The good and bad of Rajon Rondo surfaced in the final 10 seconds of Atlanta’s 87-86 Game 5 win against Boston. With Boston down one, the point stole the inbounds pass and came racing up court with a chance to win. Off a switch, he was matched up with Al Horford, dribbled in place for a few seconds, tried to go baseline, lost the ball, and then threw it to Kevin Garnett even as the buzzer sounded. Rondo never even got a shot off, and thus all he did (13 points, 12 assists, five steals) won’t be remembered. Speaking of which, remember when Rondo couldn’t make jumpers? Yeah, we do too. He led a 10-0 run to close the third and get the Celtics back within two. It all seemed to happen in less than a minute. Even before that, he hit a buzzer-beating three to tie it going into the half at 40, which seemed poetic justice considering the Hawks had just hit like 44 triples in a row … At the end of the first quarter, Garnett caught a pass and stepped right into a very long two at the buzzer. How’d he get open? Josh Smith (13 points, 16 rebounds, six assists) was jogging back up the court after being unable to finish inside, and by the time KG had the ball, he was barely getting into defensive position. In fact, they should’ve just sat Smoove down. He was 0-for-7 in the first quarter and even missed an easy dunk, his knees turning him into the Tin Man … Smith’s knees finally warmed up in the fourth quarter, and he started doing everything we’re so accustomed to seeing from ATL’s power forward: leading fast breaks, shooting (and actually hitting jump shots) and being a pest on defense. Between Smith and Horford (19 points, 11 rebounds), Atlanta came up with all the defensive plays they were missing in Boston … Indiana’s crowd had to wait nearly 48 minutes to celebrate thanks to an Orlando team that has no clue it’s not supposed to win. But when the clock started to wind down, and Indiana’s lead had reached 20 points, chants of “Beat the Heat, beat the Heat” began at the Fieldhouse. The fans could finally party like it was Y2K (the last time the Pacers have clinched a series at home). Darren Collison was so good in the fourth quarter of Indiana’s 105-87 W that we’re putting him in the same sentence as Josh Hamilton for doing something inexplicably memorable and shocking (Hamilton hit four home run bombs last night). Collison had 19 off the bench, with 15 of them coming in the fourth quarter, almost all of them in the lane and off the dribble. He had been so quiet for so long, we thought he had become the new Devin Harris … The first quarter followed the same script the rest of the series did: Indiana jumps out early, and stakes out a lead they will inevitably surrender. Incredibly, the Pacers led after every first quarter in this series, and were up 11 last night. Everything was going so well that even Paul George hit a three, only the first one he’s made in the entire series (he was 0-for-13 before that). Eventually, a 10-0 run by Orlando in the second quarter made it a game after they had trailed by as many as 15 … Jameer Nelson (27 points) went at Indiana all night, and had 25 points at the end of the third quarter after his triple put the Magic up going into the fourth. Considering how garbage he played for most of the year, he sort of had to go out like this right? He didn’t leave one in the chamber during the regular season… he left the whole bushel. Halfway through the fourth quarter, Indiana finally snuffed out the fight in Orlando, the Magic’s magic dust running out. After another Paul George triple, they were an unbelievable 10-for-12 from the floor in the quarter at that point … Give credit to Stan Van Gundy for doing the best with what he had. Afterwards, he was questioned about the hardships they faced this year, and said “No, it hasn’t been a tough year off the court. My wife still likes me. Most of the time.” … Keep reading to hear about the crazy long-range barrage Kobe set off …
After the Lakers were down by as many as 15, Kobe Bryant (43 points) nearly staged the craziest game-winning shooting exhibition of his career. First, he made a triple with a little over two minutes left to cut it to four. Just a few possessions later, Bryant hit another one from the same exact spot to cut it to three. Then he splashed an impossible triple in the corner with Danilo Gallinari all over him. After some more Denver free throws, with the Lakers down three, with still enough time to go inside for a quick two, Kobe said f— it and pulled up almost immediately on touching it. The shot was off by inches. Eventually, the Nuggets did just enough to survive 102-99 even as the Lakers (Bryant and Ramon Sessions) had two great looks to send it to overtime … The Nuggets’ bench was sensational. Andre Miller (24 points, eight assists) was so good he had Chuck comparing him to Tim Hardaway of all people after the game, and JaVale McGee (21 points, 14 rebounds) dominated Andrew Bynum (16 points, 11 rebounds) for long stretches throughout the game … And Philadelphia spent 48 minutes shooting blanks in Chicago, finishing Game 5 at barely above 32 percent from the floor. Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer combined to score 43 points (with 21 rebounds) as The Walking Dead won 77-69, while Philly’s leading scorer (Jrue Holiday) took 17 shots to score 16 points. The Bulls were smart. After three straight games where they flamed out in the second half, Chicago went to the only two guys they could. Boozer took 20 shots. Deng had 19. The rest of the team had only 43. They might not win the series – in fact, we’re betting it ends in Game 6 in Pennsylvania. But at least this way, with less air balls and ugly turnovers, we can stomach a little more of their offense … We’re out like Orlando.
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