Thunder eliminate Lakers behind crazy Westbrook:
Kobe sat on the bench, sure he’d seen this picture before. Bryant had 42pts on the night but no assists and watched as his Lakers melted down the stretch and fell out of the playoffs. The story for LA will be poor performances from Kobe’s supporting cast. Pau Gasol never shone, World Peace never got going and Bynum wilted after showing promise early. For OKC it was another case of ‘The Reliables’. Perkins and Ibaka combined for 5 blocks. Durant, Westbrook and Harden had 70pts. The Thunder Rolled into the Conference Finals. The Lakers were actually in this game until mid-way through the third quarter when Westbrook went berserk and scored 12pts including one of the most ridiculous and-1s you’ll see. LA will go back to the drawing board and reflect on Mike Brown’s first year while the Spurs await OKC in a hotly-anticipated West Finals match-up.
Brandon Bass dominates the Sixers to push Boston into a 3-2 lead:
Bass scored 18pts in the 3rd (!!) on an array of rim-rattling dunks and mid-range jumpers and Rondo added 7 dimes in the quarter (14 on the game) to put Philadelphia on the brink of elimination. The first half of this one was ugly. KG started out stone cold (but finished with 20pts) and turnovers were flowing from both teams. Ray Allen started in place of the injured Avery Bradley but struggled to find his shot, connecting on only 1-5 from behind the arc. The Sixers’ frontcourt had it going early and Brand, Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes finished with 19, 12 and 10 respectively, but all 3 struggled with fouls, picking up 4 each. Neither team got much from the bench so this was a straight up battle of the starting fives and Boston came out on top.
“Right now this is a Brandon [Bass] and Kevin [Garnett] series. Rondo understands it. Me and Paul understand it. We’re making whatever plays we need to make in order to get those guys shots.”
- Ray Allen
Magic fire Van Gundy and drop Smith in attempt to keep Howard:
In a bid to keep superstar center Dwight Howard from jumping ship at the end of next season, the Orlando Magic have fired Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and not renewed the contract of General Manager Otis Smith. The news surprised few around the league who have seen Van Gundy as a dead man walking since his public claims that Howard asked Magic execs to fire him. The claim — which preceded an awkward video press conference with Howard (see above) — was typical of Van Gundy’s honest, no-nonsense style which, while endearing him to many, caused him problems upstairs.
“When you’re talking a professional relationship, what matters – at least to me – is the results. I don’t care if it’s a business relationship where two people at work are driving a business to make money, or if it’s a sports relationship, where the object is to win games. Those kinds of professional relationships should be based on results, not on do we like each other or whatever. So to me, the relationship was great. There’s a lot of wins and everything else.”
- Stan Van Gundy
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