Neal before the King? Fight for Finals MVP

Battle: LeBron tussling with Tim Duncan

Battle: LeBron tussling with Tim Duncan

Prior to the 2013 NBA Finals, many were predicting a second consecutive Championship for Miami with LeBron James again claiming MVP honours. However, the series has not gone accordingly so far with San Antonio opening up a 2-1 advantage with the next two games on their home floor and ‘King James’ is being outshone.

Ultimately, you would imagine that the Finals MVP award will go to a player on the Championship winning side (Jerry West 1969 being the only exception) and were Miami able to turn the series around, LeBron seems to be the only viable contender from the Heat given the little support he has received so far.

There are several contenders for the Spurs with the creator in Parker, the shooter in Green, the defensive stalwart in Leonard and the solid veteran in Duncan, who does everything for Gregg Popovich. He might not be making a lot of shots but his defensive presence is huge for San Antonio especially when Thiago Splitter is not on the floor. Continue reading

Game Night! Miami @ Oklahoma

MIAMI LEAD FROM TIP TO BUZZER AGAINST OKC AS LBJ & KD DO BATTLE WHILE THE CLIPPERS WIN THE BATTLE OF LOS ANGELES

LeBron James dropped 39 points on Oklahoma (39-14) as Miami (36-14) recorded a 110-100 victory in a repeat of last year’s NBA Finals. Chris Bosh added 20 points and 12 boards while Kevin Durant produced a game-high 40 points for the Thunder despite missing his first seven attempts from the field. The teams were evenly matched early on before LeBron added six points after an Oklahoma time-out as the Heat embarked on a 11-0 run to take control in the first. Norris Cole completed a lay-up on the buzzer to give Miami a 32-17 advantage at the end of the opening quarter. Durant finally made a field goal drop in the second when he netted a triple although Miami‘s lead continued to rise. James scored ten points in a row for Miami while Russell Westbrook (24p, 10a) added nine for the hosts before Bosh finished the half with a dunk to make the score 63-46 in favour of the visiting Heat. The lead peaked at 73-50 on a Mario Chalmers 3-pointer before Reggie Jackson helped Oklahoma narrow the deficit with seven points. Shane Battier scored his first points of the night with a three to give Miami an 88-69 advantage after the third. Durant and Kevin Martin combined to make it 94-82 before LeBron nailed a dagger three. The home side managed to cut the gap into single figures after Dwayne Wade (13p, 8a) had fouled out but it proved too little too late as Ray Allen (13p) secured the win with a pair of free throws.

LA Clippers (39-17) defeated the Lakers (25-29) 125-101 for their fourth win in a row to match OKC‘s win tally for the season. The Clippers were led by their All-Stars as Chris Paul top scored with 24 points as well as 13 assists while Blake Griffin had a 22-10 double-double.  They were officially the visitors at Staples Centre and used a strong start once again to power away to victory. A 31-17 opening quarter was supported by a dominant third quarter as the Lakers struggled to compete. Kobe Bryant recovered from his blip against Phoenix to lead the ‘hosts’ with 20 points whilst providing 11 assists. The Lakers remain outside the play-off positions as it stands with Houston (29-26) currently occupying the eighth spot.

Check-out the duel between LeBron and KD in Oklahoma: (NBA)

Game Night! Portland @ Miami

LEBRON FIRES HEAT TO ANOTHER WIN; STRONG 4TH QUARTER GETS LA LAKERS THE WIN WHILE OKC FALL IN UTAH

Miami’s ‘Big Three’ combined for an impressive 86 POINTS to help the Heat (35-14) beat Portland (25-27) 117-104 at the American Airlines Arena. Chris Bosh top scored with 32 points (13/16 FG) and collected 11 rebounds but the plaudits will go to his team-mate as LeBron James posted 30 points for the sixth consecutive game helping the franchise to their 1,000th win in the NBA. James had six assists early on as Miami took an early lead before LaMarcus Aldridge (29p) scored ELEVEN unanswered points across quarters to give Portland a 37-29 advantage. The visitors then opened up a fourteen point gap midway through the second only for Miami to respond with a 15-2 close to the half with LeBron contributing ten points during the run. A 17-4 tear from the home side, containing successive triples from Shane Battier, turned the game on its head as Miami now enjoyed a fourteen point lead at 81-67. However, the game wasn’t done there as Damian Lillard (33p) added nine points late on in the third to help trim the deficit to four at 86-82. A 7-0 run gave Portland the lead again before the teams continued to trade the lead until Ray Allen fired Miami into the lead for the final time with a 3-pointer at the start of a 12-0 burst which sealed their sixth win in a row.

