|Saturday, April 29, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
|Friday, April 28, 2017|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Bradley, Celtics blast Bulls, advance to second round
Saturday, April 29 at 12:12 AM (EDT)
CHICAGO -- As they began to pull away and inch closer to advancing in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Boston Celtics began to quietly celebrate Friday night.
And yet, despite playing with a comfortable lead, the realized they couldn't coast and inevitable as the final result seemed, the Celtics realized they couldn't allow the Chicago Bulls any hope of extending their season.
As slow as the series had started with back-to-back losses, the Celtics knew it was time to finish what they had started over the past four games.
Avery Bradley scored 23 points and all five Boston starters reached double figures as the Celtics blew out the Bulls 105-83 in Game 6.
The Celtics advance to face the Washington Wizards beginning Sunday in Boston. The Wizards eliminated the Atlanta Hawks with a 115-99 victory Friday night.
"(After the first two games), the team wasn't right," Celtics center Al Horford said. "But after that second game going into third, I thought we were in a better place and that helped us get over the hump."
And once the Celtics cleared an emotional hurdle that included star guard Isaiah Thomas dealing with the death of his sister in a car accident, they never looked back.
"I said this a couple of times -- bigger things than basketball happen and that takes precedence," Boston coach Brad Stevens said. "I was really proud of our guys how they treated each other and how they stuck together."
The Celtics did so in Game 6 when a quick start and a balanced scoring attack that included 16 points from Gerald Green and 12 apiece from Jae Crowder, Thomas and Horford was enough to do in the Bulls.
The Celtics broke the game open early in the third quarter. Boston started the second half on a 10-2 scoring run to build a 64-43 lead. Green capped the run with a 3-point field goal as the Celtics, who led by as many as 30 points, pulled away.
As Boston picked up speed, the Bulls ran out of gas.
Jimmy Butler, hobbled by knee soreness, led Chicago with 23 points. Robin Lopez also scored 10 points for the Bulls, who dropped the final four games of the best-of-seven series after grabbing a 2-0 lead with a pair of lopsided victories in Boston.
But after losing point guard Rajon Rondo to a fractured thumb after Game 2, the Bulls weren't the same.
"We got off to poor starts in pretty much every game after the first two," Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. " ... Obviously, when you get off to a poor start, you're expending a lot of energy."
Things just got worse as the season went on culminating on Friday night when boos broke out across the United Center and chants of "Fire Hoiberg" could be heard as the Bulls continued to struggle.
Dwyane Wade appeared to aggravate an elbow injury he sustained late in the regular season. The veteran struggled throughout the night, hitting on only 1 of 10 from the field. Isaiah Canaan scored nine points, Michael Carter-Williams added eight points off the bench and Paul Zipser had seven.
It all added up the Celtics closing out the Bulls in dominant fashion.
"They played like the (No.) 1 seed," Butler said of the Celtics. "When they do that, they're really hard to guard, they're a really good team."
Now, after advancing past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in the Stevens' tenure as coach, the Celtics will look to take another step when they face the Wizards.
Winning four straight games to close out the Bulls certainly built some momentum after Boston struggled to find their footing.
"The sky is the limit for this team," Bradley said. "Anything can happen as long as we continue to stay positive and play as hard as we can."
NOTES: Celtics G Isaiah Thomas was scheduled to leave for Seattle after Friday's game for his sister's funeral, which will be held Saturday. Thomas' sister, Chyna, was killed in an automobile accident earlier this month. Celtics coach Brad Stevens would not comment on which members of the team would be traveling to the funeral besides Thomas. ... Bulls F Jimmy Butler played 31 minutes despite dealing with knee soreness. Asked if Butler had taken any medication for the soreness, coach Fred Hoiberg said he did not know. "He's obviously got some soreness, but Jimmy's going to fight through it," Hoiberg said before Friday's game. "He's a warrior, he's a guy that is as well-conditioned as anyone in this league and he's going to go out and give everything that he has." ... G Rajon Rondo (thumb) and G Cameron Payne were inactive for the Bulls.
Clippers beat Jazz to force a Game 7
Saturday, April 29 at 3:03 AM (EDT)
SALT LAKE CITY -- With the Los Angeles Clippers facing elimination from the NBA playoffs, Chris Paul took upon himself to keep the season alive.
Paul worked his offensive magic throughout the second half. He hit timely baskets to put the Clippers ahead and counter efforts by the Utah Jazz to rally.
The veteran guard also kept his composure during timeouts late in the fourth quarter and offered a steadying voice when his teammates needed one.
It added up to a 98-93 Game 6 win on Friday night. The Clippers survived for another game and now their Western Conference first-round series is tied 3-3.
Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday in Los Angeles.
"We've been in these situations time and time again since we were kids playing AAU," Paul said. "We've been in that situation in high school basketball and college basketball. It's the same game, there's just a lot more people at the game. You just go out there and try to stay in the moment."
Paul scored 29 points to lead the Clippers. DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 18 rebounds. Luc Mbah a Moute and Austin Rivers scored 13 points apiece and Jamal Crawford added 12 points to lead the Clippers.
Los Angeles won a postseason game while Blake Griffin was sidelined with injury for the first time after going 37 of 75 (49.3 percent) from the floor.
Utah didn't go down without a fight. The Jazz rallied from a double-digit deficit and closed the gap to 96-93 with 43.6 seconds remaining after Gordon Hayward took a steal in for a dunk and then buried a 3-pointer off a Clippers turnover.
With Los Angeles clinging to a three-point lead, Joe Johnson had a chance to tie it for Utah in the closing seconds but missed a 3-pointer with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Paul hit two free throws with 1.0 second left to clinch the win.
"We had a great opportunity tonight to close it out and move to the next round," guard George Hill said. "That's the hardest thing to do is close teams out, especially when they're desperate."
Hayward scored 31 points and Hill added 22 to lead Utah. Rudy Gobert chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds for the Jazz. Utah ultimately could not overcome 7-of-26 shooting from 3-point range.
The Jazz also struggled with Jordan. He proved much more effective at crashing the boards and getting second-chance points than in the previous two games. Jordan also clogged the interior enough to force Utah to the perimeter for contested shots.
Jordan played 22 of 24 possible minutes after halftime.
"In the playoffs, your energy level is just up, so you don't think about how many minutes or plays," Jordan said. "You think about each possession and how important it is for our team. I'm just really taking whatever they give me."
Utah led through much of the first quarter after running off nine straight points -- punctuated by a Hayward dunk - to take a 9-3 lead. The Jazz went up 22-13 behind back-to-back baskets from Hayward and Derrick Favors.
Los Angeles answered with an 11-0 run, fueled by back-to-back baskets from Mbah a Moute. The Clippers finally took a 24-22 lead early in the second quarter on a layup from Marreese Speights.
Utah regained a 36-31 lead later in the second quarter after Gobert sank two free throws to finish off a 6-0 spurt. The Clippers quickly tied it up again on back-to-back baskets from Paul and tied it three more times before taking a 47-45 halftime lead on two free throws from Jordan.
"We got really good looks early in the game and didn't make them," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "I thought we got a little stagnant when they were scoring. I don't think we were forceful enough with our attack."
Los Angeles used a 13-2 run to surge ahead 69-61 late in the third quarter. The Clippers took the lead on three Paul free throws, and Crawford drove for back-to-back layups to finish off the run. Paul later drilled a 3-pointer to give the Lakers their largest lead in the quarter at 74-63.
Once ahead by double digits, the Clippers stayed in front. Utah cut the lead to 80-74 on a second-chance 3-pointer from Raul Neto. Los Angeles squashed a potential run with baskets from Mbah a Moute and Paul and carved out a 91-77 lead on a 3-pointer from Rivers with 3:58 left.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers credited Paul with being equal to the task when Los Angeles needed a lift at critical junctures late in the second half.
"He is as competitive of a human being that I've ever been around," Rivers said. "When you put that with the talent and the will, that's why he has performances like this in big games."
NOTES: Utah outscored Los Angeles in the paint 26-14 in the first half. ... The Clippers had a 15-8 edge in second-chance points in the first three quarters but were outscored 8-0 in the fourth. ... Jazz F Gordon Hayward and Jazz G Rodney Hood shot a combined 3 of 15 on 3-pointers. ... Clippers G Austin Rivers shot 50 percent from the field (5 of 10) after going 0 of 4 in Game 5.
|Warriors||vs.||Trail Blazers||3:00 (EDT)|
Wall's 42 points help Wizards finish off Hawks
Friday, April 28 at 11:44 PM (EDT)
ATLANTA -- The point production is impressive, but Washington coach Scott Brooks said the biggest contribution made by guards John Wall and Bradley Beal are the intangibles they bring.
