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Rockets get everything they need to top Warriors, even series

A balanced scoring effort, career-high contributions from their non-stars and lackadaisical sloppiness/off-target shooting from their opponent — the Houston Rockets received little to none of the above in their Game 1 Western Conference finals loss to the Golden State Warriors.nfl replica jerseys cheap

But two days later, the Rockets checked off every box required to even the series against the defending champions, winning a resounding 127-105 blowout Wednesday at the Toyota Center.

Behind a playoff career-high 22 points from forward PJ Tucker, and with 27 points off the bench from guard Eric Gordon, the NBA-best Rockets led by as many as 29 points in the second half, the largest deficit Golden State has faced this postseason.214

In fact, Gordon single-handedly outscored Stephen Curry (16 points) and Klay Thompson (eight points). And Rockets forward Trevor Ariza chipped in with 19 points.

All told, Ariza, Tucker and Gordon combined for 68 points after combining for just 24 in Game 1.

Houston’s steamrolling win came at the hands of an overall slipshod performance from the Warriors, who tallied just nine turnovers in Game 1 but recorded five in Wednesday’s first five minutes, setting the table for a rough night. The Warriors notched 10 turnovers in the first half and finished with 15, which led to as many Houston points.

And aside from star swingman Kevin Durant, who carried his team with a game-high 38 points, few other Warriors offered much in the way of scoring — or much else.

Tucker came up huge for the Rockets after scoring just one point in Game 1, making 5 of 6 from 3-point range — and all his makes came from the corner, which registered as the most made corner 3-pointers by any player this postseason, according to ESPN Stats & Info.nfl replica jerseys wholesale

Overall, the Rockets shot 16-of-42 from 3-point range, with Gordon making 6 of 9 attempts. The Warriors shot just 9-of-30 from 3-point range.

Game 3 is Sunday in Oakland, California, where the Warriors have won 15 consecutive games, tied with the 1990-91 Chicago Bulls for the longest home win streak in postseason history.

James Harden: ‘We don’t really worry about who we’re playing’

“There’s no doubt about it, we’re the underdogs,” Tucker told ESPN. “They’re still the champs. They’re the champs until somebody beats them. We’re underdogs in this. People were talking about us getting swept and we’ve got no shot. We’re the underdogs, and we’ve got to keep that mentality this whole series.

“That nastiness, that’s the only way we’re going to have a shot to win. We definitely have to play harder than them. cheap nfl jerseys nike china We’ve got to play harder, and we’ve got to play smarter.”

Houston’s improved intensity — “more force,” as coach Mike D’Antoni put it — was consistently pointed to by the Rockets as the primary difference in Game 2.

“If the first game we were at a 70, tonight we were at a 95,” Harden said. “We were pretty aggressive defensively, and that allowed us to get out in transition. If we be comfortable, sit back and just allow them to get to their spots and run around freely, then they’re going to pick us apart. But if we get into them and try to make it tougher on them, good things will happen for us.”

The Rockets had a much more balanced scoring attack in Game 2 than they did in the series opener Monday, when Harden tallied 41 points in a 119-106 home loss. Harden had 27 points on 9-of-24 shooting in Game 2, and a few Rockets role players were very productive: Sixth man Eric Gordon (27 points), small forward Trevor Ariza (19 points) and Tucker all had their highest-scoring outings of this postseason.213

“Everything was fueled off our defense,” said Gordon, who was 8-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-9 from 3-point range.

The focus for the Rockets’ coaches and players between games was on playing harder and smarter on defense, which they consider the key to giving themselves a chance to beat the Warriors.

“We know who we are,” Tucker said. “We don’t need to win a game to know who we are. We watched film, and nobody had anything to say. We understand. We get that. For us, it’s just playing how we play. We didn’t play Rocket basketball in Game 1. We all know that. cheap replica nfl jerseys We saw it. We watched the clips.

“Our guys have pride. We knew that what we did that first game, we can’t do that again. Regardless of the outcome, we’re not going to play like that again.”

Stars carry Warriors, eliminate Pelicans in Game 5

The series the basketball world has been craving for months is finally a reality. The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets will face off in the Western Conference finals.

