NBA

NBA Playoffs 2021: Trail Blazers down Nuggets, Nets' stars handle Celtics

By Sports Desk May 23, 2021

A strong second half sent the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers to a 123-109 victory over the third-seeded Denver Nuggets as the NBA playoffs began Saturday. 

Portland outscored Denver 65-48 after the break as Damian Lillard had 34 points and 13 assists for the visitors, who made 18 of 19 free throw attempts to just four of eight for the Nuggets. 

CJ McCollum added 21 points and Carmelo Anthony scored 18 in just 22 minutes off the bench for Portland, who beat the Los Angeles Lakers in their playoff opener last season only to lose the next four to the eventual champions. 

Their efforts overcame a 34-point, 15-rebound game from Nikola Jokic and 25 points from Michael Porter Jr.

Porter made all 11 of his two-point field goal attempts Saturday but was just one of 10 from three-point range. 

Game 2 is Monday in Denver. 

 

Brooklyn's big three carry Nets

Big games from the big three carried the Brooklyn Nets to a 104-93 series-opening win over the Boston Celtics. Kevin Durant had 32 points and 12 rebounds while Kyrie Irving added 29 points and James Harden 21 as the Nets stifled the Celtics, who got 22 points on just six of 20 shooting from Jayson Tatum in a losing effort. 

Luka Doncic had his third triple-double in seven career playoff games, scoring 31 points with 10 rebounds and 11 assists as the Dallas Mavericks pulled out a 113-103 road win at the Los Angeles Clippers to open their series. Tim Hardaway Jr added 21 points on eight of 13 shooting for the fifth-seeded Mavericks, while Kawhi Leonard had 26 points and Paul George 23 to lead the Clippers. 

 

Butler cannot find the range

Jimmy Butler came close to recording a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in the Miami Heat's 109-107 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, but the five-time All-Star made only four of 22 shots from the field. 

 

Middleton gives Bucks win

Khris Middleton's contested jumper with 0.5 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Bucks the Game 1 win at home. Middleton's 27 points led the Bucks, with Giannis Antetokounmpo adding 26 points and 18 rebounds. 

 

Saturday's results

Milwaukee Bucks 109-107 Miami Heat (OT)
Dallas Mavericks 113-103 Los Angeles Clippers
Brooklyn Nets 104-93 Boston Celtics
Portland Trail Blazers 123-109 Denver Nuggets

 

Lakers face Suns

LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers got the win they needed in the play-in tournament and they will open the playoffs proper with Game 1 of their best-of-seven series against the second-seeded Suns in Phoenix. 

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    Chris Paul is confident that the Phoenix Suns depth can cover the likely loss of Devin Booker after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's franchise-tying 17th consecutive win.

    The Suns defeated the table-topping Golden State Warriors 104-96 despite losing Booker in the second quarter after limping out of the game with a left hamstring injury.

    Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

    "Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

    "We've got so many guys like Elfrid Payton who hadn’t played the last few games and he's ready, comes right not the game. Cam Johnson, he started the second half.

    "We've got so much on this depth that if somebody does go down, somebody will step up."

    The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and 42 in the second half.

    Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

    Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

    The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

    "No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

  • Paul confident in Suns depth after Booker hamstring injury Paul confident in Suns depth after Booker hamstring injury

    Chris Paul is confident that the Phoenix Suns depth can cover the likely loss of Devin Booker after suffering a hamstring injury in Tuesday's franchise-tying 17th consecutive win.

    The Suns defeated the table-topping Golden State Warriors 104-96 despite losing Booker in the second quarter after limping out of the game with a left hamstring injury.

    Phoenix head coach Monty Williams said post-game there was no update on the extent of Booker's injury but Paul, who had 15 points and 11 assists, was bullish about the side's depth.

    "Just keep playing," Paul said during the post-game news conference. "It's not one guy that's gonna fill that void.

    "We've got so many guys like Elfrid Paton who hadn’t played the last few games and he's ready, comes right not the game. Cam Johnson, he started the second half.

    "We've got so much on this depth that if somebody does go down, somebody will step up."

    The Suns defense contained the Warriors to only 18 points in the final quarter and only 42 in the second half.

    Paul added: "With Book going down early in the game, it was a next-man-up mentality. Like coach always says, keep the ball moving, that's all we tried to do."

    Booker was averaging 23.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists this season, prior to the injury where he had 10 points, two rebounds and one assist to that point against the Warriors.

    The 25-year-old shooting guard had missed four games after suffering a left hamstring strain last January.

    "No, nothing yet," Williams said when asked about Booker's status. "We'll have more tomorrow."

  • Suns beat Warriors to tie franchise record 17 straight wins, Harden stars for Nets Suns beat Warriors to tie franchise record 17 straight wins, Harden stars for Nets

    The Phoenix Suns have tied their franchise record 17 consecutive wins and moved level with the Golden State Warriors at the top of the table by beating them in a 104-96 win on Tuesday.

    The Suns' record-equalling win came without Devin Booker who suffered a left hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return.

    Deandre Ayton top scored with 24 points along with 11 rebounds while veteran guard Chris Paul had 15 points and 11 assists, but Phoenix's defense was critical to the win.

    The Warriors only managed 61 points after quarter-time, with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green finishing the game with only 12 and eight points respectively.

    Golden State had a season-high 22 turnovers, with Paul having five steals and Mikal Bridges also registering four steals.

    The result means the Suns and Warriors both have 18-3 records across the season and will meet again on Friday.

     

    Harden finds his groove

    James Harden had his third 30-point game for the season, finishing with 34 points as the Brooklyn Nets won 112-110 over the New York Knicks. Harden had a double-double with 10 rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Kevin Durant contributed 27 points and nine assists.

    Top draft pick Cade Cunningham registered a career-high 26 points including five three-pointers as the Detroit Pistons lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-92.

    In the absence of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane scored 25 and 23 points respectively  to lead the Memphis Grizzlies past the Toronto Raptors 98-91.

     

    Kings struggle from range

    The Sacramento Kings only managed six triples for the entire game as they were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers, without LeBron James, 117-92. Shooting guard Terence Davis went zero-for-four from beyond the arc. Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook had 25 and 23 points respectively in James' absence, after he entered the NBA's health and safety protocols prior to tip-off.

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