Three games on Wednesday night in the NBA Playoffs, and all three were great games to watch. We’ve got your video highlights and recaps for all three games below. Recaps courtesy of Sports Illustrated.
Miami Heat 101 – Charlotte Bobcats 97 (SI Link)
It was fitting. Miami took Charlotte’s best shot, and survived.
James scored 32 points and added eight assists, Chris Bosh scored 20 points and the Heat wasted two big leads before hanging on to beat the Bobcats 101-97 on Wednesday night to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference first-round series.
”We can play better basketball,” James said. ”We haven’t played our best basketball.”
Dwyane Wade scored 15 points, and had a steal in the final seconds to seal the win for Miami. He stripped the ball from Chris Douglas-Roberts with the Heat protecting a three-point lead with about 3 seconds left, and the Bobcats never got another shot off.
”A very instinctual, high-risk play,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”The ball’s there and you know you have an opportunity to get it when most people can’t get that, and that saved the game.”
Game 3 is Saturday in Charlotte. The Heat were the NBA’s only higher-seed to open the playoffs with two home wins.
Jefferson said he felt the tear worsen early on in the game, said it was ”a lot of pain” but again insisted he would keep playing.
”He’s not anywhere close to 100 percent,” Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. ”But we can play through him. … You’ve got to respect the fact he’s out there battling. He has no mobility, basically. Limited mobility and yet he had 18 and 13, and he fought hard.”
So was McRoberts – maybe too hard for Miami’s liking.
Miami’s lead was 97-94 with 50 seconds left when James drove and was met at the rim by McRoberts, whose right elbow struck the four-time NBA MVP around his chin. James immediately began grabbing at his throat and needed much longer than he usually does to get up after a hard foul, which was not called flagrant.
”I don’t need to see it again,” James said. ”Most important thing is we won the game.”
Said McRoberts, who insisted it wasn’t intentional: ”It looked a lot worse than what it was.”
James hit the second of his two free throws, making it a two-possession game – and that was critical. Kemba Walker made a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left to get Charlotte within one, but the Bobcats didn’t score again.
”I think we’re still really confident,” Walker said. ”We just have to learn from our mistakes. … I think we have a chance, man.”
So while the Heat were saying that all they have done was hold serve at home, it’s hard to find a real silver lining for Charlotte. Not only have the Bobcats now lost 18 consecutive games against Miami, but the Heat have never dropped any of the previous 11 postseason series in which they’ve grabbed a 2-0 series lead.
James, between his time in Cleveland and Miami, is 11-0 in such situations. Wade has been part of nine previous 2-0 leads with the Heat, and six of those series ended in no more than five games.
”They’re going to keep coming at us,” Wade said. ”And that’s good.”
Miami’s lead was 91-77 midway through the fourth, and after blowing a big first-half lead, it appeared as though the Heat finally had some breathing room. A few minutes later, it looked a whole lot different.
Walker, Kidd-Gilchrist and Douglas-Roberts combined on a 10-0 run, getting the Bobcats within 91-87. But Bosh scored on consecutive possessions, pushing the Heat lead to eight with 3:36 remaining.
”We got out of our here with the win, but we’re going to have to tighten up a little bit,” Bosh said. ”We had a little bit of slippage today.”
Miami led 57-47 at the half, and the Bobcats – who missed 17 of their first 22 shots – were fortunate, after facing a 16-point deficit at one point in the early going.
And while Charlotte kept coming back, it never led in the final 41 minutes.
NOTES: Jefferson has not shot a free throw in the series. … James has signed with William Morris, which will represent him in entertainment-related projects. … Game 3 will be Charlotte’s first playoff home game since April 26, 2010, against Orlando. No current Bobcats appeared in that game – but Heat F Rashard Lewis did, for Orlando.
Dallas Mavericks 113 – San Antonio Spurs 92 (SI Link)
Blowing their playoff opener turned out to be great therapy for the Dallas Mavericks.
Eighth-seeded Dallas rolled to a 113-92 victory over San Antonio on Wednesday night, snapping a 10-game skid against the Spurs and evening their first-round series at a game apiece.
Dallas didn’t relent in Game 2 after watching a 10-point lead evaporate in the final eight minutes of the series opener Sunday.
”Game 1 actually helped a lot more than today,” Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said. ”We were down after Game 1, but in this building to be up 10 with six or seven minutes left, I think that gave us a lot of confidence coming into this one. Just keep executing the game plan.”
It was Dallas’ first playoff victory since June 12, 2011, when it rebounded from an 0-2 deficit to defeat the Miami Heat for the NBA title.
If not for the final eight minutes of the series opener, the Mavericks would have a 2-0 lead entering Game 3 on Saturday.
”It feels great, but it’s nothing to celebrate,” Dallas point guard Jose Calderon said. ”I think we have to keep doing what we’re doing. I think we played two really good games.”
In Game 2, the Mavericks used an aggressive offense and a brutal defensive effort that discombobulated the normally even-keeled Spurs, who finished the regular season with the league’s best record.
”They beat us in every aspect of the game,” Ginobili said. ”They played harder. Our defense was soft (and) not as aggressive as theirs. Not that I don’t expect them to play hard. We know they are a tough team, but having such a poor performance in the playoffs bothers me.”
San Antonio’s ineptness had as much to do with tying the series as Dallas’ stellar play. The Spurs averaged 14.4 turnovers during the regular season, but had 15 with 3 minutes left in the first half. They finished with 24 turnovers, which resulted in 33 points for the Mavericks.
