Monday, April 27, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. The idea that the losses of Kevin Garnett and Leon Powe would catch up to the Celtics seemed quite distant in a Game 3 blowout. No one could have imagined Boston's lack of depth would be so apparent in Game 4. Boston's bench provided only 11 points compared to Chicago's 30, and once Kendrick Perkins fouled out with just over a minute left in regulation, and his replacement Brian Scalabrine fouled out in overtime, the Celtics had little left for double-overtime, where they succumbed 121-118 to fall into a 2-2 series tie. Rajon Rondo sat out for only three minutes en route to his second triple-double in three games, and Paul Pierce sat just six minutes while piling up a game-high 29 points. Every Bull had at least nine minutes of rest even though only seven players appeared for more than just a few seconds, as Chicago got solid contributions from each man. Rose nearly had a triple-double as well, with 23 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. Everyone else who played had at least 18 points or double-figure rebounds, except Brad Miller, who had a not-too-shabby 12 points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. The Celtics were reliant on their starters, and Rondo, Pierce and Ray Allen in particular. They committed 21 turnovers and allowed 48 percent shooting, which can do in just about anyone. A special performance like the one Rondo had, with 25 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds, simply doesn't come around every night. The Celtics surely regret using it to stay in the game rather than applying it to a victory. There's no room for wasted brilliance in a series as close as this one.
2. Brandon Roy did just about everything he could to tie Portland's series with Houston on Sunday in Game 4. He had 31 points, five rebounds, five assists, three steals, three blocks and made all 13 of his free throws. Yet a sequence in the fourth quarter encapsulates how the Rockets were able to resiliantly stymie his every effort in an 89-88 victory that gives Houston a 3-1 advantage. Roy had suffered through his worst stretch of the game, turning the ball over three times and missing a jumper in five minutes after entering the game with 10:15 to go in the fourth. He responded by charging hard against Shane Battier, drawing the foul and making the free throw to give Portland an 80-79 lead with 5:03 left. Ron Artest tried to answer with a layup on the other end and missed, but Yao Ming got the rebound. He put it back up and missed, but Kyle Lowry was there to grab another rebound and try another shot. That missed, too, but Lowry got it back again and reset the offense. Artest found Battier for a three-pointer that gave Houston a two-point lead. Roy quickly answered with a trey of his own to reclaim the lead for the Blazers, and Artest tried to counter again. This time his miss was grabbed by Carl Landry, who once more allowed the Houston offense to reset. Artest found Battier one more time to give the Rockets the lead for good with 3:24 to play. The Rockets wound up with 16 offensive rebounds, seven of which came from Luis Scola, as those second-chance opportunities wound up burning Portland. Battier's 4-for-6 shooting from behind the arc was part of a 9-for-16 night from three-point territory for the Rockets. Extra effort and getting hot at the right time is a formula that's worked for a lot of teams, and may be enough to lift the Blazers into the second round.
3. Orlando's three-point shooting had seemingly abandoned the team once more, as the Magic shot 0-for-5 from beyond in the arc fourth quarter. That was until Hedo Turkoglu nailed a trey with 1.1 to go for a 84-81 victory Sunday to square the series with Philadelphia at 2-2. Turkoglu has struggled to start the postseason but in Game 4 came up with a playoff-high 17 points, seven of which came in the fourth quarter. That matched the total of Rashard Lewis, who kicked in seven rebounds to give Dwight Howard just enough support. Howard delivered 18 points and came down with 18 rebounds, nearly half the team's total of 37 boards. All five Magic starters scored in double figures, but the bench struggled to just four points. The Magic reserves lacked the spark that Lou Williams, with 11 points on nine shots, gave the Sixers. Philadelphia put all of its starters in double-figures, too, but Andre Iguodala failed to ignite an offense that produced merely 39 percent shooting, going 4-for-13 from the floor despite dishing out 11 assists and grabbing seven rebounds. Either team could have won the game handily if one of their primary scorers had a 25- or 30-point night. Yet Orlando in particular has to be pleased with the all-around effort, particularly because its a rare night they can get scoring from more than just Howard and one or two other guys.


John said...

Today the Rockets took another significant step towards realiziing their biggest dream; ending that playoffs jinx. I can truly understand just most Rockets fans might be feeling right now.

Yao was again the fundamental principle in tonights win over the Blazers. Just as when the young Blazers surround him, they left the likes Scola, Battier open to make easy jump shots.

For me Scola, has been the key to this series. He always picks up the slack when other are having a trouble nights. I'm just amazed but his athletism, hustling, and professionalism. I'm sure most Rockets fans will agree with me on this.

So what was your overall reaction about this game? Can expect the Rockets to pull it off in Game 5 or do we have a Game 6?

Chuck said...

Well, Scola's performance Sunday, when seven of his eight rebounds came on the offensive end, was definitely notable. You have to like his combination of size and energy inside for the Rockets. Houston has surprised me because of the way that team has been able to score against the Blazers. The performance of Aaron Brooks early in the series and Von Wafer's shooting off the bench Sunday were huge.