NBA Playoffs: San Antonio Spurs 4-2 Golden State Warriors

Job Well Done: Parker and Duncan fire Spurs to win

Job Well Done: Parker and Duncan fire Spurs to win

In a series that every neutral wanted to go the distance, San Antonio came through in 6 to advance to the Conference Finals yet again. The Spurs swept the Lakers in the first round while Golden State upset 3rd seeds Denver 4-2 with Steph Curry lighting up the series to set up an exciting duel between the two.

GAME 1: Golden State 127-129 San Antonio (2OT) @ AT&T Centre

A thrilling start to the series saw Manu Ginobili sink a game-winning three in the dying seconds of the second period of overtime. The Warriors led by as many as 18 before being pegged back and falling short despite the heroics of a 44 point haul from Curry. It was the visitors who edged a fast-paced first half 53-49 before they broke clear in the third following another dynamic 3rd quarter display from the ‘Human Torch’. Curry netted an incredible 22 points including four 3-pointers as Golden State opened up a 90-82 advantage. Despite letting up 39 points, the hosts still scored 31 of their own to remain within reach as Danny Green connected with a trio of triples during the third. The 25 year old’s precision from downtown proved vital in the fourth as Green sent the game into overtime with 20 seconds left as the Spurs fought back from a 98-82 deficit with 9:00 left on the clock. The teams could not be separated in the first and it looked as if GSW were going to steal a win on the road with a 6-0 run in the final minute of the second period beyond regulation until Ginobili‘s killer three saved the hosts. Tony Parker led the Spurs with 28 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists while Tim Duncan (19p/11r) and Ginobili (16p/11a) added double-doubles and Green netted 6-9 from beyond the arc on his way to 22 points.

San Antonio lead the best-of-7-series 1-0.

GAME 2: Golden State 100-91 San Antonio @ AT&T Centre

Golden State tied the series with a dominant second quarter while Klay Thompson had a career-high night with 34 points and 14 rebounds to hand the Warriors home court advantage. Curry set the tone early on with two triples opening the scoring for the visitors but it was to be the other member of the ‘Splash Brothers’ duo who carried on the damage with a devastating first half dispaly. Thompson netted FIVE 3-pointers in a 17 point second quarter to take his tally to 29 at the half, where GSW led 62-43. San Antonio did their best to reduce the deficit and closed to within seven after consecutive three’s from Green and Gary Neal but Thompson struck his 8th trey at the end of the third to make it 83-72. The Spurs trailed by six at 95-89 but were unable to produce another comeback as Curry scored the next five points as the hosts were held to just 2 points in the final 4 minutes. Curry added 22 points to Thompson‘s impressive haul while Duncan and Parker combined for 43 points for San Antonio, who were restricted to below 40% from the field as the series was levelled at 1-1.

Series tied at 1-1.

GAME 3: San Antonio 102-92 Golden State @ Oracle Arena

Tony Parker led the Spurs to a win on the road as they bounced back from a loss at home in Game 2 while the Warriors were left concerned about Curry‘s ankle injury. TP9 exploded for 25 points in the opening half before finishing with a game-high 32 while Duncan added a 23-10 double-double. San Antonio were down 19-14 midway through the first before producing an 18-4 close to lead 32-23. Golden State enjoyed a better second quarter until the final minute when a 6-0 close to the half saw the Spurs maintain their nine point advantage at 57-48. The Warriors tied the game at 65 on a Curry three but then went scoreless for the next five minutes as the visitors opened up a double-digit lead and when Kawhi Leonard netted a three to the end the third, they led 79-69. Once again a GSW run was followed by an immediate response from the Spurs as Green and Parker netted triples to spark an 11-1 burst after a 9-0 start to the 4th from the Warriors. The home side closed to within five points but it was too little, too late as San Antonio held on to claim victory.

San Antonio lead the best-of-7-series 2-1.

GAME 4: San Antonio 87-97 Golden State (OT) @ Oracle Arena

Golden State levelled the series at 2-2 after an overtime victory as the Spurs capitulated during the extra period. Harrison Barnes produced a career-high 26 points while Jarett Jack had 24 off the bench and Andrew Bogut managed to grab 18 rebounds despite getting himself into foul trouble early on. Curry netted two triples early on but Ginobili took over the quarter with 11 late points including three 3-pointers to give the visitors a 26-19 advantage. A fourth followed in the second and San Antonio were soon ahead by 10 which became 8 at the half. Curry scored twice more from beyond the arc in a pivotal 18-4 run for the home side as they took the lead at 55-51. Parker would hand the Spurs back the initiative by the end of the third as his basket made it 62-60 to the visitors. GSW compiled a 10-2 run through Jack and Thompson to tie the game at 82 in the final minute. Both teams made baskets before missing the chance to take the game as they headed into overtime. San Antonio would miss their first seven shots from the field and the Warriors capitalised with nine points during their opponents’ baron spell. Green finally struck from 3-point range but the game was up and the series was heading back to Texas all-square.