STAT: No player had scored 30+ points in six straight games in the NBA with a 60% shooting percentage before LeBron achieved the feat tonight.

LA Lakers (25-28) survived a third quarter wobble and only a four point contribution from Kobe Bryant to defeat the Phoenix Suns (17-36) 91-85. Dwight Howard will have silenced a few critics with his big double-double of 19 points and 18 rebounds while Bryant and Steve Nash dished out 17 assists between them. Phoenix outscored thier opponents 24-9 in the third to lead 71-65 before the Lakers came back to get the victory and close in on the play-off positions. Memphis (33-18) have the best current win streak (3) in the West after beating Sacramento (19-34) thanks in large to a 24-12 double-double from Marc Gasol.

Oklahoma (39-13) fell to a 109-94 defeat in Utah despite a 33 point haul from Kevin Durant. KD also added six rebounds, five assists and four steals to his impressive stat-line for Thunder but it was Al Jefferson’s 23 points that helped Utah Jazz (29-24) to the win after a strong final quarter. Toronto (20-32) kept up their push for the play-offs with their third straight win after Rudy Gay netted another late game-winner in the 109-108 win against the Denver Nuggets (33-20). Ty Lawson led the visitors with 29 points and nine assists while the Raptors were led by DeMar DaRozan’s 22 points. The final game saw Houston (29-25) win 116-107 on the road against Golden State (30-22) with James Harden and Stephen Curry leading their respective sides with 27 points each.

STAT: Serge Ibaka tied his season-best with a total of SEVEN blocks against Utah.

Check-out LeBron‘s record-breaking night against Portland: (NBA)

Game Night! Denver @ Boston

BOSTON NEED SEVEN PERIODS TO DENY DENVER; DYNAMIC HEAT DUO HELP TO BEAT LAKERS

Denver Nuggets (33-19) fought hard to keep their winning streak alive but were beaten in Boston as the Celtics (27-23) continued their revival without Rajon Rondo with a 118-114 victory in triple-overtime. Paul Pierce had a stellar night with 27 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists while Jason Terry added 26 and Kevin Garnett contributed 20 points and 18 rebounds with six points coming in the final period. The visiting Nuggets had five players in double-figures with Ty Lawson producing a game-high 29 points to lead his side. Kenneth Faried missed two free throws in regulation time and Andre Miller missed a lay-up before Lawson sent the game into overtime with a late basket. The teams were tied again at the end of the first and second periods of overtime before Boston sealed the win in triple-OT.

STAT: Doc Rivers’ Celtics are now 7-0 in the absence of Rajon Rondo as they make their way up the Eastern conference standings.

Lebron James and Dwayne Wade combined for 62 points in Miami‘s 107-97 triumph over the LA Lakers (24-28). Heat (34-14)pulled away in the final quarter with Wade scoring 16 of his 30 in the fourth while LeBron finished with a game-high 32. Kobe Bryant led the visiting Lakers with a 28 point haul to go with nine assists with Earl Clark contiuing to be noticed with 18 points while Steve Nash and Dwight Howard each contributed 15. There was nothing between the sides at half-time as they went into the interval all-square at 53 but a seven point burst from LeBron to close the third helped Miami into a 78-73 lead. Wade took over in the fourth scoring nine points a row for his side as they increased their advantage. Lakers closed to within five but that was as close as they were to get with Shane Battier bringing up the Heat century late on from beyond the arc.

STAT: LBJ‘s 32 points made it five consecutive 30+point games to set a new franchise record.

LA Clippers (36-17) defeated the Knicks (32-17) 102-88 in New York despite a 42 point haul from Carmelo Anthony. The visitors had a one point lead heading into the fourth before they powered on to take the victory on the back of 27 points from Jamal Crawford, 25 points and 7 dimes from Chris Paul and a 17-12 double-double from Blake Griffin. Houston (28-25) suffered a 117-111 defeat on the road at Sacramento (19-33) despite James Harden scoring 30 points.

San Antonio (40-12) recovered from their loss to Detroit with a 111-89 win at the Brooklyn Nets (29-22). Tony Parker led the way with 29 points and 11 assists as the Spurs held the hosts to just 29 second half points whilst pouring in 60. Oklahoma (39-12) kept up the heat on San Antonio‘s record with their second comfortable win over the Phoenix Suns (17-35) inside a week with Russell Westbrook’s 24 points helping the City Thunder to a 97-69 blow-out.

