|Monday, April 23, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Timberwolves attempt to even series with Rockets
Monday, April 23 at 11:47 AM (EDT)
MINNEAPOLIS -- A series that was solely in the Rockets' favor in Houston took a turn in Game 3 in Minnesota.
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni was his usual calm self after the 121-105 loss on Saturday, but he knows his team will have to match the Timberwolves' intensity in Game 4 on Monday night in Minnesota.
"Yeah, it's disappointing," D'Antoni said after Houston lost its first game of the series and just the third in 23 meetings against Minnesota. "But, hey guys, you have a playoff series and they're a good team. They played better than we did today. We'll make some adjustments. We'll figure this out.
"On Monday, we'll have to match their intensity. If we don't, we'll get beat again. It's pretty simple."
Driven by the Target Center crowd that hadn't witnessed a home playoff game since 2004, the Timberwolves pulled to 2-1 in the seven-game series with the top-seeded Rockets. Jimmy Butler scored 28 points, Jeff Teague added 23 and Minnesota hit 15 3-pointers in Saturday's win.
The Timberwolves, who hit the fewest 3s per game in the NBA during the regular season, matched Houston's total. The Rockets led the league in 3s per game in the regular season.
"They're a great team," Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We know we're going to have to play better on Monday. I think we're capable of playing better. We're learning more each day.
"We learn. We improve. Same thing, we know we can't feel too good about ourselves. We have to get in tomorrow, study the film, get ready. We know Monday will be an intense game."
The Timberwolves hope they've found a combination to be able to keep up with the Rockets. Minnesota's defense, which was among the worst in the league during the regular season, has slowly come around and helped trigger a big second half on Saturday.
From Karl-Anthony Towns engaging defenders down low to power forward Taj Gibson defending James Harden one-on-one resulting in a poor shot attempt, the Timberwolves' defense effort became contagious team-wide.
The Rockets shot 47.5 percent from the field in the second half but had seven turnovers and were just 6 of 19 (31.6 percent) from 3.
"We're a young team in playoff experience, so we're growing, getting better every game," Teague said. "Tonight we took a big step. I think we picked up our intensity and played a lot harder, but it's still a long way to go."
Minnesota also got Towns more involved on the offensive end. His lack of shots has been a topic all series. The All-Star center had nine shots in each of the first two games of the series and scored a total of 13 points.
On Saturday, he had 18 points, including 12 in the second half.
"I think it is a sense of patience," Towns said. "First quarter, I don't think I shot a shot. So it's letting the game come to me naturally, not trying to rush and trying to find shots. Letting the shots find me and my teammates were amazing."
Harden scored 29 points and Chris Paul had 17 points and six assists, but the Rockets now need to make an adjustment.
Houston wants to get back to its defensive approach and limit Minnesota as it did in the first two games of the series. The Timberwolves averaged 91.5 points per game in the first two games and shot just 38.8 percent from the field in Game 2.
"We knew that was going to be a lot more comfortable coming home," Paul said. "They make a lot more 3s tonight, 15 for 27, and we got to be better defensively. We were just opening up the lane and letting Teague drive and all the other guys, so we know we got to be better."
|Thunder||vs.||Jazz||10:30 (EDT) Preview|
Thunder try to even series with Utah
Monday, April 23 at 11:44 AM (EDT)
SALT LAKE CITY -- Being a playoff novice isn't preventing Utah Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio from making a major impact on the court.
Rubio turned in one of the finest performances of his career while sparking the Jazz to a 115-102 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday. He tallied 26 points on 9-for-18 shooting, 10 assists, 11 rebounds and two steals to help Utah claim a 2-1 series lead over Oklahoma City. The Thunder will look to even the series again when the two teams square off again on Monday night.
Rubio became the first Jazz player to earn a triple-double in the postseason since John Stockton did it in 2001. Being in the same company as an NBA Hall of Famer meant a great deal to Rubio.