The Warriors took care of their part Tuesday night, knocking off the New Orleans Pelicans 113-104 in Game 5, clinching a 4-1 series victory in the conference semifinals.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china  As usual, it was Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant leading the way, combining for 52 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. Draymond Green nearly had a triple-double, scoring 19 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

After a close first half, the Warriors shut the game down with a 25-4 run to start the third quarter, much like they did in a Game 4 win in New Orleans. The Warriors’ dominance was on full display during this stretch as they outscored the Pelicans 36-19 in the quarter, and 12-0 on fast-break points.156

The Warriors get a few days to rest before the big showdown against the Rockets, but they’ve got to like what they’ve seen on the defensive end in the last two games of this series. Steve Kerr’s group offered a reminder to the rest of the league that when it is locked in at the defensive end it will be incredibly tough to beat. Most importantly, the Warriors have to love how Curry is responding after coming back from a sprained MCL injury in Game 2. The former MVP was 10-for-16 from the field and looked confident bouncing around the floor on Tuesday night.

For the Pelicans, the loss ends what will go down as one of the most successful seasons in franchise history. Anthony Davis finished out the season with a bang, registering 34 points and 19 rebounds, while Jrue Holiday had a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

The Pelicans now must decide what they will do with unrestricted free agent DeMarcus Cousins this summer as he rehabs from an Achilles tendon injury and figure out if they want to bring back veteran point guard Rajon Rondo.nfl cheap nike jerseys The future is bright for a New Orleans group that registered a first-round series sweep over the Portland Trail Blazers and is buoyed by the reality that, at 25, Davis appears to be entering his prime.

The stage is now set for the Warriors to earn their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance. Curry, Durant, Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala are creating the kind of success that most players can only dream about. They get to chase history now each time they step onto the floor on the biggest stage in basketball. A series win over the Rockets would make them a heavy favorite to win their third NBA championship in four seasons.

Spurs forward Pau Gasol pens open letter in support of Becky Hammon in Players’ Tribune

San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon is being interviewed by the Milwaukee Bucks for their vacant head coaching position. Hammon has been on the Spurs’ staff since 2014, when she became the first woman to be a full-time assistant coach in the NBA.

The news of the Bucks’ interest in Hammon has renewed cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal conversation about the position of women coaches in the sport. And Spurs player Pau Gasol weighed in with his thoughts about Hammon and the idea of women coaching in the NBA in The Players’ Tribune.

Gasol grew up with parents who were in the medical field. His father was a nurse and his mother a doctor. During his childhood, people would often mistake his mother for the nurse and his father for the doctor.

“In 37 years, I can honestly say, I’ve never once thought of my mom as a ‘female’ doctor.” Gasol wrote. “To me, she has always just been … a doctor.”

In his open letter, Gasol applies similar logic to how he views Hammon as his coach. He bats down the criticisms leveled against Hammon one-by-one, including the idea that somehow, her presence on the Spurs’ staff is some sort of PR stunt.

“Pop’s only standard for doing anything is whether it’ll help us in just one way … and it isn’t getting good p.r.” Gasol wrote. “It’s getting W’s. And getting those W’s The Spurs Way.”

And don’t even get him started on the locker room.154

“In terms of the locker room, and in terms of behind the scenes, there really is no practical difference in this league between having a male or a female head coach,” Gasol wrote.

It’s the underlying cultural issues that really grate against Gasol.

“It goes to this idea that as we’re making all of these amazing strides in society, in terms of increasing our social awareness, and making efforts toward ideas like diversity and equality, and just sort of creating this more inclusive world, somehow sports should be an exception,” Gasol wrote. “It’s this idea, for some people, that sports should almost be this haven, where it’s O.K. to be closed-minded — like a bubble for all of our worst ignorance. And that as athletes, if we have any problems with the way things are, we should (as the saying goes) ‘stick to sports.’

“There are pushes now for increased gender diversity in the workplace of pretty much every industry in the world. It’s what’s expected. nike nfl cheap jerseys More importantly — it’s what’s right. And yet the NBA should get a pass because some fans are willing to take it easy on us … because we’re ‘sports’?

Terry Rozier took Kyrie’s shoes, now he’s filling them during Boston’s run

The door creaked opened, and Terry Rozier gleefully waded into the sea of colorful footwear that appeared in front of him.

Two days before the start of the postseason, Boston Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving had invited Rozier to his house for a pre-playoff pep talk. nfl jerseys for cheap They quickly found themselves in a shoe closet.

Rozier excitedly grabbed a pair of Irving’s Kyrie 3 “Luck,” a gold version of the guard’s signature shoe with green shamrocks that Irving had debuted against the Golden State Warriors in November.

The next shoes to get swooped up were a pair of the purple Kyrie 4 “London” — the shoes’ bright yellow outsole stripes inspired by the top of the city’s famous O2 Arena, where the Celtics had played in January.86

Before long, a tower of shoes had grown outside the closet, the eight pairs of prized sneakers ready for immediate relocation to Rozier’s locker at the Celtics’ practice facility.

Maybe it was just a friendly gesture by Irving, but the symbolism of the moment cannot be overlooked. The Celtics have asked Rozier to fill Irving’s shoes this postseason, and the third-year guard has responded by emerging as one of the most impactful players of the postseason.

With Rozier and his new collection of playoff kicks leading the way, the Celtics stand one win away from an improbable return trip to the Eastern Conference finals.

When Irving underwent season-ending knee surgery in early April, it was supposed to squash any lingering hope that these battered Celtics had of postseason success. cheap nfl authentic jerseys What most didn’t foresee was Boston’s youngest players continuing their ascent to household names on the playoff stage.

Celtics’ Marcus Morris ready for Game 5 as 76ers fight off elimination

With Joel Embiid pointing at his head and suggesting the Philadelphia 76ers had taken up real estate inside Boston’s cranium during Monday’s Game 4,authentic nfl jerseys cheap Marcus Morris responded by reaching his hand in front of Embiid’s face and making hand motions denoting Boston’s 3-0 series lead.

Then he did it again. And again. And again. Seven times in total.

Philadelphia trimmed its Eastern Conference semifinals series deficit to 3-1 with Monday’s 103-92 triumph at Wells Fargo Center. Game 5 is Wednesday and Morris is anxious for another opportunity to close out the Sixers.85

“S—, I’m ready to go now,” Morris said. “They had a lot to say in here. They did what they’re supposed to do. They got one. S—, we did what we’re supposed to do, we got one [on the road]. So we’ll go back 3-1 and hopefully we put it away.”

Asked to explain his hand gestures to Embiid, Morris said, “Because it’s reality. It’s hard because I know I wouldn’t say a damn word if I was down 3-1. But, hey, we’re all different. So it is what it is.”

“The way Jo handles himself on the floor is great. He feeds off the energy, so for somebody to frustrate him and get under his skin, he goes harder when he gets to the rim,” said Simmons. “When people try to annoy him and frustrate him, he wants to be great and you can see it.”

Embiid got a bit boisterous after the Sixers had stretched their lead to double digits late in the third quarter. nfl jerseys for cheap Boston, already seemingly frustrated by the amount of fouls calls against them in the first half, seemed to lose its composure a bit, particularly when both head coach Brad Stevens and Jaylen Brown were whistled for technicals after Brown picked up his fifth foul late in the third.

Healthy George Hill back in Cavaliers’ starting lineup for Game 1

Tyronn Lue went small to start off the Cleveland Cavaliers’ second-round series-opening win over the Toronto Raptors, using a starting lineup of George Hill, Kyle Korver, JR Smith, LeBron James and Kevin Love in Tuesday’s Game 1.

It was the same lineup Lue used in Game 3 of the Cavs’ first-round series against the Indiana Pacers. cheap nike nfl jerseys china During that contest, Cleveland built a 17-point lead at halftime and ended up losing both Hill — who hurt his back after a hard screen by Indiana’s Trevor Booker — and the game.

The Cavs used a starting lineup of Korver, Smith, James, Love and Tristan Thompson in their 105-101 Game 7 win over the Pacers, and Thompson came up huge with 15 points and 10 rebounds after getting the promotion.

Hill, who missed Games 4, 5 and 6 against Indiana because of his back injury, also was instrumental in Game 7, coming off the bench to contribute 11 points, six rebounds, three assists and a block — all in the second half of the series finale.60

“He’s feeling good, no pain,” Lue said when asked about Hill’s health. “So, that’s a good sign for us.”

