Spurs 103, Lakers 82 (Spurs win series 4-0)
In the end, this wasn’t much of anything at all, let alone an NBA Playoff series. The Lakers played four games, got progressively more hurt, time passed on players who cannot afford that kind of thing, then they all resigned publicly to no applause.
San Antonio won 103-82 and took this iteration of the Los Angeles Lakers with it. No sweat was broken.
Gregg Popovich looked like he just got done shooing a senile old friend off of his doorstep.
“It wasn’t a fair fight,” he said.
He no longer had to pretend these were the Showtime Lakers. Or the Anytime Lakers, really.
LA trotted out the worst playoff starting lineup in their history, then adjusted it at halftime to make it worse. A cap throw-in from an offseason trade (Earl Clark), a to-be released second-round tweener (Darius Morris) and a straggler from a bygone era (Chris Duhon) bookended Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard for three minutes to start the second quarter.
That was until Dwight Howard got ejected because he saw what was around him and it was making him too sad.
Now the Lakers are in shambles, trying to collect the artifacts of a project that aimed for the Moon but exploded Geritol and Icy Hot confetti as it hit a branch and a bush just above ground level. Who knows what will happen to Dwight Howard, other than Dwight Howard, who’s doing a good job of pretending like even he doesn’t know what’s happening with Dwight Howard.
“I’m going to step away from everything for a couple of weeks and clear my head before I do or talk about anything as far as next season,” he said. “I think I deserve that.”
One reporter thought he heard some optimism in Dwight’s voice about coming back for next year. Or was he reading too much into it?
“You’re reading too much into it.”
“This (season) was like a nightmare, like a bad dream, and we couldn’t wake up out of it,” he said.
Yep. He’s probably gone.
Welcome Pau Gasol to the podium.
“I would like to be a part of another championship team here, but I know it’s not totally up to me,” he says.
Then he left the interview room and started hugging beat reporters on the way to his car.
So he might be gone, too?
“I would be pretty surprised if there were no changes whatsoever,” he says. “I would be surprised if that happens.”
Well, there you go.
But here’s the difference: Dwight’s press conference sounded like a mic drop. Pau’s press conference sounded like a swan song.
Management wants Dwight here. Ask Mike D’Antoni if this weird, towel throw-in of an ending would change this front office’s mind about Howard.
“No. He’s one of the best out there,” he says.
That said, it doesn’t sound like Dwight wants to be here. And it doesn’t sound like Dwight and Kobe get along.
“We’re not best friends, but I want to be there for him,” he says. “I just want to be there for him as a brother before anything.”
Sure enough, five minutes after Dwight got ejected, out hobbled Kobe from the locker room to sit with his teammates for the first time in the playoffs and to joke around with Pau Gasol as the world burned.
Pau wants to be here. Management might not want that.
This is the dysfunction San Antonio refuses. They were not tested. They rested and passed the ball around for seven days until time ran out. They are the model franchise, and now they will probably stomp out some team attempting to outrun them.
It was not an undignified thing, the way the Lakers got put down. All blame was absolved when they got hit like a truck by a fluky epidemic.
The following is a true story: A Laker Girl dislocated her shoulder before the game Sunday morning and a Laker ballboy “cracked his head open skateboarding” sometime this weekend. Triage was too booked to deal with the cheerleader. Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Metta World Peace and Jodie Meeks were already a too much of a handful.
So the ceremony afterwards was very nice, very warm, very respectful. And it created the only bullet the Lakers were able to dodge in these entire playoffs.
You know all of the undignified stuff that would’ve happened had these injuries never happened at all? We’ll never get to see it. —Ben Collins / @globesoundtrack
Celtics 97, Knicks 90 (Knicks lead series 3-1)
When the Knicks went through their mid-season slump, a lot of those losses looked like the first half of yesterday’s Game 4 in Boston. Little to no ball movement, poor rotations on defense, bad turnovers and, worst of all, its star player trying to do it all by himself. After coming out flat and getting run over on Friday night, the Celtics capitalized on the Knicks poor play and jumped out to a 19-point halftime lead, showing the first signs of life in this opening round matchup.
But, just as they had done the three previous games, Boston couldn’t build on their first half momentum and saw their lead dwindle after the break. In the third, Knicks’ point guard Raymond Felton scored 16 of his 27 points—most of which came with Carmelo Anthony looking on from the bench towards the end of the quarter—and effectively outscored the entire Celtics team. Felton also hit a long three to end the third quarter to cut the Knicks 20-point deficit to three heading into the final quarter. With JR Smith forced to the bench due to a suspension, Felton’s added scoring punch was huge for New York.
Felton’s mid-range jumper with a minute and change left in the game gave the Knicks their first lead of the game at 84-82. Kevin Garnett (13 points, 17 boards, 6 assists) responded with a jumper of his own to tie the game back up. With time running down, Paul Pierce (29 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists) missed a jumper from the top of the key and the game went to overtime.
The extra session belonged JET, who, remember, took the elbow in the chin from J.R. Smith that led to Smith’s one-game suspension. With the game tied up at 88, the veteran nailed a 3-pointer with 21 seconds to go to give the Celtics the lead for good. Melo hit a jumper on the other end but Terry nailed both free throws to put this one on ice to give Boston a small glimmer of hope when they head back to New York for Wednesday night’s game.
Melo finished with 36 points on 10-35 shooting (0-7 from three), 7 boards and 7 turnovers. Iman Shumpert scored 12 points and grabbed 12 boards and Tyson Chandler has 11 boards.
Jeff Green scored 26 points on 9-22 shooting and Terry scored 18 on 7-10 shooting. —Peter Walsh
Heat 88, Bucks 77 (Heat win series 4-0)
LeBron James and Ray Allen led the way for the Miami Heat as they won the fourth and final game of their first round series to complete the sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks. With Dwayne Wade held out of the game with a bone bruise in his right knee, James took the reins, leading the team with 30 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and three steals.
The Heat led the Bucks for the entire game. With a pair of free throws, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute brought Milwaukee within two at 54-52. But Miami wouldn’t give up the lead, ending the quarter with a five-point advantage behind strong play from James and Udonis Haslem.
The Bucks fought back in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a three-pointer from Mike Dunleavy and a jumper from Ellis. But after two quick threes from Mario Chalmers and Allen, the Heat were up 75-67 with 8:25 left in the final period. Bucks timeout. Then, Miami proceeded to go on one of their patented fourth quarter runs, outdueling the Bucks 13-5 in the following six minutes.
That 13-5 run late in the game would embody the way the Bucks were dissected in each of the games in this series. Miami started each of the first three games of the series slow, allowing Milwaukee to stay close, then as the closing minutes drew closer they flipped the switch, winning each of the four games by double digits.
Allen finished the game with 16 points and seven rebounds for the Heat. Chris Bosh had 10 points with five boards and four blocks. Chalmers ended with merely three points, but tallied eight rebounds and six assists. —Daniel Friedman
Warriors 115, Nuggets 101 (Warriors lead series 3-1)
It really is a shame what happened to Ty Lawson in the third quarter, because he put on a show coming out of halftime in Game 4 of the Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors first-round playoff series. Lawson slashed and shot his way to 14 of the Nuggets first 18 points as to try and keep pace with the Warriors offensive onslaught. It was truly awesome to watch.
Then Stephen Curry decided to prove that he was one of the greatest players in the world:
In a span of 6 minutes, everyone forgot about anything that Tywon Ronnell Lawson did and people began laughing at how absurd the performance that Wardell Stephen Curry decided to put on. Curry symbolically laughed at what Lawson did and by the end of the 3rd quarter, the Bay Area’s newest superhero scored 22 points in 6 minutes with a flurry of threes, floaters, finger rolls and sheer craft. The Warriors were up 91-72 after three quarters and would finish with a convincing 115-101 win. The Nuggets now face a 3-1 series deficit and their entire season is on the line Tuesday night.
A couple of observations and quotes from Oracle Arena Sunday night:
Kent Bazemore on folks beginning to notice Stephen Curry as a superstar – “I’m just being biased, but Steph should’ve been an All-Star. Its tough, you’ve got three other guards who made the all-star team, but Steph proved it all year. In this camp, we see it every night. The guy works hard, and you’d probably have to amputate dude’s leg to get him off the court.”
Bogut’s Revenge On Javale: The dunk Andrew Bogut gave to Javale McGee was filthy, as the Big Aussie buried Shaquille O’Neal’s favorite “Shaqtin’ A Fool” special guest. Consider it as revenge for what Javale gave Andrew in Game 1. However, being in the arena and having the fans watch about 12 different replays back-to-back was eerily cool. The crowd rose into a fever pitch, ooh’ing and aah’ing with every replay. Heck, even Javale snuck a few looks up to the big screen to see how bad it was.
There’s No Country For These Denver Nuggets: I’m not sure if George Karl’s either given up on his Nuggets or the Nuggets players themselves are proving that they’ve mentally checked out of the series, but the decisions that are being made are simply inexcusable. Andre Miller was guarding Curry for long stretches of the game, Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer were leaving Curry open from three to help on penetration and once again there was a boneheaded play by Anthony Randolph. Its understandable to say that with Danilo Gallinari out and Kenneth Faried/Ty Lawson recovering from injuries didn’t give Denver the best start to the series, but the Nuggets were too good this regular season to drop the ball in such a fashion. If they lose in 5 games, they’ve officially got to be ashamed of themselves. —Eduardo Maisonet / @edthesportsfan