Sunday NBA grades: Paul George plays at his peak for a game

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Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while getting a tattoo of that selfie you took

source:  Paul George, Indiana Pacers. He is the reason the Indiana Pacers came from 19 points down to win. Check out his second half stat line: 28 points on 7-of-10 shooting (6-of-8 from three), 8 rebounds, and 2 steals. He finished with 39 points for the game. Early in the season we were all talking about George being in that elite 10 (give or take) players in the NBA who can lead a team to a title. Not sure the Pacers are going that far, but George looked like that guy again.

source:  Darren Collison, Los Angeles Clippers. For three quarters the Clippers were mostly jump shooters — they were not getting easy buckets, they were not getting to the rim. Then in the fourth quarter Doc Rivers made a desperation move — go small, put Chris Paul on Kevin Durant and Collison on
Russell Westbrook, which frustrated the Thunder offense (see the next entry). When they got frustrated, they didn’t protect the rim as well and Collison took advantage — he had 12 fourth quarter points and hit 3-of-4 shots at the rim. Collison was part of the double teams on Durant that had some success. He simply out-played his former teammate Westbrook in the fourth and that is a key reason the Clippers came back and won.

source:  Oklahoma City’s fourth quarter. It wasn’t Chris Paul’s amazing defense on Kevin Durant that turned this game around (Durant was 4-of-5 for 10 points in the quarter), it was how Oklahoma City responded as a team to that desperation move by Doc Rivers that doomed them. Oklahoma City rightfully thought Durant should be able to post up CP3 and so they tried to isolate that — and the other motions of their offense ground to a halt. The Thunder went away from what worked to become singularly focused. The Thunder spent the fourth quarter trying to get deep into the shot clock and go with isolation plays, and that is what the Clippers were able to defend. The Clippers doubled, the Thunder missed on opportunities — then the Thunder let their frustrations cary over to the defense end. The Clippers scored lm That was the bigger problem, the Clippers got 14 shots in the restricted area in the fourth quarter alone, another two inside 8 feet. The Clippers are too athletic, too good to let them waltz into the lane. Those are correctable problems for the Thunder, ones more about mindset and poise than skill.

Matthew Dellavedova steals pass, hits wild scoop shot at buzzer (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is a hustler. Everybody knows that. Well, unless you want to argue he’s more about grit. It’s really your call.

But against the Boston Celtics on Sunday, Dellavedova came through with whatever you want to call it — hustle, grit, moxie, gumption.

As the first quarter wound down and the Celtics tried to inbound the ball, Dellavedova spied his opponents rolling the basketball in order to save time on the clock.

That allowed the Australian native to fly in and do this:

That’s a steal, a scoop, and a score all within 1.2 seconds.

Milwaukee won Game 4 and evened the series with the Celtics, 2-2.

Cavaliers tie series with Pacers in Indiana, 2-2

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Sunday night’s game between the Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers was raucous. Bankers Life Fieldhouse was rocking, and despite Indiana’s best effort to put back seemingly every offensive board it encountered, LeBron James‘ 32 points was just too much to overcome.

Facing the possibility of going down 3-1 in the first round, the Cavaliers pulled out the win, 104-100, and sent the series back to Ohio for Game 5.

The game came down to the final period following a surge by the Pacers to end the third quarter. The teams were tied several times midway through the fourth, but a tip shot by Thaddeus Young wth 6:13 left gave the Pacers the lead as fans in Indiana went wild.

Cleveland then came roaring back. At the three-minute mark, James drove to the basket and scored. Thirty seconds later, Kyle Korver hit a big-time 3-pointer to put the Cavaliers up by four points, a mark the Pacers couldn’t recover from.

LeBron scored again with 1:52 left, and despite some weird late-game antics — featuring none other than Lance Stephenson — the Cavaliers were able to remain resolute down the stretch.

James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, and seven assists. Kyle Korver added 18 points on 4-of-9 shooting from deep, and Kevin Love had five points with 11 boards.

Victor Oladipo struggled for Indiana, scoring 17 points but shooting just 25 percent from the floor. Seven Pacers finished in double-digits, with Young notching an impressive double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds.

Game 5 will be played in Cleveland on Wednesday, April 25.

Wizards beat Raptors in Game 4, tie series at 2-2 heading to Toronto

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The Toronto Raptors were far and away the best team in the Eastern Conference this season. The Washington Wizards were … well, very Wizard-y.

So considering their regular seasons, the fact that Washington was able to tie the first round series between the two teams at 2 games apiece on Sunday is pretty astonishing.

Bradley Beal had 31 points and five rebounds for the Wizards while teammate John Wall added 27 points to go along with a whopping 14 assists. Washington shot an impressive 41 percent from 3-point range as four of five starters finished in double-digit scoring.

Despite Beal’s performance, it was Wall who saved the day for the Wizards. Beal was disqualified after fouling out with around five minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Beal didn’t agree with the call, and could be seen throwing a towel near the Washington bench.

For his part, Wall either scored or assisted on 10 of the Wizards’ final 14 points of the game. That helped stave off the likes of DeMar DeRozan, who led all scorers with 35 points.

The series heads back to Toronto for Game 5, which will be played on Wednesday, April 25.

Marcus Smart wants to be back for Game 6 vs. Bucks

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Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart has been out for some time after injuring his thumb earlier in the year. The absence of one of Boston’s most important guards has been felt even more so after Kyrie Irving went down following knee surgery.

In short, the Celtics would like to have Smart back on the floor.

We’re now close enough that Smart has begun to give solid timeframes to reporters. Speaking to media on Sunday, Smart said that his plan is to be back for Game 6 against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston took on Milwaukee on Sunday in Game 4.

Via ESPN:

Right now, [a Game 6 return is] the plan and we’re still on the same track,” Smart said before Game 4 on Sunday. “I’ve been doing everything but contact, so I will be able to go and start that.”

Smart said he believes the thumb is ready for contact.

“The surgery did its job,” said Smart, who injured himself March 11 while diving for a loose ball in a game against the Indiana Pacers. “Thumb is holding up well. I feel ready, I feel strong enough to get back out there. I’m just waiting on the OK.”

The series between the Celtics and Bucks has been tumultuous, a back-and-forth affair as an injury-riddled Boston squad takes on a healthy but offensively-sluggish Milwaukee team. Smart could add a shot of life for Boston in a much-needed way.

The Bucks won Game 4 and the series is now tied, 2-2. Game 6 would be on Thursday, April 26 if need be.