Hill also had his best offensive game as a Cav in a 132-129 regular-season win over the Raptors on March 21, scoring 22 points on 10-for-11 shooting.

While Thompson didn’t start Game 1 in Toronto, Lue said he would give Thompson playing time in this series when asked about it at shootaround Tuesday. Prior to playing 35 minutes in Game 7 against Indiana, Thompson played just 23 minutes total in Games 1 through 6, collecting three DNP-CDs.

Cleveland has used four different starting lineups through eight games this postseason, after using 30 different lineups in the regular season, as the Cavs dealt with pervasive injuries and a midseason roster shuffle at the trade deadline.

“Just trying to find what works best for us,” Lue said of all the lineups. “Just who is playing the best at that time. As far as matchups go, the playoffs are matchup-driven. So, buy nike nfl jerseys cheap depending on the matchups, we like to roll our guys out first and just see what happens — and if we have to adjust, we will adjust.”

In lieu of moral victory, Cavs claim actual victory in Toronto

Here’s what happened: James had his least impactful game of the playoffs. Kevin Love had one of the most miserable 20 minutes of basketball in his career. The Raptors had a 13-point lead in the third quarter. They had a five-point lead going into the fourth quarter — a situation where the Raptors were 30-1 at home this season. They even had three quality looks to win the game in the final seconds of regulation.

But the Cavs are ahead 1-0,nike nfl jerseys for cheap pulling off yet another close-game victory with a 113-112 overtime win Tuesday night. They have now won five postseason games by a total of 15 points.

“Shots weren’t going in for me,” said James, who missed 18 shots in the game and was 3-of-15 in the fourth quarter and overtime. “It was probably one of my worst games of the season.”

When James is saying things like that, the opposition is usually celebrating a win. But the Raptors, harkening back to darker times from the past few years that they’d spent the season trying to bury, went into a cocoon down the stretch.
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They shot just 26 percent in the game’s final 17 minutes, missing a horrific 11 consecutive shots at the end of the fourth quarter. Kyle Lowry (18 points, 10 assists) and DeMar DeRozan (22 points) had decent-looking stat lines, but the Cavs were able to force the ball from their hands when it really mattered.

Thanks to excellent rotations and defensive strategy — not something the Cavs are particularly known for — DeRozan was twice forced to give up the ball on huge possessions, one at the end of the fourth quarter and one at the end of overtime. Fred VanVleet ended up with open 3-pointers on both, but he missed.

One of the reasons it didn’t work was Tristan Thompson. After Jonas Valanciunas crushed Love and other small lineups on his way to 21 points and 21 rebounds, Cavs coach Ty Lue called on Thompson the way he had in Game 7 against the Pacers.

Thompson was his energetic self, racking up 14 points and 12 rebounds. Maybe most important, he didn’t bite on pump fakes that DeRozan tried to throw at him.cheap nike nfl jerseys china The Cavs have a standing $100 fine for falling for DeRozan’s trap, and Thompson didn’t want to pay.

“I’m not trying to give up that money,” Thompson said. “I just had a kid, so I’m just trying to save up for their college tuition.” You might have read about Thompson’s new addition to the family in your local supermarket tabloid.

Anyway, the Raptors’ season-long effort to shift the burden from their stars to their role players didn’t work in this case. VanVleet couldn’t deliver, and the Raptors were faced with questions about not leaving it in the hands of their stars. Such is life as the No. 1 seed in the postseason.

Russell Westbrook, Paul George fuel season-saving comeback for Thunder

Westbrook was the spark that lit an improbable fire, the Oklahoma City Thunder overcoming a 25-point second-half deficit to shock the Utah Jazz 107-99 in Game 5. Westbrook finished with 45 points on 17-of-39 shooting,nfl jerseys cheap authentic with Paul George adding 34 on 12-of-26. No other Thunder player was in double figures.

“It was one of those nights where obviously our bench, our crowd, everyone here in Oklahoma was behind us,” Westbrook said. “We needed every bit of it tonight and our guys stepped up.”

Up until Westbrook drained back-to-back 3s midway through the third quarter, though, it looked like a death march for the Thunder, a slow, painful crawl to the end, with the final buzzer to be a merciful punctuation on a disappointing season. It was as if the Thunder had accepted their fate, and were resigned to being taken out back and put down.

