The Phoenix Suns bench, led by Slovenian point guard Goran Dragic, secured a Game 4 victory for the Suns, evening the series at 2-2. The Suns bench combined to score 54 points, culminating with this spin move on–who else–Derek Fisher by Dragic, who scored the lay-up to give the Suns their biggest lead of the night, 103-90, with four minutes left in the game. Phoenix won 115-106.
Posts tagged: Goran Dragic
The Celtics have gotten rid of their morning walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Here are a few Celtics links, and maybe even an NBA link or two, to help wake you up and get you focused for the day.
Gary Washburn, Boston Globe – “Boston was good enough to go 5-2 in its first seven playoff games and an argument can be made that the Celtics could have been 7-0. But no case can be made for last night’s effort because the Celtics played to lose. They were foolish enough to believe that TD Garden would provide a distinct advantage — it didn’t during the regular season — and last night was eerily reminiscent of the 108-88 drubbing by Cleveland here Feb. 25. Cavaliers coach Mike Brown astutely ripped into his team following Game 2, blaming everybody for the loss except Craig Ehlo. And that put his team on edge and on alert. So now the onus is on the Celtics to retaliate or fold, and Game 3 exemplified how quickly the mental edge can change in a playoff series. Two days ago the Celtics were back to their 2008 ways. Now they are a bunch of old guys who exhausted themselves with their Game 2 victory and are primed for quick elimination.”
Julian Benbow, Boston Globe – “‘You’ve got to know that the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to come out here with all the urgency in the world,’ said Paul Pierce. ‘It was embarrassing to tell you the truth. It’s embarrassing when you lose at home like that.’ From the time he swooped in for a reverse layup to make it 8-2 in the first quarter, James cashed in from wherever he wanted. Fadeaways from 18 feet. Pull-ups from 19 and 22 feet. He twisted around the rim and went 180 degrees for a dunk that made it 34-14 in the first quarter as the Cavaliers beat the Celtics until their offense went numb. When Michael Finley hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter that seemed to snap the Celtics out of their daze, James answered with a 25-foot hush-up three that knocked them right back into that stupor. The Celtics’ defense wasn’t an obstacle. ‘I didn’t think we gave [James] any resistance,’’ Rivers said. “He was playing H-O-R-S-E.’ James went on a 21-point first-quarter scoring spree, while the Celtics’ offense stood frozen. Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett were a collective 2 for 10 in the quarter. The Celtics fell into a 36-17 hole. ‘I think we just let our guard down,’ said Pierce. ‘They took the fight to us early and we didn’t respond.’”
Brian Windhorst, Cleveland Plain Dealer – “Doubt. For three days and three nights [Lebron James] drank it in, the Cavaliers being branded in serious danger because James and his teammates had a single bad playoff game last Monday night. Then Friday he spit it out in another masterpiece for his playoff files, exploding for a huge and mostly painless performance to put the Cavs back in control of their conference semifinal series with the Boston Celtics. Setting the example early that he was fine — for his teammates as much as the curious national audience — James scored 21 of his 38 points in the first quarter and the Cavs were off to 124-95 thrashing of the Celtics. It was a historical thrashing as the Cavs set new team playoffs records for points and field-goal percentage, which finished at a sizzling 59.5 percent. ‘We had three days to sit and feel the pressure and then bounce back,’ James said. ‘Rest helped me and we were able to have a complete game.’”
Christopher Gasper, Boston Globe – “There is no way that after the hurtin’ James put on the Celtics last night he or Cleveland can point to The Elbow as a caveat for the Cavaliers in this series. It would be nothing less than the height of hoops hypocrisy to do so, especially after the LeBrons embarrassed the Celtics, 124-95, in Game 3 of this Eastern Conference semifinals series to take a 2-1 lead. No one had ever handed the Celtics a worse home playoff loss, not Michael Jordan, not Julius Erving, not Wilt Chamberlain. None of them had hip-hop and R&B royalty on hand to watch such a rout either — James had pal Jay-Z and Beyonce cheering him on from the first row, with the rapper sporting camouflage shorts. Jay-Z has a song called “Takeover,’’ and that’s exactly what James did. Nothing could camouflage the fact that ’Bron wasn’t hampered by the bad ’bow. Forget another MRI, all you had to do was watch the first quarter and look at the final stat sheet. It was a typical transcendent performance from King James, who turned the TD Garden into his court with 38 points (on 14 of 22 from the field), 8 rebounds and 7 assists in 39 minutes of work. ‘I think he’s healthy,’ deadpanned Celtics coach Doc Rivers. ‘His elbow looked very good tonight, so enough with the elbow injury. I think he’s healthy now, and now we can go ahead and everybody can just focus on basketball.”
Chris Broussard, ESPN – “It ticked him off. All of it. The questions about his toughness when it was falsely reported that he might need three MRIs for his strained right elbow. The disregard for his team’s splendid 61-win regular season, after one bad loss. The idea that The King was buckling under pressure, overemphasizing his injury to create a convenient excuse for potential failure. Well, now we know what LeBron James — the media-friendly, quick-to-laugh, nice-guy superstar — plays like when he’s mad. He blocks shots with such abandon that it leaves a 6-foot-9-inch, 290-pound former football player sprawled out on the floor. He pours in points in every conceivable way, outscoring a team full of future Hall of Famers by himself. He makes a Big Three, Gigantic Four, or whatever cute nickname folks give his opponents, look infinitesimal, smaller than the lion’s face on his signature sneakers.”
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “Here’s what the Boston Celtics have to look forward to on Saturday: Reliving the entire 2-hour and 33-minute nightmare that was Friday’s Game 3 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers all over again on video. Cruel and unusual punishment? Probably. Scarier than the latest edition of “Nightmare on Elm Street”? Most definitely. Kevin Garnett and the Celtics have a lot to reflect on after Friday night’s stinker at the Garden. But the way Doc Rivers sees it, the Celtics can’t just forget what happened and move on. ‘You don’t throw it out because, defensively, I don’t think there’s a lot of changing we have to do, but we do have to do it harder, better,’ said Rivers. ‘We have to do it and be on the same page. So, videowise, they need to see it. They need to see how they moved and how we moved. And then if there are adjustments, we can make them.’”
Steve Bulpett, Boston Herald – “Embarrassing, yes. Unexpected? Based on the full season’s evidence, no. The Celts had seemed to shake off the malaise that ran through them in the regular season like an antibiotic-resistant illness. The playoffs were the different story, they promised. They had a bad game against Miami and a bad quarter and a half against Cleveland, but there was nothing to portend the swan dive from the rafters to the parquet last night. Or maybe there was. ‘You could see it early,’ said Doc Rivers. Or earlier. ‘I thought we had two lousy practices,’ he said. ‘I thought our preparation was pulling nails. And, so, that was the result.’”
Chris Forsberg, ESPNBoston – “When a player puts up 18 points and 8 assists, it’s hard to say the opposing team shut him down. But considering the way Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo devoured the Cavaliers in the first two games of this series, Cleveland was overjoyed with the job it did against Boston’s spark plug. The Cavaliers employed Anthony Parker, who — deservedly or not — earned much of the praise for slowing Rondo in the second half of Game 1, to pressure Rondo off the inbound and it at least slowed down Boston’s speed point guard a bit. ‘Obviously, he was kind of picking us apart offensively, and it was something that [Parker] suggested,’ said Cavaliers coach Mike Brown. ‘He said, ‘I am going to pick him up, work the ball some and see what happens.’ I said, ‘Great.””
Ron Borges, Boston Herald – “This is the kind of night it was for the Celtics. They shot 60 percent in the second quarter and lost ground to the Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Of course, by then why not? They’d already lost the game. You go down to the Cavs by 22 points at halftime you do so at your own peril. Hell, you go down 22 to the Nets at halftime you do so at your own peril. Go down 22 at halftime to the Cavs and you go home, which is what the C’s did last night. Actually, no they didn’t. They never came to the Garden in the first place.”
Peter May, ESPNBoston – “No one expects Pierce to match LeBron basket for basket or to smother him defensively. But what was a pretty good matchup two years ago — remember the epic Game 7 Pierce delivered — has turned into a one-man show. James had outscored the entire Celtics team by the time Pierce made his first exit with 3:15 left in the first quarter, having missed all five of his shots. It was a trend that would continue throughout, ending only when the final horn sounded and the Cavaliers had a stunning 124-95 victory and a 2-1 lead in the series. Paul Pierce and his teammates watch the closing moments of Friday’s Game 3 debacle against the Cavaliers. Pierce didn’t exactly dazzle against Miami, but he was good enough (19.6 ppg) and shot well enough (45.7 percent) to be a factor. He was instrumental in turning around Game 1 with an 11-point third quarter and then knocked down the game winner at the end of Game 3. He started out strong in this series, connecting on four of his first five shots. Since then? He has made only 9 of 37 shots. He was 4-of-15 in Game 3. In only two of the 12 quarters in this series has Pierce made more than one basket. In three of the quarters, he has pitched a shutout. He finished with 11 points in Game 3 and is averaging a Kendrick Perkins-like 12.7 points and shooting an un-Piercelike 31 percent from the field. Not to belabor the point, but the estimable James is averaging 32.3 points a game and shooting 54 percent. He had 38 in Game 3, with 21 of them coming in the first quarter. Celtics coach Doc Rivers rarely calls out a player. Probably the harshest thing Rivers will ever say about anyone is that the certain individual has to play better. And that is exactly what Rivers said about Pierce after the Game 3 debacle.”