”Just being very active,” Ellis said. ”Not put them on the free-throw line. Trust that the help was going to be there. We locked in to the game plan that we had. They made some careless turnovers. That was good for us.”
Dallas was extremely physical in the first half whenever Parker and Ginobili drove the lane.
”NBA playoff games are physical,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. ”If you don’t have the right kind of posture and disposition, you’re going to knocked back on your heels and your butt and tonight we did a better job of hitting first in some of those instances.”
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was dismayed early when no fouls were called – not that it mattered when they were. San Antonio finished 18 for 29 on free throws.
”It’s a bad combination to not play good defense at one end and give the ball up at the other end and not shoot free throws very well, either,” Popovich said. ”That’s a bad combination at both ends of the floor. That means you get your butt kicked and that’s what happened tonight.”
Dallas also continued to crowd San Antonio’s 3-point shooters. Aside from Ginobili’s 5-for-6 shooting, the Spurs were 5 for 14 long range after going 3 for 17 in the opener.
”It’s pretty frustrating,” San Antonio wing Danny Green said. ”They’re doing a good job of getting, not just to me, but all our shooters; showing us a lot of respect. But we’ve got to find other ways to get it done. We can’t rely on our Big Three to carry us every night. Got to find a way to get involved, push the pace offensively.”
The Mavericks attacked the basket with the same intensity, finishing with 44 points. San Antonio pulled within 61-56 with 8:38 remaining in the third quarter when Kawhi Leonard made two of three free throws, but it was the closest it would get in the second half.
NOTES: Popovich received a standing ovation before the game after being recognized as the NBA Coach of the Year. Spurs owner Peter Holt presented Popovich with the Red Auerbach trophy, which he has won three times. … After assigning Spurs nemesis Joey Crawford to officiate Game 1, the league had Danny Crawford on hand for Game 2 to the chagrin of the Mavericks’ fans. But just as in the opener, both officials reserved most calls and non-calls for the opposition. Crawford’s lack of calls led Popovich to scream at Crawford throughout the first half. … Academy Award-winning actor Tommy Lee Jones sat courtside beside Holt. … Nowitzki was assessed a technical foul with 1:38 remaining in the first half after Ginobili was fouled by Marion on a 3-point attempt. Marion touched Ginobili’s hip as he released the ball, but the Argentinian appeared to exaggerate the contact when he fell to the floor. … After scrambling to capture a loose ball under the basket, Tiago Splitter flung an overhead, two-handed no-look pass to an open Ginobili for a 3-pointer with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Portland Trail Blazers 112 – Houston Rockets 105 (SI Link)
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 43 points and Damian Lillard made six free throws down the stretch to give the Portland Trail Blazers a 112-105 win over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and a 2-0 lead in the first-round playoff series.
Aldridge has made the most of the return to his home state and put the Trail Blazers in control heading home for Game 3 in Portland.
Aldridge became the first player with consecutive 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James did it in May of 2009 after scoring a career-high and franchise playoff-record 46 in an overtime win in Game 1. He’s also the first player Trail Blazers history to have to 40-point games in the postseason.
James Harden knocked down a 3-pointer with about 30 seconds left to get the Rockets within 3. Lillard made two free throws before Harden fouled out about 10 seconds later. Mo Williams and Lillard both made a pair of free throws after that to secure the win. Lillard finished with 18 points.
Dwight Howard was unstoppable early and scored 25 points in the first half, but managed just seven in the second half.
After missing 20 shots in Game 1, Harden promised a better performance in this game. But it was much of the same as he was 6 of 19 and finished with 18 points.
The Rockets trailed by nine points before a 5-0 run cut the lead to 102-98 with about a minute left. Both teams made a pair of free throws after that before Lillard found Wesley Matthews wide open for a reverse layup to make it 106-100 with 33 seconds left.
A one-handed dunk by Aldridge over Omer Asik gave Portland a 96-87 lead with about five minutes left.
With Aldridge on the bench to start the fourth, Houston scored the first four points of the period to cut the lead to two points, but Williams and Dorell Wright made consecutive 3s to make it 89-81 midway through the quarter.
Aldridge made 10 of Portland’s first 14 points of the second half to help the Trail Blazers build a 67-58 lead with about eight minutes left in the quarter. Houston scored the next nine points, with the last five from Chandler Parsons, to tie it at 67 a couple of minutes later.
Portland scored five quick points after that with the help of a 3-pointer from Lillard before Houston used a 6-0 run to go on top 73-72 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the third.
Wright got going after that, scoring seven points in an 11-4 spurt that gave Portland an 83-77 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Howard scored just one point in the third quarter and sat out the last six minutes of the quarter after picking up his fourth foul.
There was a stretch in the second quarter when it was all Howard and Aldridge. Aldridge made a basket and a pair of free throws before he and Howard exchanged buckets on four trips down the court. The Trail Blazers cut the lead to four at the end of that span before Patrick Beverley made a free throw. Portland scored the next seven points to take a 53-51 lead, but Beverley’s basket at the buzzer tied it at halftime.
Howard scored Houston’s first 13 points and had 19 – with five dunks – by the end of the first quarter to help the Rockets to a 31-23 lead.
NOTES: Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, who has been working with Howard this week, watched the game from a courtside seat. … Wright finished with 15 points.
Be sure to check out our Thursday Preview in the NBA Playoffs, and also, be sure to check back with us on Friday as we preview those games, as well as recap Thursday night’s games.