NBA Game Recaps for April 23, 2017
Cavaliers Defeat Pacers, 106-102, Earn Series Sweep
By Joel Bartilotta
The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Indiana Pacers, 106-102, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Sunday.
Cleveland have been dominant all series and a sweep is just what they need to get some rest for the second-round. This game was close much like the rest of the series, as there were seven ties and five lead changes in total, with neither team leading by more than 13 points. The middle quarters were key, with Cleveland outscoring Indiana, 66-53, in the second and third quarters. Free-throw shooting was also huge, with the Cavaliers hitting 23-of-27 from the free-throw line and the Pacers going just 10-of-17. Cleveland also won the rebounding differential, 48-42.
The Cavaliers (4-0) looked lost headed into the postseason, but a first-round series sweep would indicate otherwise. LeBron James was once again the player of the game, as he collected 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks. Kyrie Irving tallied 28 points, two rebounds and three blocks. Kevin Love scored just five points on 2-of-13 shooting, but snatched down a game-high 16 rebounds. Deron Williams led the bench with 14 points on 4-of-4 from the field.
The Pacers (0-4) simply didn't have enough to compete with the champs and it was evident by this quick postseason exit. Lance Stephenson led Indiana, as he contributed 22 points, six rebounds and three assists off the bench. Paul George accumulated 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. Myles Turner amassed 20 points and nine rebounds. Jeff Teague accrued 15 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, two steals and three blocks. Thaddeus Young recorded a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 10 boards.
Cleveland will wait for the Atlanta-Washington series to end to see who they play in the second-round.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 4:19 PM ET
Updated on April 24, 2017 at 11:47 AM ET
By Joel Bartilotta
A first-round series sweep looked far from attainable from the Cavaliers headed into the playoffs with their struggles, but they did just that in impressive fashion. Free-throw shooting was the difference in this game, with Cleveland hitting 23-of-27 and the Pacers going just 10-of-17 from the charity stripe. Rebounding was also key, with Cleveland winning that battle, 48-42.
LeBron James led the way for the Cavaliers, collecting 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and four steals. Kyrie Irving accrued 28 points, and three blocks. Kevin Love went just 2-of-13 from the field to score five points, but still brought down a game-high 16 rebounds.
Lance Stephenson led Indiana in scoring, as he provided 22 points, six rebounds and three assists off their bench. Myles Turner led the starters with 20 points and nine rebounds. Paul George accumulated 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals.
Cleveland will have to wait for the Washington-Atlanta series to end to find out who their next opponent will be.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 4:38 PM ET
Rockets Defeat Thunder, 113-109, Take 3-1 Series Lead
By Joel Bartilotta
The Houston Rockets defeated the host Oklahoma City Thunder, 113-109, in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Sunday.
Despite there being just five ties and six lead changes in this game, it was close throughout. In fact, it was a single-digit margin for the final 20 minutes with an extremely hectic finish. That's evident by the fact that there were nine combined steals and fouls in the final 90 seconds. The key for the Rockets was bench production, as they got 64 points and 25 rebounds from their three bench players, while the Thunder's five bench players combined for just 22 points and nine rebounds. Free-throw shooting was also huge, with Houston hitting 28-of-33 and Oklahoma City going just 18-of-32 from the charity stripe.
The Rockets (3-1) now have a commanding 3-1 series lead, as they are headed back home to try to end this series. Nene Hilario was the player of the game, as he provided 28 points and 10 rebounds on a perfect 12-of-12 shooting off the bench. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams were also spectacular off the bench, scoring 18 points a piece, while combing for 15 rebounds. James Harden collected 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, but committed seven turnovers on 5-of-16 from the field. Trevor Ariza totaled 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Thunder (1-3) needed this win desperately with a 2-1 series deficit, but fell just shy in their home building. Russell Westbrook recorded another triple-double though, accumulating 35 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists and three steals. Steven Adams amassed 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and three blocks on 8-of-10 shooting. Victor Oladipo finished with 15 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks. Andre Roberson went just 2-of-12 from the free-throw line, but still accrued 13 points, four rebounds, two steals and five blocks.
Game 5 will be in Houston on Tuesday.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 6:18 PM ET
Updated on April 23, 2017 at 6:21 PM ET
By Joel Bartilotta
Houston now have a commanding 3-1 series lead headed back home, as this was a devastating loss for Oklahoma City. Bench production carried the Rockets, as they got 64 points and 25 rebounds from their three bench players, while the Thunder got just 22 points and nine rebounds from their five bench players. Oklahoma City really killed themselves at the free-throw line, hitting just 18-of-32, while Houston shot 28-of-33.
Nene Hilario led the way for Houston, as he went 12-of-12 from the field to provide 28 points and 10 rebounds off Houston's bench. Lou Williams and Eric Gordon scored 18 points a piece, also doing that damage off the Rockets bench. James Harden accrued 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists.
Russell Westbrook recorded a triple-double, collecting 35 points, 14 rebounds, 14 assists and three steals. Steven Adams totaled 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks. Andre Roberson amassed 13 points, four rebounds, two steals and five blocks.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 6:29 PM ET
Celtics Pull Even With Bulls, 104-95
By Juan Carlos Blanco
The Boston Celtics defeated the Chicago Bulls, 104-95, at United Center on Sunday evening in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs. The series is now tied 2-2.