Series tied at 2-2.

GAME 5: Golden State 91-109 San Antonio @ AT&T Centre

San Antonio took care of home court in style to put the pressure back on Golden State after taking a 3-2 series lead. Parker led the way for the Spurs with his first double-double of the series with 25 points and 10 assists with Duncan (14-10) adding one of his own, Leonard making 7-8 from the field for 17 points while the ‘Splash Brothers’ were less effective with a combined 13 points on 6-22 shooting for the visiting Warriors. The hosts made a strong start and Duncan had 10 first quarter points as the Spurs opened up a 37-28 advantage and they never looked back. Golden State threatened to take the lead when Curry made it a one point game but they were kept at bay by an efficient San Antonio offence, which built a 54-51 advantage at the interval. The third was more comfortable for the hosts who used a 7-0 run to break clear and by the end of the third, they led 83-72. There was to be no comebacks in this game as San Antonio saw the game out with ease as Gregg Popovich was able to rest his starters and Australian Patty Mills netted a late three off the bench to complete a satisfying performance for the home side.

San Antonio lead the best-of-7-series 3-2.

GAME 6 San Antonio 94-82 Golden State @ Oracle Arena

San Antonio closed out the series on the road to progress to the Western Conference Finals, where they will take on the Memphis Grizzlies. Curry‘s game-high 22 points were in vain for the Warriors as the Spurs had all five starters in double figures, led by Duncan‘s 19 points. The visitors edged a tight first quarter 21-19 before taking a 47-40 lead into the locker rooms courtesy of a 10-0 run at the start of the second. San Antonio remained in control throughout the third before a late rally from GSW as they took inspiration from the crowd to again trail by seven, heading into the fourth. Thompson made it a three point game but Green soon pushed the lead back up to seven with a 3-pointer of his own. The home side cut the gap to just a single basket as they hoped to extend the series but Leonard and Parker nailed dagger three’s before the French international sealed the win at the foul line, scoring 10 of his 13 points in the final quarter.

San Antonio win the best-of-7-series 4-2.

                                    Top 5 players

  1. Tony Parker 22.5 ppg; 6.2 apg; 4.7 rpg
  2. Tim Duncan 19.5 ppg; 10.3 rpg
  3. Steph Curry 22.5 ppg; 6.8 apg; 19 3PM
  4. Kawhi Leonard 14.7 ppg; 9.2 rpg; 56% FG
  5. Harrison Barnes 17.3 ppg; 7.3 rpg
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NBA Playoffs: OKC Thunder 1-4 Memphis Grizzlies

Marc Gasol leads the Grizzlies to victory

Marc Gasol leads the Grizzlies to victory

Last season’s runners-up were dealt a big blow in Round 1 when Russell Westbrook suffered a knee injury which ruled him out of the Playoffs. OKC had enough depth to deal with the challenge of Houston but were up against it taking on Memphis and the Grizzlies progressed to the Conference Finals following up their 4-2 win over the Clippers in the first round.

GAME 1: Memphis 91-93 Oklahoma @ Chesapeake Energy Arena

Kevin Durant led his OKC side to a 1-0 series lead with an impressive performance consisting of 35 points, 15 rebounds, six assists and 2 blocks. Kevin Martin added a further 25 from the bench as the hosts battled back from as many as 12 down to take care of their home advantage. Marc Gasol had a 20-10 double-double for the visitors who came close to forcing overtime but Quincy Pondexter could only convert one of three FT attempts as the Grizzlies fell short. The teams were evenly matched in the first half before Memphis threatened to break clear in the third as they established a 12 point lead following a 14-5 run. Derek Fisher and Martin both netted from beyond the arc at the start of the fourth as OKC began to close the gap. Memphis still led at 90-87 with just over a minute left but two jumpers from Durant were followed by a pair of free throws from Reggie Jackson to effectively seal the win before Pondexter‘s misfortunes at the line.

OKC lead the best-of-7-series 1-0.