The Jazz weren’t just dominating; they were humiliating the Thunder. Any push by OKC was met with a Jazz barrage in response. The arena was flat. The fans were a mix of sad, frustrated, angry and hopeless. For the first time in a while, the Thunder were on their way to true despair. There were some empty seats in the lower bowl for a playoff game in Oklahoma City — an unthinkable thing — and the Thunder were in danger of activating one of the worst fanbase emotions: apathy. Fans were already in early stages of compartmentalizing this season after the Thunder lost both games in Salt Lake, but the performance through 28 minutes or so crystalized it. Light boos scattered throughout the arena as the Jazz poured it on.12

Ekpe Udoh made a layup, and Westbrook responded with a jumper. Before the game, Westbrook went through his routine and was noticeably off. After clanging a series of 3s from the top of the key, he stretched his arms slowly above his head and gave a slight grimace. Something has been off, it seemed, with Westbrook in this series and after he played Game 4 with cupping marks and kinesio tape all over his shoulders, it seemed maybe something was going on. Or maybe whatever it was that was ailing Westbrook was no longer patrolling the paint because of foul trouble.

Westbrook went right to rim again, cutting it to 13. Sensing the shift, Jazz coach Quin Snyder daringly subbed Gobert back in. Gobert made a free throw, and George attacked him straight away, finishing a layup over him as he guarded against a fifth foul. Two free throws by Westbrook cut it to 10, and after an offensive rebound, Gobert was called for his fifth after hooking Alex Abrines making a post move. Some other stuff happened, a George layup,custom nfl jerseys cheap a Westbrook 3, an awesome Donovan Mitchell dunk, but the comeback was finally complete when Westbrook stopped and popped to splash a 3 with 35.9 seconds left in the third to tie the score 78-78. After the shot dropped, Westbrook’s unleashed a megawatt snarl that could power a fusion generator.

“I thought Russ did an unbelievable job of taking what they were giving to him,” George said. “He just played the game and whatever they did, he did the opposite. He was special.”

By any other name, Khris Middleton’s game has been sweet

The 26-year-old swingman is used to living his NBA life in the shadows after six seasons in the league — five with the Milwaukee Bucks and his superstar teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo — but this was different. Prior to Game 3 against the Boston Celtics,nfl jersey wholesale Boston reporter repeatedly called Middleton “Jabari,” in reference to Middleton’s teammate Jabari Parker, asking Middleton a question as if he were Parker about his minutes after two subpar games to start the series.

“At first it threw me off,” Middleton said. “I didn’t know what he was talking about. I hear him saying, ‘Jabari, what about your comments?’ And that’s why I really didn’t know what to say at first, so I kept going to a different question. Then it finally clicked that he really thought I was Jabari afterward. A couple people let me know, too. So I didn’t know what the hell was going on really, man.”

As the Bucks get set for their most important game of the season Thursday, down 3-2 to a young Celtics team and facing the possibility of playing the last game at the Bradley Center, Middleton can look back on the incident and laugh, knowing he’s making a name for himself this postseason. He is averaging 23.1 points on 57 percent shooting through the first five games.

Middleton, who, unlike Parker, performed well in his 84 combined minutes in the Bucks’ two losses to start the series, made a mental note about the confusing shootaround exchange. He was ready when the reporter — this time referencing Middleton by his correct name — asked another question after the Bucks’ Game 3 win. In a moment that quickly went viral, Middleton, seated alongside Antetokounmpo at the podium, made light of the misstep.11

“Khris is playing great,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s great having a guy next to you that plays that well in this series. If I’m not going, if [Eric] Bledsoe is not getting his rhythm, we’ll always have Khris.”

While 40-year-old Jason Terry serves as the sage veteran presence for this group at times, it’s Middleton who has served as a calming influence for the rest of the young team. He has been the most dependable player on either team throughout this series. Entering Wednesday night’s playoff slate, nfl jerseys cheap authentic Middleton was tied for the highest 3-point field goal percentage in the playoffs, among players to take at least 10 3-pointers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He is shooting 18-for-30 from beyond the arc — good for 60 percent. His recent play is even more impressive when considering he shot just 35.9 percent from beyond the arc in the regular season.