites to take the series.

For more on the Bulls, visit Blog-a-Bull and SB Nation Chicago. For more on the Sixers, please visit Liberty Ballers and SB Nation Philly.

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Celtics Vs. Hawks, NBA Playoffs 2012: Paul Pierce Leads Boston To Upset Win

Few gave the Boston Celtics much of a chance to beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game 2 of their 2012 NBA Playoffs first-round series. With point guard Rajon Rondo suspended for bumping an official and Ray Allen sitting out again due to an ankle injury, the Celtics were very undermanned.

But that was before Paul Pierce put the Celtics on his back and put together a vintage performance. Pierce scored 36 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, and the Celtics' defense locked down the Hawks late in an 87-80 win that tied up the series at one.

Pierce scored the first nine points of the game, then poured in 13 in the final quarter to surge his team in front. The Celtics' defense did the rest, holding Atlanta to just 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Not only did Atlanta lose the game, but they may have lost Josh Smith, who left the game late in the fourth quarter after injuring his knee sparring with Kevin Garnett. His status going forward remains unclear.

Noteworthy GIFs and videos:

Jeff Teague is pretty athletic.

Paul Pierce has a very hard chest.

Pierce also reminds us that Tebowing is still a thing.

Instant reactions from our bloggers:

For more on the Celtics, head over to CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston. For more on the Hawks, check out Peachtree Hoops and SB Nation Atlanta.

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