NBA playoff scores, results and highlights from Sunday's action
The Clippers' furious rally
It was comeback Sunday in the NBA Playoffs. First, the Clippers overcame a 22-point deficit to tie their series against the Thunder. Later, the Pacers overcame a 19-point gap to go up 3-1 on the Wizards.
This was a game of personnel demons. For the Clippers to win, they had to find someone among their stash of perimeter players to make a shot and take some of the offensive pressure away from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. For the Thunder, they had to take on their very nature and not succumb to their lifeless offensive sets.
Doc Rivers found salvation in Darren Collison, who scored 12 of his 18 in the final quarter as his team completed a rather incredible comeback from a 22-point first quarter deficit. The Thunder had no savior. Time and again, they tried to post up Kevin Durant against Chris Paul. Time and again, they couldn’t keep score.
Ultimately, this was on OKC coach Scott Brooks, who once again failed to come up with an effective fourth quarter counter. The Clippers survived -- there’s no other way to put it -- and now we truly have a series worthy of our attention in a second round that has failed to capture our imagination. -Paul Flannery
What goes around comes around
A consequential part of the 2014 Thunder's story to this point is that they did not have to face Zach Randolph in Game 7 against Memphis. Z-Bo had been suspended for punching Steven Adams in the dome as the two jostled.
On Sunday, Serge Ibaka appeared to sock Blake Griffin in the groin. Griffin crumbled; Ibaka later said it was unintentional, and in fact wouldn't have happened if Ibaka hadn't been pushed into Griffin by his teammate, Kendrick Perkins. Now the NBA will review the tape and determine whether Ibaka intended to punch Griffin. If so, he's out for Game 5.
If the NBA sees no intent, Ibaka will ride on and the complaints from Memphis will be loud. I don't envy the NBA judges, who are forced to read intent from the tape and are limited by the restrictions of zero-tolerance policy. Given Z-Bo's iffy suspension and whatever happens in Ibaka's case, it makes me wonder if it's time for the NBA to ease up on that rule just a bit until it becomes necessary again to tighten back up. It's not like legit fighting has been an issue in the past decade. This is a different NBA. -Tom Ziller
Scott Brooks' blunder
It's certainly true that Scott Brooks gets picked on for the things easiest for the average fan to see without getting credit for the things that are tougher to notice. That said, sometimes he makes it too easy.
Case in point: for the second time this postseason, he elected not to foul while trailing with less than a five-second difference between the shot clock and the game clock. He was bailed out in Game 5 against the Grizzlies when Russell Westbrook stole the ball from Mike Conley, though OKC eventually lost the game. You'd think he'd have learned from his mistake.
Instead, nope. Down two with 27.5 seconds left, the Thunder elected not to foul, even though there was only a 2.5 second difference between shot and game clocks. Brooks nearly got bailed out again when Blake Griffin shot too early, giving Westbrook one last shot to take the lead that he ultimately missed. The obvious call is to foul and extend the game.
This is only a tiny part of coaching, but it's amazing how badly Brooks played the situation. -Mike Prada
By George, the Pacers are back
Paul George has taken his lumps this season. After looking like a bona fide MVP candidate over the first two months of the year, he fell off during the latter half of the season, earning himself plenty of criticism as the Pacers limped into the playoffs.
But while George hasn't been perfect in the postseason, he has come up huge when the Pacers have really needed him. He did it again with an exceptional 39-point, 12-rebound effort in a 95-92 Game 4 victory over the Wizards that also featured his customary great defense. Indiana looked dead in the water in the third quarter, trailing by 19 and on the verge of heading back home with the series tied 2-2. But George wouldn't let that happen, scoring 28 of his 39 points in the second half to lead the Pacers to victory. George capped off his brilliant effort with a hustle play, chasing down a bad pass from Trevor Ariza to secure the win and put the Pacers on the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Whether it be Sunday night or one of his multiple key performances against the Hawks, including a dynamite Game 7, George has shown he still has that bit of superstar in him, even after the disastrous close to the regular season. -Jason Patt
A familiar story in D.C.
For six playoffs games, the Wizards made us forget that they are ... well, the Wizards. That refers to the franchise’s 30-plus years of ineptitude that swallowed up promising team after promising team before they ever bore fruit. It also refers to the ever-frustrating 2013-14 edition, one that blew so many double-digit leads that star John Wall told Sports Illustrated that they could have won 55 games -- that’s one more than the Heat and 11 more than they actually won, by the way -- if they didn’t give so many away.
Those six wonderful playoff games -- five against the beloved Bulls and one against the free-falling Pacers -- now appear to be a typical D.C. sports mirage. The Wizards lost a winnable Game 2, were completely outclassed in an ugly 22-point Game 3 loss and, in the coup de grâce, gave away a 19-point lead built by aging standouts Andre Miller, Al Harrington and Drew Gooden in a Game 4 heartbreaker. Heartbreak. That's how it always ends for this franchise and this city.
Perhaps that’s why the Verizon Center crowd sat silently during the under-three minute timeout. They knew what was coming. -Mike Prada
Miami Heat at Brooklyn NetsMiami leads 2-1 | 8 p.m. ET, TNTBarclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
San Antonio Spurs at Portland Trail BlazersSpurs lead 3-0 | 10:30 p.m. ET, TNTMODA Center, Portland, Ore.
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