While the league was dealing with the alleged racist comments made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, it received another blow with the news of the passing away of Jack Ramsay, or “Dr. Jack” as he was commonly known, at the age of 89. A Hall of Famer, he was the head coach of the Trailblazers who won the NBA championship in 1977.
Back to the Playoffs, here’s a round up of the three games on Monday night.
Miami Heat vs Charlotte Bobcats (Miami won 109-98, win series 4-0 & advance to Conference Semi-finals)
Prior to the game, the Heat roster followed the Clippers in removing their warm-up shirts at half-court and playing with their jerseys inside out to cover the Heat logo.
The Miami Heat, the 2-time defending champions, had their fair share of doubters heading into the post-season, but here they are, the only team to sweep the first round and the first team to make it to the Conference semi-finals. Coming into Game 4, the Heat were expected to sweep the Bobcats and they did just that with a few scary moments for Heat fans as LeBron James was seen limping through the third and fourth quarters after coming down hard on the floor after a lay-up attempt.
In spite of playing without center Al Jefferson, who was out with a sore foot, the Bobcats led at the half 54-52, but the team who averaged the least turnovers in the regular season (12.3), committed 16 in total and 8 in the decisive third quarter, leading to a total of 22 Heat points.
James was dominant once again recording 31 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 3 steals and a block on the night. The Heat now face the winner of the series between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets in the second round.
Highlights from James’ domination in Game 4:
Indiana Pacers vs Atlanta Hawks (Hawks won 107-97, lead series 3-2)
The series was tied two games a piece and the Pacers had a chance to take control of what had now become a best of three series. Instead they were blown out of their own arena by the Atlanta Hawks in a pivotal Game 5. The Hawks outscored the Pacers 41-19 in the second quarter behind Mike Scott’s lights-out shooting performance, scoring 17 points on 6 of 6 from the field and 5 of 5 from long range.
At one point in the game the Pacers trailed by 30 points, and being booed by their own home crowd didn’t help their chances of making a run. Even so, with five minutes to go in the final quarter the Pacers went on a 37-16 run cutting the lead down to just nine, but the Hawks held on, with a chance to clinch the series against the top seed at home in Game 6.
Paul George was huge for the Pacers once again with his fifth consecutive double-double of the post-season with 26 points and 12 rebounds along with 6 assists and 6 steals. Roy Hibbert was disappointing again as he recorded only one assist and one steal in 12 minutes of playing time.
Jeff Teague was quiet this game as the guards on the bench, Sheldon Mack and Mike Scott, took over the game scoring a combined 37 points, outscoring the Pacers bench by 14. No team has won consecutive games in this series and if the Pacers want to keep their title hopes alive they must change that. However, don’t be surprised if the Hawks come out strong in Game 6 to grab an upset win.
Mike Scott shooting barrage in the second quarter:
San Antonio Spurs vs Dallas Mavericks (Spurs won 93-89, series tied 2-2)
Monta Ellis had a chance to tie the game at 91 with 6 seconds to go, but couldn’t make a lefty lay-up which eventually lead to the Spurs winning 93-89, courtesy of two made free throws by Manu Ginobili.
Earlier in the game, during the third quarter, the Mavericks trailed by as many as 20, but chipped away at the lead to finally tie it up with half of the fourth quarter still to go and from then on the two teams were engaged in a see-saw battle that went down to the wire.
The San Antonio bench came out on top out-scoring the Mavs’ reserves 50-30, in a game where both teams’ benches played a huge role, led by Ginobili’s 23 points and Boris Diaw’s 17 points and the clutch three in the final minute of the game. Tim Duncan had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds and so did center Tiago Splitter with 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile for the Mavericks, Ellis led the scoring with 20 points and was supported by Dirk Nowitzki and Jose Calderon who had 19 and 13 respectively. A former Spur, Dejaun Blair, was ejected for kicking Splitter’s face after a collision which left both of them on the floor.
The series has now been reduced to a best of three with the Spurs having home court advantage. Expect the top seed to come on strong in Game 5.
Top 5 plays from the Monday night’s action: