2014 NBA Playoff Conference Semis: Thunder take wild Game 5 to lead series 3-2, Wizards fend off elimination to force Game 6
Miami Heat’s win yesterday night and Indiana Pacers’ three consecutive wins in their series had brought many back to the hope of a Conference Finals series between these two giants which at one time in March and April seemed highly unlikely with the Pacers’ inconsistent run. But looks like normality has been restored with Tuesday night’s games.
Here’s a recap:
(1) Indiana Pacers vs (5) Washington Wizards ( Washington won 102-79, Indiana lead series 3-2)
The reasons why everyone was excited about the Pacers’ Game 5 victory was much more than just their commanding lead of 3-1 in the series. Their second half comeback on the road, down 19 points, was reminiscent of their successful play in the first half of the season, powered by the vital contributions of All-Stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert. The win meant the Pacers needed to outplay the Wizards one more time in Game 5 on their home floor before advancing to the Conference Finals.
Alas, the Pacers failed to get the right amount of intensity and energy in the second half on their own floor and eventually failed to seal the series. They not only lost a potential series clinching game at home, but were blown out of their own gym by 23 points, courtesy the young Wizards team who were led by center Marcin Gortat’s dominant performance of a Playoff career high 31 points and 16 rebounds on an efficient 13 of 15 from the field. Gortat already had a double-double before the halftime buzzer rang (17 points and 11 rebounds).
The Wizards not only pushed the pace of the game, outscoring the Pacers in transition points 17 to 10, but also out-rebounded a team known for their size by a margin of 39, the largest margin on the glass in the NBA Playoffs since 1985.
John Wall had also had his career Playoff high with 27 points while recording 5 rebounds and 5 assists to go along with it. The other starting guard, Bradley Beal, did a magnificent job as well with his contribution of 18 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Trevor Ariza, an NBA Champion with the 2009 Los Angeles Lakers, has been a delight to watch this post-season with his effort and hustle plays. He had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds including 5 assists.
Meanwhile for the Pacers, who hung around till halftime, only two players scored in double figures on a night which saw the entire team shoot only 39%. George had 15 points and David West had 14, the only notable numbers which stood on the Pacers team box score. The Pacers still have another chance to close the series and better bring their A game in order to do so.
Gortat and Wall leading the Pacers to a win:
(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs (3) Los Angeles Clippers (OKC won 105-104, lead series 3-2)
Down 13 with 3:30 minutes still to go in the ball game, it was the Thunder’s chance to do what the Clippers did in Game 4, of turning the tables with a huge comeback. Clutch shots by Kevin Durant, who had a quiet efficient 10 points in the fourth quarter, Russell Westbrook’s energetic effort, and a few controversial calls by the officials, led the Thunder to a Game 5 victory; their first, after losing their previous three Game 5s at home.
Westbrook had a game-high 38 points, including the game clinching clutch free throws, to go with 6 assists and 5 rebounds while Durant had 27 points on a rough 6 of 22 shooting night. Both the Thunder’s All-Stars, other than being the only players of their team to score double digit points, also combined for 28 trips to the free throw line knocking down 26 of those attempts.
A major advantage for the Thunder was points in the paint, outscoring their opponents 44-22, and a huge reason for Clippers center DeAndre Jordan getting fouled out playing only 19 minutes of the game. The Clippers couldn’t hold off the Thunder during their late game surge as they missed 5 of their final 6 shots, including 2 crucial turnovers by Chris Paul.
In a losing effort, Blake Griffin had a huge double-double of 24 points and 17 rebounds, and so did Matt Barnes with 16 points and 10 rebounds on a night that you could say the Clippers were unlucky of ending up on the wrong side of the officials’ calls, despite having a replay system at their disposal to use.
With 11.3 seconds left on the clock the refs called Out of Bounds on a play where it seemed Reggie Jackson had touched the ball last as it went out of bounds. Despite multiple angles on replay, the refs found it to be inconclusive, and the game had to continue with the call made on the floor at the utter disgust of Clippers Head Coach Doc Rivers
“It was our ball, we got robbed. We made our own mistakes but we have a replay system and to say you couldn’t see it on the angles you had, that’s a bunch of crap. There were a lot of errors, most of them by us, but then there was one huge error (by the officials), on that call they got it wrong. That could be a series-defining call … a horrendous call. But we put ourselves in that position with a comedy of errors.” - Doc Rivers
Nevertheless the Clippers down one game in the series are not out of it by any stretch. Game 6 at the Staples Center will be crucial to both teams.
Highlights from Westbrook’s play on Tuesday:
Known more for his defense, Thunder’s Thabo Sefolosha leads the TOP 5 plays of the day: