Monday, May 2, 2011
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Laura Ellingson • 218-855-5823
N B A P L AYO F F S
Game 1 goes to Wade, Heat MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade knew his regular-season numbers against Boston were lacking. He also knew that wouldn’t matter in the playoffs. And Game 1 — which seemed more like Round 1 — of what’s already an emotionally charged series went to Wade and the Miami Heat. Wade scored 38 points on 14 of 21 shooting, James Jones set a Miami postseason record with 25 points off the bench, and the Heat beat the Celtics 99-90 on Sunday to open their Eastern Conference semifinal series. “It’s a big game. It’s Game 1, at home,” Wade said. “You’ve got to take care of home court. These guys expect this from me. I wasn’t giving it to them in the regular season versus them and I wanted to come out today and be a leader.” LeBron James finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five assists for Miami, which led by as many as 19 before a fiery finish that saw plenty of players jawing at each other — more than that in some cases. Paul Pierce was ejected with 7 minutes left, after picking up two technicals in skirmishes with Wade and Jones within a span of 59 seconds. Ray Allen scored 25 points for Boston, which lost for the first time in five games this postseason. Pierce scored 19 and Delonte West finished with 10 for the Celtics, while Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett were held to a combined 14 points on 6-for-19 shooting. Game 2 is Tuesday in Miami. It was physical throughout, with West earning a technical and Jermaine O’Neal picking up a fla-
grant foul along the way, before things really got hot in the fourth. Pierce took offense with a hard foul by Jones, each getting double-technicals there, and Pierce and Wade — who have a bit of history — renewed acquaintances not long after that. Referee Ed Malloy called both for double-technicals, and Pierce was screaming as he departed. The Celtics tried to rally. Allen made a 3-pointer to get within 90-82, but Chris Bosh and Wade had Miami’s next two baskets, restoring a double-digit lead that wasn’t again threatened. “Every game is going to go like this,” Wade said. “We look forward to the challenge.” Wade averaged 12.8 points on 28 percent shooting against the Celtics in four regular-season matchups, his worst numbers in both categories against any opponent this season. Whatever wasn’t working then, well, it was fixed for Game 1. He had nine field goals and 23 points by halftime — while the entire Boston starting five combined for eight field goals and 21 points in the first 24 minutes. He had a steal to set up Mario Chalmers’ layup with 0.1 seconds left in the first quarter that put Miami up 20-14, and added a more spectacular buzzer-beater near halftime. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wanted a 20-second timeout to set up the final possession of the half, only to get overruled — surely without complaint, either. Wade waved it off, then kept waving his arm to clear his teammates away, setting up a drive past West for a bank shot with 0.8 ticks
remaining that put Miami ahead 5136 at the break. Boston was completely out of sorts, perhaps rusty from sitting around for a week after sweeping the New York Knicks, and partly because Miami’s defense bottled up everything the Celtics tried. Rondo was on the bench with three fouls for the final 11 minutes of the half, and the Celtics missed 20 of their first 26 shots from the field. And then there was the James factor — Jones, that is. He drew Rondo’s third foul on a play where he ended up sprawled out under the Boston basket, grabbing his lower back and writhing in pain. Jones inflicted hurt the rest of the quarter, shooting 4 for 5 from 3-point range in the second period alone.
Grizzlies 114, Thunder 101 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Zach Randolph had 34 points and 10 rebounds, Marc Gasol added 20 points and 13 boards, and Memphis overpowered Oklahoma City inside in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals. Just as they did in a first-round upset of top-seeded San Antonio, Randolph and Gasol provided enough punch to give eighth-seeded Memphis a road victory in Game 1. Randolph and Gasol each scored 20 points in the same regular-season game only once this season, but did it in Game 1 against the Spurs and again to negate the Thunder’s homecourt advantage right from the start. Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 33 points and 11 rebounds. Russell Westbrook scored 29.
Bulls’ Thibodeau is Coach of the Year DEERFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Tom Thibodeau waited about two decades to become an NBA head coach. It didn’t take him long to be recognized as one of the best once he got the chance. Thibodeau is the NBA’s Coach of the Year after leading the Chicago Bulls to 62 wins in his first season to tie a league record set by Paul Westphal. The Chicago Tribune first reported Thibodeau’s selection, which was no surprise the way the Bulls dominated during the regular season. Now, after a tough five-game series against Indiana in the opening round, they’ll open the Eastern Conference semifinals against Atlanta on Monday. “After being here for a year, I realize how fortunate I am to be here,” Thibodeau said. “It’s a great city, great fans, great organization, great players, and if it meant waiting 20 years to get this job, it was well worth the wait.” Center Joakim Noah said Thibodeau was “very well deserving” of the award and called him “one of the hardest workers I’ve ever been around. “He stays in late,” Noah added. “He’s the first one here. He was there for me all summer working me out. I felt like I really improved as a player because of him.” Thibodeau received 475 points and 76 first-place votes from a media panel. Philadelphia’s Doug Collins got 18 first-place votes and 210 points, and Gregg Popovich of San Antonio finished third. An NBA assistant for about two decades, Thibodeau finally got his chance to lead a team after spending three seasons working for Doc Rivers in Boston. He is the fourth Chicago coach to win the award, joining Johnny Kerr (1967), Dick Motta (1971) and Phil Jackson (1996). “I think I was very fortunate to have great jobs along the way, to be with great teams,” he said. “I always felt deep down that it would happen. I never doubted that it would happen. I knew I had to be patient. I recognized that these jobs were hard to get, and I was hopeful that I would get a chance. Then, I wanted to make the most of it.” He replaced the fired Vinny Del Negro in June, and with a rebuilt roster to go with an emphasis on defense and rebounding, the Bulls breezed to a 62-20 mark that matched their best record since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen completed their second championship three-peat at the end of the 1997-98 season.
Published on May 4, 2011