The appetizer was disgusting but the entree was brilliant, as Monday night's two Conference Semifinal matchups featured one hideous snoozer and one thrilling matchup that deserves a replay. In case you didn't get a chance to watch, here's a recap of what happened in a pair of Game 4s that saw two squads take big 3-1 leads.
The Grizzlies trailed by as much as 17 in the first half, but they clawed their way back to the delight of a Memphis crowd that hasn't seen them lose much of late. They pushed the game to OT on the strength of strong interior play and stifling defense on Kevin Durant in crunch time.
Durant was the one who forced overtime, driving gracefully to the hoop after the Grizzlies missed two of their final four free throws, but hit only two of his final 13 shot attempts. The Thunder only scored three points in overtime, and after a Marc Gasol jumper gave the Grizzlies a three-point lead with 22 seconds left in the extra session, Tony Allen made a great play on Derek Fisher's poorly-executed inbounds pass to end Oklahoma City's hopes of forcing another extra session.
Durant had something he hadn't experienced in a while: help. Kevin Martin had 18 points, Serge Ibaka had 17 points and 14 boards after some shoddy play earlier in the series, and Reggie Jackson added 15. Durant had most of his 27 points early, and the Thunder seemed like they could coast.
But Memphis went back to their roots of intense defense and strong interior play. Marc Gasol had six blocks to accompany 23 points, Mike Conley had four steals with his 24, Tony Allen added three steals, and Zach Randolph grabbed six offensive boards, getting some of his 23 points on big late second-chance points. They'd rally in the third quarter, and nearly got the win in regulation before clamping down in overtime.
Oklahoma City now leads 3-1 as the series shifts back to their home.
There are still games left to be played here, but this one feels over and done with.
Chicago outperformed their expectations for a while despite missing Derrick Rose, Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich, but they fell flat Monday night in one of the worst offensive performances in playoff history. They've now been blown out twice after shocking Miami with a win in Game 1.
All things told, the Heat were pretty pedestrian besides LeBron James' 27 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Dwyane Wade was ineffective and seemed hurt, and Chris Bosh only had two points in the second half after 12 in the first. But Chicago was so off that it didn't matter.
The Bulls shot just 25.7 percent for the game and 2-for-17 from downtown. They missed 11 of their first 12 shots as Miami went up 11-2 and would only score nine points in the third period -- their lowest-scoring quarter of the season -- as the Heat turned an 11-point halftime lead into a 19-point lead with a quarter to go. Nate Robinson shot 0-for-12, the second-most shots without a make in playoff history. There is not much left to say besides the eulogy for a Bulls squad that finally fell back to earth.