Memphis (32-18) enjoyed a 105-88 victory against Minnesota (18-30) with Tayshaun Prince top-scoring with 18 points- his highest tally since joining the Grizzlies from Detroit. Orlando (15-36) snapped their 12-game losing streak with a 110-104 home win against the Portland Trail Blazers (25-26). Rudy Gay top scored for the Toronto Raptors (19-32) once again, as his 20 point haul helped the Raptors to a 102-89 win over the New Orleans Hornets (17-34).

Blake Griffin responds to Tyson Chandler’s throw-down with one of his own: (NBA)

Game Night! San Antonio @ Detroit

SPURS & PACERS SEE THEIR STREAKS ENDS, MIAMI CRUSH CLIPPERS WHILE THE LAKERS ARE THE COMEBACK KINGS OF THE NIGHT

San Antonio (32-19) saw their ELEVEN match win streak end in Detroit (19-32) last night as the Pistons recorded a 119-108 victory. Tony Parker had 31 points and eight assists for the Spurs but it was Greg Monroe’s huge double-double of 26 points and 16 rebounds that helped get the victory for the hosts. Gregg Popovich opted not to play Manu Ginobilli once again while Tim Duncan remains sidelined and the Spurs found themselves trailing 65-52 at the half. The visitors launched a fightback in the final quarter to close within seven points but Brandon Knight had five points in quick succession to keep San Antonio at bay and seal the win.

Miami Heat (33-14) and the LA Lakers (24-27) recorded contrasting triumphs ahead of their anticipated clash on Sunday. Despite the return of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers (35-17) were comfortably beaten by the Heat 111-89. Lebron James had a game-high 30 points on 9-11 shooting from the field while Dwayne Wade added 20 in the absence of Chris Bosh and Ray Allen. The Lakers found themselves 20 points down before outscoring the Charlotte Bobcats (11-38) 31-15 in the final quarter to bounce back from their defeat to Boston. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 20 points, a total matched by Byron Mullens and Gerald Henderson, who both posted double-doubles for the hosts.

STATS: Lebron James posted his fourth consecutive 30+ points game for the first time this season while all of Kobe Bryant’s points came in the second half.

Oklahoma City Thunder (38-12) and the New York Knicks (32-16) kept up the pressure on San Antonio and Miami with victories tonight as they remain second in their respected conferences. Thunder powered in 72 POINTS in the second half on their way to a 127-96 win against Phoenix (17-34) with five players in double-figures including Kevin Durant, who led the way with 21 points. Carmelo Anthony’s 36 point haul helped the Knicks to a 100-94 victory in Minnesota (18-29) despite a third quarter wobble for their 13th road win of the season (Eastern conference high)

STAT: Jason Kidd provided his 12,000th assist during the game while the Timberwolves’ Ricky Rubio dished out 11 dimes (third consecutive game w/ double figures in assists).

A 20-11 double-double from Marc Gasol helped the Memphis Grizzlies (31-18) to a 99-93 success against the Golden State Warriors (30-20) despite a 32 point haul from Steph Curry. The 24 year-old matched his season-high total he recorded earlier in the season against Sacramento, where he was on the losing team on that occasion too. Memphis remain fifth in the Western conference despite the recent trade of Rudy Gay to Toronto.

Gay showed Memphis what they’re missing with a clutch jumper in overtime to give the Raptors (18-32) a 100-98 win against Indiana (31-20). A frantic finish ensued in regulation time with Amir Johnson scoring twice in the final six seconds to tie the game at 90. David West had a game-high 30 points for the Pacers, who saw their FIFTEEN game win streak at home come to an end.

New Orleans (17-33) picked up a win on the road against Atlanta (27-22), winning 111-100 as they made it back-to-back victories. The Washington Wizards (14-35) made it three in a row with an 89-74 home win against the Brooklyn Nets (29-21) with Nene producing a 20 point, 11 rebound double-double. James Harden fired in 35 points and dished out 11 assists to give Houston (28-24) a 118-103 win against Portland (24-25), who were once again led by All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge (31p-6a).

Kyrie Irving (24-6-8) led the Cavaliers (16-34) in points, rebounds and assists to help Cleveland to a 119-108 victory over Orlando (14-36), who suffered a 12th straight defeat. The final game saw Chicago return to winning ways after a 93-89 success in Salt Lake City over Utah Jazz (28-23). Carlos Boozer led the Bulls with 19 points while Luol Deng (15p-10r) and Jaokim Noah (12p-11r) adding double-doubles to counter Al Jefferson’s season-high 32 points and 13 rebounds.

Check-out Rudy Gay as he gets the game-winner in Indiana: