The Wizards live to fight another day, as they blew out the Pacers in Indianapolis last night to force a game six back in Washington on Thursday night. The Wizards got off to a good start behind a monster first half by center Marcin Gortat, who was scoring on a variety of post-ups, pick and rolls, and put backs as the Wizards were dominating the offensive glass. Turnovers hurt them in the first half, however, and they were up only seven after a David West three at the buzzer got the Pacers close.
The third quarter told the tale, however, as John Wall found his stroke and joined a still hot Gortat as the Wizards outscored the Pacers 31-14 to put the game out of reach. Wall and Gortat combined for 25 of the Wizards 31 in the quarter, putting on a fantastic show. Wall, not known as a shooter, made a trio of three pointers in the quarter. Gortat finished with a monster 31 and 16 line on 13-15 from the field. It wasn't Roy Hibbert's finest defensive hour. Wall finished with 27 on 11-20.
The most glaring team-wide stat was Washington's utter domination on the glass: 62-23 overall and 18-4 on the offensive glass. The Pacers missed 47 field goals and only got four offensive rebounds. Game six is Thursday night.
I don't know quite how to describe the Thunder's 105-104 win over the Clippers in the late game. Madness. The Clippers started hot, especially from beyond the arc, and were able to build a small lead, but the Thunder stayed in the game by getting to the free throw line again and again. Kevin Durant was having a nightmare shooting night, at one point he was 3-17 from the field, and only Russell Westbrook's heroics were keeping the Thunder in the game.
Midway through the 4th quarter, however, Westbrook went on tilt, with three bad misses and a couple of turnovers over a four minute stretch, and a two point Clipper lead became 13 when Jamal Crawford made a ridiculous pull up three from 26 feet. The game looked over, but the Thunder had a run left in them as Durant finally showed some signs of life and Westbrook found his rhythm. The Thunder got within four, but a monster Glen Davis rebound of a missed Griffin free throw led to a huge Chris Paul jumper that pushed the lead back out to seven with under a minute left. Once again, it looked over.
But a Durant three, a Crawford miss, a Durant layup, and a Paul turnover gave the Thunder the ball down two with 10 seconds left. There was significant controversy as the Clippers believed that the ball had gone out of bounds off of Reggie Jackson, but the officials, perhaps because the replay suggested they missed a Matt Barnes foul, awarded the ball to the Thunder. Westbrook (of course), rose up off the dribble for a three, which missed badly, but Chris Paul was whistled for a foul which was inconclusive on replay. Westbrook made all three free throws (to finish with 38 on the night), and Paul turned the ball over trying to get a last second shot off, and the Thunder escaped with a home win and a 3-2 series lead.
An incredible game. Writing this just after it ended, I am laying good odds that Doc Rivers winds up with a fine for criticizing the officials after this one. The Thunder went to the line 36 times to the Clippers 20, and Doc was incensed over the late out of bounds call.
It's going to be a tough plane ride back to L.A. for the Clippers, who will have a chance to get even at home on Thursday night.
Nets at Heat
6:00 pm Central
The Heat look to close out the Nets at home after a close and exciting tilt in game four in which LeBron James scored 49 points and Chris Bosh hit the tie breaking three pointer in the final minute. A devastating loss for the Nets, who battled extremely hard to get that series even before falling late. The Heat would love to wrap this one up and get some rest prior to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Blazers at Spurs
8:30 pm Central
The Spurs are also hoping to close out their series with the Blazers at home after losing game four in Portland with a chance to sweep. Not surprisingly, the Blazers came out with energy and were able to get their offense going, especially though Nic Batum. They also played with more effort and intelligence on defense and forced the Spurs into more bad shots then they taken in the first three games combined. A tough assignment for the Blazers though, to go into San Antonio and get another win.
- For those of you who missed it, Ricky Rubio did a television interview in Spain the other day, in which he said among other things that he thought Adelman wasn't entirely focused this season. He also expects to sign an extension for four or five years.
- The Lynx open their season on Friday, but will be without starting power forward Rebekkah Brunson, who is out following arthroscopic surgery on her right knee. She is likely out for 8-10 weeks. It isn't clear who will replace her in the starting lineup, as backup big Dev Peters is also out following surgery, as is sixth man Monica Wright. There is a severe lack of experience behind the main group, so someone is going to have to step up.
- Also on Friday is the Euroleague Final Four semifinal games. Haven't been paying much attention to European basketball this season, but those are usually fun games. CSKA Moscow faces Maccabi Electra, while two Spanish powerhouses--Real Madrid and Barcelona--meet in the other semi.
- The NBA Draft Combine starts today--be sure to put any good stuff you hear/read in comments. Hopefully someone down there will be keeping an eye on Flip Saunders for us. We need to know.
- Stan van Gundy has agreed with the Detroit Pistons to become their head coach. He will also serve as President of Basketball Operations. No hint that the Wolves ever contacted him about their position.
1787: Constitutional Convention opens in Philadelphia
1804: Louis and Clark head West from St. Louis
1853: Gail Borden patents her process for condensing milk
1940: Netherlands surrenders to Germany
1944: Attempt made on Hitler's life fails
1948: Israel declares independence from British administration
1955: Warsaw Pact signed