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Kevin Garnett scored 29 points and Rajon Rondo notched his 8th career postseason triple double as the Boston Celtics held off the Philadelphia 76ers 92-91 at TD Gardens in game 1 of the Eastern Cofnerence Semifinals. The Big Ticket shot 12/20 (60%) overall grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked 3 shots showcasing his signature 20 foot jumper. Rondo added 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists on 6/15 (40%) from the floor. He also recorded 4 steals despite committing 8 turnovers. Paul Pierce, still suffering with a sprained MCL injury, contributed 14 points. Despite shooting just 3/11 (27%) he collected 6 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. The Celtics shot just 44% overall including just 2/11 (18%) from 3 point range. However they drained 18/19 (95%) from the charity stripe and outrebounded Philadelphia 45-41. Andre Igoudala game 6 hero against Chicago in round 1, led the 76ers with 19 points along with 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Evan Turner added 16 along with 10 rebounds while Spencer Hawes contributed 15 along with 8 boards. Philly also shot 44% and converted 14/20 (70%) from the foul line. Lavoy Allen provided a hige lift off the bench with 12 points and 6 rebounds as Philly led for most of the way and nearly pulled off the opening game upset. The Sixers led 77-67 with 11 minutes to play before Boston scored 23 of the next 30 points, with Rondo making a jumper to cut it to 80-79, then another two minutes later to give Boston an 83-82 lead with 3:47 to play. After Spencer Hawes' basket from the right baseline put the Sixers up 84-83, Rondo drove to the basket and, with his path blocked, turned and handed the ball to Garnett. He banked one in and drew the foul to give Boston a two-point lead, then added another jumper. After misses by Turner and Lou Williams, Paul Pierce hit a fall-away jumper with 78 seconds left to make it a six-point lead -- the Celtics' biggest of the night. Boston still led by five when Jrue Holiday made a jumper, then Rondo fouled him with 3.4 seconds left and he made both foul shots. Boston inbounded the ball from between the benches, and Rondo sprinted back into the backcourt and outran Turner to the wrong basket as the time expired. Game 2 is this evening at TD Gardens.
Pau Gasol scored 23 points and Steve Blake added 19 off the bench as the LA Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 96-87 at the Staples Center winning the best of 7 first round series 4-3. Gasol bounced back from his dismal 1/10 game 6 by making 9/19 (47%) from the field. He also converted all 5 of his free throws, grabbed 17 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. Blake connected on 7/11 (64%) overall including 5/6 (83%) from 3 point range. Kobe Bryant contributed 17 and dished out a team high 8 assists and Andrew Bynum finished with 16 points along with a team high 18 rebounds and 6 blocked shots despite shooting just 4/15 (27%). The Lakers shot just 39% overall but drained 11/24 (46%) from beyond the arc. Ty Lawson and Al Harrington each led Denver with 24 points while Aaron Afflalo added 15. Lawson shot 11/19 (58%) from the floor while Harrington converted 9/18 (50%). The Nuggets also shot just 39% overall including only 7/26 (27%) from 3 point range. They outrebounded the Lakers 54-50 but committed 19 turnovers. The Nuggets fell behind 62-46 midway through the third quarter, but erased the entire Lakers lead in a furious 6½-minute stretch led by Lawson, who scored 13 points in the period. Denver took a lead on the first shot of the fourth, but the Lakers never trailed after Blake's 3-pointer with 9:03 left. One possession after his five-rebound masterpiece, Gasol put the Lakers ahead for good with a tiebreaking tip-in with 6:30 to play, kicking off an 11-2 Lakers run. Afflalo's 3-pointer cut the lead to 89-84 with 1:09 to play, but Bryant hit a dramatic 3-pointer before Gasol hit two free throws with 31 seconds left, punctuating them with a sweeping punch of his fist. Game 1 of the Oklahoma City/LA Lakers Western Conference Semifinal is this evening.