Playoffs Roundup: Wednesday, April 30 2014

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Photo: Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Brooklyn Nets 113 – Toronto Raptors 115 (Raptors lead series 3-2)
Kyle Lowry had 36 points and six assists, while DeMar DeRozan added 23 points—going 12 of 13 from the free throw line—as the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead heading into Friday night’s Game 6 in Brooklyn. But really, that doesn’t even begin to tell the story in what was a bizarre, yet thrilling, contest.

Two years ago in the post-season, the L.A. Clippers staged a 27-point comeback against the Memphis Grizzlies, and this game had a very similar feel to it. After an even first quarter, the Raptors blew the game wide open in the second, going on a 26-4 run which was capped off by a Lowry buzzer-beating three-pointer. The Raptors led 62-44 at the half, and the team was playing exceptional basketball—the ball movement was great, the big men were getting touches inside and the guards were taking care of the basketball.

In the third quarter, the Nets’ Joe Johnson (who finished the night with 30 points on 13 of 23 shooting) began to get hot. Johnson had 18 points in the quarter and bullied DeRozan down in the post. The Raptors maintained their big advantage, however, and led by 22 heading into the fourth. But that’s where the Nets made their run.

In the fourth quarter, the Nets scored 44 points and the Raptors seemed to have no answers. Johnson continued to score, while Mirza Teletovic tied the game up at 106-106 with a three, capping off a 32-8 run. Cue Kyle Lowry. Lowry scored five straight points to hand the Raptors back the advantage. A couple of possessions later, with the Nets down two, Andray Blatche made a sloppy pass over Deron Williams’ head and into the backcourt, off a missed free throw. The Raptors held on, but barely.

They’ll need to play well for a full 48 minutes if they want to close out the series in Brooklyn on Friday night.

 

Photo: Chris Covatta/Getty Images North America


Dallas Mavericks 103 – San Antonio Spurs 109 (Spurs lead series 3-2)
Tony Parker had 23 points, while Manu Ginobili chipped in with 19 points off the bench, as the Spurs survived Dirk Nowitzki’s best game of the series (26 points and 15 rebounds) to take a 3-2 lead in the series, against the surprisingly scrappy Dallas Mavericks.

The Spurs got off to a lightning-quick start and led the entire game. They opened up a 24-11 lead in the first quarter thanks to Parker’s penetration, which the Mavericks appeared powerless to stop. The Spurs also got scorching-hot from beyond the arc, connecting on eight of their 16 three-point attempts. They found themselves up by eight heading into the fourth quarter, but, as has been the case so often in this series, the Mavs just wouldn’t go away.

Led by Vince Carter (who had 28 points off the bench), the Mavs made a run and closed to within four points, 98-94, with two minutes left. Nowitzki missed a crucial mid-range jumper, however, and the Spurs moved through the gears once again—Parker hit a big three-pointer, which was followed by a Tim Duncan layup, then more Parker free throws—as the Spurs closed the game out relatively comfortably.

Game 6 shifts to Dallas on Friday, as the Spurs look to close out the series. Don’t rule the Mavericks out just yet. Before this series began, everyone predicted a Spurs sweep, but the Mavs have shown themselves to be a resilient team and have caused the San Antonio juggernaut plenty of problems in this series.

Expect another close one Friday night.

 

Photo: Steve Dykes/Getty Images


Portland Trail Blazers 98 – Houston Rockets 108 (Blazers lead series 3-2)
The Houston Rockets live to fight another day in their absolute slugfest of a series against the Portland Trail Blazers. Dwight Howard had 22 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, while Jeremy Lin poured in a crucial 21 points off the bench. Damian Lillard put up 26 points, eight rebounds and seven assists for the Blazers, but his team could not seal the deal last night, and will look to clinch the series when it shifts to Rip City for Game 6.

After a back-and-forth first quarter, the Rockets opened up a big lead, as Lin’s three-pointers gave Kevin McHale’s team a 51-34 advantage. However, the Blazers, as always, would not go away. Lillard and Wesley Matthews (who had 27 points) kept Portland within touching distance, and in the fourth quarter, a Lillard layup (the Rockets have zero answers for Lillard’s penetration in the lane) brought his team back to within two points.

The Rockets pulled away, however, with an 8-0 run lead by James Harden, who hit a huge three-pointer to give Houston some breathing space. Harden had a rough shooting night—he’s had a rough series, to be honest—going just five of 15 from the floor, but he came up big when it mattered last night.

The Blazers will look to close out the series in front of their home crowd on Friday night, but to do so they’ll need a better performance out of LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge, who was sensational earlier in the series, had just eight points last night, going 3-for-12 from the field.  

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