Every morning, we’ll give you five things from the night before in the NBA to start your day.
1: Boston advances
This will probably go down as one of the uglier playoff series in NBA history. Nothing about most of this series was pretty at all (except for Boston’s execution for most of their Game 4 blowout win). But that’s how the Celtics like it. Their defense clamped down on Atlanta once again, making them fight, scratch and claw for every one of their 80 points. The last half minute of basketball was a crazy scrum of bodies bumping, shots being blocked and players being fouled.
There was some controversy, though. Marquis Daniels fouled Al Horford as the ball was being in-bounded. It was ruled a foul as the ball was being released, but the replay showed it occurred slightly before then, which would have been one free throw and retaining possession. It was a mild controversy that wouldn’t have existed had the Hawks run any semblance of an offense.
Boston escapes the game, and the series, with the 83-80 win. They move on to face Philly, which put Chicago out of its misery last night. It was a valiant effort by the Bulls, but they just had too much to overcome. Game 1 between Philly and Boston is Saturday night at 8 pm.
2: LA is still trying
The Lakers, meanwhile, are still trying to polish off the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets came out strong early and kept the pressure on Kobe Bryant, who was sick, and the Lakers, taking Game 6 easily 113–96.
Ty Lawson’s 32 points sparked the Nuggets. The Lakers, meanwhile, were missing sparks from their big men. Pau Gasol finished the game with 3 points and 3 rebounds. Andrew Bynum managed 11 points and 16 rebounds, but he only shot 4-11, prompting Kobe to say that he hopes his bigs in Game 7 ”play with a sense of urgency and desperation that wasn’t there the past two games.” (more from Kobe in the quotes section)
The Lakers will very likely close out the Nuggets in Game 7. Then again, we said they’d very likely close Denver out in Games 5 and 6. Maybe the Nuggets have what it takes after all.
The final :07 in Philadelphia
Mickael Pietrus with the putback slam
Kevin Garnett doing work in Boston
4: Line of the Night: Kevin Garnett – 28 points, 14 rebounds, 5 blocks, 3 steals.
Kevin Garnett is the first player in Boston Celtics history to have 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 5 blocks in a playoff game… though I’m sure Bill Russell would disagree with that statistic. But they didn’t track blocks back then, so it’s KG’s honor, and he earned it. This was an absolutely amazing performance out of the C’s center. Garnett had been able to do pretty much whatever he wanted in the first five games of the series, but in Game 6, he asserted himself by taking 19 shots. The Celtics often ran the offense through Garnett in the post and it almost always paid off. The final time was with the Celtics down a point with 30 seconds left. His turn-around jumper splashed through the net giving the Celtics a lead they’d hold on to.
5: You can quote me on that
“First off, I want to say thank you to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight. My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth, actually know what he’s talking about.”
“We’re not dirty; we’re firm, we play aggressive. We’re not dirty. Ya know you have to understand the word dirty in this game is very defined. Going under guys, trying to hurt guys, ill intent . . . it’s not the way we play basketball. I just found that comment to be a little rude and a little out of hand and I wanted to address it. Just because you got a bunch of money don’t mean you can open your mouth.”
-Kevin Garnett, responding to Atlanta Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. calling him a dirty player
“He’s the one guy I can rely on, night in and night out, to compete and play with a sense of urgency, with no fear. I’m looking forward to having that by my side again.”
-Kobe Bryant, on Ron Artest
“When you’re playing in an environment like the Boston Garden, they have probably the best fans… some of the best fans in the whole entire league. Like I said before, I was a little jealous, you know what I mean?”
-Josh Smith, on the Boston Garden crowd