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Danny Granger scored 25 points and Darren Collison added 19 off the bench as the Indiana Pacers eliminated the Orlando Magic with a 105-87 victory at Banker's Life Fieldhouse. Granger hit on just 8/20 (40%) overall but drained 4/9 (44%) from 3 point range. Collison converted on 9/10 shots (90%), dished out 6 assists and recorded 3 steals. George Hill contributed 15 points and David West finished with 12 along with 8 boards. The Pacers shot 53% from the field and from 3 point range and outrebounded the Magic 43-34. Jameer Nelson led Orlando with 27 points in 11/21 (52%) overall while Glen Davis added 15 along with 8 rebounds. The Magic shot just 42% from the floor and only 12/19 (63%) from the charity stripe. It was a tough series for Orlando, which played all five games without All-Star center Dwight Howard because of a back injury. They took the opener, then watched Indiana put together its first series win since 2005 and its first clincher on its home court since the first round of the 2000 playoffs. No player on Indiana's roster had won a playoff series while playing for the Pacers. Indiana led by as many as 15 points in the first half, but as was the case throughout the series, it didn't last. Orlando got hot late in the half, and a 3-pointer by Jason Richardson and a bucket by Davis cut Indiana's lead to 48-47. Indiana's Roy Hibbert made a hook shot to push the lead back to three at the break. Orlando tied the game at 61 on a fadeaway by Davis before a three by Nelson gave Orlando a 66-64 lead. Nelson hit another three in the closing seconds -- he had 15 points in the quarter -- to give Orlando a 71-69 lead. Hill added nine points in the period to keep the Pacers in the game before Collison and Granger put it away. Collison made a layup and hit a 3-pointer to give the Pacers a 78-73 lead with 9:33 to play. After Nelson drained another 3, Collison came back with a layup, then Leandro Barbosa's steal and layup pushed Indiana's lead to 87-80 with 6:49 to play and forced an Orlando timeout. A few minutes later, Paul George stole an inbounds pass and found Granger under the hoop for a layup and a 91-80 lead. The Pacers dominated from there and now await the winner of the Atlanta/Boston series to start round 2.
Al Horford scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while Jeff Teague added 16 as the Atlanta Hawks edged the Boston Celtics 87-86 at Phillips Arena extending their best of 7 series. Boston still leads the series 3-2 but could not get a potential game winning shot attempt off in their final possession. Horford fought off foul trouble and stuck 8/15 (53%) from the field while recording 3 blocks and 3 steals. He did commit 6 of his team's 19 turnovers but was a big reason why Boston couldn't capitalize on second opportunities. Joe Johnson contributed 15 points but shot just 6/17 (35%) overall. Josh Smith finished with 13 but hauled in 16 rebounds and dished out 6 assists. MArvin Williams rounded up all 5 starters in dobule figures with 15 as Atlanta shot 47% from the floor including 7/16 (44%) from 3 point range. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce each led the Celtics with 16 points while Brandon Bass added 14. Rajon Rondo contirbuted 13 points, dished out 12 assists and recorded 5 steals, but shot only 6/17 (35%) and committed 6 of his team's 15 turnovers. Boston shot 44% overall and were outrebounded 41-33. In a back-and-forth game, the Celtics tied it at 83 on Ray Allen's 3-pointer from the corner, capping a quick 7-0 run. The Hawks called time out and set up a play that reclaimed the lead for good. Teague drove into the lane and dumped it off to Horford for an uncontested dunk. After Garnett missed a jumper in the lane, Johnson ran down the shot clock looking as though he had every intention of shooting. But, at the last possible second, he rifled a pass to Horford coming off the wing. The big center threw up a sort of pseudo-hook with Garnett and Brandon Bass all over him. The ball bounced around the rim before falling through with 1:34 left, giving the Hawks an 87-83 lead. With less than a minute to go, after misses by Pierce and Horford canceled each other out, Pierce was inexplicably left open for a 3-pointer. He swished it, pulling the Celtics within a point. They wouldn't get another, even with a couple of chances. Teague missed an open 3 for the Hawks, giving Pierce a look at the go-ahead shot. But his 18-foot jumper with Johnson in his face barely touched the bottom of the net, falling harmlessly out of bounds while Pierce looked around in disbelief, believing he must have been fouled. Rondo's steal gave the Celtics one more chance, but they never got a shot off. Boston had a chance to clinch the series when Rajon Rondo stole Josh Smith's inbounds pass with 10 seconds remaining and raced down the court, looking for the winner. But the point guard got hemmed in along the sideline when Horford jumped out to defend him, which caused Rondo to lose control and fling a desperation pass. Smith knocked it away, the ball rolling harmlessly out of bounds as the horn sounded. The Celtics will have a chance to close the Hawks out tomorrow night back at TD Gardens for game 6.