GAME 2: Memphis 99-93 Oklahoma @ Chesapeake Energy Arena

Durant (36-11-9) came even closer to a triple double with another leading performance for OKC but his efforts were matched by Mike Conley, who had a 26-10-9 game to inspire Memphis to a series levelling result. After the visitors edged the opening quarter, OKC moved ahead by half-time after a 13 point second quarter from Fisher which included a perfect 3 from 3 from downtown. KD then matched his team-mate’s efforts with 13 points of his own in the third and OKC took a five point lead into the final quarter. The teams were tied on five occasions before Kendrick Perkins’ free throws gave the hosts a slender 90-89 advantage with 2:41 to go. Conley then sparked a pivotal 10-0 run to seal the road win before Fisher ended the game with his fourth triple to stop the rot at the buzzer. The veteran rolled back the years with a 19 point haul off the bench but Conley was invaluable for the Grizzlies while Gasol contributed 24-5-5 as they stole the series initiative from the number 1 seeds.

The best-of-7-series tied at 1-1.

GAME 3: Oklahoma 81-87 Memphis @ FedEx Forum

Memphis made the most of home advantage to take a 2-1 series lead over Oklahoma after another tense encounter between the two sides. OKC shot a disappointing 36% from the field while both teams struggled from beyond the arc. The hosts made a bright start and were up by ten in the second quarter but OKC recovered with an 11-2 run which helped build a 45-44 lead at the half. Gasol had a strong third quarter with 12 points which saw Memphis move closer to another double figures advantage before Durant ended the third with a triple to make it a six point differential. Every time Memphis threatened to break clear, they were pegged back by the Thunder and Fisher‘s triple tied the game at 81 with just under two minutes to go. However, just as it seemed the momentum was with the visitors, they began missing and Memphis held their nerve at the line, to produce a strong finish as they did in game 2, making 6/6 to seal the win. Gasol was again a key contributor for the Grizzlies with a 20-9-4 stat-line while Durant‘s 25-11-5 was in vain once more.

Memphis lead the best-of-7-series 2-1.

GAME 4: Oklahoma 97-103 Memphis (OT) @ FedEx Forum

Memphis recovered from a slow start to move on the verge of a series victory after defeating Oklahoma in overtime. The visitors made a fast start with Serge Ibaka and Durant combining for 16 points in a 29-18 opening quarter. The lead peaked at 17 midway through the second on a KD triple before the Grizzlies managed to halve the deficit heading into the break courtesy of a couple of late 3-pointers from Jerryd Bayless. Down in double digits, the home side built some momentum with a 24-10 spell to take the lead for the first time at 76-74. The teams continued to trade leads throughout the fourth before a free throw each from Zach Randolph and Gasol made it 92-90 with 10.9 seconds on the clock. Up stepped Durant, with the finger roll lay-in to tie the game and extend the game beyond regulation. However, KD would then go 0-5 from the field in OT while OKC were kept scoreless in the final 1:55 and Tayshaun Prince and Gasol  capitalised to secure a huge victory for the Grizzlies. The DPOY led the way once again for the hosts with 23 points and 11 rebounds while Randolph produced a similar performance but managed to grab an extra rebound. Conley had a team-high 24 points while Durant took the overall scoring honours with 27 points as OKC fell short down the stretch when it matters most yet again.

Memphis lead the best-of-7-series 3-1.

GAME 5: Memphis 88-84 Oklahoma @ Chesapeake Energy Arena

Randolph delivered his best play-off performance to help close out the series after a relatively quiet first three games for the Grizzlies. The 31 year-old All-Star had a huge game with 28 points and 14 rebounds to help eliminate the top seeds of the West. Memphis were dominant in the second after an even start and compiled a 14-3 close to the half to lead 50-38. However, in the third it was the turn of OKC to produce a strong finish to a quarter and a 16-4 burst helped to close within two points as they headed into a must-win final quarter down 64-62. A solitary Durant basket was their only addition to the scoreboard in the opening six minutes of the fourth as Memphis steadily increased their advantage. An 11-3 run gave them hope and even more so when Reggie Jackson nailed a three in the final minute to make it a two-point game. Durant squandered the chance to tie it up and Tony Allen closed out the game and the series with a pair of free throws. Conley dished out 11 assists to compliment his 13 points to round-off an impressive series from the point guard while for the 5th game running, Durant led OKC with another 20+ point haul whilst coming close to a triple-double yet again. Westbrook is often criticized for being too selfish but there is no coincidence of OKC’s downfall since his injury.

