Baseline to Baseline recaps: Pistons handle Celtics easily

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What you missed while trying to decide if you should vote for the naked cowboy guy for president

Knicks 104, Mavericks 97: So Mark Cuban, still think Linsanity is all about New York? Matt Moore broke this down as our game of the day Sunday.

Heat 90, Magic 78: It wasn’t that close, the Heat are steamrolling everyone right now. PBT broke this game down as well.

Thunder 124, Nuggets 118: Kevin Durant had 51 points, Russell Westbrook had 40 — it’s been 27 years since two teammates scored 50+ and 40+ in one game (Kiki Vandeweghe and Alex English for the Nuggets in 1983). Matt broke this game out as well.

Pistons 96, Celtics 81: This is five losses in six games for slumping Boston. Kevin Garnett did not play (personal reasons, he was excused by the team). We can all admit that KG is a step slower than he was a few years back, but even so Boston’s defense is not the same without him. In fact, it’s pretty poor. The Pistons were able to get to the spots the wanted on the floor, control the flow of the game and generally whip the Celtics. Boston’s 22 turnovers didn’t help. It also didn’t help when Rajon Rondo got ejected for throwing the ball at an official in the third quarter (you can bet a suspension is coming). Greg Monroe had 17 points, Rodney Stuckey 16 (10 in the first quarter) to lead the Pistons.

Pacers 108, Bobcats 73: The Bobcats are very, very, very bad. That really is all you need to know.

Cavaliers 93, Kings 92: You got vintage DeMarcus Cousins at the end of this game — the good and the bad. With the game tied at 88-88 and less than a minute left he came up behind Kyrie Irving in transition, swiped the ball away, threw a length of the court pass back to Marcus Thornton for a layup and the lead. Then tied 90-90 with 12 seconds left the Kings had multiple shots, missed them, then Cousins foolishly fouled his Alonzo Gee 88 feet from basket and sent him to the line to give the Cavaliers a lead (91-90). The Kings come down (6.2 seconds left) and give the ball to Cousins on the block and he made a strong spin and drive around Tristan Thompson, hits the reverse layup and the Kings lead 92-91 with 2.9 seconds to go.

Everyone in the building knows Irving is going to take the last shot, but when he drives Tyreke Evans makes a bad (and obvious) reach in foul out by the top of the key with 0.4 seconds left. The Kings were in the penalty. Irving sinks both free throws and the Cavs win. Evans made that play while his backup, rookie Isaiah Thomas, had 23 points, 11 assists and 8 rebounds.

Bucks 92, Nets 85: While everyone is caught up in what Durant and Westbrook did, nobody noticed that Ersan Ilyasova had 29 points and 25 rebounds on the day. The Bucks were in control from the middle of the second quarter on, and a 15-4 run to start the second half all but sealed it. Deron Williams did have 26 for the Nets.

Rockets 101, Jazz 85: Houston cranked up the defense in the second half and Utah shot just 28 percent for those 24 minutes. Combine that with Kyle Lowry draining seven three pointers on his way to 32 points and you get a Rockets win. Luis Scola had 26 for Houston, Al Jefferson’s 23 led the Jazz.

Timberwolves 92, Sixers 91: Neither team had a lead of more than 1 for the final six minutes of this game, it was that close. Following a Lou Williams miss on an 18-foot fadeaway, the Timberwolves got the last shot. Minny inbounded to Kevin Love who spun around Thaddeus Young, that’s where Andre Iguodala had helped off and he reached in to try and strip the ball and got called for a foul — a call that left coach Doug Collins and Sixers fans livid. With reason. It was a borderline call at best, not one where the whistle should be blown with 0.1 seconds left in the game. (Love had gone forward and had his shot blocked by Elton Brand, they had body contact and while that wasn’t a foul either it was more of one than what was called on Iggy).

Love sank both free throws and Minnesota wins. The Sixers have lost three in a row.

Suns 102, Lakers 90: The league schedules these home-and-homes to build up a little playoff-like tension. The Suns got beat handily Friday but bounced back with some fire in this one and won behind 25 from Jared Dudley, 21 from Marcin Gortat and 14 assists from Steve Nash. The Lakers have no depth. Lakers not named Kobe/Gasol/Bynum shot 34 percent on the night.

Warriors put up historic 45 in first quarter on way to 128-103 Game 4 rout, sweep of Blazers

Associated Press
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This game was never in doubt. Much like the entire first-round series.

Golden State had Kevin Durant back and he hit a three to open the game, and pretty soon the Warriors had stretched the lead to 12-0 on a Klay Thompson three.

That led to the Warriors putting up a historic 45 points in the first quarter, the most in an NBA first quarter ever. The Warriors were up 23 after one, and never looked back on their way to a 128-103 Game 4 rout, completing the sweep of Blazers.

There’s not much to analyze here, this game is was similar to so many games over the past couple seasons where the Warriors overwhelmed their opponents. Portland fought, but this was not going to be their series. Here are some highlights.

Stephen Curry had 37 points, Draymond Green 21, and Klay Thompson had 18.

Damian Lillard had 34 points for Portland.

It may have been a disappointing ending to the season for Portland, but the team found a center late this season in Jusuf Nurkic who balances out what Lillard and C.J. McCollum bring on the outside. The Blazers have to figure out become a better defensive team this summer, but they took a step forward after the All-Star break that they can build on.

