Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Garnett, Jared Jeffries. One of these names is not like the others. That reality became blatantly clear for the Knicks as Jefferies turned the ball over to Garnett with just seconds remaining to send the Knicks to a 96-93 loss to the Celtics. The other names lived up to their billing as Rondo (30 points, 7 assists and all-out mastery of transition game) and ‘Melo (42 points, 17 boards and countless jaw dropping shots down the stretch) battled throughout this one.
Jeffries—aka Fool’s Gold—had just come up big with a drive to put New York up one with 19 seconds left. The second time around, KG closed out hard on Jefferies and basically punked him into giving up the steal. KG’s big play came on the heels of his turnaround hook over that put Boston up for good.
As much as KG and Jefferies may have stolen the headlines, this was Carmelo Anthony’s game. Melo put New York on his back with the type of performance that DVRs are made for. Each drive and jumper further silenced those who thought that giving up Mozgov was too steep a price. Simply unstoppable, Melo stepped up for an injured Amar’e and practically willed the Knicks across the finish line. But in the end ,with that line approaching, Melo passed off the chance for the game-winner with the aforementioned feed to Jefferies. With Big Baby blitzing his way, the pass out of the double team was arguably the prudent choice. But given his white-hot performance, it is sure to leave Knicks fans thinking, What if? —Jonathan Evans (@jre18)
It wasn’t the prettiest game, but the Magic evened up the series behind a solid defensive effort and another dominant performance from Dwight Howard. “We played extremely hard. Especially from the time we were down 10 in the first half, I just thought we played with unbelievable intensity…when you can shoot 34 percent in a playoff game and win it, I gotta be very, very proud of our guys and just hope that at some point some guys will start making some shots,” said Magic coach Stan Van Gundy in the postgame press conference.
One day after accepting his third straight Defensive Player of the Year award, Howard exploded for 33 points (9/12 FG, 15/19 FT) and 19 rebounds. “What Dwight did tonight was phenomenal. I didn’t give him much rest in the game,” said Van Gundy, referencing the 48 minutes Howard logged.
Howard’s first half production this series would stand as excellent complete games for the majority of the League. After setting a franchise record with 31 pts in the first half of Game 1, Howard tallied 24 pts and 11 rebounds in the opening two quarters of Game 2.
Al Horford played only two minutes in the first half after picking up two early fouls. Despite being outrebounded 32-15 and outscored 28-14 in the paint during the first two quarters, the Hawks kept it close and ended the half down 6. Down 11 to start the fourth, Atlanta closed the gap to four with 25 seconds to play before Orlando hit free throws to ice the game. Jamal Crawford scored a playoff career-high 25 points for a Hawks offense that settled for difficult shots most of the game.
Game 3 is Friday in Atlanta and Howard is lucky he has two days to rest. —Tracy Weissenberg
The big news before Game 2 between No. 3 Dallas Mavericks and No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers was the fact that referee Danny Crawford would be officiating. Before the game, the Mavs had a 2-16 record in playoffs games called by Crawford, including 16 L’s in the last 17 contests. Naturally, with an outspoken owner like Mark Cuban, the media were all over that juicy little nugget like stink on a monkey. Cuban, for his part, didn’t bite and let the chips, and whistles, fall as they may.
Turns out, Crawford wasn’t a factor at all, and neither were the Blazers in the end, as Dallas took a 2-0 series lead over Portland with a 101-89 win on their home court.
Just like he did in Game 1, Jason Kidd caught fire from behind the arc, nailing three J’s from long range on the way to 18 points. Kidd’s scoring output is significant, considering his total points during the regular season vs. Portland was 20. In just the first two games of this series, he has 42 points total.
Dirk Nowitzki was his usual MVP-like self, putting on a show before his dad, Jorge, who was on hand to watch his son drop 33 points, including 14 in the final quarter, on 9-22 shooting from the field.
The big story, though, was Peja Stojakovic, who racked up 21 points off the pine on 5-10 shooting from three-point land and JJ Barea, who Mighty Mouse’d his way to six points, four assists and some key defensive possessions.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for the Blazers with 24 points and 10 boards, while Gerald Wallace added 18 points. As the series goes back to Portland, Nate McMillan looks to right the ship and take advantage of the home crowd’s energy. Analysts gave the Blazers the edge before this series began, citing the Mavs’ penchant for only looking good on paper in the post-season, but if the first two games are any indication, Portland has its hands full if they want to make sure Dallas doesn’t finally leap off the “page.” —Maurice Bobb (@ReeseReport)