NBA Playoffs: Lakers Finally Down Nuggets, Celtics Win Game 1

Metta World Peace's return helped Kobe Bryant and the Lakers (finally) eliminate the pesky Nuggets. In Boston, Rondo's triple-double and KG's 29 points led the Celtics over Philly.

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48 Total Updates since May 12, 2012
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Nuggets Vs. Lakers Final Score: Big Men Power L.A. To Wackadoo 96-87 Win In Game 7

The L.A. Lakers prevailed in an insane Game 7, beating the Denver Nuggets 96-87 to move on to the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. Pau Gasol had a huge game, leading the Lakers with 23 points and 17 rebounds. Andrew Bynum also played well after two straight underwhelming performances; the center had 16 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks.

The Nuggets trailed by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but stormed back and held a 4-point lead early in the fourth. In the final period, Kobe Bryant switched onto Ty Lawson and shut him down. For the previous three quarters, Metta World Peace had the strongest defensive performance, completely shutting down Danilo Gallinari, who finished with three points on 1-9 shooting.

Lawson finished with 24 points on 11-19 shooting. Al Harrington matched him in the scoring ledger with 24, attacking frequently throughout. But Steve Blake was the game's best reserve, dropping 19 on 7-11 shooting including five three-pointers.

The fourth quarter was incessantly frantic, uncomfortable for both sides and a joy to watch. As Rasheed Wallace would say, "Both teams played hard."

The Lakers will now face the Oklahoma City Thunder, who swept the Dallas Mavericks and haven't played in a week. Game 1 is on Monday in OKC. Game 2 will be scheduled for Wednesday, and the teams will play a back-to-back in L.A. on Friday and Saturday.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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Kobe Bryant Dekes Danilo Gallinari Out Of His Skin

The old man has still got it. As the Lakers pull away from the Nuggets in the second half, watch Kobe Bryant give Danilo Gallinari a nice little ball fake that sends Gallo in the wrong direction on defense.

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The Nuggets Fall Apart To Open The Second Half

The Nuggets had some issues to resolve in the second half to execute a comeback and win Game 7. Not only did they fail to make positive adjustments in the first few minutes of the third, but they regressed in other areas.

As of right now, the Lakers are on a 18-4 run to open the third. It’s getting ugly fast.

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What The Nuggets Need To Do ASAP

1. Stop setting up JaVale McGee in the block. He is 0-4. His offensive impact should be limited to the offensive glass, dives on the pick and roll and the fast break.

2. Give Danilo Gallinari a few screens.

3. More Ty Lawson. The speedy point guard is by far Denver’s most effective scorer against L.A., and while Lawson has 11, he’s not taking control on enough of the team’s possessions. Until L.A. shows an ability to stop him with any amount of focus, Lawson needs to be featured and to attack.

4. Settle for a few more jumpers. Andre Miller is 0-6 because he keeps going to the rack, where L.A.’s length with Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Jordan Hill is causing problems.

5. Keep sending Jack Nicholson’s evil twin to the opposite side of the court.

It’s bound to unsettle everyone in the building. Just the opening Denver needs.

BONUS: Release flies in the vicinity of Pau. He will likely catch one in his mouth and get sick.

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JaVale McGee Is Dismayed At Dumb Goaltend, Rips Hole In Time-Space Continuum

ALERT: A Denver Nuggets big man has taken a ball that appeared to be falling into the basket for two Denver Nuggets points off of the rim, resulting in a very dumb offensive goaltending call.

SHOCKING TWIST: It was Timofey Mozgov, not JaVale McGee, who committed this infraction. It would have been Mr. McGee’s make, in fact, if not for Mr. Mozgov’s mistake.

Mr. McGee, how do you feel about Mr. Mozgov blowing your bucket in the fashion that you have executed so, so many times this season?

American Champion.

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Pau Gasol Scores, Makes Love To The Stanchion

Pau Gasol is not only having a heckuva Game 7 for the Lakers, but he’s also engaging in romantic endeavors.

Kevin Garnett likes to beat up the stanchion. Pau Gasol likes to hold it gently. If this is not a perfect contrast of the players, than I know not what it is.

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Gallinari Check: Still Shooting Poorly, Even Tough He Has Respite From Metta World Peace

This morning, we wrote about what impact Metta World Peace could have in his Game 7 return to the Lakers. In particular, we focused on Danilo Gallinari’s poor shooting in the series, and Matt Barnes’s defense.

Gallinari is still having a tough go: He’s 0-4 with no free throws through 15 minutes of Game 7. The first quarter action saw MWP guarding him, but Mike Brown has used World Peace on Andre Miller in the second. That’s left Barnes back on Gallinari, and that’s left Denver without production from its stud small forward.

The Nuggets are in the game, but need to get something out of Gallo.

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Mike Brown Has A Headache THIS Big

Jordan Hill fouled Andre Miller on a pretty silly play at the end of the first quarter, when the clock would have otherwise expired without another Denver opportunity.