"Having my name next to his name is an honor," Rubio said. "I don't know what else to say. It's huge. I have huge respect for him."
Rubio's efforts rescued Utah when the Jazz dug a hole late in the first quarter and early in the second quarter. Oklahoma City took a 45-33 lead on a driving layup from Russell Westbrook about five minutes into the quarter. Rubio suddenly took over and imposed his will on both ends of the court.
Over the final 7:13 of the first half, Rubio ripped off 15 points on 4 of 8 shooting, collected six rebounds, dished out a pair of assists and had a steal. It turned a 12-point deficit into 58-53 halftime lead for the Jazz.
"Ricky attacked," Utah coach Quin Snyder said. "He attacked, but with poise and he was making some shots. I thought he took good shots and it really stabilized our group during that time."
Utah never trailed in the second half and the team's latest win has put Oklahoma City in a desperate position going into Game 4. The Thunder need a victory to avoid going back to Oklahoma facing an elimination game on Wednesday.
"Game 4 is going to be a test of what type of team we are and who we are as a team," forward Carmelo Anthony said. "We look forward to these type of challenges."
The Thunder put tons of defensive pressure on the Jazz at times. Oklahoma City forced 19 turnovers and turned those turnovers into 33 points. But the Thunder could not take care of the ball when it mattered as the game progressed.
Oklahoma City coughed up 17 turnovers, leading to 15 points for the Jazz. Six of them came in the third quarter and led to 10 points for Utah. It allowed the Jazz to build an 89-75 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
"We did a nice job midway through that second quarter and then I thought our turnovers came back and really caused a problem for us," Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. "I felt like our guys were working hard to get back, but it's hard to recover when you turn the ball over like that."
For Oklahoma City, snapping a two-game skid might come down to figuring out how to gain an edge around the basket. The Jazz have imposed their will in the post during the series.
In three games, Utah has outscored the Thunder 140-108 in the paint. The Jazz also have a 37-25 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 49-36 edge in second-chance points.
|Sunday, April 22, 2018|
|National Basketball Assoc.|
Cavaliers win 104-100 at Indiana to even series at 2
By MICHAEL MAROT - AP Sports Writer
Monday, April 23 at 12:42 AM (EDT)
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) LeBron James has been the first-round king for 12 years.
On Sunday night, he needed Kyle Korver's 3-point shooting to put him in position to extend his reign.
The two combined for all of Cleveland's points in a late 10-2 run, helping the Cavaliers to a 104-100 victory over the Indiana Pacers to even the series at 2. James drew boos from the crowd after flipping the ball up the court to run out the clock.
''You don't ever want to go down 3-1 against anybody, no matter if it's the first round or if you're fortunate enough to get all the way to the finals,'' James said. ''It's just too difficult.''
James finished with 32 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and another crowning achievement - his 100th career playoff game with 30 or more points, second all-time to Michael Jordan.
This has been no typical series for James, who started the playoffs with an NBA-record 21 consecutive wins in the first round.
He's already seen the Pacers go wire-to-wire in Game 1, miss a potential tying 3-pointer in the last 35 seconds of Game 2, rally from a 17-point deficit to win Game 3 and erase a 16-point, first-half deficit to take the lead early in the fourth.
This one looked and felt a lot like the three previous games - tough and physical down to a confusing sequence in the final seconds when Lance Stephenson was whistled for wrestling Jeff Green to the court while hoping for a jump ball.
Indiana still led 93-91 with 4:28 to go on Sunday.
Then James and Korver reverted to their old ways.
Korver's 3 with 3:48 left made it 94-93, James followed with a layup, Korver knocked down another 3 and James added another layup to give the Cavs a 101-95 lead with 1:52 left.
Indiana never recovered.
Korver wound up with 18 points and four 3s to give him 200 in his postseason career.
And without those two 3s, James knew he might have been staring at a 3-1 deficit at the earliest stage of the playoffs in his career.
