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Al Horford started for the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night for the time since early January. The All-Star center made his impact felt immediately, helping the Hawks to stave off elimination for at least one more game in their first round NBA Playoffs series against the Boston Celtics.
Kobe Bryant is not the mythical creature that the highlight reels make him out to be, and the Lakers are not above the immutable laws of basketball.
JaVale McGee and Andrew Bynum are alike in many ways; they're long, athletic, talented -- and immature. Tuesday night McGee outplayed Bynum to help the Nuggets stave off elimination in Game 5 of their series with the Lakers.
There was a possibility that four teams would advance to the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs on Tuesday night, but that was apparently easier said than done. The Indiana Pacers were able to eliminate the Orlando Magic, but three other teams were able to force a Game 6 in their series.
The game between the Pacers and Orlando began the night's action in Indiana, as the Magic tried to force another game in the series. But without Dwight Howard, that was a rather tall task. Danny Granger and Darren Collison both stepped up big to eliminate the Magic on the way to a 105-87 final score as Jameer Nelson's 27 points in defeat just weren't enough to overcome the odds.
The Atlanta Hawks were more successful in their endeavor to stay alive, mostly due to the fact that their All-Star center returned to the starting lineup after a long injury layoff -- though they nearly blew it in the waning seconds. Al Horford scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, though, to keep the Hawks alive with an 87-86 victory. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett scored 16 points apiece in the Boston Celtics' loss, but the offense sputtered too much at inopportune times for their contributions to make too much of a difference.
Chicago was the site of the night's worst game, aesthetically speaking, as the Chicago Bulls staved off elimination with a 77-69 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls played without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, but Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer combined for 38 points to force a sixth game in the seven-game series. Jrue Holiday scored 16 points to lead the Sixers in the loss.
Tuesday evening's nightcap gave the Los Angeles Lakers a chance to eliminate the Denver Nuggets, but JaVale McGee was just too much (no, I didn't think I'd ever type that sentence in a playoff recap either) as Denver forced a Game 6 after pulling out a 102-99 victory. McGee scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds after beginning the game on the bench, fellow reserve Andre Miller scored a team-high 24 and Kobe Bryant's impressive 43 points were all for naught.
For more on Tuesday night's action, be sure to visit this StoryStream for all of the gifs, recaps and reaction from around the internet.
The Denver Nuggets played strong against the Los Angeles Lakers and pulled out a 102-99 victory on Tuesday night. With the win, the Nuggets are only at a 3-2 series disadvantage and will head home to the Pepsi Center for Thursday night's Game 6.
Kobe Bryant was almost unstoppable during the final minutes of the game, hitting key three after key three, but he never could quite hit that shot to tie the game. Still, the Nuggets successfully fended off the Lakers in a game that saw Bryant score 43 points.
The Nuggets wouldn't have been able to claim the win had it not been for JaVale McGee, who came up with 21 points and 14 rebounds. More than that, McGee channeled Wilt Chamberlain among his scoring plays and came up with two blocks. Also playing a key role off the bench was Andre Miller, who scored 24 points and dished the ball out for eight assists.
Will the Nuggets be able to even this series on Thursday night?
These are just a few of the absurd shots Kobe Bryant has hit to bring the Los Angeles Lakers back from a double-digit deficit against the Denver Nuggets. Many of these three-pointers are open. One of these three-pointers is with Danilo Gallinari in his face. Another is with Al Harrington in his face. Another still is him coming off a screen with Gallinari in his face. Enjoy the show here.
Of course, Bryant's hot streak convinced him to shoot a contested three with 25 seconds left with his team down three when a two would have sufficed. Still, without Bryant's explosion, this game isn't even close.
Might want to guard this Kobe Bryant guy.
OK, this is getting ridiculous.
Well, at least everyone who isn’t a Lakers fan.
Here’s Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, in an interview with TNT that played during the fourth quarter.
“I think he’s one of the top 10 point guards, ever.”
