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Gordon Hayward delivers perfect finish as Celtics rout Pacers

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gordon Hayward executed the game plan perfectly for Boston on Friday night.

He made all nine of his shots. He made all three of his free throws. And, he gave the Celtics the clear edge for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, too.

While Jason Tatum scored 22 points, Hayward became the first Celtics player since Kevin McHale in 1986 to make every shot and score at least 20 points as Boston pulled away from the Indiana Pacers 117-97 to break a tie for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

The victory also gave Boston a 3-1 series edge to claim the first tiebreaker, essentially giving the Celtics a two-game lead with two remaining.

“I don’t know how you guys find all these stats. More important, we got the win,” said Hayward, who scored 21 points. “It was a great job by us, a big win.”

Admittedly, Hayward has done some of his best work in his hometown.

He won the 2008 high school state championship on the Pacers’ home court. Two years later, and just a few blocks away, he came within inches of making a half-court heave for Butler to beat Duke for a national title.

But Hayward’s last appearance in Indy didn’t end well. Victor Oladipo stole his inbound pass at the buzzer to seal a 102-101 victory on Nov. 3.

This time, with the Celtics trying to build momentum for the postseason, Boston had a 23-point advantage when Hayward was on the floor. Boston has won three straight and five of six.

“Hayward is playing really well,” coach Brad Stevens said. “He’s attacking with great physicality. That’s what he does. He’s still not forcing anything that’s not there. It’s good that he’s playing this way.”

If the Pacers don’t get their defense righted quickly, it could lead to an early exit – especially if they draw the Celtics in a best-of-seven series starting next weekend.

Myles Turner had 15 points and seven rebounds to lead Indiana. Domantas Sabonis and Tyreke Evans each scored 12 points for the Pacers, whose two-game winning streak ended.

But the bigger problem was matching up with Hayward & Co. Despite allowing a league-low 104.1 points, Boston repeatedly shredded the Pacers defense.

“We kind of let them do what they wanted to do when we were on the defensive side of the basketball and just kind of let them run their offense and get into a flow,” Pacers forward Thaddeus Young said after scoring 10 points. “One of the guys that killed us was Gordon Hayward. He was 9 for 9 tonight.”

And it was that way right from the start.

After breaking to a 10-3 lead, Hayward helped fuel a 7-0 run to start the second quarter that gave Boston a 31-27 lead. They never trailed again.

Boston scored the final four points of the first half to take a 58-47 lead and only allowed the Pacers to get as close as eight – on a 3-pointer from Wesley Matthews to open the second half. The Celtics sealed the win with a 12-3 third-quarter run that made it 86-68.

 

Check out Philadelphia’s new Liberty Bell-inspired city jerseys

Photo courtesy Philadelphia 76ers
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There is nothing more iconic in Philadelphia than the Liberty Bell.

(Well, maybe the Philly Cheesesteak, but that’s a lot messier to turn into a jersey.)

Tuesday night, the 76ers unveiled their new city jerseys at the “76ers Crossover: Art Exhibition, presented by Reebok.” It’s a sharp new look.

“It’s important to our organization to pay tribute to Philadelphia’s rich history, culture and landmarks as frequently and authentically as we can,” Philadelphia 76ers President Chris Heck said. “In partnership with StubHub, we designed the City Edition jersey to celebrate the Liberty Bell, a Philadelphia icon that transcends time and brings to life a powerful symbol that unites us all. We look forward to enjoying many special moments with our fans wearing these uniforms throughout the remainder of the season.”

Here is how the press release describes the City Edition jerseys (which fans can buy beginning Nov. 27 online at www.SixersShop.com and at in-arena stores):

The parchment color uniform features blue “Philadelphia” cursive script and predominantly displays the crack in the Liberty Bell down the side of the uniform. On the front hem, the jersey features the embroidered phrase “Pass and Stow,” inscribed on the front of the Liberty Bell. The two names are derived from Philadelphia foundry workers, John Pass and John Stow, who recast the original bell in 1753.

Philadelphia will wear these for five games this season, the first on Nov. 30 against Indiana.

LeBron James finishes Rajon Rondo alley-oop to close out half (VIDEO)

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One of the reasons LeBron James leads the league in assists — other than the fact he can do anything on the basketball court he wants — is that he was the Lakers’ only quality playmaker to start the season. He had to set guys up.

Until Rajon Rondo returned recently from injury.

Now Rondo is setting up everyone — including LeBron for this monster alley-oop just before the half Tuesday night.

LeBron can still finish with the best of them.

Just don’t ask him about doing the dunk contest.

 

New Orleans spoils Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut in 115-104 Pelicans win

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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Jrue Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Brandon Ingram added 21 points, and the New Orleans Pelicans spoiled Carmelo Anthony’s Portland debut with a 115-104 victory over the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night.

Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.

Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a 3-pointer from 26 feet out. However, he wound up missing 10 of 14 shots in what was the first game of his 17th NBA season.

Ingram looked spry in his return from right knee soreness that sidelined him four games, particularly on an authoritative, driving, one-handed dunk that got the crowd roaring in the opening quarter.

J.J. Redick hit 4 of 9 3-pointers and scored 14 points for New Orleans, which has won two straight and three of four. Kenrich Williams, who got the start at forward, filled the stat sheet with hustle plays, grabbing 14 rebounds to go with three steals and a blocked shot. He also scored eight points.

Holiday highlighted his night with a spinning dribble around Nassir Little for a driving dunk. In the second half, he scored on an unusual play in which he remained under his own basket, re-tying his shoes while his team advanced 4-on-5 into the offensive end. Holiday then came sprinting down court, took a handoff from Nicolo Melli near the 3-point line and exploded toward the rim for a layup.

C.J. McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.

Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. Anthony also took Portland’s second shot, hitting his first of two made 3s.

But when Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt.

Hayes closed out the half with his third block, swatting away a driving floater by Anfernee Simons to keep Portland’s lead at 54-53.

New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Melli hit a 3 and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland back court after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dove to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.

Portland responded with three quick 3s — two by Kent Bazemore — during a 9-2 run that trimmed New Orleans’ lead to six before Alexander-Walker, who had hit 11 3s in his previous two games, ended the period by banking in a straightaway 3 to make it 88-79.

Watch Carmelo Anthony’s first bucket as a Trail Blazer

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That Carmelo Anthony started the first game he played for Portland speaks to why they signed him in the first place — this team is so shorthanded along the front line that the guy they just signed got thrown into the fire.

Anthony responded with a solid level of play. His first bucket was a wing three where both defenders went to CJ McCollum and left ‘Melo wide open.

Anthony played 12 minutes in the first half and had 7 points, 3 rebounds, 1 block, and three fouls. The team was looking to keep him at around 20 minutes for his first game back.

Portland led New Orleans 54-53 at the half.