''He's one of the all-time leaders in 3-pointers made,'' James said. ''His four 3s were huge. We needed every last one of them, obviously.''
The Pacers, meanwhile, lamented a missed opportunity.
Despite having seven players score in double figures, making more baskets, grabbing more offensive rebounds and matching Cleveland's 12 3s, Indiana missed six of its last eight shots.
Domantas Sabonis scored 19 points for Indiana. Myles Turner and Victor Oladipo each had 17, though Oladipo was just 5 of 20 from the field.
Only this time, as in Game 2, Indiana couldn't quite finish.
''We just didn't play the game the right way,'' Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. ''You get into these games, these emotional games, and you're so pumped up - sometimes you try do some things yourself. Usually, those things don't work.''
After the Cavs took a 49-33 lead with 6:01 left in the first half, the Pacers used a 10-2 run to get within 60-50 at the half then opened the second half on a 10-2 spurt to make it 62-50.
Cleveland extended the lead 76-68 lead with 4:41 left in the third only to watch the Pacers score the last six points of the quarter, tie the score on Lance Stephenson's 11-footer to open the fourth and then take the lead on Sabonis' 3-pointer with 10:51 left.
From that point, it was an all-out slugfest that included James getting called for a technical foul with 6:12 to play.
Cavaliers: James extended his record of games with 30 points, five rebounds and five assists to 75. ... J.R. Smith scored 12 points and Jordan Clarkson each scored 12 points. ... Kevin Love had five points and 11 rebounds. ... Cleveland outscored Indiana 17-7 on fast-break points and became the first team in the series to top 100 points.
Pacers: Have lost six of their last eight playoff games against Cleveland. ... Thad Young has 12 points and a playoff career-high 16 rebounds. ... Indiana committed only nine turnovers but was outscored 17-13 off turnovers.
Cavaliers point guard George Hill missed Game 4 with back spasms, an injury he first suffered during Game 1 and aggravated during Game 3.
It's not clear whether he'll be ready to play Wednesday, either.
''There's just not a lot of movement there,'' coach Tyronn Lue said before the game.
With Hill out, the Cavs plugged veteran Jose Calderon into the starting lineup. Calderon finished with two points and one assist after failing to enter Game 3.
THEY SAID IT
Cavaliers: ''We came on the road in a hostile environment and got a big win after a letdown in the last game,'' Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said. ''When you lose a tough game, it's tough to bounce back, especially on the road. It's a tribute to our guys and their character.''
Pacers: ''We need to calm down and execute,'' McMillan said when asked what needs to change. ''You play the game together and you play for each other. We weren't connected (in Game 4).''
Game 5 will be played Wednesday in Cleveland.
More AP NBA: www.apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Tied up: Giannis' tip-in lifts Bucks over Celtics in Game 4
By GENARO C. ARMAS - AP Sports Writer
Sunday, April 22 at 6:15 PM (EDT)
MILWAUKEE (AP) After losing a 20-point lead to the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks were determined not to lose another playoff game.
Leave it to All-Star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo to come up with a big play in the final seconds on Sunday.
Antetokounmpo scored 27 points, including tipping in the go-ahead basket with 5 seconds left, and the Bucks held on for a 104-102 win to tie their first-round playoff series at two games apiece.
Boston's Marcus Morris missed a 14-footer at the buzzer with Khris Middleton's hand in his face to seal a nail-biting win for the Bucks.
Seconds earlier, the 6-foot-11 Antetokounmpo jumped and reached up with his left arm around Boston's Jayson Tatum to put back Malcolm Brogdon's missed layup for the game-winner.
''It's a heck of play,'' coach Joe Prunty said.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Boston.
Antetokounmpo added seven rebounds and five assists, while Middleton scored 23 points. The Bucks' two best players were clutch in the closing seconds of a tense victory, another sign of maturity for the one of the league's up-and-coming teams.
''One of the most important things that we can carry from this game moving forward is that we stayed disciplined and we trusted one another,'' Antetokounmpo said.
It could just as easily have fallen apart for Milwaukee after losing a 20-point lead with 7:37 left in the third quarter.
Jaylen Brown had 34 points for the Celtics, while Tatum added 21. Tatum's 18-footer with 52 seconds left gave the Celtics a brief 100-99 lead.
He just couldn't hold off Antetokounmpo on the other end for the decisive tip-in.
The disappointing end for the Celtics overshadowed their spirited rally from a 65-45 deficit. Play got chippy and the Celtics limited the Bucks' transition game.
They came up one basket short at the end.
Antetokounmpo ''made a great tip-in and he was battling for the ball. That's what great players do,'' coach Brad Stevens said.
Both teams traded clutch buckets down the stretch.
After Tatum's long jumper, Brogdon hit a transition 3 from the corner for a 102-100 lead with 33 seconds left. Al Horford followed with two foul shots to tie the game at 102 with 29 seconds remaining.
They couldn't send the game into overtime. Morris bent over in frustration near the Boston bench after his fadeaway hit the rim.
''We got the look we wanted ... It's a shot that (Morris) can make 10 out of 10 times,'' Brown said. ''It didn't go in tonight. So Game 5, keep moving forward.''
Celtics: Stevens kept his starting five intact after the team never recovered from a disastrous first quarter in Game 3. Stevens said he would likely only make a switch for matchup purposes. ... Boston ended with a 43-36 edge on the boards. ... Morris finished with 13 points and shot 4 of 14.
Bucks: Starting C John Henson missed a second straight game with a sore back. ... The Bucks went with the same starting five as Game 3, with Zeller replacing Henson and Brogdon starting for Tony Snell. ... Jabari Parker led a vigorous effort off the bench with 16 points and seven rebounds. Backup C Thon Maker blocked five shots and played most of the fourth quarter.
OFF THE BENCH
The Bucks' reinvigorated bench outscored the Celtics' reserves 31-15. Parker, in particular, gave the team a lift in the first half with perhaps his best defensive play of the year after forcing turnovers on two straight Boston possessions at one point.
''We played great in the second half. We played great in the first six minutes of the game. The 18 minutes that ended the first half were not good. They had a lot to do with that.'' - Stevens.
The Bucks set a franchise playoff high with 14 blocks, eclipsing the previous high of 13 set in Game 3. The 7-foot-1 Maker has turned into disruptive presence after playing sparingly in the first two games. He's getting extended minutes because Henson's injury.
''Thon is playing extremely assertive. The blocked shots are going to stand out because that's something somebody can see on the stat sheet,'' Prunty said.
Brown picked up the second 30-point game of the postseason after scoring just one 30-point game in the regular season. He was 13 of 24 from the field but 2 of 10 from the 3-point arc. ... The Bucks shot at least 52 percent from the field for the third straight game.
Game 5 is Tuesday at the TD Garden in Boston.
For more AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
Ginobili, Aldridge help Spurs beat Warriors to avoid sweep
By RAUL DOMINGUEZ - Associated Press
Monday, April 23 at 2:58 AM (EDT)
SAN ANTONIO (AP) Ettore Messina was screaming at the Spurs, and Manu Ginobili loved it.
Before Gregg Popovich, Ginobili played in Italy for Messina, and on Sunday he delivered a throwback performance for his old coach to save the Spurs' season.
Experiencing a flashback to his days playing for Messina in the Euroleague in his early 20s, the 40-year-old Ginobili scored 10 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to help San Antonio beat the Golden State Warriors 103-90. The Spurs avoided a series sweep as Popovich missed his second straight game following the death of his wife, Erin, on Wednesday.
In his 16th season in the NBA and perhaps the final home game of his career, Ginobili rebounded from a scoreless effort in Game 3 to help Messina capture his first playoff victory as a coach, albeit an unofficial one.