Mike Brown reacted with … scorn? Confusion? Dismay? Brain freeze?

Yes, brain freeze.

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Sixers Vs. Celtics, 2012 NBA Playoffs: Boston Comes Back, Defeats Philly 92-91

The Philadelphia 76ers led by as many as 13 points in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but at no point did anyone believe that the Boston Celtics, led by another renaissance performance from Kevin Garnett, would just roll over. The Celtics battled back, fell behind again, battled back and eventually held off a late Sixers run to win, 92-91, and take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Garnett was spectacular in the game. The Big Ticket (remember when we called him that?) was written off by many with chronic knee issues, but he's come through again and again for the Celtics in the first seven games of the playoffs. He finished with a brilliant 29 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and had one of his typical, terrific defensive efforts. On a night when Paul Pierce struggled — he shot just 3-11 for 14 points, though he did have six rebounds and six assists — Garnett was the Celtics' alpha and omega, and it was enough.

Of course, it helped that Rajon Rondo, who played far below his capabilities in the first half, wound up finishing with another one of his ludicrous triple-doubles: 13 points, 17 assists, 12 rebounds. Rondo, defying all logic, even hit several clutch jump shots late in the game to help seal the victory, also committing the most intelligent foul of the playoffs so far.

The Sixers probably played better than anyone, save for the most devout Sixers fans, expected. Spencer Hawes was their catalyst against the Bulls and he keyed their efforts in the second half, making a few plays only he could make. As a 7-footer, he went coast-to-coast on a layup, hit some crucial jumpers and played largely mistake-free basketball. He finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

What ultimately doomed Philly on Saturday was also their main bugaboo during the regular season: They have no go-to scorer. Once Paul Pierce hit a jumper to put the Celtics up 90-84, Andre Iguodala (19 points, six rebounds, six assists) and Jrue Holiday hit clutch jumpers, but it was too late. Rondo's heady foul ensured they wouldn't have a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. While Pierce, Rondo and Garnett were hitting their clutch buckets, the Sixers' offense floundered, ultimately dooming them to a loss. All they need, however, is to win in Game 2 and they'll take home-court advantage. After their performance in Game 1, no one would be surprised if that happened.

For more on the Celtics, check out Celtics Blog and SB Nation Boston. For more on the 76ers, head over to Liberty Ballers and SB Nation Philly.

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VIDEO: Rajon Rondo Seals Game With Canny Foul, Retreat

The Boston Celtics led by three with just seconds left. The Philadelphia 76ers picked up a defensive rebound and Jrue Holiday sprinted downcourt with the ball. Rajon Rondo, a top-notch defender and, frankly, smart as heck player, made a canny play: He fouled Holiday in the open court.

That’s simply a brilliant play, made with nary a fraction of a second to spare. (Holiday should have dropped it off to Spencer Hawes anyway.)

Holiday sunk both to pull the Sixers within one with three seconds left. After a Celtics time-out, the Sixers needed to (1) foul immediately and hope (2) Boston missed the first, (3) made the second and (4) gave Philly one more chance.

Welp, they failed on Step 1.

Rondo didn’t only have a 13-17-12 triple-double, he ran a last-second naked bootleg to clinch a Game 1 victory. He is something amazing.

For more on the Celtics, visit CelticsBlog and SB Nation Boston.

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Rajon Rondo Gives Celtics A Late Lead On Bucket That Lands Him A Triple-Double

Rajon Rondo had 15 assists and 10 rebounds before he got to 10 points to cinch up another postseason triple-double. (He now has eight, tied with Oscar Robertson and ahead of LeBron James.) He got the two buckets he needed late in the fourth. The lay-up that took him to 11 points also happened to give Boston an 83-82 lead.

This is one heckuva game.

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Kevin Garnett Destroys Andre Iguodala's Dunk Attempt, Shifts Momentum

Game 1 of Sixers vs. Celtics has had roughly 209 momentum shifts. Every time Philly pulls away with a lead of seven or eight points, Boston goes on a mini-run to tighten it up. Then the Sixers immediately retake control. etc.

One such momentum swing came with one of the best individual defensive plays we’ve seen in the postseason. Of course, it came from Kevin Garnett.

That is a nasty, nasty block on a player in Andre Iguodala who can absolutely fly.

BALLFIGHT.

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A Concern That Philadelphia's Offense Is Not Sustainable

In the first round of the playoffs against the Bulls, an excellent defensive team, the Sixers shot 40.7 percent from the floor and 24.7 percent on three-pointers. Philly doesn’t have an amazing offense, so those numbers aren’t too surprising.

Like the Bulls, the Celtics have an incredible defense. It was the best in the league this season, edging Chicago and Philly (No. 3). Despite that, the Sixers shot 46 percent from the floor in the first half of Game 1, and hit half of their threes.

Despite playing over their heads on offense, they lead only by five. If they revert to expectations — in the second half or later in the series — they could be in real trouble. The three-pointers in particular seem like fool’s gold.

