The Rockets, Wizards and Warriors all won on Wednesday, as the Warriors had a cake walk, the Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook, and the Wizards came back to beat the Hawks.
Rockets 115, Thunder 111 – (Rockets lead 2-0)
Russell Westbrook went crazy and the Thunder led for most of the game, but the Rockets came back and won Game 2 by a score of 115-111 on Tuesday night. James Harden went off for 35 points, four rebounds, eight assists, a steal, three 3-pointers and seven turnovers, and also hit 18-of-20 free throws as the Rockets came back to beat the Thunder and take a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Patrick Beverley added 15 points, six boards, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, and hit 6-of-9 shots to help the Rockets out. Ryan Anderson hit just 1-of-8 shots for four points, and is 0-for-11 from downtown in this series, Trevor Ariza was 2-of-5 for eight points, and Clint Capela hit just 3-of-8 shots for seven points, but was able to add 10 rebounds and four blocks in the win. Eric Gordon hit 8-of-14 shots and three 3-pointers for 22 points off the bench, and Lou Williams came through with an identical shooting line for 21 points, also off the pine. The Rockets outscored the Thunder 29-22 in the fourth quarter to get the win, after trailing for most of the first three quarters, including a nine-point deficit at the end of the first quarter.
Russell Westbrook literally did everything he could do to try to will his team to a win, but his career playoff-high 51 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists, four steals and two 3-pointers just weren’t enough. Westbrook hit just 17-of-43 shots, 2-of-11 3-pointers and 15-of-18 free throws, but also committed just four turnovers on the night, and might have run out of gas, as he went on an 0-for-7 shooting spree during a stretch of the final stanza. He also attempted 18 shots in the fourth quarter, good for an NBA playoff record. Andre Roberson scored 12, Victor Oladipo (4-of-14) and Doug McDermott (in just 14 minutes) scored 11, and Jerami Grant chipped in for nine points, five boards and two blocks in 26 minutes off the bench. Starting center Steven Adams had just five points, seven boards, a steal and two blocks in 27 minutes, as the Thunder prepare to protect their homecourt in Games 3 and 4. Enes Kanter played just eight minutes, likely due to his lack of defensive skills, but still finished with four points, one rebound and three blocks, which is weird because he’s not really a shot blocker. The Thunder have their backs against the wall and Harden, Mike D’Antoni and the Rockets likely smell blood in the water, and will try to take at least one game in OKC, if not both of them. Those games will take place on Friday and Sunday.
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Wizards 109, Hawks 101 – (Wizards lead 2-0)
The Wizards appeared to be in trouble after being dominated 35-23 by the Hawks in the third quarter in a close game, but then won the fourth quarter 35-23 to seal the win and take a 2-0 lead on Atlanta. John Wall was at it again with 32 points, five boards, nine assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and hit 9-of-20 shots and 12-of-15 free throws in the comeback win. Bradley Beal bounced back from a relatively quiet night to hit 12-of-27 shots and four 3-pointers for 31 points, two rebounds and three assists, as the Wizards took control of the series by protecting their homecourt. Beal was the man in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his 31 points to close out the game. Marcin Gortat added a 14 & 10 double-double with five blocks, while the rest of the Wizards’ lineup was relatively quiet. Starting forwards Markieff Morris (foul trouble) and Otto Porter Jr. combined for only seven points, and the Wizards’ bench was pretty quiet in this one. As long as Wall, Beal and Gortat are playing at such a high level, the Hawks are going to have a very tough time winning this series.
The Hawks hung in this one until the last few minutes and were led by Paul Millsap’s 27 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, one block and one 3-pointer. Dennis Schroder added 23 points, four boards, six dimes, a steal and a 3-pointer, but hit just 8-of-21 shots in the loss. He’s also been dominated by Wall in the first two games of this series. Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 points and two 3-pointers, and Taurean Prince had 12 points and four boards in the loss. Center Dwight Howard was bad, finishing with just six points, seven boards, a steal and a block in the loss. That’s not what they signed him for. The Hawks’ bench was also nearly invisible, led by Kent Bazemore’s meaningless eight points and five rebounds in 25 minutes. The Hawks appear to simply be outmanned in this series and could really use an alpha dog on their roster. Millsap is their best player and he’s a good one, but it’s tough to win in the playoffs when your best player would be a second- or third-scoring option on most other teams, and your new center is getting dominated by Gortat. The Hawks can still get back into this one with a couple home wins, and Games 3 and 4 are in Atlanta on Saturday and Monday.
Warriors 110, Blazers 81 (Warriors lead 2-0)
Kevin Durant was out with what is assumed to be a minor calf injury and Patrick McCaw (9 points, 5 rebounds) started in his place. Durant is day-to-day, but I get the feeling they’re just giving him time to get ready for a deep run into the playoffs. If I ran the Warriors, I wouldn’t play Durant until I felt like I needed to. Sit him for a few games, right? Especially after such a dominant win. If you tuned into this one late, the names looked like a D-League special. Stephen Curry scored 19 with six boards, six dimes, four steals and four 3-pointers, but hit just 6-of-18 shots, Klay Thompson hit just 6-of-17 shots for 16 points and three 3-pointers, and Draymond Green hit just 1-of-5 shots for six points, 12 boards, 10 assists, one steal, three blocks and a 3-pointer, yet the Warriors still won by a million points. Andre Iguodala actually came through with six points, 10 boards and six assists, JaVale McGee added 15 points, five boards and four blocks on 7-of-7 shooting, and Ian Clark had 13 points off the bench in an absolute blowout. Starters for both teams, for the most part, took the entire fourth quarter off in this one. Oh, and Zaza Pachulia played garbage time and made his second fourth-quarter field goal of the season last night.
The Blazers were down 83-58 at the end of the third quarter and this series, simply put, is a total mismatch. The Warriors aren’t going down in the first round, or likely at any time in the Western Playoffs, with or without Durant. Damian Lillard played just 30 minutes, hit just 5-of-17 shots, missed all four of his 3-pointers to finish with 12 points and zero assists in the loss. And, as you know, that probably means I had him in my one-and-done lineup last night. Yep, sure did. C.J. McCollum wasn’t any better, hitting 4-of-17 shots and a 3-pointer for 11 points, five boards, two assists and five turnovers, and starter Noah Vonleh played 19 minutes and scored just three points. The only Blazer worth a dang was Moe Harkless, but he hit just 5-of-14 shots and a 3-pointer for 15 points, eight rebounds, a steal and three blocks. It makes me sad, as I love the Blazers and have several close friends who are fans, but this team is totally outmatched, with or without Durant.
Cleveland @ Indiana (Cavs lead 2-0) – I think this series is over, but the Pacers could easily win one game and extend it. And maybe they can win both home games, but Myles Turner will have to wake up from his coma for that to happen, and LeBron might need to go into one.
Toronto @ Milwaukee (tied 1-1) – This series is a complete toss up and, as I’ve said, I love watching Giannis Antetokounmpo play. Kyle Lowry saved Game 2 for the Raptors and Giannis will be firing on all cylinders in hopes of taking a 3-1 lead in this one after two games in the beer city.
San Antonio @ Memphis (Spurs lead 2-0) – Memphis is toast. The Spurs are underrated. And this one is all but over.