NBA

Celtics start strong, Harden leads Rockets past Jazz

By Sports Desk April 14, 2019

The Boston Celtics topped the Indiana Pacers 84-74 in game one of their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series, while the Houston Rockets defeated the Utah Jazz in the west.

A surprising 20-point performance from Markieff Morris assisted Kyrie Irving's 20-point effort in Boston's opener on Sunday.

Cory Joseph, who averaged 6.5 points per game during the regular season, led a cold Indiana squad with 14 points

The Portland Trail Blazers took a 1-0 lead in their Western Conference matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder after winning 104-99.

Damian Lillard led all scorers with 30 points, but C. J. McCollum and Enes Kanter also had big games for the Trail Blazers.

Thunder star Russell Westbrook posted 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, but Oklahoma City could not overcome terrible three-point shooting, as they made just five of 33 attempts.

Eastern Conference top seeds the Milwaukee Bucks saw off the Blake-Griffin less Detroit Pistons 121-86 in game one.

The Bucks moved ahead early and stayed there behind a well-rounded scoring attack thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo's 24 points and 17 rebounds.

Griffin was absent for the Pistons due to a knee injury and will likely have to a huge impact to turn the series around when he makes his debut.

Meanwhile, James Harden's 29 points and 10 assists led Houston to a convincing 122-90 victory against Utah.

Rudy Gobert contributed 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Jazz, but constantly found himself overwhelmed in the paint by a swarm of Rocket slashers. Not to mention Harden driving to the basket.

 

McCollum provides support for Lillard

Portland's McCollum scored 24 points for, only trailing Lillard on the night against Oklahoma City.

Luke Kennard scored a team-high 21 points in Detroit's loss to Milwaukee.

 

 

Turner, George struggle in losses

Myles Turner scored five points on two-of-six shooting for the Pacers.

Paul George scored 26 points, but was four-of-15 from deep and had a horrendous first half.

Joe Ingles scored three points on one-of-four shooting for the Jazz.

 

Lillard showcases credentials

Trail Blazers star Lillard showcased why he is one of the NBA's best clutch scorers with a deep three down the stretch.

Antetokounmpo nearly took off from the free throw line on the break on this slam.

 

Sunday's results

Boston Celtics 84-74 Indiana Pacers
Portland Trail Blazers 104-99 Oklahoma City Thunder
Milwaukee Bucks 121-86 Detroit Pistons
Houston Rockets 122-90 Utah Jazz

 

Nets at 76ers

Everyone will be watching to see if the Philadelphia 76ers can bounce back from a game-one upset. The Brooklyn Nets have little playoff experience, but put on an inspiring performance to take down the third-seeded 76ers on Saturday. This game will be critical for Philadelphia, as they could have to head to Brooklyn down 2-0 if they cannot respond.

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    The Phoenix Suns will have a new head coach next season after firing Igor Kokoskov.

    The team issued a statement late on Monday from general manager James Jones, confirming the decision after just one season with Kokoskov at the helm.

    He led the Suns to a 19-63 record, which tied the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second worst mark in the league.

    "After extensive evaluation, I determined it is best to move in a different direction with our head coaching position," Jones said. "I want to thank Igor for his work this past season and wish him the best with his future endeavours."

    A search will begin immediately for the team's next head coach, the Suns said.

    It is reported that their search will target Philadelphia 76ers assistant Monty Williams as Kokoskov's successor.

    Phoenix have a 14 per cent chance to win the lottery in the 2019 NBA Draft - the same odds as the New York Knicks and the Cavs.

  • Defending Favors 'draining' for Rockets – Harden Defending Favors 'draining' for Rockets – Harden

    James Harden felt the Houston Rockets' failure to effectively deal with Derrick Favors was key in their Game 4 defeat to the Utah Jazz.

    The Jazz came back into the first-round playoff series at 3-1 after winning 107-91 on Monday, with Donovan Mitchell contributing 31 points.

    But while Mitchell stole the headlines, Harden identified the towering presence of Favors as the Rockets' real issue. He made 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

    "We went small in our line-up and Favors was getting his hands on the rebounds and tip outs and things like that," said Harden.

    "Whenever we do go small in that line-up, we need to make sure we put a body on him and get the rebound. That was the game. I think they got three offensive rebounds in a row.

    "We played pretty good defense, but it's just draining when you play good defense and give up offensive rebounds. We'll be better individually and as a group and be ready."

    MVP candidate Harden also felt Utah were motivated by a sense of "embarrassment" as they faced being swept on their home court.

    "It's tough, no matter who you're playing," he said. "This is one of the toughest places to play in the league.

    "On the other side, it's an embarrassment, you don't want to get swept, you want to show that you have pride. So those guys came out and give them credit: they played well. They fought hard and they came away with the win.

    "We got Game 3 and we get an opportunity to go home and do what we're supposed to do."

  • Mitchell thanks Jazz team-mates after flashing Game 4 warning at Rockets Mitchell thanks Jazz team-mates after flashing Game 4 warning at Rockets

    Donovan Mitchell thanked his Utah Jazz team-mates after he revived their playoff series hopes against the Houston Rockets.

    The Jazz pulled the series back to 3-1 with victory in Game 4 as Mitchell put up 31 points in a 107-91 defeat of the hotly tipped Rockets.

    And, while Utah still have it all to do if they are to take Houston to seven games, second-year shooting guard Mitchell acknowledges he has become used to tricky hurdles in his time in the NBA.

    "That's who we are. We've had our backs up against the wall plenty of times in the past two years we've played together as a team," he said. "I think this is familiar ground with us.

    "Everybody responded the way we expected them to. The biggest thing to do is to take what we did today and multiply it, because I think we can play even better.

    "I think we can do different things better – they got a few open looks – but if we continue to play with the same intensity as we did tonight, and in Game 3, then anything can happen."

    Despite his individual heroics on Monday, Mitchell took the opportunity to pick out numerous team-mates for their help in allowing him to thrive.

    "I've played with a lot of close friends and the support I've got since I arrived – not just from the community but also my team-mates – has been huge," he said.

    "Me being able to do what I do on a daily basis is not the norm in this league for a second-year guy – or even a first-year guy last year.

    "My team-mates have had my back with every mistake, with everything I've done well. When you have that support system in the locker room every day, it makes it easier.

    "It makes it easier when you start the game with two straight turnovers. It makes it easier when Jae [Crowder] sometimes is vocal, sometimes is leading by example. Rudy [Gobert] sometimes is vocal, sometimes is leading by example.

    "Having guys you can look to [helps]. Kyle [Korver], I've asked him a thousand questions since he's been here about whatever.

    "Being down 3-0, you've got to talk. I have so many resources I can go to. As a player who wants to learn, I'm finding ways to learn.

    "It's not always going to be perfect, but to have team-mates who have your back through the ups and downs means the world."

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