Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three random observations ...

... about the NBA:

1. Sometimes, when a couple of guys on a championship team decide they want to win, nothing can stop them. Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce simply refused to go down Tuesday, powering Boston back from an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to win 106-104 in the third overtime game of the series. The Celtics lead 3-2 because Rondo and Pierce scored 27 of the last 40 points for Boston, including Pierce's 15-footer to send the game to overtime and his eerily similar 20-footer to win it. He finished with 26 points and seven rebounds, while Rajon Rondo continued his remarkable play in the series, coming close to his third triple-double with 28 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. The Bulls simply couldn't stop Rondo's penetration, which allowed the Celtics to have score nearly twice as many points in the paint. It is particularly remarkable that the Celtics won on a night when their bench only gave them five points and Ray Allen scored only 10. Glen Davis had his shooting touch, going 7-for-11 for 21 points and six rebounds, while Kendrick Perkins was a beast inside, scoring 16 points and grabbing 19 rebounds. Yet the Celtics were outrebounded 50-44, and Davis and Perkins were the only real help Pierce and Rondo had all night. The Bulls simply didn't get as many opportunities as Rondo was able to create for Boston, and a couple of Chicago's primary scoring weapons suffered through a tough shooting night. Ben Gordon went just 6-for-21 and John Salmons was 5-for-15. Gordon wound up with a team-high 26 points because he went 11-for-12 from the line, but one wonders if he could have had more if his strained left hamstring were fully healthy. The Bulls can wonder about what would have happened if a flagrant foul had been called on Rajon Rondo for his arm to the face on Brad Miller at the end of the game, too. But the series is not yet done, and they can do more than just ruminate Thursday in Game 6.

2. The Magic claimed the series advantage against the Sixers with a 91-78 win Tuesday in Game 5, but they may have lost as much as they gained. Dwight Howard had a phenomenal 24-point, 24-rebound game, but could be suspended for Game 6 because of an elbow he delivered to Samuel Dalembert in the first quarter. That was shortly before Howard inadvertently struck Courtney Lee in the head, a blow that forced Lee out for the rest of the night and could keep him out indefinitely. Hedo Turkoglu, who saved Orlando in Game 4, faded back into his late-season shooting woes, going 3-for-14 from the floor for nine points. Turkoglu's struggles made Howard's impressive double-double even more so. He was one of only three Magic players in double figures in any category. Rashard Lewis had by far his best shooting night of the playoffs so far, canning 9-for-16 from the field and 3-for-5 from behind the arc. Rafer Alston went toe-to-toe with Andre Miller, scoring 14 while dishing out four assists versus just one turnover. Miller had 17 points, six assists and four steals, while the Sixers were led by Andre Iguodala's 26 points. Willie Green added 16 points, but Philadelphia struggled to get scoring from everyone else, as the bench only chipped in six points. The major difference was on the boards, where once more Howard was the key in a 45-33 rebounding advantage for the Magic. Just about everyone in Magic blue will have to come up with a superhuman performance if Superman is unavailable Thursday.

3. It just wasn't happening for the Spurs this year, and Dallas made that abundantly clear in their first-round series. The normally ironclad San Antonio defense was a sieve, allowing 51 percent shooting and 10-for-20 from behind the arc Tuesday as the Mavs closed out a 4-1 series victory with a 106-93 win in Game 5. Six Mavs wound up in double-figures, none as prolific as Dirk Nowitzki, who had 31 points and nine rebounds. That Dallas was able to get at least competent support for their superstar was key to beating a team that was down to a one-two punch but little else. Tim Duncan had 30 points and eight rebounds, and Tony Parker put up 26 points and 12 assists, but that was about it. The Spurs shot a slightly better percentage from the field, but made just 3-for-16 from three-point range, negating the advantage. The series simply reinforces the importance of Manu Ginobili, and serves notice that the Mavs aren't too far removed from leading 2-0 in the 2006 Finals and the best record in the 2006-07 season. The top three weapons for Dallas, Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry, remain from those teams. Don't rule out another deep run from this group.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Quite an exciting night of B-Ball!