NBA playoffs 2021: Wizards avoid elimination, Jazz push Grizzlies to brink

By Sports Desk May 31, 2021

The Washington Wizards took advantage of Joel Embiid's early departure, beating the Philadelphia 76ers 122-114 to avert a sweep in their NBA playoff series. 

The top-seeded 76ers started strong Monday but faltered when Embiid injured his knee late in the first quarter of Game 4 and saw the Wizards come alive. 

While Bradley Beal led Washington with 27 points and Russell Westbrook recorded another triple-double, it was Rui Hachimura playing a key role at the end to seal victory for the home side. 

The Japan native, playing in his first playoff series, had a dunk and a three-pointer in a 30-second span to give the Wizards a 118-112 lead in the final minute. 

Hachimura finished with 20 points on eight-of-12 shooting from the field and added 13 rebounds. 

Westbrook, meanwhile, had 21 rebounds and 14 assists to go with his 19 points despite making only three of 19 shots from the field. 

Westbrook's triple-double was the 12th of his career in the playoffs, breaking a tie with Jason Kidd and putting the Wizards star third on the all-time list behind Magic Johnson (30) and LeBron James (28).

Game 5 of the series is Wednesday in Philadelphia. 

 

Mitchell, Jazz take 3-1 lead

Donovan Mitchell had 30 points and eight assists to lead the top-seeded Utah Jazz to the brink of the conference semi-finals with a 120-113 win away to the Memphis Grizzlies. 

The Jazz survived another spirited effort by the eighth seeds to take a 3-1 series lead and can advance with a win in Game 5 on Wednesday. 

Ja Morant scored 23 and had 12 assists but made just one of seven three-pointers for Memphis, who were 10 of 35 from distance as a team. 

 

Simmons' free-throw struggles continue

Ben Simmons made his first free throws of this year's playoffs in Monday's loss, but the 76ers guard is now just five-for-20 from the line in the series. 

 

Gafford's emphatic follow

Daniel Gafford was four-of-four from the field in the Wizards' win, thanks in part to high-percentage shots like this.

 

Monday's results

Washington Wizards 122-114 Philadelphia 76ers
Utah Jazz 120-113 Memphis Grizzlies

 

Celtics at Nets

Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics need to win to stay alive as their series against the Nets shifts back to Brooklyn. 

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    Bam Adebayo compiled 28 points and 10 rebounds as the Miami Heat overcame the absence of several key players to record a 121-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Monday and extend their winning streak to four games.

    Miami moved a half-game ahead of the Orlando Magic for first place in the Southeast Division despite missing two of its stars in Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro, as well as starting point guard Terry Rozier. Herro and Rozier sat out due to injuries, while Butler was serving a one-game suspension for his role in an on-court altercation in the Heat's win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday.

    Rookie Jaime Jaquez helped fill the void by producing 26 points on 12-of-17 shooting, and the Heat also got key contributions from reserves Kevin Love and Haywood Highsmith.

    Love poured in 19 points in just 15 minutes, while Highsmith scored 15 first-half points to help Miami take a 65-62 lead into the break.

    Jaquez then put up 13 points during a dominant third quarter in which the Heat outscored Sacramento by a 36-19 margin. Miami took the lead for good with a 10-2 run that snapped a 71-71 tie, then later scored the final 10 points of the period to build a commanding 101-81 advantage entering the fourth.

    The Kings had a three-game winning streak snapped despite Domantas Sabonis registering his league-leading 21st triple-double with 14 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

    Keegan Murray led Sacramento, which was coming off a 16-point road win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, with 28 points. De'Aaron Fox finished with 27 in the loss.

     

    Barnes' triple-double powers Raptors past Pacers

    Scottie Barnes recorded his fourth triple-double of the season with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Toronto Raptors to a 130-122 win over the weary Indiana Pacers.

    Toronto also received big efforts from RJ Barrett and rookie Gradey Dick en route to its season-high third consecutive win. Barrett delivered 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while Dick had 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and finished 7 of 9 from the field while making all four of his 3-point attempts.

    Playing for the second straight night, the Pacers had a three-game winning streak snapped despite Bennedict Mathurin matching a career-high with 34 points to go along with nine rebounds. Former Raptors All-Star Pascal Siakam had 27 points, nine rebounds and six assists in his second meeting with his ex-team since being traded to Indiana on Jan. 17.

    The Pacers got an off night from leading scorer Tyrese Haliburton, however, as the All-Star guard misfired on nine of 11 shot attempts while being held to nine points.

    Indiana did manage to battle back from a 12-point third-quarter deficit, however, to tie the game at 102-102 with just over eight minutes left in the fourth.

    The Raptors then regained control with a 13-2 run, which Dick started and finished with 3-pointers, to take a 115-104 lead with 6:21 remaining.

    Indiana closed the gap to four points entering the final three minutes, but a jumper by Toronto's Gary Trent Jr. followed by a Barrett 3-pointer helped end any comeback hopes.

     

    Hart's late basket lifts Knicks over Pistons

    Josh Hart scored the go-ahead layup with 2.8 seconds left as the New York Knicks held off a determined upset bid from the Detroit Pistons and came away with a controversial 113-111 victory.

    The Pistons fought back from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter to take a 111-110 lead on former Knick Quentin Grimes' layup with 37.3 seconds remaining. New York's Jalen Brunson misfired on a 3-point try on the ensuing possession, but Detroit's Ausar Thompson had the ball stolen away after colliding with the Knicks' Donte DiVincenzo to set up Hart's basket off a feed from Brunson.

    Hart missed the free throw for a potential three-point play, but the Knicks collared the rebound and Hart was fouled again with 1.3 seconds left. He made 1 of 2 from the line to prevent a potentially damaging home loss to a Detroit team with an NBA-worst 8-49 record.

    Game officials acknowledged afterward that a loose-ball foul should have been called on DiVincenzo during the collision that preceded Hart's basket.

    Brunson finished with 35 points and 12 assists and Hart had 23 points and eight rebounds as the playoff-hopeful Knicks won for the second time in three outings following a four-game losing streak. DiVincenzo contributed 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting.

    Detroit was dealt a sixth straight loss despite Cade Cunningham's 32 points and eight assists and an 11-point, 16-rebound effort from Jalen Duren. 

    The teams were facing one another for the first time since collaborating on a six-player trade on Feb. 8 that sent veterans Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks to New York, with Grimes among the return pieces to the Pistons.

    Grimes finished with 14 points while Bogdanovic recorded 13 points and six rebounds off the bench. 

     

  • Warriors point guard Paul set to return from injury Warriors point guard Paul set to return from injury

    The playoff-chasing Golden State Warriors will have Chris Paul back in the lineup on Tuesday night when they visit a Washington Wizards team that’s mired in an 11-game losing streak.

    Paul has not played since he sustained a fractured left hand on Jan. 5 against the Detroit Pistons and underwent surgery three days later.

    The 38-year-old Paul is averaging 8.9 points, 7.2 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.13 steals in 32 games in his first season with Golden State.

    The Warriors went 12-9 after Paul’s injury and are 29-27 on the season.

    Golden State leads the Utah Jazz by three games for 10th place in the Western Conference and a berth in the NBA Play-In Tournament.

  • Lakers fume at officiating in loss to Suns Lakers fume at officiating in loss to Suns

    LeBron James and Darvin Ham were left frustrated with the officiating after the Los Angeles Lakers went down to the Phoenix Suns.

    The Lakers lost 123-113 in Arizona on Sunday, with Los Angeles awarded just eight free throws in contrast to Phoenix's tally of 19.

    It was a season-low for the Lakers, who averaged 24.7 free throws per game heading into the game.

    Of those eight free throws, none came in the second half, and James was left exasperated.

    "A lot of people, a lot of coaches, a lot of teams are like, 'That's all the Lakers do is get to the free throw line,'" James said.

    "It's like this narrative out there that that's all we do is get to the free throw line. I mean, we have attackers. That's what we do. We have attackers. Yeah, we shoot the ball from the perimeter, but we're not shooting 40 to 50 3s a game. We're not that team. We don't have the luxury of being that team. So, working it into the paint, that's what we're really good at.

    "To have eight free throw attempts is definitely not us. I know, definitely, I got hit a couple of times when I got to the paint tonight that wasn't called. But it is what it is."

    Lakers coach Ham, though, was left reserved.

    "I'm not one to use referees as an excuse," he said.

    "But it's becoming increasingly tough because of the inconsistency. I'm seeing our guys get the same contact on them as we're supposedly committing. And the whistle is not being blown."

    Anthony Davis did not record a single free throw attempt for the first time in a game this season.

    He added: "We live on getting to the line. We attack the basket.

    "Especially how much we struggle from the 3, we're kind of up and down, so we try to live in the paint and get to the line.

    "I'm not sure if it was just the refs missing it or they weren't fouling. I felt I got fouled a couple of times. But that's part of our identity, our DNA, is getting to the line and guys catching rhythms like that and then playing from there."

    While the Suns are sixth in the Western Conference after the win, the Lakers are in ninth, with a 31-28 record.

    In other news on Sunday, the NBA banned five players – including Jimmy Butler – for their involvement in an on-court spat in Friday's meeting between the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans.

    Butler, Nikola Jovic and Naji Marshall were each suspended for one game without pay, while Jose Alvarado and Thomas Bryant were slapped with three-game bans.

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