Author: Kurt Helin

Monta Ellis, Trevor Ariza

Monta Ellis, J.J. Barea pairing ignites Mavericks offense, gets Dallas Game 4 win over Houston

10 Comments

This result wIll be only stalling the inevitable at this point, but it makes you wonder: What if there had been no Rajon Rondo this series? What if it had been J.J. Barea and Monta Ellis in the backcourt from the start?

Barea came in and sped up the tempo of the Dallas offense. Monta Ellis clearly plays more freely without Rondo next to him. Rick Carlisle finally just went with his best lineup, and it worked.

Ellis put up 31 points, Barea had 17 points and 13 assists, Dallas owned Game 4 from the second quarter on and beat Houston 121-109, much to the delight of the Dallas home crowd.

Houston still leads the series 3-1. Game 5 is in Houston on Tuesday.

To have seen the start of this game, you would never have guessed the ending. The Rockets came out pounding the ball inside and getting the buckets they wanted — Dwight Howard was 5-of-5 in the first quarter, James Harden had 10 points on six shots (and he was attacking), and as a team the Rockets shot 68.7 percent. It was the kind of quarter where even when the Mavericks went to hack-a-Rocket and fouled Clint Capela he hit both free throws. At the end of one the Rockets were up 34-25.

Then everything changed. The second quarter started to feel like an elimination game, with some chippy play and Rick Carlisle picking up a technical for complaining to the refs. The Rockets missed five shots in a row, Howard went 1-of-9 from the free-throw line and Houston started to come apart (when teams go to hack-a-Howard he often gets passive). That plus some big plays from Monta Ellis and Barea pushing the ball in transition sparked a 28-11 Dallas run. By halftime, Dallas was up 61-53.

Then Dallas opened the second half on a 20-4 run. Houston shot 0-12 from the field to start the third quarter while Dallas hit 8-of-11.Dallas shot 67 percent in third quarter; they blew the game open and were never seriously threatened.

A lot of things went right for the Mavericks. Al-Farouq Aminu did a good job on James Harden, holding him to 24 points and a relatively quiet night. Dallas was strong on the offensive glass grabbing 37.2 percent of their missed shots. Dallas did everything well save hit their free throws (9-of-21).

The question is can they replicate all of that on the road? And can Kevin McHale make some adjustments to end the series Tuesday night and let his team get some rest while they wait for the winner of the Spurs/Clippers series?

Game 4 felt like the series we expected from these two teams, and Dallas showed Houston is going to have to earn Game 5.

 

LeBron James put on a pregame dunking exhibition in Boston, here it is in slo-mo (VIDEO)

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Four
9 Comments

The Boston Celtics fans got a show. No wins, but a show.

That started with their young Celtics, who were physical and would not back down against the Cavaliers (although this game got out of control with Kelly Olynyk’s yank on Kevin Love’s arm, then J.R. Smith’s suspension-level shot to Jae Crowder’s head). Boston would not go quietly into that good night.

Then there was pregame when LeBron James put on a dunking exhibition. Above you can catch out the highlights in slow motion, thanks to our friends at NBA.com.

Watch Chris Paul, Blake Griffin combine for big days to even Clippers with Spurs (VIDEO)

Blake Griffin, ,Chris Paul
5 Comments

The Clippers needed their big stars to step up Sunday, or they were going to be in a very deep hole. They got it.

Chris Paul had 34 points on 19 shots, Blake Griffin had 20 points on 17 shots, and the Los Angeles Clippers looked like the best offense in the land putting up 114 points on the Spurs and evening that series at 2-2. Above you can check out what Griffin and Paul did.

Although the real star may have been Austin Rivers — his 16 points off the bench was the kind of depth the Clippers have been missing this series.

Watch Stephen Curry drop 39 on Pelicans as Warriors close out series

Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four
4 Comments

Following up the shot of the playoffs, Stephen Curry did not let up on the Pelicans. Curry had 39 points in the close out the game as Golden State beat New Orleans 109-95.  The Warriors swept the sereis.

Curry was 11-of-20 shooting on the night, he was finding space as he was 7-of-11 on uncontested shots. He was getting his buckets at the rim and from the right side of the court.

Grizzlies start fast, hang on to beat Portland, take 3-0 series lead

Memphis Grizzlies v Portland Trail Blazers - Game Three
2 Comments

For the first two games, it was more about the Memphis defense holding Portland’s offense down. Saturday was different, it was a fluid Grizzlies offense that started out on an 11-3 run and hung 62 points on the Trail Blazers in the first half.

Still the overall pattern was the same: Memphis got out to a comfortable first half lead, Portland fought to close the gap and make it a game, but in the end just couldn’t get all the way there.

The result Saturday was a 115-109 Memphis win on the road that has the Grizzlies up 3-0 in the series. No NBA team has ever come back from 3-0 down to win a series.

However, there is potentially awful news for Memphis. Their point guard Mike Conley took an inadvertent elbow to the face from C.J. McCollum and had to leave the game not to return. Conley was taken to a local medical facility for further evaluation and reportedly had a very swollen side of his face. There is no word yet on the severity of his injury or if he could miss games.

Saturday’s game started completely differently for the two teams.

Portland opened 1-of-12 from the field (LaMarcus Aldridge was 0-of-5 in the first quarter). On the other side, the Grizzlies offense was the best we had seen from them in a while, the ball movement side to side was fantastic, and it tore apart Blazers defense.

It wasn’t just Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph on post ups; it was more Conley and the Grizzlies guards getting little resistance on penetration and getting into the paint.  Memphis had 30 points in the paint in the first half. Portland’s Damian Lillard had his best half of the series, coming up with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, but LaMarcus Aldridge was just 1-of-10 shooting — all series Portland could only get one of its two stars going at a time.

Portland came out more focused in the second half — playing with a needed sense of desperation like a team seeing elimination looming — and they took away the easy buckets Memphis had been getting. Yet Portland couldn’t close the gap — the Grizzlies brought the grind. When Portland would make a couple plays, the Grizzlies would find a way to get a stop then get key buckets. One time it was back-to-back buckets from Marc Gasol. Another time it was Tony Allen.

Portland got the Grizzlies’ lead all the way down to three at one point, but never were closer. They couldn’t get stops down the stretch.

Marc Gasol had 25 points to lead Memphis; Courtney Lee added 20 and Zach Randolph finished with 16. Portland had 27 from Nicolas Batum while McCollum pitched in 26.

The Grizzlies can close out the series Monday night. Golden State awaits in the next round (and Memphis will need Conley in that series to have a chance).