Luol Deng scored 24 points and Carlos Boozer added 19 as the Chicago Bulls staved off elimination with a 77-69 game 5 win over Philadelphia at the United Center. Despite the only two Bulls players in double figures, Deng shot 10/19 (53%) overall and collected 8 rebounds. Boozer shot just 9/20 (45%), but grabbed a team high 13 rebounds and handed out 6 assists. Deng and Boozer combined to shoot 19/39 (49%) accounting for 56% of their team's points. The rest of the team converted only 15/43 (35%) and Chicago scored just 35 first half points despite leading by 9 at the break. Chicago shot only 42% overall and went to tht free throw line just 11 times converting 4 (36%). They also committed 16 turnovers but assisted on 22 of their 34 field goals. Jrue Holiday led the 76ers with 15 points but made just 5/17 (29%) from the field. Lou Wlliams added 13 off the bench while Andre Igoudala and Spencer Hawes each contributed 11. Without Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah due to injuries, Deng played more like an All-Star after averaging only eight points in the previous three games, hitting four of five 3-point attempts, three in the fourth quarter. He also grabbed 8 rebounds. Chicago was up 57-48 going into the fourth quarter after another injury scare late in the third. This time, Taj Gibson came up clutching his right ankle and hit the court after fouling Lavoy Allen underneath with just over two minutes left in the quarter. He came back early in the fourth to loud cheers, and the crowd was really roaring when Deng nailed a 3 to make it 67-52, giving the Bulls their biggest lead. They had more to cheer when Gibson hit a jumper, pumping his fist, and two free throws to get the lead 71-58. And they were really screaming moments later when Brewer blocked Brand on a putback. A loss Thursday would make them the fifth No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed in the first round and the second in as many years, after San Antonio fell to Memphis last season. But if they continue to play like this, the Bulls just might have a shot despite being undermanned.
Andre Miller scored 24 points and Javal McGee added 21 both off the bench as the Denver Nuggets staved off elimination and edged the LA Lakers 102-99 at the Staples Center. Miller hit on 8/11 (73%) from the fllor, drained both of his 3 point attempts and dished out 8 assists. McGee was true on 9/12 (75%) overall and grabbed a team high 14 rebounds. Andre Afflalo contributed 19 and Danilo Gallinari finished with 14 despite both experiencing subpar shooting efforts. The Nuggets shot 46% overall and committed just 7 team turnovers but endured a really tough night from beyond the arc making just 3/19 (16%) overall. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 43 points and was virtually a one man show making 14/32 (44%) from the field, collecting 6 rebounds and handing out 5 assists. Andrew Bynum added 16 along with 11 rebounds and Matt Barnes contributed 11 off the bench but shot just 5/14 (36%). LA shot only 39% overall and from 3 point range and outrebounded the Nuggets 48-43 while committing just 9 turnovers. The Nuggets still must win two games to advance to the second round for just the second time in nine years, but they have already accomplished something rare by winning Game 5. Los Angeles had closed out a playoff series on the first try in 11 of its previous 12 opportunities, and the Lakers won 12 of their last 13 closeout games under departed coach Phil Jackson. In the best game of his first career playoff series, McGee threw down a mind-boggling array of dunks and converted alley-oop passes while dominating the Lakers' superstar duo of 7-footers. McGee dunked on a 60-foot alley-oop pass from Miller early in the fourth quarter, and he stared down the Lakers' fans after dunking while getting fouled with 6:35 to play, putting the Nuggets ahead by 15. Bryant scored 12 points during the final 4:45, hitting four 3-pointers that trimmed the Nuggets' lead to 98-96 with 59 seconds left. Bryant then missed a potential tying 5-footer and a 3-pointer, but Denver missed two of four free throws before Ramon Sessions hit a 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds left, trimming the Nuggets' lead to one point. Los Angeles had two more chances to tie after the veteran Miller's free throws, but Bryant and Sessions missed 3-pointers near the buzzer. The Lakers can close out the series when game 6 shifts back to the Pepsi Center on Thursday night.