Spurs, Raptors, Rockets Winners, Coaching Notes, Lynx in Training Camp

Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs roll on, and the WNBA season approaches. Some notes for your Thursday morning.

The Spurs held off a determined Dallas Mavericks to take a 3-2 series lead with a game five win at home. A big second quarter led by Manu Ginobili gave the Spurs a nine point halftime lead, and they were able to keep the Mavs at bay despite big games from Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter for Dallas. The Spurs rediscovered their uber-efficient offense, making half of their 16 three point attempts, only turning the ball over five times all night, and showing off their team-wide passing and cutting skills to the tune of four players with at least five assists. It was vintage Spurs, but even then, the Mavs, who are showing remarkable resilience in this series, made it tight down the stretch. The series heads back to Dallas for game six and a chance for the Spurs to close it out.

It was Kyle Lowry early (21 first half points) and Kyle Lowry late (two massive buckets in the last minute) as the Raptors survived a furious Nets rally and hung on to win at home and take a 3-2 series lead.  The Raptors looked in complete control as they ran out to an 18 point half time lead, blowing past what looked like a helpless and old Nets squad. They extended the lead and were up 22 early in the 4th quarter when I switched to the Blazers-Rockets game. The Nets proceeded to go on a furious run to get the game tied (they ultimately scored 44 points in the 4th quarter). With the game tied at 106, Lowry made an off the dribble three, then with the Raps up one, he made a driving floater. Despite some hairy moments after that (including an Alan Anderson four point play), the Raps were able to make their free throws and hang on.

Somehow I missed this, but the Raps marketing folks came up with a catchphrase they have put on T-shirts and made commercials around: We the North.  I like it.  Very Game of Thrones, right? Beyond the wall.

Finally, the Rockets stayed alive with a home win against the Blazers that sends the series back to Portland for game six with the Blazers still up 3-2. It was an off night for LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored only 8 points on 3-12 shooting. The rest of the Blazer starting lineup was fantastic offensively, each shooting at least 50% and scoring a combined 85 points. Portland, however, got nothing from its bench, which proved to be the difference in this one, as the Rockets got 34 bench points led by Jeremy Lin's 21 point effort. The Rockets controlled the interior in this one, dominating the rebounding and outscoring the Blazers 60-40 in the paint. James Harden continues to struggle, making only 5-15 shots and just 1-7 from three.

Three more tonight:

Pacers at Hawks
6:00 pm Central
NBA TV

The Hawks look to close out a monster 8 over 1 upset following their embarrassing beat down of the Pacers in game five in Indianapolis.  It's unlikely they will shoot like that again, but they have generally looked the better team in this series, and while the Pacers are clearly capable of winning two in a row and escaping this series, they are going to have to get it together right now to have a chance to do so.  If they don't, Frank Vogel will likely be unemployed.

Thunder at Grizzlies
7:00 pm Central
TNT

The big one. Four straight games in this series have gone to overtime, and the Grizzlies have managed to win three of them, putting them in position to upset the Thunder in this 2 vs. 7 matchup. The Grizz are a nightmare; strong, physical, unwilling to give up anything easy. Tony Allen has been spectacular in this series, and the Grizzlies have done a terrific job on a struggling Kevin Durant. All that said, the last four games could have gone either way. The next one or two can as well. One of the most compelling first round series I can remember.

Clippers at Warriors
9:30 pm Central
TNT

The Clippers were clearly relieved Tuesday night, and it showed; they were able to control the action and take a 3-2 series lead. Now they head back to Oakland where the crowd will be at a fever pitch to try to close things out. Mark Jackson is probably coaching for his job for the Warriors, who need to counterbalance the Clippers interior advantage with good perimeter shooting. The always have a shooters chance, so this one isn't over yet.

NOTES

  • An update to yesterday's coaching article: Apparently Stan van Gundy has told people he has no interest in the Wolves job.
  • Meanwhile, the Wolves likely won't be interested in either Frank Vogel or Mark Jackson should either or both lose their current jobs in the coming days.
  • Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni has stepped down.
  • The Minnesota Lynx, DEFENDING WNBA CHAMPIONS, are in training camp.  Their regular season begins May 16th, and we'll have some pre-season coverage coming.
Today in history

1328: End of Wars of Scottish Independence as treaty recognizes Scotland as an independent state
1753: Publication of Linnaeus' Species Plantarum begins the field of plant taxonomy
1786: Mozart's Marriage of Figaro premieres in Vienna
1851: Great exhibition opens at London's Crystal Palace
1886: General strike for 8 hour work day begins
1941: Citizen Kane premeires

Today's musical birthday is Kate Smith, born in 1907 (d. 1986). First Lady of Radio.



Have a great day.










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