''For moments when he talks to the rest of the team, or when he gets upset and he yells at us, a lot of flashbacks,'' Ginobili said, chuckling. ''He's very strict and he wants the team to play his way, so whenever we stopped executing the way we should have, the old himself comes back. It was good to see him coaching on this stage. Good memories.''
Ginobili played for Messina while both were with Virtus Bologna in 2000-02.
Kevin Durant had 34 points and 13 rebounds for the Warriors, who can wrap up the series in Game 5 at home Tuesday.
''You have got to give them a lot of credit,'' Golden State forward Draymond Green said. ''They came out and they probably played with more intensity this game than they did the entire series.''
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Spurs, but they were willed to the finish by Ginobili, who has said he will decide in the offseason if he will return for a 17th season.
Ginobili was 3 for 4 in the final quarter, including making both of his 3-point attempts, and did not have a turnover in 6 1/2 minutes.
''I am so happy for him,'' Messina said. ''I'm so happy. I think he deserves everything that is happening to him in his life and his career.''
Golden State outscored San Antonio 29-21 in the third quarter and went on a 13-5 run beginning two minutes into the fourth quarter to pull within 88-86 with 6 minutes remaining after trailing by as many as 17.
Aldridge banked in a 3-pointer with 4:22 remaining to stop the Warriors' run.
''It was kind of frustrating,'' Green said. ''We played great defense and he throws something up like that.''
Ginobili then took over with a pair of 3-pointers in the final minutes.
''I smiled when he made that corner 3 right in front of us at the end of the game,'' Golden State coach Steve Kerr said. ''It was just so typical Manu. Forty years old and 16 points and hits the clinching 3. He's Manu. That's what he does.''
The Spurs were 15 for 28 on 3-pointers on Sunday after shooting just 26 percent in the opening three games. The Warriors were 7 for 28.
''It was a do-or-die game, make it happen or go home, and I think every guy played with that mentality, that focus, and we ended up getting it done tonight,'' Aldridge said.
Aside from Durant, only Klay Thompson (12) and Shaun Livingston (10) scored in double figures for the Warriors.
Rudy Gay scored 14 points for San Antonio, Dejounte Murray had 12 and Kyle Anderson added 10.
Warriors: Livingston played despite spraining his left ankle late in the Warriors' Game 3 victory. Livingston played 21 minutes. ... Golden State PG Stephen Curry remained seated behind the team's bench as he continues to rehabilitate a sprained left knee. Curry is expected to be available for the second round. ... Andre Iguodala picked up his fourth foul with 7:56 remaining in the third quarter, but picked up just one more foul for the remainder of the game.
Spurs: Ginobili played in his 217th playoff game, breaking a tie with Shaquille O'Neal for sixth in league history. Ginobili also passed Reggie Miller for third in career 3-pointers in playoff history. Ray Allen holds the record with 385 3-pointers, followed by LeBron James (337), Ginobili (321) and Miller (320). ... Murray was 3 for 3 on 3-pointers in the first half, the most 3s made in the playoffs without a miss by a Spurs player since Steve Kerr (2003) and Patty Mills (2014) were 4 for 4 in a half.
Durant was asked if the Warriors were downhearted following the loss because their locker room was so quiet following their first loss in the series.
''We were good,'' Durant said. ''I guess everybody was just quiet in the locker room while you were in there, getting ready, putting on their clothes, getting ready to leave. What, you want us to be in there throwing champagne around?''
Ginobili took a knee to the thigh in the fourth quarter, but remained in the game after dropping to the court in pain.
''Quad contusion, one of hundreds all career long,'' Ginobili said. ''It hurts at the time, maybe tomorrow it's going to hurt a little bit. We'll see how bad or not bad it is for the next game.''
