NBA finals Lakers Celtics Game 2: Can Pau Gasol keep it up

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Gasol_Garnett.jpgTalking to a Celtics blogger last night, he was pretty candid about how Gasol-Garnett I wound up. “(Gasol) murdered him.” Reds Army was still confident the Celtics would rebound naturally (both literally and figuratively), but the cold hard facts can’t escape even the most stout Boston fans.

Pau Gasol railroaded Garnett on his way to eight offensive rebounds and a masterful offensive performance, showing every component you could ask for from your power forward. The question will be in Game 2, after all the jibber jabber, how both of these players respond to how Game 1 went.

If Gasol gets confident, feeling he’ll be able to repeat his Game 1 performance without a fight, he’s probably got another thing coming. KG may not be as “explosive” as he once was, but he is as tough, physical, and savvy as he’s ever been. Combine that with the new Bulls head coach’s work, and Gasol could be in for a rough day.

On the other hand, there’s nothing surprising about what Gasol did, not really. He’s the most skilled big man in the game (while Dwight Howard may be the best all around, I doubt anyone would argue that Gasol’s skill level is off the charts), and everything he did was well within his wheelhouse. We can get wrapped up in all the talk about toughness and pride, but at the end of the day, Gasol’s skills are in their prime while KG’s are on a down slide.

Perhaps most concerning for the Celtics is their lack of an alternative. Glen Davis can’t properly check Gasol’s length, speed, or versatility and would foul out before he could even order his tenth hotdog. Rasheed Wallace is somewhat of a better fit, but again, physically doesn’t have it in him to match up. The Celtics are facing a problem they may just have to live with. Which is fine, that’ usually an element in any playoff matchup. You can let a great player be great, as long as you shut down the rest of the team.

The problem is that the Celtics already are facing a guy like that in Kobe Bryant. Having two guys you just have to “accept” are going to kill you changes things from vulnerability management to “pain therapy.”

Gasol could very well have an off night tonight. But if he doesn’t, it’s difficult to see from here how the Celtics would be able to counter. That’s what happens after every game in the playoffs. We can’t see things shifting from how they were ten minutes ago.

Isaiah Thomas scores 33, Celtics beat Bulls 104-95 to tie series

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CHICAGO (AP) Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists. Nikola Mirotic and seldom-used Isaiah Canaan each scored 13 points, but Dwyane Wade finished with just 11.

Canaan made his first appearance since April 10, with Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg searching for help at point guard with Rajon Rondo missing his second straight game because of a broken right thumb.

The Celtics led by 20 in the second quarter and were still up 10 in the third when Chicago scored 12 straight. The Bulls went ahead 65-63 on Robin Lopez‘s hook shot with 4:35 left in the quarter.

Thomas answered with back-to-back layups and scored 10 points in a 12-0 run that gave the Celtics a 75-65 lead, and they withstood a push by the Bulls early in the fourth.

With Thomas and Green each scoring 16 in the first half, the Celtics carried a 57-46 lead into the break.

Butler led the Bulls with 17 in the half. But the offense struggled in a big way with Rondo unavailable. Jerian Grant started and went to the bench after about five ineffective minutes. Michael Carter-Williams then picked up two quick fouls, forcing the Bulls to go with Canaan in the first quarter.

The Celtics, meanwhile, led 41-21 early in the second quarter. But things started to turn after Canaan stole the ball from Marcus Smart and scored on a layup.

Smart feigned throwing the ball at Butler. The two came nose to nose, resulting in technical fouls for both players, and the Bulls started to shoot their way back into it.

Mirotic hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight in the quarter. Bobby Portis cut it to 52-42 with his basket late in the half, and Butler hit two free throws with 22.6 seconds left to make it 57-46.

RONDO FINED

The NBA fined Rondo for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3. Crowder jawed at the Bulls’ bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

TIP-INS

Celtics: Thomas was just 1 of 9 on 3-pointers but made 12 of 13 free throws.

Bulls: Butler made 19 of 23 foul shots after failing to get to the line in Game 3. … Canaan was inactive for the first three games.

LeBron James swats Thaddeus Young on yet another chasedown block (VIDEO)

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LeBron James is The King, but he’s also the king of chasedown blocks in the NBA. During Sunday’s Game 4 matchup with the Indiana Pacers, the Cleveland Cavaliers star dropped the hammer yet again on an unsuspecting opponent.

The victim this time was Pacers forward Thaddeus Young, who was out on a 2-on-2 break with LeBron trailing.

To be honest, Young should have known better than to try this.

Via Twitter:

Cleveland completed the series sweep on Indiana with the win, 106-102.

Robin Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Jae Crowder’s shoe (VIDEO)

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Why did Robin Lopez tie Jae Crowder‘s shoe during Sunday’s Game 4 between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls? We may never know. Perhaps he was just helping the Celtics forward after he tossed him to the ground? Or maybe he’s just doing weird Robin Lopez things?

In any case, Lopez helpfully stopped to tie Crowder’s shoe after it came off during a battle down low early in the third quarter at United Center.

Here’s how it went down.

Via Twitter:

I still have no idea.

Noticeably frustrated, Russell Westbrook gets prickly with reporter after loss to Rockets (VIDEO)

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The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets played an ugly game down the stretch on Sunday. The Rockets employed a hack-a-Andre Roberson strategy, while the Thunder played sloppy and often poorly with Russell Westbrook out of the game.

The latter was the subject in question when Oklahoman reporter Berry Tramel spoke with Westbrook and Steven Adams at a postgame press conference following the Game 4 loss, 113-109.

Tramel’s question — whether the Rockets got a boost when Westbrook was off the floor — was directed at Adams, but the Thunder MVP candidate couldn’t let it go.

Snapping at Tramel, Westbrook told him not to split them up.

Via Twitter:

Tramel’s question is legitimate, and one of the overarching themes of this series thus far. Westbrook’s response is pretty far off the mark, but it did tell the story of how he’s feeling going away from Chesapeake Arena down 3-1.

Game 5 is on Tuesday in Houston.