The Warriors will get some rest before taking on the Jazz or Clippers in the next round.

Hawks battle back to knot series with Wizards, 2-2

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Paul Millsap shoved Markieff Morris out of the way, grabbed an offensive rebound in the middle of the paint and pushed through a shot while Marcin Gortat bumped him to the floor.

The Wizards knocked down Atlanta. They didn’t stop the Hawks.

Millsap and Atlanta showed plenty of fight, topping Washington 111-101 in Game 4 Monday to tie their first-round series 2-2 after falling behind 2-0.

Have the Hawks seized meaningful momentum? History says no.

Teams that have won the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home then lost the next two on the road have won 81% of the time. The Wizards’ regular-season superiority still speaks loudly, and up to two more home games – starting with Game  5 Wednesday – also help.

Still, credit Atlanta for making the series competitive after digging such a big hole.

Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals) soundly outplayed Markieff Morris (nine points on 3-of-10 shooting, -10) in the latest round of their personal feud. Millsap also got plenty of help with seven Hawks scoring double digits.

Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists and three steals) played meaningful defense and hit a couple big shots. Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists, +29 in 20 minutes) provided a huge spark. Dwight Howard (16 points and 15 rebounds) asserted himself for the first time this series. Taurean Prince (11 points on 5-of-7 shooting) picked his spots well. Dennis Schroder (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting) had his ups and downs. Tim Hardaway Jr. (15 points) at least offset some of his defensive shortcomings.

This was a total team win.

Washington, on the other hand, got little outside its starting backcourt. Bradley Beal (32 points) thrived, and John Wall (22 points and 10 assists) was still good in an off-by-his-standards performance. But the Wizards crumbled when either sat – especially with both on the bench in the late third/early fourth quarters. Erasing those few minutes with staggering would’ve helped, though it wouldn’t have been the answer tonight.

This has become a far less certain series than Washington hoped, but the Wizards don’t need a wild fix. They just need their top players to play better. Maybe going home will help.

Raptors break out best game of postseason, rout Bucks 118-93 to take 3-2 series lead

Associated Press
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Norman Powell was draining threes, throwing down dunks that would have won the contest All-Star weekend, and he finished with a career playoff-high 25 points on just 11 shots. Plus defensively he caused Khris Middleton trouble.

The Raptors finished with 28 assists, the most in a playoff game since Dwane Casey took over as coach.

Toronto shot 57.7 percent overall, a franchise playoff best.

The Raptors bench played well pitching in 27 points and growing the lead when they were in, part of an overall strong night from the role players in Toronto.

Combine that all with the expected good nights from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan and you get the Raptors best game of the playoffs. It looked like a different team than the one in Milwaukee.

Toronto raced out to an early lead and went on to rout the Bucks 118-93, giving the Raptors a 3-2 series lead.

This was a game where the Bucks tried to force the ball out of the hands of Lowry and DeRozan as much as they could, using their length and athleticism. However, Lowry had 10 assists, and DeRozan would get the ball off pindown screens and feel the double coming, move the ball, and another quick pass or two later the role-playing player Raptors were getting good looks and knocking them down. Or throwing it down like this.

Or this.

Toronto just looked more comfortable against the Bucks pressure, having seen it for so many games in a row, than they have all series.

Powell had 25 points for Toronto, Serge Ibaka had 19 and three blocks, Lowry had 16 points and 10 assists, DeRozan had 18 points and six assists, even DeMarre Carroll had 12 points on six shots.

The question for the young Bucks team is how does it bounce back from this kind of loss in the biggest NBA game most of them have ever played? Can they get their defensive edge back?

“We’re going to miss some shots, and we can’t let our offense dictate our defense,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said postgame. “And also the turnovers, again. Right off the bat we had three…

“Our defense kind of got hit there in the first quarter, we knew that they were going to come after us, we had to expect that. And we just couldn’t respond.”

The Bucks had some runs in the second quarter and got the lead to nine at one point, but the Raptors always seemed to be in control.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had another strong game with 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting, and rookie Malcolm Brogdon pitched in 19 points on 11 shots, but for the most part the Bucks struggled with their offense in this game. As their coach noted — and as often happens to young teams — they let their offensive woes impact the other end of the court.

At home, the Bucks will likely feel more comfortable, and they will fight for their playoff lives.

The question is, can the Raptors be this sharp again and close them out? Or will the yo-yo nature of this team continue?

 

Kevin Durant will play in Game 4 for Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

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In case you were curious how serious Golden State was about closing out Portland in four…

After missing the last two games with a strained calf, both Warriors wins to put them up 3-0 in the series, the Warriors are bringing back Kevin Durant for Game 4.

Steve Kerr is also out tonight for Golden State, Mike Brown will coach the team.

There was buzz that Durant could have gone in Game 3 if needed, but the Warriors felt confident they would win without him and they don’t want this injury to linger. There’s no more holding him back now.

Durant averaged 25.1 points a game, and thanks to the space created by the other stars on the team had his most efficient season, with a true shooting percentage of 65.1. He also pulled down 8.3 rebounds a game, dished 4.9 assists, and had his best defensive season in a long time as well. If not for an injury after the All-Star break that had him missing games, he would have made a lot of voters’ All-NBA team.

He adds to Golden State’s size advantage against Portland. The Warriors would like to close out the series tonight and get additional rest before facing the Clippers or Jazz in the next round.