This was supposed to be a close series. It has been pretty much, up until this half.
The Lakers played much better defense than the last couple games, holding Boston to 34 percent shooting, 2 of 10 from three and just 31 first half points. Meanwhile the Lakers converted those misses into a lot of transition looks and better shooting, 47 percent overall and 4 of 9 from three.
The result is a 20-point halftime lead, 51-31 Lakers.
Just to make things worse for Boston, Kendrick Perkins had an awkward fall going for a rebound, hurt his knee and had to be helped to the locker room. He will not be back for the second half.
That means more Sheed and Big Baby, but the Celtics bench has not been the same on the left coast. The Boston bench is 0-5.
Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are a combined 13 of 27 shooting to account for 29 of the 31 points. They have shown up.
All Celtics outside the big three are 1 of 14. Doc Rivers said before the game he was not sure what to expect from his bench and role players. This has to make him a little bit sick.
Meanwhile, Jordan Farmar has played well for the Lakers, and Sasha Vujacic is hitting shots. Kobe has 15 points to lead the team, Pau Gasol has 7 points and 8 boards. And the Lakers have run the offense, not relied on the isolation that got them in trouble in Boston.
It is looking like there will be one more game. Thursday night, for all the marbles. But in this series, would a 20-point comeback surprise anyone?
NBA: Kenneth Faried got away with foul on decisive basket in Nuggets’ win over Bulls
The Bulls’ biggest loss Friday was Jimmy Butlerto injury. His absence certainly contributed to a loss to the Timberwolves the following night.
But Chicago also lost to the Nuggets on Friday, and perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if the game were called correctly down the stretch.
With Denver up two points and 21.1 seconds remaining, Kenneth Faried offensively rebounded a free throw and scored. The Bulls then intentionally fouled down the stretch, and Faried and Danilo Gallinari added a few free throws in the Nuggets’ 115-110 win.
Faried (DEN) extends his arm into Gibson (CHI) and dislodges him, affecting his ability to retrieve the rebound.
This was a huge swing. Instead of Taj Gibson – a 69% career free-throw shooter – going to the line for two attempts with Chicago down two points, Faried put the Nuggets up four. Even if Gibson split at the line, the Bulls would have been in significantly better shape.
As usual, we can’t know what would’ve happened if this call were made correctly. But it significantly set back Chicago.
NBA considering if jump-on-back foul should be flagrant foul
The NBA was quick to let people know that this is just something under consideration — there has been no change in the rules. This may well be where the league is headed, but it’s not there yet.
The NBA defines a flagrant foul as “unnecessary contact committed by a player against an opponent.” To me, leaping on a player’s back like that qualifies. (A flagrant two foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact” and leads to an ejection; this is not that.)
Jared Dudley — one of the more vocal players on union issues — added a good point.
Since we're in the subject! I think it's crazy that the @NBA can make a rule without even discussing it with the players. No input at all
Smith (CLE) makes incidental contact with Turner’s (BOS) body as he attempts the layup.
If this were officiated correctly, the Cavs would’ve had the ball and a two-point lead with 5.9 seconds left. That’s not a lock to win – they’d still have to inbound the ball and make their free throws – but it’s close.
Cleveland is definitely entitled to feel the refs wronged them out of a victory.
Report: Kevin Durant has “done his due diligence on the Bay Area”
Kevin Durant has not made up his mind about what he will do as a free agent this summer. Until his playoff run ends, whenever that may be for the Thunder, his focus will be on bringing a title to Oklahoma City.
But even he admits he can’t help but think about free agency a little.
The Warriors play in front of an intimidating Oracle Arena crowd and are expected to debut a new San Francisco arena in 2019. Durant has quietly done his due diligence on the Bay Area, too, sources told Yahoo Sports.
His people — specifically agent Rich Kleiman and personal manager Charlie Bell — would be stupid not to have done some research on not only Golden State but on every other team he might consider: Houston, Miami, Washington, both teams in Los Angeles, the Knicks, and on down the line. Golden State, playing with Stephen Curry, certainly would have its attractions.
I’m still in the camp that Durant signs a 1+1 deal to stay in Oklahoma City (meaning he can opt out after one more season, in 2017), and it’s all about the cash. While he could get 30 percent of a $90 million cap this summer (about $27 million a season to start), with one more year of service in 2017 Durant could get 35 percent of $108 million ($37.8 million to start). That’s a lot of cash. Plus he gets one more chance at a ring with Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, who both are 2017 free agents.
But you can be sure whatever Durant decides, it will be well researched and thought out. And he’s not going to announce it in a live special on ESPN.