Author: Brett Pollakoff

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks - Game Three

James Harden scores 42 points to lead Rockets to Game 3 win, 3-0 series lead over Mavericks


Once the higher-seeded team has won the first two games of their first-round series at home in these playoffs, Game 3 on the road has been a flat-out war, almost universally.

We saw the Cavaliers, Bulls and Warriors all struggle mightily in this situation just one night earlier, and things were no different between the Rockets and the Mavericks on Friday — but neither was the end result.

Behind 42 points from James Harden and 26 rebounds from Dwight Howard, Houston hung on for a 130-128 win in Dallas to take a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

This was an interesting contest, one in which defense seemed largely to be optional. The Rockets scored 42 first-quarter points, but ended up trailing by seven at the break thanks to a 72-point half put up by the Mavericks.

Houston led by 10 with under four minutes to play, but Dallas made a late run to give themselves a chance.

Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 24 of his 34 points in the second half, drew a foul on a three-point attempt with 33 seconds remaining, and made the three free throws to cut the lead to one. But Harden was able to score on the ensuing possession, getting free for a step-back jumper which pushed the lead back to three with 12 seconds left.

Monta Ellis made a driving layup to get Dallas back within one, but after a Corey Brewer made free throw, Ellis missed a 20-footer that could have tied it just before time expired.

No team in NBA history has rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to win and advance, and this Dallas club will be hard-pressed to be the first. The Mavericks gave their all in this one, just like the Bucks, Pelicans and Celtics did the night before. But the result for all of them will ultimately be the same — playoff elimination, in no more than five games.

Arron Afflalo expected to play for Blazers in Game 3 vs. Grizzlies

New Orleans Pelicans v Portland Trail Blazers
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The Blazers are in a deep 0-2 hole against the Memphis Grizzlies, but with the series shifting to Portland for Game 3 on Saturday, they may be getting some key rotation players back just in time.

Arron Afflalo was a midseason acquisition by Portland, and started in 19 of his 25 appearances once Wesley Matthews was lost for the season due to injury. He’s missed the first two games of the playoffs with a shoulder strain, but he’s expected to return to the lineup for the critical Game 3 matchup.

From the Associated Press:

Afflalo has been sidelined with a right shoulder strain that kept him out of the first two games of the series, both Portland losses in Memphis. He was listed as probable by the team on Friday. …

“It’s no time for trying to get to 100 percent,” Afflalo said. “You just get out there and give it your best.” …

In his ninth season, Afflalo injured his shoulder during the Trail Blazers’ 116-105 loss at Golden State on April 9. He has averaged 13.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 assists this season.

The Blazers will take all the help they can get at this point, but it’s unclear if Afflalo alone will be the answer. They’ve gotten rolled in consecutive games in Memphis, and while LaMarcus Aldridge has played well in stretches, Portland will need Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and C.J. McCollum to all step up big time in order to have a fighting chance in the series.

NBA, 20 teams launch apps for Apple Watch


As the highly-anticipated Apple Watch begins to land in the hands of consumers, NBA fans won’t have to wait long at all to use the device to follow their favorite team, or the league at large.

The NBA Game Time app was launched on Friday, and is ready for those who want to follow all of the playoff action right from their wrist.

Some of the app’s features will allow fans to:

– Keep up with live action and scores every night across the NBA

– Check schedules for all 30 NBA teams, including the full NBA Playoff picture

– Choose your favorite team’s games and have them automatically show up in the scoreboard in the Glance 

– Use Force Touch to easily navigate the league schedule and pick a game to follow in the Glance

– Start following a game on your Apple Watch – and get the full experience on your phone with Handoff without missing a beat.

In addition to the league app, 20 teams are ready with club-specific apps, with additional teams to be added in the very near future.

It’s just one more way for fans to stay engaged in real time with NBA playoff basketball, or to keep up with all of the latest news from their favorite NBA squad.

Adam Silver says he’s ‘on the fence’ about whether to change rules that allow intentional fouling strategy

Adam Silver

Fouling poor free throw shooters away from the ball grinds the game to a halt, and isn’t at all aesthetically pleasing.

But it’s legal under the rules, so it has continued to be a topic of debate, even at this early stage of the postseason.

Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich used it extensively in a Game 2 victory over the Clippers, sending DeAndre Jordan — a 39.7 percent free throw shooter during the regular season — to the line 12 times in the fourth quarter alone.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens employed it against Tristan Thompson — a 64 percent free throw shooter — during the first quarter of Game 3 versus the Cavaliers.

You can question whether or not the so-called “Hack-a-Shaq” strategy is effective, but as long as there are dreadfully poor free throw shooters on the floor, there will be a segment of head coaches who choose to play the percentages. There’s been plenty of talk about whether the league should put rules into place to prevent this from happening, but NBA commissioner Adam Silver remains undecided on how to handle the issue.

From Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press:

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday he is “on the fence” about intentional fouling away from the ball and expects the league to be “very engaged” about the tactic over the coming months. …

“I’ve sat in meetings with some of the greatest players like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird who said that players should learn to make their free throws and it’s part of the game. At the same time, it doesn’t make for great television, so I’m on the fence right now.”

Silver said he finds it to be a “fascinating” strategy in some cases.

“But in other games I watch it and I think, ‘Oh my god, I feel people changing the channels,”‘ he said. “So we’re also an entertainment property that’s competing against a lot of other options that people have for their discretionary time.”

The easiest way to put an end to this, of course, would be to give teams one free throw and possession of the ball anytime an intentional foul away from the ball took place. But that’s assuming that the league does want to end it, which right now seems to be up for some debate — at least in the eyes of the commissioner.

Evan Turner tries to dunk on LeBron James, it ends just as you’d expect (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Three

Evan Turner played well for the Celtics in Game 3, finishing with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting, to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists.

But not every play was a success.

Turner tried to drive and dunk on LeBron James, and it ended just about as well as you’d expect.

Hey, at least he tried.

Right, LeBron?