Wall takes over, Wiz beat Raps 106-98 to tie series at 2-2
By HOWARD FENDRICH - AP Sports Writer
Sunday, April 22 at 10:44 PM (EDT)
WASHINGTON (AP) When Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal fouled out with about five minutes left in a tied Game 4 against the Toronto Raptors, he couldn't believe the call.
He raced to the other end of the court. When he returned to his team's sideline, he threw a red towel, before being held back by teammates.
''I was beyond emotional. Beyond mad. Frustrated. Pretty much any synonym you can add,'' Beal said. ''I told my team that we were going to win, regardless. Especially if we've got John still in the game, I love our chances.''
That would be John Wall, and Beal was exactly right. Wall took over down the stretch after his backcourt mate was done for the day, scoring or assisting on 10 of Washington's last 14 points as the No. 8 seed Wizards came back to beat the No. 1 Raptors 106-98 Sunday night and even their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series at 2-all.
''When Brad went out,'' Wall said, ''I knew I had to do whatever it took.''
Wall finished with 27 points and 14 assists and, at the other end of the court, guarded All-Star DeMar DeRozan, making sure the Wizards would not be pushed to the brink of elimination ahead of Game 5 at Toronto.
''He's a big shot maker. A playmaker. It was what you want and what you expect,'' Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. ''We needed him to step up. He stepped up big.''
This was a game the Raptors led by 14 points early in the second half. But as their offense bogged down, the Wizards clawed back.
It was 92-all when Beal - who led Washington with 31 points - drew his sixth foul on a play in which he and DeRozan collided while Toronto had the ball.
Asked whether the official told him why that call was made, Beal replied: ''He wasn't explaining that one. There was no explaining to do.''
Wizards center Marcin Gortat's view of the officiating: ''I truly believe that some of those calls are very soft. I've never seen so many soft calls in the playoffs.''
After Beal left, the Raptors immediately went up by two, but Wall pulled the Wizards even with a layup that drew a goaltending call, then put the hosts in front to stay by feeding Markieff Morris for a layup off the glass.
With Beal cheerleading, jumping and waving his arms, Wall just kept producing, showing no signs of fatigue despite playing all 24 minutes in the second half. This is a guy who missed about two months of the regular season because of surgery on his left knee.
While the closing seconds ticked away, Wall held up two fingers on each hand: Yes, it's 2-2 now, and the best-of-seven series has become best-of-three.
The Raptors were up 51-40 at halftime, and increased that advantage early in the third quarter. But the game was tied at 80 entering the fourth, and Toronto only scored 18 in the last period.
''We couldn't get a stop,'' DeRozan lamented. ''And we couldn't get a bucket.''
He had 35 points, six assists and six rebounds, but he started 0 for 6 and wound up 10 for 29, acknowledging afterward: ''I took some bad shots.''
Noted Kyle Lowry, who scored 19 for Toronto: ''We didn't completely stick with our offense.''
Raptors: Now 0-4 all-time in Game 4 when up 2-1. ... Starter OG Anunoby limped off late in the second quarter. He returned in the third quarter, but sat out all of the fourth. ... Backup PG Fred VanVleet was out with an injured right shoulder.
Wizards: Won their eighth consecutive playoff home game. ... Wall entered Game 4 averaging 26.7 points and 12.7 assists in the series. He could become only the third player in NBA history to put up 25 points and 10 assists per game in multiple postseasons, joining Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.
TOO MANY TURNOVERS
Raptors coach Dwane Casey declared before tipoff: ''Taking care of the ball is our No. 1 priority.'' And then his team went out and had 18 turnovers, only one fewer than in Game 3. ''You can't explain them,'' Casey said. ''They're out of character.''
PORTER SHOWS UP
After languishing through an 0-for-4, one-point first half, Wizards SF Otto Porter Jr. scored eight in the first 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter, including a pair of 3s. He finished with 12 points.
Game 5 is at Toronto on Wednesday night.
More AP NBA coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball