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Brandon Bass scored a career high 27 points and Kevin Garnett added 20 as the Boston Celtics punished the Philadelphia 76ers 101-85 taking a 3-2 best of 7 Eastern Conference Semifinals series lead. Bass notched 18 of his points in the decisive third quarter and shot 9/13 (69%) overall along with 9/10 (90%) from the free throw line. Garnett made 8/17 (47%) overall and like Bass collected 6 rebounds. Paul Pierce contributed 16 points on just 7 field goal attempts but drained all 9 off his attempts from the charity stripe. Rajon Rondo finished with 13 points and handed out 14 of his team's 22 assists. Boston shot 52% overall despite making just 3/15 (20%) from beyond the arc. They also converted 26/33 (79%) from the free throw line and recorded 11 steals while committing just 10 turnovers. Elton Brand led the 76ers with 19 points on 8/13 (62%) from the field while Lavoy Allen hit on all 6 of his field goal attempts for 12 off the bench. Evan Turner added 11 points and collected a team high 10 rebounds while Spencer Hawes and Jrue Holiday each conrtibuted 10 points for Philly, who shot 47% from the floor but converted only 10/16 (63%) from the foul line. They outrebounded Boston 37-31 but committed 16 turnovers in all. Boston tied it 57-all when Bass stole the ball from Thaddeus Young and got to the free throw line, making both foul shots. After a Sixers miss, Rondo found Bass underneath for the dunk. Bass added another crowd-pleasing dunk before knocking loose a ball to start Rondo on a fast break he finished by finding Ray Allen for the layup. Boston closed out the third with a 10-2 run over the final 3 minutes and outscored the Sixers 28-16 in the period. The Celtics also scored 16 of the first 22 points in the fourth quarter -- seven from Rondo -- to put away the game. The Celtics acquired Bass in December in a trade with Orlando for Glen "Big Baby" Davis, and he worked his way into the starting lineup after the All-Star break. Although he solidified the power forward position after Garnett moved to center, he hadn't done anything spectacular -- until Monday. Boston has an opportunity to close out the series tomorrow night in game 6 at the Wachovia Center.
Russell Westbrook scored 28 points and Kevin Durant added 25 as the Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the Western Conference Finals with a 106-90 lambasting of the LA Lakers at the Chesapeake Energy Arena winning their best of 7 series 4-1. Westrbook shot 12/25 (48%) overall making an acrobatic series of contested layups and jumpers, while Durant sunk 9/21 (43%) from the floor and hauled down 10 rebounds. James Harden contributed 17 off the bench along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists. OKC shot 47% overall despite just 3/13 (23%) from 3 point range and converted 19/25 (76%) from the charity stripe. They also committed just 11 turnovers and held a decisive 51-35 edge on the boards. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 42 points on 18/33 (55%) shooting overall and Pau Gasol added 14 along with a team high 16 rebounds on just 5/14 (36%) from the field. Metta World Peace contributed 11 points for the Lakers, who shot 45% includign a dismal 2/11 (18%) from 3 point range. They also committed as many turnovers as recorded assists with 12. Bryant had to create all of the offense, scoring 15 of the Lakers' first 19 points and getting all six of his baskets without the benefit of an assist. When others started chipping in, the Lakers went on a 16-7 run to go up 35-32 following Andrew Bynum's three-point play. Oklahoma City scored the next eight points, including Harden's fast-break dunk, before Bryant got past him for a pair of dunks of his own -- the first a driving, two-handed reverse jam and the second a two-handed alley-oop slam over Harden. But Bryant and World Peace both drew technical fouls as the Lakers lost their cool with 31.9 seconds left before halftime when World Peace was called for a flagrant foul against Thabo Sefolosha on a fast break. World Peace used his right hand to strip the ball from Sefolosha as he went up to the basket but then shoved him out of bounds with his left hand. Westbrook converted another field goal after banking in a jumper from the left side despite Ramon Sessions slapping him on the arm to make it 82-76 with 1:29 left in the third quarter. After Westbrook's pair of three-point plays fueled a 14-3 burst that put Oklahoma City ahead to stay late in the third quarter, Durant hit two 3-pointers as the Thunder scored the first 10 points of the fourth to push their lead to 93-77. Bryant was waiting to check in when Durant connected on his second 3-pointer, only 89 seconds into the fourth quarter. But by the time he got in, there was little he could do -- despite the 13th 40-point game of his playoff career. The Thunder now move on to San Antonio on Sunday night to face the Spurs in the Western Conference Finals, while Kobe, coach Brown and company search for answers in the offseason that may result in an underachieving Gasol getting traded before the start of the 2012-13 season.