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NBA Playoff Awards – 4/30/13

A Sublime Durant Barely Falls Short in Sweep Attempt Over Houston
      Serge Ibaka falls to the floor, utterly distraught at missing the putback layup to tie the game…Houston lives, the Rockets survive. 
 
38 pts, 8 rebs, 6 dimes, 12-16 from the floor, and 13-15 from the stripe…but it wasn’t quite enough from KD as Houston edged the Thunder at home to force a game 5. In keeping with his effiecient, smart play, Durant passed when he was well-guarded (hounded!) with under 10 seconds on the clock, and passed the rock to Mr. October, Reggie Jackson (for you youngsters out there, look up ‘Reggie Jackson Yankees’ on Google to learn). R Jax drove and missed a layup (due to a massive collision with Omer Asik…refs whistles swallowed) and Ibaka missed the putback, leading to a citywide celebration in Houston. It wasn’t The Beard who spearheaded the Rocket effort (he double-doubled with 15 pts, 10 turnovers…just 1 reb and 3 dimes)…rather, it was Chandler Parsons (27/10/8 asst), a rock solid effort from Asik (17/14), and some clutch shooting from the always dour-faced Carlos Delfino (13 pts, 3-5 from distance). The Mangy Mutt hit some big 3’s for OKC (4-5 from downtown), and Jackson otherwise was pretty nice in the game (18, 4 rebs, 3 asst, 2 stl), but it wasn’t enough to beat the highly motivated Houston squadron.
 
ATL 102, INDY 91 – The Joshua Tree (29/11/4, 3 stl) finally awoke from his relative playoff slumber to lead the Hawks to their 2nd straight win in the series and tie things up at 2 apiece. Before last night, Smith hadn’t had a 20 pt gm or a single block in the playoffs. Smith tends to be very on or off in the playoffs – I remember when Boston won the title in 2008, Atl pushed them to a game 7 in round 1, and the Joshua Tree was simply awful in the game – 3-11, 5 turnovers (many very sloppy and early), only 4 boards and the Hawks were routed 99-65. Last night he had 16 free throw attempts (making only 9) – a surprisingly big number for a guy who averaged just 4.2/gm during the regular season (shooting a career-worst, by a mile, 51.7%!!). The Hawks will need a very strong, aggressive Mr. Smith to win this series vs. the Pacers, who got 21/12 & 4 stls from Paul George in this game, but he was quite poor in the first half, allowing the Hawks to build up a 17 point halftime advantage.
 
BKN 110, CHI 91 – Lopez was dominant inside (28/10) and D-Will (23/10) did his thing as the Nets stayed alive (CHI up 3-2 now), coming off that ridiculous triple OT game Saturday afternoon. No one else on Brooklyn scored more than 13 pts, as their $20m Man, Joe Johnson, had just 11 pts, 3 rebs, 1 dime, and 0 free throw attempts. Johnson is wrapping up his 12th season in the league, turns 32 this summer, and this season notched his lowest scoring (16.3), diming (3.5), and shooting % (43.2) numbers since 2002-03. His rebounding numbers (3.0) were his lowest since his rookie year. And Brooklyn traded to acquire this debacle of a contract – owed just under $70m over the next 3 seasons! Supposedly the panicking Nets had to do something to keep D-Will from walking last summer. If I was D-Will, I would have walked as soon as they made this ridiculous move. Of course, because it’s such an awful contract, all the Nets gave up for him was a poo poo platter of NBA driftwood (Jordan Farmar, Anthony Morrow, DeShawn Stevenson, and 2 others) as well as a 1st round pick in this years draft. Anyway…I’m getting off topic here, as I love to do when it comes to awful contracts. This series seems to be pretty evenly matched, and there’s a vague rumor out there about D Rose coming back if the Bulls advance to round 2 – so go Chicago!
 
The Akeem Olajuwon Award —  Kevin Durant —  38 pts, 8 rebs, 6 asst, 13 FTM, 1 stl, 0 blk, 1 trey, and 12-16 shooting…KD did join the 50/40/90 Club this year (51.0%/41.6%/90.5%), and I’m guessing his total pts, treys, and free throws were among the highest of any members of that rather exclusive club. Only Bird would have been close.
 
The Rafael Araujo Award —  Kendrick Perkins —  0 pts, 1 rebs, 0 asst, 0 FTM, 0 stl, 0 blk, 0 treys, and 0-1 shooting in 9 minutes of floor time…He did manage 4 turnovers and 4 fouls. The slow, lumbering Perkins just doesn’t fit in the up-n-down game that these two teams play, even in the post-season. He’s scored 10 pts so far in 73 minutes this series.
 
P.S. NBA Eye for The Gay Guy
Ok…so there’s lots of ‘buzz’ about the first ‘active’ pro hoopster ‘coming out’. I have to admit – I didn’t even know about it when I wrote up the Awards yesterday. When I heard on the radio driving into work, my first thought was ‘whoa…what are the odds? We both went to the same high school’ (though I left after 8th grade…and was there 10 years ahead of him). I gotta say…social issues related to sports largely bore me to tears. I like sports, and enjoy writing about sports – not sexual preferences. And how active is he anyway? He was always an extremely limited role player and might very well have played his last game in the league. And as politically taboo and incorrect as it may be, sports remain the domain of testosterone laden, macho, ego-driven guys who will always want to call a lame play, lame player, and lame team ‘gay’. No offense to those who swing that way, but that’s the way it is. One of my favorite guys to compete against in volleyball, tennis, and paddle tennis – a great man with a large heart and a huge zest for life and sports and competition – used to love to call any of my failed plays ‘gay’, ‘queer’, or belonging in West Hollywood…and I loved the smack talk, and loved Joe Gardner, God rest his soul. Amen to that issue.
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