Is this the end of the No. 1-seed Bulls as we know it? It was Jrue Holiday who finally mopped up Philly’s Sunday Game 4 win over Chicago. With Philly up just one, Holiday came down on back-to-back sets and hit two straight dagger triples. That ended a run where Holiday made six of his previous eight shots, turning it around after starting the afternoon 1-for-14. One-for-14. But those threes made a one-point lead become seven, and a one-game lead become two. It follows then that Chicago’s doubt without D-Rose has become a full-blown migraine. Holiday had 20 on the night, second to Spencer Hawes‘ 22 for the Sixers. … Carlos Boozer had one of his better nights of playoff ball, but his last few minutes sucked. First, he got mauled at the rim off a pick-n-roll and didn’t get a call. Then, he tried to spin baseline back to the rim and just lost the ball out of bounds. Taj Gibson was a monster in the first half, contributing 12 points and eight rebounds and an edge that the Bulls haven’t had since Rose’s knee gave out. Too bad no one followed his lead. Things seemed like they were going from bad to worse when Luol Deng went down grabbing his wrist, and had to walk off for the bench. In somewhat of a tradition, Philly always plays Tom Jones and everyone in the crowd does the Carlton dance. Hopefully no Bulls fans joined in yesterday. They probably would’ve strained a foot. At one point in the first half, the rest of the team outside of Deng and Gibson was a combined 5-for-23. … Iggy had a hell of a game given the circumstances, and he got 14 points and 12 boards in a game where he seemed to ask Collins, what can I do to pitch in? He played leader early with Holiday Struggling with a capital S by holding the tone of the game. Hell, Iguodala even gave Holiday a huge boost by finding him with a laser-guided outlet for a fastbreak layup that got Philly ahead for good. Kind of expected to look back at Iggy after that on-target dime and see him looking down a gun sight. Joakim Noah was acting as a coach on the bench yesterday. Someone should’ve told him how to dress like one. He was wearing an absurdly long trench coat, and looked like a streaker. Though he wouldn’t have gotten anywhere fast with that boot on his foot. … Evan Turner is so nice with the rock. His production can still be up and down at times, but when Doug Collins gives him a chance to run the offense, he’s bringing out spin moves, hesitation, in-and-out dribbles. At least during those points no one feels like a complete fool for once having the Turner/Wall debate … The Celtics crushed the Hawks. It’s OK to put it that bluntly, because the C’s dropped a 60 percent clip on them in the first half from the field while the Hawks needed a guide dog to find the the bottom of the net. Boston goes up 3-1 with its boot on the throat of Atlanta after Rajon Rondo went for 20 points, 16 assists and just one turnover and had a mind-bending dime to KG and the Hawks’ looking everywhere after his behind-the-back fake on a layup in the third. The Big Three was looking like “The Avengers,” just team-crushing whatever Hawk had the misfortune of stepping in front. This thing was at 79-43 at one point, which needs no comment. Five got double figures with Jesus dropping 12 off the bench and Paul Pierce had 24 after limping off the court with a bum knee. … Expected more from Jeff Teague in this one, hoping he’d gain that spark from last year’s playoffs and how he did most this year, but he had trouble getting around Rondo and had seven points. Three assists is whatever, but he’s the scoring spark for that club. A still-hobbled Josh Smith (15 points and 13 boards of unengaged hoops) never helps. Hit the jump to hear about how the Knicks’ playoff nightmare is over …
The title of the book LeBron is reading in pregame locker room, not kidding: “The Pact: Three Young Men Make A Promise And Fulfill A Dream.” Hmm, well not that we see this Miami-NY series going seven but for one afternoon that book was a fiction title. Carmelo dropped 41 and looked like he was playing with the kind of anti-pressure you’d expect down 0-3. He led a crazy finish that ended on a final possession miss by Dwyane Wade (22 points). It included a Mike Bibby sighting, a layup by LeBron (27 points) over Tyson Chandler that you have to see to believe, and free-throw misses by Melo that nearly drove the Knicks’ playoff losing streak to 14 games. Instead everyone in the greater NYC area can party like it’s 2001, the last time NYK won in the postseason. … Amare Stoudemire was beating Udonis Haslem like a fire extinguisher early. Too soon? He had six points early and had 20 and 10 in his return from the Broadway drama known as “As The Sliced Hand Turns.” The tape on his hand got so much airtime a Kardashian’s trying to date it. … Baron Davis dislocated his patella and if you feel the Garden shaking out the willies from seeing the replay after he crumpled on a fastbreak near the free-throw line. He’d barely affected the game (and series) but Mike Woodson‘s point-guard depth is now so thin it’s translucent. … Kobe the distributor found Ramon Sessions (12 points) and Steve Blake (10 off the pine) in each corner to drop the Nugs in the Mile High in the nightcap. It’s a 3-1 lead and you’ve got to think this series is over. We agree with Steve Kerr on the broadcast: Kobe’s (22 points, eight boards, six assists) ability to draw the double is something no Denver player can match on offense, which makes his job easier in the late situations. Everyone was keying on him when he looked to Blake in the left corner to go up six with 13 ticks left. Blake, and this is weird to write, took over the fourth with eight points. Denver just has to hope it has a hot hand in lieu of a proven stud at the end. … Danilo Gallinari (20 points) gave and then helped take away a chance for a Nugs’ win in back-to-back possessions. He worked himself loose to just inside the three line to tie the game at 86 in the final minute, but then next possession he took a Pau Gasol shoulder just a little too far and lay on the ground while Sessions banged home a triple to go up three. You can’t let the Lakers get 4-on-5. … Weird moment of the night came from Denver when a woman who allegedly has a history of stalking Nuggets walked onto the court. Yeah, probably time to put her on a watch list at the Pepsi Center. … We’re out like Baron.
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