Mark Murphy, Boston Herald – “The captain, who scored 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting in last night’s 124-95 Game 3 loss, has shot just 13-for-42 (31 percent) in the series. ‘He’s got to get more involved,’ coach Doc Rivers said of Pierce. ‘He’s got to play better. And defensively, as a group, we have to help him more (against Cavaliers star LeBron James). And then Paul has to get into LeBron more. It’s a combination.’ Pierce had a slightly different view of the situation. ‘It doesn’t matter what I do offensively, individually,’ Pierce said. ‘I could have scored 30 tonight and we would have lost, the way we played defense. The focus is not on me to score 20 or 30 points. Obviously I’ve got to shoot the ball a lot better. Get into my spots and do a better job at that. But it’s not about one person. We played well the first two games and I still haven’t had a big game. So that’s nothing I’m worried about. I know it’s going to come as the series goes on. And it’s just about being in the situation.’”
Dan Duggan, Boston Herald – “‘We need to understand that we have to play with a little more sense of urgency from the start,’ James said. ‘We did tonight. We didn’t wait to be down, we didn’t wait until we got up. Once we got up, we just kept the pedal down.’ It’s James’ foot on the gas for the Cavs and he has no plans on letting up. ‘We haven’t had consistent play all playoffs, but we’ve played well enough to win,’ James said. ‘We don’t just want to play well enough to win.’ As for that headline-grabbing elbow, James did his best to downplay the issue. ‘I think it was much bigger than what it was, but I think that’s what happens sometimes in the whole media circuit,’ James said. ‘But it didn’t bother me at all. I wasn’t tired of hearing about it. I didn’t really focus on it that much. My only focus was on Game 3, just having a whole (turnaround) of what we did in Game 2.’”
Art Garcia, NBA.com – “Steve Nash and Dragic had a case of role reversal in the fourth. Phoenix starters, including Nash, normally begin the final period on the bench, and Alvin Gentry prefers to ride his reserves to the 6-minute mark if possible. Nash probably didn’t have to go back into Game 3, as Dragic single-handedly knocked San Antonio out. Nash played cheerleader as Dragic dropped-stepped, scooped, slipped by and stung the Spurs. ‘It was beautiful,’ Nash beamed. ‘I didn’t think I would have to go back in.’ The Spurs would have taken an early sub. Dragic and Leandro Barbosa, another original San Antonio draftee dealt to Phoenix in a prearranged deal, began the fourth in the backcourt. Together, they began the onslaught before Dragic etched his name in playoff lore. The second of his four fourth-quarter 3-pointers opened it all up. Set in the corner, he brought the ball up through George Hill’s outstretched arms and heaved a two-handed push at the basket. Count it. ‘I didn’t expect the shot to fall, I was just going for the foul,’ Dragic said. ‘After that shot, the rim was huge.’ The shots kept falling and the Spurs’ deficit kept growing. Down as much 18 in the first half, the Suns were up as many as 16 in garbage time. Dragic played the entire fourth quarter, scoring 23 of his 26 two nights after offering up a goose egg in Game 2. Gentry told Dragic to stay aggressive and not worry about making mistakes. Nash’s apprentice felt his confidence grow with each basket. ‘I don’t know how many guys in the history of the game that have had a fourth quarter like that,’ Nash said. ‘It was pretty remarkable. I am incredibly proud of him.’ Those 23 rung familiar with Kerr, who also made sure to take photos with his BlackBerry of Dragic engrossed in the locker room media scrum. ‘Other than MJ, I don’t remember anybody doing something like that in a huge game under pressure, especially a young kid,’ Michael Jordan’s former teammate said. ‘It’s ridiculous.’”