Now, Miller is definitely underrated as hell, but … that seems like a bit much.
When JaVale McGee got traded to the Denver Nuggets in March, one of my hopes as a basketball fan was to see him hook up with Andre Miller for lots of alley-oops. Miller's arguably the best lob passer in the NBA, and McGee is certainly one of the best lob finishers. It hasn't happened as much as I'd like, but the two hooked up for a hell of a play here early in the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Miller threw the ball so high so that only McGee could get it, and McGee went up and got it. It was a three-quarter court lob, and it was great.
McGee, by the way, has 17 points and 11 rebounds in this game. Dude's making himself a lot of money when he hits the free-agent market this summer.
That headline is kind of mean on some level, the more I think about it. Just enjoy this GIF of Andre Miller making the Lakers look silly.
As we noted earlier, the Nuggets’ secondary break is doing the job for them in this third quarter. To put this into perspective:
-Points the Nuggets have scored after Lakers missed shots or turnovers: 14
-Points the Nuggets have scored after Lakers made shots: 3.
The secondary break can be the ultimate equalizer to being undersized, and it’s playing out that way for the Denver Nuggets in their Game 5 against the Los Angeles Lakers. In a half-court game, Denver has no chance, but they’re pushing the ball right at the Lakers’ throat off missed shots. They aren’t getting fast breaks, but they’re attacking after the Lakers stop the initial break and getting easy shots.
Hence, the secondary break.
To stop this, the Lakers need to stop shooting jumpers. I’m not holding my breath at this point.
The Chicago Bulls still have the breath of life in them during the 2012 NBA Playoffs following a 77-69 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls are now one game away from tying this series at three games apiece, but they will need to do that in Philadelphia on Thursday.
Luol Deng turned in a strong effort, hitting mid- to long-range shots throughout the second half. When the final buzzer went off, Deng had a game-high 24 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. He was 4-of-5 from beyond the arc, sinking all but one of the team's threes. Carlos Boozer added 19 points and 13 rebounds. No other scorer reached double digits, but Taj Gibson was solid with eight points and seven rebounds. He overcame a rolled ankle and played on adrenaline during the final quarter.
The Sixers had a terrible night shooting the ball, sinking just 32.1 percent of their shots. Had that shooting improved at some point, it would have gone a long way in helping the free throw advantage the team had. The Sixers went 17-of-24 from the line while the Bulls were just 4-of-11. Spencer Hawes put in a double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds. Jrue Holiday had a team-high 16 points.
Without Derrick Rose, the Bulls finally picked up a victory. Can they make it two on Thursday?
For all news and information regarding the Chicago Bulls, please visit Blog a Bull or check out SB Nation Chicago. For updates and perspective on the Philadelphia 76ers, head on over to Liberty Ballers or stop by SB Nation Philadelphia.
Yup, he just tried to block a shot through the rim.
Arron Afflalo in the first four games of this series: nine points per game, 33-percent shooting.
Arron Afflalo after one half on Tuesday night: 13 points, 50-percent shooting.
That’s the difference so far.
I missed Andrew Bynum's quote on closeout games when it hit the news cycle. In case you missed it, here's a TNT screenshot of it.
In a related story, Bynum just stood flat-footed as JaVale McGee dunked a putback.
That is all.
The Los Angeles Lakers have a problem. Their post players are getting double-teamed immediately, and their perimeter players can’t hit open shots to make the Nuggets pay. This probably won’t be a problem in this round, but this will become a problem going forward.
One obvious solution is to set more cross-screens to get the big men on the move instead of just having them stand there as the guards dump the ball into the post. Basically, you send one guard to the other block to stick his body in there to slow the post defender up as your big man comes across the lane. The timing of this is tough to coordinate, but the Lakers aren’t doing it enough.
If the Lakers do it right, they can get points in the paint before the Nuggets’ double-teams come. It’s something they need to devote themselves to more consistently to mask their weak perimeter shooting.
Just as everyone predicted.