The duo combined for 73 points and the Washington Wizards defeated the Atlanta Hawks 115-99 on Friday to win their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Washington won the series four games to two and advances to the second round to meet Boston, which eliminated Chicago in six games.
"John is a heck of a player," Brooks said. "He's carried us with his leadership. We have a lot of good players, with his leadership and with Brad's leadership has been great. For young players in this league, I couldn't ask for two better guys to lead our team."
Wall scored 20 points in the first half and finished with 42 points -- a career playoff best -- on 16-of-25 shooting. Beal had 17 in the first half and finished with 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting.
Wall also had eight assists, four steals and two blocked shots. His 16 field goals set a career best for playoffs.
The duo finished the series with 332 of the team's 640 total points in six games, 51.8 percent of Washington's offense.
"Wall and Beal were special," Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Credit to them."
Atlanta guard Kent Bazemore said, "John Wall was huge tonight. We couldn't seem to contain him. And Bradley Beal had a solid game, too."
Washington's Markieff Morris added 17 points and eight rebounds and Bojan Bogdanovic came off the bench to score 10.
Atlanta was led by Paul Millsap, who finished with 31 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 46 minutes. Dennis Schroder had 26 points and 10 assists, his second straight double-double. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 13 points, but was 5 of 18 from the floor. Dwight Howard had nine points and seven rebounds, but did not play in the fourth quarter.
The Wizards led by 22 points in the second half, but Atlanta twice trimmed the lead to three points. Washington answered with six consecutive points, the last basket being a jumper by Wall with 3:31 left that restored the nine-point lead.
"It's really not fair for a point guard to do what he does," Brooks said. "There's only one other player (LeBron Jones) in the league who can do what he does and we all know who that is. John does it every game. That's the sign of a champion."
Budenholzer said, "I felt like we had an opportunity to dig out of another big hole, but a couple of plays down the stretch changed the game and they were able to make a couple of plays."
Washington got off to a hot start, with Morris making a pair of 3-pointers in the first four minutes to help stake the Wizards to a 17-10 lead. They led by as many as 10 points when Kelly Oubre Jr. made a 3-pointer, one of four by the team in the first quarter, and wound up with a 30-23 lead.
The first quarter turned physical early. Howard knocked Washington's Jason Smith to the floor with an elbow to the chin. Officials reviewed the play, but ruled it a common foul rather than a flagrant foul.
Another incident nearly caused a fight with 51.9 seconds left. Beal scored on a breakaway slam and tumbled into the first row, believing incorrectly that he had been pushed by Atlanta's Kent Bazemore. Words were exchanged and both teams clustered near the basket. Bazemore and Smith were assessed technicals for pushing each other. There were no further incidents between the two teams.
Washington continued to take advantage of Atlanta mistakes and led 65-46 at halftime. The Hawks had 15 turnovers in the first half, leading to 20 points for the Wizards.
"We obviously did not play well in the first half," Budenholzer said. "We dug ourselves a big hole."
The Wizards shot the ball exceptionally well in the half. The Wizards made 65.8 percent of their shots, including 6 of 10 on 3s, which offset the above-average 50 percent field-goal shooting by Atlanta.
Washington led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, but Atlanta refused to go away. Schroder scored 14 points in the quarter and the Hawks cut the margin to seven when Howard followed a missed shot with a slam. Washington took an 89-82 lead into the fourth quarter.
"Defensively, we were able to piece together some consecutive stops, get some turnovers, get out in transition, attack the basket," Budenholzer said. "When you're going to make a run, you've got to put stops back to back to back and that fueled our offense."
NOTES: Washington C Jason Smith entered the game with 7:33 left in the first quarter. It was uncertain whether he would play because of sprained left knee. ... The Wizards improved to 8-0 all-time in a series where they had a 3-2 lead. ... Inactive for Washington were C Ian Mahinmi (left calf) and F Chris McCullough. Inactive for Atlanta for were F Ryan Kelly and F DeAndre Bembry.