Memphis win the best-of-7-series 4-1. 

                   Top 5 players

  1. Marc Gasol 19.4 ppg; 8.4 rpg; 2.8 bpg
  2. Mike Conley 18.0 ppg; 6.8 apg; 6.4 rpg
  3. Kevin Durant 28.8 ppg; 10.4 rpg; 6.6 apg
  4. Tony Allen 10.0 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 2.4 spg
  5. Reggie Jackson 13.8 ppg; 6.2 rpg; 50% FG; 92.3% FT

Game Night! ft. OKC @ Memphis

STUNNING COMEBACK KEEPS STREAK GOING; MEMPHIS EDGE OUT OKC & LOPEZ LEADS NETS TO WIN ON ESPN

Memphis Grizzlies (46-21) kept up their chances of catching OKC (50-19) after beating their Western rivals 90-89 in an overtime battle. The home side looked in control during the first half before the Thunder fought back to take the lead and it needed a late triple from to force the game beyond regulation.

During the extra period, it was the visitors who edged ahead once more before Marc Gasol snatched the victory with the tip-in just before the final buzzer. The Spaniard and All-Star team-mate Zach Randolph combined for 29 points and 33 rebounds in the win with Mike Conley top scoring with 24 points while Kevin Durant had a game-high 32.

Conley: “It’s always good to win a game like that especially against one of the best teams in the league! This says a lot about our confidence as a team; believing we can win regardless.”

Miami Heat (53-14) pulled off an unbelievable comeback from 27 points down to take their win streak to 24 games after beating Cleveland (22-46) 98-95. LeBron James continues to demonstrate his MVP potential with a vital triple-double with 25 points, 12 rebounds and ten assists and had a personal 8-0 run to give Miami the lead at the start of the fourth while Mario Chalmers contributed a further 17 points as the visitors netted TWELVE triples during the win.

The Cavs (still without Kyrie Irving) used a 19-0 run in the second quarter to assert their authority and opened up a commanding lead at 67-40 in the third quarter. Shane Battier nailed two three’s in the middle of a 15-1 burst before Daniel Gibson‘s late triple gave the hosts a 77-68 lead going into the fourth,where Miami took over. However, despite the nine-point lead being reversed, the home side kept battling and closed to within a point in the final minute after seven unanswered points before James sunk two crucial free throws and Miami held on.

LeBron: “It was one of the best comebacks I’ve been a part of. The streak wasn’t on my mind but getting blown out was!”

The New York Knicks (40-26) closed in on second place in the East after a comfortable 106-94 win at home to Orlando (18-51) as Carmelo Anthony added 21 points and 8 rebounds on his return to the team. Anthony Davis tipped in the game winner in New Orleans as the Hornets (23-46) recorded a narrow 87-86 victory over the Boston Celtics (36-31) despite a 28 point haul from Paul Pierce. Brook Lopez led Brooklyn (40-28) to a 113-96 win over Dallas (32-36) after an impressive 38 points and 11 rebounds while Deron Williams added 31 in the ESPN fixture and Reggie Evans pulled down 22 boards.

San Antonio (52-16) used a dominant second quarter display to propel them to a 104-93 success at home to the Golden State Warriors (39-31) with Tim Duncan stepping up with 25 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. LA Clippers (47-22) eased to a 101-72 victory against Philadelphia (26-41) while Washington (24-43) collected an 88-79 win on the road against the Phoenix Suns (23-46).

Houston Rockets (37-31) earned a vital win in a play-off battle at home to Utah Jazz (34-34) with James Harden‘s 29 points leading the way. Atlanta Hawks (38-30) were guided to a 98-90 win against the Milwaukee Bucks (34-33) by Jeff Teague‘s double-double of 27 points and 11 assists. In the final game, the Charlotte Bobcats (16-52) defeated the Toronto Raptors (26-42) 107-101 for their second win in a row.

Check-out highlights of Miami‘s historic win in Cleveland (NBA):

Game Night! ft. Miami @ Boston

LEBRON LEADS HEAT TO WIN 23; KNICKS SNAP LOSING RUN & LAKERS FALL IN PHOENIX

Miami Heat (52-14) made it 23 straight victories with a 105-103 win on the road against the Boston Celtics (36-20). LeBron James netted the game-winner to reach 37 points, consisting of a huge dunk on Jason Terry whilst being accompanied by 12 assists on the stat-sheet. Jeff Green’s monster 43 point haul proved in vain for the Celtics, who were missing Kevin Garnett, as they saw a 17 point lead wiped out

Meanwhile, their Eastern rivals both recorded wins on the road to close in on clinching their play-off spots. Indiana Pacers (41-26) remain second following a 111-90 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-45) using a strong second quarter as a platform for their triumph. New York (39-26) were without Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire in Utah (34-33 but still prevailed in a 90-83 success. JR Smith took on the responsibility and top scored with 20 points while Gordon Hayward had 17 for the Jazz.