The Chicago Bulls are one quarter away from picking up their second victory against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 2012 NBA Playoffs, but they might be down another player. Taj Gibson left the game late in the third quarter after rolling his ankle while trying to block a Lavoy Allen shot (check out the GIF here).
Gibson went to the bench and was in obvious pain. After the trainers looked him over, he went back to the locker room for further evaluation. He scored four points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked four shots before he left the game. He also elbowed Elton Brand earlier in the game and received a double technical foul as a result.
For all news and information regarding the Chicago Bulls, please visit Blog a Bull or check out SB Nation Chicago. For updates and perspective on the Philadelphia 76ers, head on over to Liberty Ballers or stop by SB Nation Philadelphia
Steve Kerr just made an astute point: the Nuggets and Lakers are sending such hard double teams at each other because neither team is making the other pay from three-point range. Both of these squads have shooters, so it’s really strange, but it’s a trend that has kept up for long enough this series for it to be meaningful.
If Andrew Bynum was a middle linebacker in the NFL, he'd be flagged for a 15-yard penalty if he did this to any quarterback, whether it's Tom Brady or Chad Henne. In the NBA, he can apparently get away with a simple personal foul as long as he does it to JaVale McGee.
This is the byproduct of the anti-flopping movement. Is it better for referees to fall for some flops, but always whistle legitimate fouls correctly, or is it better to sometimes confuse legitimate fouls for flops? Obviously, you want a balance, but I'd prefer the former.
Serious reason: they’re shooting way too many jumpers given their size advantage, which is fueling the Nuggets’ transition game.
Not-so-serious-reason: Kobe Bryant did this. (click to view GIF).
If only everyone checked in with a smile on their face. This league would be so cheerful!
The Atlanta Hawks' postseason will continue for at least one more game after defeating the Boston Celtics, 87-86, in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The Celtics now hold a 3-2 series advantage as things shift back to Boston on Thursday.
Boston's Paul Pierce nearly played the hero in this series once again when he took a potential go-ahead shot with 15 seconds left in the game. However, he came up five feet short. And Rajon Rondo stole an inbounds pass in the final seconds, only to not even attempt a shot. It was a tough break for a team that was so close to finishing off this series.
Pierce tied for the team lead in points with Kevin Garnett at 16 each while Rondo put in 13 points and 12 assists. Ray Allen led the bench with 15 points. Fourteen turnovers and 13 personal fouls hurt the team, but so did Atlanta hurt itself with 18 turnovers and 19 personal fouls.
Atlanta relied on five scorers in double-digit points, led by Al Horford's 19 points and 11 rebounds. Josh Smith also put in a double-double with 13 points and 16 rebounds. He also dished the ball out for six assists. Jeff Teague and Marvin Williams contributed 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Will the Hawks be able to pick up a road victory on Thursday?
That's pretty much the story of this game right now. The Nuggets lead early because they're being allowed to play free and loose.
One thing to keep in mind as this Lakers-Nuggets Game 5 begins …
You remember Metta World Peace being suspended for seven games for elbowing James Harden, of course. That was one regular-season game and four playoff games ago. The Lakers currently lead the Nuggets, 3-1, in this series, and can close out Denver on Tuesday night.
If the Lakers win on Tuesday, they won’t have World Peace for Game 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the next round. Therefore, do they lose on purpose to prolong this series with the Nuggets?
OK, they won’t, but it’s at least a random scenario to think about.
In a game full of bad offense, bad shooting and mistakes, the Atlanta Hawks held on to defeat the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their 2012 NBA Playoffs first-round series only after a crazy sequence to end things. Up one point and with the ball with just over 10 seconds left, the Hawks only needed to inbound the ball to feel good about themselves. Instead, Josh Smith's inbounds pass was picked off by Rajon Rondo, and the Celtics had a chance.
With no timeouts, Rondo advanced the ball into the frontcourt. In the end, Rondo dribbled the ball off his foot and the Celtics didn't even get a shot off.