That said, neither Thad Young nor Lou Williams have gotten going as of yet; when they begin to click, assuming that they do, it’ll be trouble for Boston. Exciting basketball narratives!

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More Lessons For Ryan Hollins

  • Evan Turner is both the strongest man on Earth and has The Force.

Seriously, Ryan Hollins: THANK YOU. You weren’t going to contribute a whole lot to this series by being a serious basketball player. Any more hilarious things you want to do are fine by us.

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Lessons For Ryan Hollins

  • His arms are not four feet long.
  • Basketball courts are not made out of soft pillows.
  • Sometimes, it is better to not try and fail than to try and fail and die on the court.
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Lou Williams Presents The Weakest Lay-Up Attempt In Philadelphia History

You cannot give Paul Pierce a free lunch. It appears Lou may have been looking for a foul — he didn’t come close to getting it.

At least something good come of it: Chris Webber responded by calling Pierce the Celtics’ best defender. At least four players wearing Boston jerseys right this second have issues with that declaration.

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Throwback Offensive Execution From The Sixers In Game 1

We’re just midway through one quarter of what should be a long series between the Celtics and the Sixers, but if those first few minutes are any indiciation, Philadelphia has its offensive swagger back. Remember -- early in the regular season, Philly had not only an elite defense (they finished with the third best), but one of the league’s best offenses.

Once Spencer Hawes exited the rotation for a long spell due to injury, the offense fell apart, and it was simply a disaster most nights in the second half of the season. But with 15 points against Boston in six minutes and change, and looking smooth and aggressive, it’s a throwback effort. Can it continue? Will Kevin Garnett find a way to shut down Hawes? Stay tuned.

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And Your Celtics Vs. Sixers Game 1 Starting Lineups Are ...

Here are the starting fives for Game 1 of Celtics vs. Sixers.

PHILADELPHIA: Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner, Jrue Holiday.

BOSTON: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett.

Ray Allen is available for the Celtics, too.

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Mike Brown's Job Not On The Line In Game 7, According To Report

During ESPN's broadcast of the Clippers vs. Grizzlies Game 6 on Friday, Magic Johnson predicted Lakers head coach Mike Brown would be fired if his team lost Game 7 of their series against the Nuggets. Today, that prediction was refuted by a "source with knowledge of the Lakers' thinking." Via Dave McMenamin.

Here is part of what Johnson originally said about Brown's job security. Via the Los Angeles Times.

"Mike Brown will not be coaching the Lakers if they lose this game," Johnson said. "There would be so much pressure on Jim Buss and the Laker organization to get rid of him."

Saturday's Game 7 is scheduled to tip off at 10:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on TNT.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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Nuggets Vs. Lakers: Will Metta World Peace Make A Difference?

Metta World Peace will return from his seven-game suspension on Saturday to help the L.A. Lakers in their quest to survive the first round against the Denver Nuggets. Coach Mike Brown has said that MWP will start in place of Matt Barnes, and it's likely that Devin Ebanks will be pushed deeper into the rotation.

Barnes has been wildly ineffective on offense throughout the series, averaging just 5 points and 4 rebounds per game in 22 minutes. He's shot 13-48 (27 percent) from the floor and 3-24 (12.5 percent) from long-range, just awful numbers at any sample size. Ebanks has been a bit better offensively (similar scoring and better shooting in five fewer minutes per game), but clearly isn't someone the Lakers rely on to help the offense consistently.

But Barnes has done a great job defensively. Danilo Gallinari is shooting just 33-85 (39 percent) from the floor and 3-20 (15 percent) on three-pointers; Gallo's offense has been saved by some decent foul-drawing. According to NBA.com, Gallinari is shooting just 32 percent in this series when Barnes is on the court, and 43 percent when Barnes sits. Most notably, Gallo is 0-8 on threes with Barnes in the game.

In this sense, MWP's return is a double-edged sword: Barnes has been effective in controlling Gallinari, a vital piece of Denver's offense. Now Barnes will be on Gallinari far less. But MWP's primary offering is defense -- now, in theory, both players guarding Gallo will be strong defenders. But if MWP is bringing defense on par with that of Barnes, where's the upgrade? How is MWP actually going to help the Lakers get over the hump? (This has somehow become a triple-edged sword.)

MWP defended Gallo well over 70 minutes in the regular season, holding him to 35 percent shooting. But Denver has this series tied with Gallinari largely being bottled up. In short: if the primary benefit of getting MWP back for Game 7 is to help slow down the Nuggets' offense, and the player MWP will be most responsible for has already been handcuffed by the man MWP is replacing in the starting five, is there even a true benefit to MWP's return?

If you think MWP is going to help the Lakers' offense, keep in mind that he was a substantially worse three-point shooter than Barnes over the course of the season, and for the last two seasons has held a scoring efficiency that would Smush Parker look like Steve Nash.

For more on the Lakers, visit Silver Screen And Roll and SB Nation Los Angeles. For more on the Nuggets, visit Denver Stiffs and SB Nation Denver.

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