The Celtics (2-2) had secured a likely series-salvaging victory on Friday evening, producing a dominating defensive performance in Game 3 at United Center. However, that was only half the battle, as Boston essentially needed to duplicate the same caliber of effort in Game 4 to ensure that they could head back to TD Garden with a deadlocked series. Isaiah Thomas and the defense were successfully able to generate an encore, with the star point guard scoring a game-high 33 points and supplementing them with seven assists, four rebounds and one steal, and Boston limiting the Bulls (2-2) to a 42.1 percent success rate from the field and 20.8 percent from three-point range.
Gerald Green drew another start -- a move by coach Brad Stevens that's proven prudent thus far -- and followed Thomas with 18 points and seven rebounds. Al Horford posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double that also included four assists, one steal and one block. Jae Crowder totaled 11 points, two rebounds, one assist and two steals. Kelly Olynyk led the bench with 10 points, three rebounds, one steal and one block.
Jimmy Butler matched Thomas shot for shot, pouring in 33 points and adding nine assists, five rebounds and one steal. Nikola Mirotic was a distant second with 13 points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal. Isaiah Canaan led the bench by matching Mirotic's scoring total and also providing three assists, two rebounds and two steals. Dwyane Wade turned in 11 points, six boards, two assists, two blocks and one steal. Robin Lopez supplied eight points, seven boards and one block.
The series now shifts back to Boston, where Game 5 will unfold on Wednesday night.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 9:32 PM ET
Updated on April 23, 2017 at 9:40 PM ET
By Juan Carlos Blanco
Isaiah Thomas and the defense were successfully able to generate an encore to an outstanding Game 3 effort, with the star point guard scoring a game-high 33 points and supplementing them with seven assists, four rebounds and one steal, and Boston limiting the Bulls (2-2) to a 42.1 percent success rate from the field and 20.8 percent from three-point range.
Gerald Green drew another start and followed Thomas with 18 points and seven rebounds. Al Horford posted a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double. Jae Crowder totaled 11 points, while Kelly Olynyk's 10 points led the bench.
Jimmy Butler matched Thomas shot for shot, pouring in 33 points and adding nine assists. Nikola Mirotic was second with 13 points. Isaiah Canaan led the bench by matching Mirotic's scoring total. Dwyane Wade turned in 11 points, while Robin Lopez supplied eight.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 9:39 PM ET
Jazz Beat Clippers, 105-98, in Game 4
By Oscar Heanue
The host Utah Jazz took down the Los Angeles Clippers, 105-98, in Game 4 of the Western Conference first-round playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Sunday.
Utah (2-2) saw its star big man, Rudy Gobert, return from a knee injury on Sunday. After going down on the first possession of the series, many expected that the Jazz would be forced to go without Gobert for the duration of the series. The French big man came back for a stellar showing on Sunday, however, as he delivered 15 points and 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes of play. Gobert's return to the court was much-needed, as the Jazz were able to see only 10 minutes from All-Star forward Gordon Hayward. Hayward left Sunday's playoff action due to food poisoning, according to team officials.
Despite the lack of health for the team, Utah was able to earn its first home playoff victory since 2010. One of the key factors for the Jazz was veteran wing Joe Johnson. After hitting the game-winner in Utah's first victory last week, Johnson stepped up in Hayward's absence to deliver a team-high 28 points on 12-of-17 shooting. Power forward Derrick Favors also made a big impact, shooting 7-of-10 for 17 points in just 24 minutes of action.
Los Angeles (2-2) has had its own fair share of bad luck. A toe injury in Game 3 wound up putting an end to All-Star forward Blake Griffin's playoff campaign. The Clippers still have their fair share of star power, however, with superstar Chris Paul continuing to step up in the playoffs. Paul neared a triple-double on Sunday, scoring a team-high 27 points to go along with 12 assists and nine rebounds. Sixth man Jamal Crawford, meanwhile, added 25 off the bench. Griffin's absence stung for the Clippers, however, as rebounding was a major factor throughout. Utah held a 42-31 advantage on the boards in the game.
Game 5 will take place back in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
Posted on April 23, 2017 at 11:57 PM ET
By Oscar Heanue
It was an interesting night for the Jazz on Sunday, as they saw sparse minutes from their star players but still earned the win. All-Star forward Gordon Hayward was held to just nine minutes thanks to a bout of food poisoning, while center Rudy Gobert played only 24 minutes in his first game back from a knee injury. Gobert still managed to log 15 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks in his limited time on the floor.
Veteran forward Joe Johnson, meanwhile, stepped up in Hayward's absence. Johnson led the team with 28 points and shot 12-of-17 from the field. Forward Derrick Favors added 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting as well.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, was without All-Star big man Blake Griffin. Superstar Chris Paul had enough production for two, however, nearing a triple-double with 27 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds. Sixth man Jamal Crawford added 25 points off the bench. The duo's offensive output was not enough to spark a victory, however.
Posted on April 24, 2017 at 12:04 AM ET