Now, it's easy to get on Rondo for this, and to a certain extent, he deserves it. However, I hope more people realize just how great a play Al Horford made here. When the clock dips under five seconds, coaches tell players to switch every screen, but it's really hard for a big man to do that and slide his feet enough to stay with a speedster like Rondo. Horford not only expertly executed a switch with Josh Smith, but he crowded Rondo enough to prevent him from seeing the pass to Kevin Garnett, then stayed with Rondo as he tried to cross over.
It was an unbelievable play by a guy who came up with an unbelievable game in his second contest since early January.
The Chicago Bulls aren't going down without a fight against the Philadelphia 76ers, as shown by their 35-26 halftime lead. However, Taj Gibson is taking that fight mantra to heart. He and Elton Brand fought for a ball near the sidelines and this happened:
Looking at the second angle, Gibson delivered an elbow to Brand's head and that led to a scuffle on the sidelines. The referees and coaches held things together to stop anything else from happening, but Brand and Gibson each wound up receiving a technical foul.
For all news and information regarding the Chicago Bulls, please visit Blog a Bull or check out SB Nation Chicago. For updates and perspective on the Philadelphia 76ers, head on over to Liberty Ballers or stop by SB Nation Philadelphia. For complete coverage of the 2012 NBA playoffs, stay tuned to SB Nation's dedicated NBA hub.
Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce had a chance to give the Celtics a one-point lead over the Atlanta Hawks with under 15 seconds left. He shook Joe Johnson with his patented jab step and had a nice, open stepback jumper. Normally, he makes this shot.
On Tuesday night, he missed by five feet.
Love to know what this means.
"How do you leave Paul Pierce alone for a wide-open contested three" -- Reggie Miller— Scott Schroeder (@ScottSchroeder) May 9, 2012
A really tough hook shot by Al Horford has the Hawks up four on the Celtics with a minute and a half left in the game. In his second game back from injury, Horford has 19 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Imagine how much better the Hawks would have been if he played all year.
I wasn’t sure about that decision by Doc Rivers, but it seems to be working. The Celtics have tied the game with 2 minutes and 39 seconds left.
To the rest of the world, Atlanta Hawks fans are a passionless bunch that let their stadium get overrun by visitors. With the TNT cameras shining on him, this one Hawks bro is trying to shed that stereotype all by himself.
Paul Pierce has been limping around through all of Game 5, but he’s back in the game with the score tied at the eight-minute mark. No matter what happens, I’d be surprised if Pierce is used as much more than a decoy on offense. He’s a great spot-up shooter, so he can still contribute if his knee keeps bothering him.
Say Paul, why the long face?
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy is currently holding his last press conference of the season (airing on NBA.com), which means he's being asked deep, important questions about Dwight Howard and his future. Here are some of his answers.
"As far as the speculation, who gives a damn?" - SVG— Andrew Melnick (@HowardtheDunk) May 9, 2012
"My wife likes me." -SVG on how his life off the court hasn't been tough at all.— Courtside (@courtside) May 9, 2012
Miss you, Stan.
Good to see you come alive. Suddenly, this is a two-point game after three quarters.
This is great to see.
Name another center that blocks the shot, grabs the rebound and pushes it himself on the break. There isn't one.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) May 9, 2012
Horford blocks Hollins, then runs the break. GOD I MISSED AL HORFORD.— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 9, 2012
The Atlanta Hawks have already scored 16 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter, which is a pretty amazing number for them. The obvious talking point will be something along the lines of “better ball movement.”
But really, the reason things have gotten better is the thing that causes ball movement: player movement. After stationing a man in the weakside corner too much in the first half, the Hawks are starting to have that guy cut to the middle to occupy defenders. The defense is forced to react, which leads to open passing lanes, which leads to better ball movement.
The test will be if this keeps up beyond the first six minutes of the second half. It’s a lot harder to devote yourself to making that cut when your legs are heavy.
Jameer Nelson did his best to try to keep the Orlando Magic in the NBA Playoffs for at least one more game in the first three quarters of their game against the Indiana Pacers, but in the fourth quarter, his offense dried up. As his offense dried up, so did the rest of the Magic's, and their defense wasn't any better. A close game through three quarters turned into a blowout in the fourth quarter, as the Pacers won 105-87 to win the series 4-1.
The Pacers exploded for 36 points in the fourth quarter, with Darren Collison turning in an absolutely dominating period of play. He finished the night with 19 points on 9-10 shooting. Danny Granger led the Pacers with 25 points, while all Pacers starters but Paul George finished the game scoring in double figures.
Orlando was never expected to beat the Pacers without Dwight Howard, but the way in which they lost the series wasn't a good look. Allowing 36 points in your last quarter in the playoffs is just a terrible way to go out.
1. Kevin Harlan
2. Marv Albert
3. Chris Webber
4. Matt Devlin
500. Dick Stockton
Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird is known for being completely expressionless, but in the closing moments of his team's win over the Orlando Magic to advance to the second round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs, he came oh so close to breaking his poker face.
Almost, Larry! Just show a little more teeth!
Instead, Bird went right back to frowning again. Here he is after the buzzer sounded.
I'd like to think that Rajon Rondo planned to fall over the scorer's table this way after hitting an improbable fadeaway three at the buzzer of this 2012 NBA Playoffs Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks.
There wasn't very much offense for 22 of the first 24 minutes of Game 5 of this 2012 NBA Playoffs first-round series between the Boston Celtics and the Atlanta Hawks, but thanks to an offensive explosion by both teams at the end of the half, this game is tied at 40 at halftime. That may not seem like much, but this was heading toward being a historically awful first half before the end.
Both teams continue to struggle from the field, with the Hawks shooting 35 percent and the Celtics shooting 38 percent. Joe Johnson leads all scorers with 11 points, but he's needed 11 shots to do it. Brandon Bass has 10 points to lead the Celtics, while Paul Pierce added nine.
The Celtics can take home the series with a win in this one.
Number of three-pointers hit by Rajon Rondo in the final 11 seconds: 1
This seems apt.
You let the Hawks hang around long enough, eventually they start making their horrible shots.— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) May 9, 2012
Through three quarters of play in Game 5 between the Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic, Jameer Nelson has 25 points and he's 5-6 from behind the arc. He's having a career game, stepping up huge when his team needs him the most.
The Magic aren't exactly a team with superior talent, but when Dwight Howard is in the lineup, their good players can look great. He draws double teams and creates easy shots for his teammates. Without Howard, nothing has come easy, which is exactly why Nelson's third quarter was so impressive. The way he made space for himself in the lane on the two layups here and on the first three-pointer entirely by himself are things that just weren't happening for him in the first four games of the series.
Unfortunately for Nelson, his teammates didn't get the memo that you're supposed to bring your best when you're up against elimination on the road. No one else has been impressive offensively for the Magic. If they're going to avoid elimination, he's going to have to carry them, or someone else is going to have to start making shots. As a whole, the Magic look bad, but this game is interesting because Nelson's been so spectacular.
If you had Marvin Williams as the first guy to hit two three-pointers in this game, please collect your prize.
Al Horford is 1-5 from the field, and all four of those misses were short. I admire his toughness trying to play through injury, but he just doesn’t have any rhythm to his game.
There are four minutes and 13 seconds left in the second quarter.
Just so people don’t think we’re being too hard on the Hawks, the Celtics are playing pretty terribly on offense too. Thirty-five percent from the field isn’t going to get it done in a road closeout game. Someone has to start getting to the basket and getting easy shots on that team.
It’s getting annoying to watch the Atlanta Hawks continue to play without a purpose offensively, especially with Al Horford back in the lineup. Horford’s presence should, in theory, open up the horns set that the Hawks used to run all the time with him and Josh Smith in the game. It’s a common offensive play where you station your two big men at the top of the key and run your guards off cuts through them.
Given how well Horford and Smith pass, as well as Joe Johnson’s ability to post up, it can be really tough to stop. Instead, the Hawks are content having Johnson, Kirk Hinrich and Jeff Teague dribbling around aimlessly as their two bigs try to space the floor.
The Hawks run this set a lot, so you have to wonder why they aren’t running it now when their offense is stuck in mud in an elimination game.
After another missed long jump shot, Josh Smith is 0-8 from the field early in this second quarter. He’s clearly giving it his all on a sore knee, but he’s not there now. Injuries are rough.
The Celtics lead, 21-15, after one quarter against the Hawks after Kevin Garnett hit a long jumper one step inside the three-point line at the buzzer. It was a nice shot, but it also got me wondering: why doesn’t Garnett shoot threes? He’s made a living off the 20-footer, so why not take a couple steps back and get the extra point for your efforts?
Josh Smith missed dunks tend to be the most spectacular missed dunks. Here’s his latest (click to view GIF).
Kevin Harlan attributed the miss to Smith playing through a straight patella ligament in his knee. My response: if you’re explosive enough to try a one-handed reverse dunk, you’re explosive enough to make a one-handed reverse dunk.
Nobody likes layups tonight, apparently.
That was weird enough, given the Hawks’ scoring issues. Even weirder: he gave it up to Josh Smith 20 feet from the hoop. Probably not the smartest decision in the world.
The Indiana Pacers looked like they were well on their way to clinching the series with their play in the first quarter on Tuesday night, but they turned the ball over frequently in the second quarter, letting the Orlando Magic back into the game. Indiana led by as many as nine points, but only leads Orlando 50-47 at halftime.
Orlando has looked overmatched most of the game, and they only have the Pacers' turnovers to thank for the close score. They're shooting just 43 percent from the floor and Indiana is winning the rebounding battle, 23-17. Louis Amundson has been a surprise impact player, scoring six points in just four minutes.
Danny Granger leads the Pacers in scoring, but is only 3-9 from the floor. David West started the game well, but was less effective in the second quarter after taking an unfortunate shot to the groin that may or may not have affected his performance. Orlando's Glen Davis leads all scorers with 11 points.
Understatement, sure, but it’s still worth noting. It’s 11-3 Celtics early, and the Hawks already have three turnovers.
The problem: every time the Hawks make a basket cut, the pass is coming a beat too late. The last possession before the timeout, Marvin Williams made a great diagonal cut to the rim, but the ball didn’t get delivered until after the Celtics slid over and provided the help. Williams fumbled the pass in traffic and it turned into a turnover.
It’s almost as if the Hawks don’t know how to run an offense where players move without the ball. Not that that’s surprising, of course.
The few Hawks fans in the stands responded accordingly. Josh Smith will never change.
Here’s what the TNT commentator said about the Atlanta Hawks’ chances to come back and beat the Boston Celtics.
“I’ve seen this before the last five years. The move ends the same. They all drown.”
Should Doc Rivers change his defensive matchups to prevent the Hawks from running Avery Bradley or Rajon Rondo into the post? Vote now.
Not sure what the folks at Philips want all these Celtics fans to do with the Hawks towels they gave out.— John Hollinger (@johnhollinger) May 8, 2012
If you accuse David West of flopping here, we cannot be friends.
The Chicago Bulls will host the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night. The 76ers are one win away from advancing to the second round of the 2012 NBA playoffs.
The Atlanta Hawks face a must-win Game 5 on Tuesday night with the Boston Celtics trekking down to Georgia with a bit of momentum in their possession.
On Tuesday night, four teams will carry 3-1 leads into their matchups in the opening round of the 2012 NBA Playoffs. There may be four eliminations at the end of the night.
The Denver Nuggets struggled at home in Game 4, and need a win in L.A. to avoid elimination at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Indiana Pacers can eliminate the Orlando Magic at home on Tuesday night.
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