Memphis (45-21) continued their strong run of form with a 92-77 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves (23-42) while there was a 93-72 success for the Golden State Warriors (39-30) over New Orleans (22-46) after a 30 point haul from Stephen Curry. Denver Nuggets (46-22) took their win streak to TWELVE after a 119-118 overtime success against the Chicago Bulls (36-30). Wilson Chandler had a game high 35 points for the visitors while Nate Robinson had 34 for the home side.

The Lakers (36-33) missed out on the chance to leapfrog Houston in the Western conference after a 99-76 defeat in Phoenix against the Suns (23-45). Goran Dragic dished out 10 dimes during the game for the hosts including an assist through-the-legs of Steve Nash, who top scored for the Lakers with 19 points in the absene of Kobe Bryant. Dallas Mavericks (32-35) kept up their play-off hopes with a 127-114 win on the road against Atlanta (37-30) while Brooklyn (39-28) eased to a 119-82 win against Detroit (23-46) on the back of Deron Williams’ 31 points.

Gerald Henderson led the Charlotte Bobcats (15-52) to a 119-114 victory at home to the Washington Wizards (23-43) with a 27 point haul. Philadelphia (26-40) held off a fourth quarter comeback from Portland (31-35) to record their second win in a row after a 101-100 success. LaMarcus Aldridge top scored for the Trail Blazers with 32 points while Damian Lillard continued his great form with an additional 27 but it was Jrue Holiday’s contribution for the 76ers which inspired the victory.

LeBron James with the monster dunk on Jason Terry (NBA):

Game Night! ft. LA Lakers @ Orlando

HACK-A-HOWARD BACKFIRES; RUBIO SHINES TO DEFEAT SAN ANTONIO & MIAMI MAKE IT 19 STRAIGHT

Dwight Howard produced a 39p-16r double-double on his return to Orlando (18-47) as the LA Lakers (34-31) reclaimed 8th spot in the play-offs race with a 106-97 win over the Magic. Jameer Nelson had 21 points for Orlando as they were on the receiving end of a 15-2 burst from the Lakers in the third quarter which inspired their victory charge. Magic had recovered from an ELEVEN point deficit to take a slender lead at 57-56 before Kobe Bryant (11p/7r/8a) led the immediate response from the visitors. Having won their last four games, the Lakers are a game ahead of the Utah Jazz and now only half a game behind the Houston Rockets, who are in seventh place.

STAT:

Miami Heat (48-14) eased their way to a 98-91 victory over the Atlanta Hawks (34-29) after being paced by a 15/7/7 display by LeBron James. Last week’s Eastern conference player of the week Dwyane Wade, top scored with a game high 23 points while Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh added 14 points each and Udonis Haslem pulled down 11 boards. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Bobcats (14-50) ended their TEN game losing streak with a 100-74 home win against the Boston Celtics (34-29) after Gerald Henderson posted a career-high 35 points.

Memphis (43-19) withheld a fourth quarter fightback from the Portland Trail Blazers (29-34) after securing a 102-97 victory. Dallas Mavericks (30-33) enjoyed a 115-108 victory against the Milwaukee Bucks (32-30) on the road despite a 32 point haul from Monta Ellis while Brooklyn Nets (38-27) claimed a 108-98 win over the New Orleans Hornets (22-43) with Brook Lopez top scoring with 26 points and earned bragging rights over his twin brother Robin with a posterizing dunk.

Despite the absence of Kyrie Irving (out 3-4 wks w/shoulder injury) Cleveland recorded a 95-90 victory over the Washington Wizards (20-42) after a 20 point haul from Dion Waiters. John Wall had 27 points and 14 assists for the visiting Wizards, who had raced into a 33-20 lead after the first quarter before the Cavs mounted their comeback to take control. Ricky Rubio inspired the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-39) to a huge victory against the San Antonio Spurs (49-16) with his first career triple-double in the 107-83 success.  The visiting Spurs were without Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard as they joined Tony Parker on the sidelines.

‘Tricky Ricky’ at it again against the Spurs: (NBA)