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Spencer Hawes scored 22 points and Jrue Holiday shook off a 1/13 first half adding 20 as the Philadelphia 76ers took a commanding 3-1 series lead with an 89-82 win over the Chicago Bulls at the Wachovia Center. Hawes drained 9/11 (82%) from the field including a 3 pointer and collected 8 rebounds connecting on several key wide open looks from the perimeter. Holiday finished 7/23 (30%) but also grabbed 8 boards and dished out 6 assists. Andre Igoudala contributed 14 points and hauled down a team high 12 rebounds for the 76ers, who despite shooting just 39% overall converted 22/31 (71%) from the charity stripe. They committed just 8 turnovers and also got 3 blocks from Hawes. Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 24 points and 11 rebounds but committed 6 of his team's 15 turnovers including 2 over the last 2:00. CJ Watson added 17 but shot just 5/18 (28%) from the floor missing his first 7 attempts. Taj Gibson contributed 14 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks off the bench but it wasn't enough as Chicago missed it's main defensive presence of Joakim Noah who missed game 4 due to a severely sprained left ankle. Chicago shot only 40% themselves from the field and had only half as many makes from the foul line (11/14 79%) as Philadelphia. In NBA postseason history, the eighth seed has won a first-round series against the No. 1 seed four times, including last season when Memphis eliminated San Antonio. Golden State (2007), New York (1999) and Denver (1994) also pulled off the rare feat. Holiday was sensational down the stretch after a rocky first 3½ quarters. He missed his first five 3-point attempts until he nailed one to make it 77-73. He hit another the next time down for a seven-point lead to the delight of a roaring sellout crowd. Iguodala played through right Achilles' tendinitis to make so many impact plays for the Sixers. He halted a Bulls run in the third with a 3 for a 57-56 lead. Bad leg and all, he still soared for a thunderous dunk on the break in the first half for an eight-point lead. One of the worst fourth-quarter foul shooters in the NBA, Iguodala even made both with 26.6 seconds left putting the game out of reach. Philadelphia can close out Chicago tomorrow night in game 5 at the United Center.
Carmelo Anthony scored 41 points and Amare Stoudemire added 20 along with 10 rebounds as the NY Knicks ended a 13 game playoff losing streak by staying alive in their best of 7 series with Miami nipping the Heat 89-87 at Madison Square Garden. Anthony shot 15/29 (52%) overall and added 6 rebounds while Stoudemire shot 8/13 (62%) returning from missing game 3 due to a left hand injury. The duo provided nearly 69% of the Knicks offense, as no other player ended up in double figures. NY shot just 43% overall including a dismal 5/22 (23%) from 3 point range while committing 18 turnovers. They did however outrebound Miami 43-40 and overcame yet another significant injury. Lebron James led Miami with 27 points but shot just 9/21 (43%) and was held to just 4 rebounds and 4 assists. Dwayne Wade added 22 but was a career worst 4/11 (36%) from the free throw line including several big misses down the stretch. Chris Bosh contributed 17 points and 9 rebounds for Miami, who shot 41% overall but hurt themselves from beyond the arc (3/19 16%) and at the charity stripe (24/35 69%). Miami led 51-40 early in the third before the Knicks' offense finally got going. Stoudemire made a jumper and converted a three-point play, Anthony made a layup, and JR Smith stole the ball and made a 3-pointer for a quick 10-0 run. James missed and the ball was batted up ahead to Baron Davis, who drove in with a chance to give the Knicks the lead. But his leg buckled near the foul line and he crumbled to the court, called for a travel. Concerned teammates quickly waved for help, and Davis was wheeled off the court. But New York regrouped and surged into the lead, going up by six late in the period before taking a 64-61 advantage to the fourth. After making only 13 baskets in the first half, the Knicks shot 10 of 20 in the third, getting 11 points from Anthony. Mike Bibby's 3-pointer with 1:23 left snapped an 81-all tie, but the Heat called timeout and ran a play that freed James for a wide-open 3 that tied it again seven seconds later. On the Knicks' next possession, Anthony came far beyond the arc to receive the ball after JR Smith picked up his dribble, then dribbled forward and pulled up for a 3 that made it 87-84 with 54.5 to play. The Heat turned it over on their next possession when Chris Bosh's pass sailed into the backcourt, and Anthony was fouled by Shane Battier attempting a 3-pointer. He made only one foul shot, and the Heat cut it to one again when James converted a three-point play while drawing Tyson Chandler's sixth foul. Stoudemire made a free throw with 14 seconds left to make it 89-87, and Wade lost control of the ball driving into the middle on Miami's last possession. He regained it and dribbled to the corner for a 3-pointer that was off as time expired, sending a huge sigh of relief to the sellout Garden crowd. Wade's errant shot set off a loud celebration from Knicks fans whose team was on the verge of getting swept for the second straight year, and third straight time dating to 2004. It didn't look as if the elusive postseason victory would come in this series, after the Knicks had been blown out by 20 points per game in the first three games. Still, the Heat can close the series out tomorrow night when these teams do battle again in game 5.
Paul Pierce scored 24 points in just 17 minutes of action and Rajon Rondo added 20 along with 16 assists as the Boston Celtics took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 101-79 ambush over Atlanta at TD Gardens. Pierce shot 10/13 (77%) from the field and blocked 2 shots before sitting much of the second half which saw the C's extend their lead to as many as 37 at one point. Rondo shot 8/11 (73%) and recorded 4 steals before head coach Doc Rivers finally called off the dogs midway through the 4th quarter. Kevin Garnett contributed 13 points in just 27 minutes while Ray Allen came off the bench to notch 12. The Celtics shot 51% from the floor including 11/26 (42%) from 3 point range including 4/6 (67%) from Pierce. They also added 24 team assists and committed just 10 turnovers despite being outrebounded 43-40. Josh Smith led the Hawks with 15 points and 13 rebounds but comitted 7 of his team's 18 turnovers. Al Horford added 12 off the bench and Janero Pargo contributed 11. Atlanta shot just 41% overall including a dismal 4/20 (20%) from 3 point range. Pierce limped off the court favoring his left knee midway through the second quarter, but he returned for the start of the third. He was on the court as Boston went on a 16-2 run to start the second half and open an 80-43 lead with 8:13 left in the third quarter. That was enough to earn Pierce, who played 47 minutes on Friday and tweaked his knee during Sunday's shootaround, some much-needed rest. Avery Bradley, who dislocated his shoulder in Game 3, played only 19 minutes Sunday but giving the reserves some key minutes in extensive garbage time. The Hawks weren't able to get any closer than 22 points before Rondo and Allen hit back-to-back 3-pointers, then Rondo made a behind-the-back fake to clear out the lane for an easy layup as Boston closed out the third quarter with a 90-63 lead. Boston can close the series out tomorrow when these two meet for game 5 at Phillips Arena.
Kobe Bryant scored 22 points and Andrew Bynum added 19 as the LA Lakers took a commanding 3-1 series lead with a 92-88 win over Denver at the Pepsi Center. Dressing just 8 players, Bryant struggled with his shot (10/25 40%) but pulled down 8 rebounds and dished out 6 assists despite committing 6 of his team's 14 turnovers. Bynum converted 8/12 (67%) from the field and was a force to be reckoned with inside grabbing 7 rebounds. Pau Gasol finished with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists while Ramon Sessions and Jordan Hill each finished with 12. The Lakers shot 45% from the floor but went to the line only 18 times converting 9 (50%). They outrebounded the Nuggets 48-38 and recorded 22 team assists. Danilo Gallinari led Denver with 20 points on 9/16 (56%) and Andre Miller added 15 off the bench. The Nuggets shot 46% overall but were just 3/18 (17%) from 3 point range while only going to the charity stripe 12 times converting 7 (58%). With the game tied at 86, Danilo Gallinari was covering Bryant when a hard screen from Pau Gasol sent the Italian to the floor grabbing his throat. While Gallinari stayed down, Sessions' 3-pointer from just in front of the Nuggets bench put the Lakers ahead 89-86 with 48 seconds remaining. Miller was whistled for basket interference at the other end, and Bryant found Blake for a 3-pointer from the left corner with 18.9 seconds left for a six-point cushion, L.A.'s biggest of the night. Blake got a bear hug from Bryant during the 20-second timeout. After torching the Lakers for 50 points combined in the previous two games, Ty Lawson was held to 11 points and Nuggets big men Kenneth Faried and JaVale McGee weren't nearly as effective on offense or disruptive defensively as they were in Game 2, when they combined for 28 points and 30 rebounds. Together, they had just 14 points and 11 rebounds Sunday. LA can close out Denver in game 5 tomorrow night returning to the Staples Center.