Thursday, May 5, 2011

NBA Playoffs Second Round: Night Four

Eastern Conference

Atlanta Hawks (5) @ Chicago Bulls (1)
5/2: Game One--Hawks 103, BULLS 95 (1-0, Atlanta)
5/4: Game Two--BULLS 86, Hawks 73 (1-1, Tie)
Marvin Williams's 2-9 shooting in Game
Two wasn't good enough for the Hawks
This was a game the Bulls absolutely had to have--to avoid heading to Atlanta in a 2-0 hole--and they got it in dominating fashion.  The Hawks never really threatened after Chicago went into halftime with an 11-point edge, and the Bulls cruised to a 13-point victory.  The big difference in this game--and I know it's not an exciting difference--was shooting percentage: 39.3% for the Bulls compared to only 33.8% for the Hawks.  Atlanta's starting forwards, Marvin Williams (see right) and Josh Smith, combined to shoot 6-23 from the floor, only 26.1%.   If you add in starting center Al Horford and sixth man Jamal Crawford, that group of four critical Hawks players shot 11-45 (24.4%) from the field last night.  Sure, starting guards Joe Johnson and Jeff Teague had solid performances (37 points on 14-29 shooting) for head coach Larry Drew, but they got almost no help from their teammates.  The Bulls, by contrast, got solid performances up and down the lineup.  Derrick Rose turned in his usual big performance, with 26 points, six rebounds, and 10 assists.  His eight turnovers are certainly cause for concern, but his defensive intensity (two blocked shots) and distributing ability (10 assists) are good signs.  Chicago even got a fantastic all-around performance from Joakim Noah.  He scored 19 points (6-8 FG, 7-8 FT), with 14 rebounds (seven offensive), two assists, three steals, and a block.  With Carlos Boozer failing to reach double-figures in scoring (eight points) last night, Noah's 19 points were huge for a Bulls team that desperately needed this victory.

Hit the jump to read the Lakers/Mavericks recap!

Western Conference

Dallas Mavericks (3) @ Los Angeles Lakers (2)
5/2: Game One--Mavericks 96, LAKERS 94 (1-0, Dallas)
5/4: Game Two--Mavericks 93, LAKERS 81 (2-0, Dallas) 
Dirk outplayed Pau again in Game Two, and
the Mavs rolled to a 13-point victory
Unlike the Bulls, the Los Angeles Lakers could not salvage even one game on their home floor--and now they head out to Dallas in a 2-0 hole.  Game Two wasn't nearly as close as Dirk and Kobe's first playoff matchup on Monday, as Dallas won by 12 going away.  Their big outburst came in the middle of the fourth quarter, as Dallas held the Lakers to only two points from the nine-minute mark to the four-minute mark of the final period.  The Mavericks went on a 9-2 run during that stretch, turning an eight point edge into a commanding 15-point lead with only 3:51 remaining.  The Lakers never managed to get the Dallas lead under 10 points, as Kobe was held to five points on 1-4 shooting in the fourth quarter.  Just like in Game One, when Jason Kidd harassed Bryant into turnovers and missed shots in the final minute, the Mavericks were able to make Kobe a non-factor down the stretch.  All five of his points were scored between 3:11 and 2:43, when the Lakers were already down 13.  Dallas got another big performance from Dirk Nowitzki, who dropped 24 points on the Lakers--on only 16 field goal attempts.  Shawn Marion got into the act as well, with 14 points and nine rebounds.  Though the Mavericks did not dominate the whole way, they remained firmly in control due to their perimeter defense: the Lakers shot on 2-20 from downtown, including 1-5 from Kobe.  Unless Los Angeles starts hitting more outside shots, this series is going to be over way sooner than anyone could have imagined.

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