April 25, 2017, 10:36 pm
It was a big night in round one of the NBA playoffs on Tuesday, as three games had a lot at stake deep in each respective series. The biggest spectacle was to see how Russell Westbrook would perform in an elimination game. More on that below. The Spurs and Grizzlies played a rubber match in San Antonio on Tuesday. It went about how everyone expected it would go. The late game was between the Jazz and Clippers, which is easily the best series in the first round out West. Let’s sort out the storylines from Tuesday’s slate.
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ROCKETS END WESTBROOK’S MAGICAL SEASON
Russell Westbrook’s historic season of averaging a triple-double came to a screeching halt on Tuesday night as the Rockets defeated the Thunder 105-99 in Game 5 to win the series 4-1.
Facing elimination, Westbrook played nearly 42 minutes. In the six minutes that he was off the court, the Rockets outscored the Thunder 27-9. Let that sink in for a little bit. Westbrook finished the game with 47 points (15-for-34 FGs, 12-for-17 FTs), 11 boards, nine assists and five 3-pointers. He averaged a triple double in his five playoff games.
Their big trade in the offseason for Victor Oladipo was the victim of criticism all night. Oladipo finished the game shooting a cold 4-for-17 from the field for 10 points with six boards, one steal and two 3-pointers in 34 minutes. If ‘Dipo is supposed to be their second best player, this team has some serious work to do this summer.
On the winning side, the Rockets went eight deep but brought it at both ends of the floor. James Harden was cold all night, shooting 8-for-25 from the floor but he made up for it by getting to the basket (16-for-17 FTs) for 34 points with eight boards, four assists, three steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes.
The Rockets were 6-for-37 from beyond the arc and still won the game, showing how dangerous they can be. Midseason acquisition Lou Williams got hot, scoring 22 points (7-for-14 FGs, 6-for-6 FTs) with five baords, one assist, one steal and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes.
With the win, the Rockets now advance to take on the winner of the Spurs-Grizzlies series.
SPURS PULL AWAY IN THE SECOND HALF TO TAKE GAME 5
It was about time they stopped playing down to their competition and put the pesky Grizzlies away. The Spurs did just that, taking a 3-2 series lead with a 116-103 victory on Tuesday. The Spurs are now 6-0 under Popovich in Game 5 of a first round series when tied 2-2.
Kawhi Leonard led all scorers with 28 points (9-for-16 FGs, 7-for-8 FTs), six assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. Kawhi has 158 points in his first five games of the playoffs this season, second to only George Gervin in 1978. I’m sure Kawhi doesn’t miss Tony Allen.
The backcourt got hot for the Spurs. Tony Parker shot 6-for-12 from the field for 16 points with six assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 30 minutes. Patty Mills caught fire, scoring 20 points (7-for-10 FGs) on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point land in 22 minutes off the bench. Mills led the Spurs with a +22 point differential when he was in the game.
The usual suspects showed up for the Grizzlies, but it wasn’t enough to hang in the scoring department. Mike Conley shot 10-for-17 from the field for 26 points with six assists, four steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. The starters sat half of the fourth quarter as the Grizzlies were getting blown out.
Marc Gasol posted a modest 17 points with five boards and seven assists in 41 minutes. He had no defensive stats on Tuesday.
The Spurs travel to Memphis with a chance to eliminate the Grizzlies in Game 6 on Thursday.
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JAZZ STEAL LOOSE BALL AND GAME 5 IN LA
In a three-point game with under one minute left, Gordon Hayward and Chris Paul dove to the floor for a loose ball that could prove to be the difference in the game. Hayward came up with it, just before Paul wouldn’t let go of the ball and got extra physical after the whistle. The refs questionably called a double-technical, but Paul was also called for a loose ball foul. Hayward nailed both free throws. The Jazz went on to steal Game 5 on the road 96-92.
Hayward led the Jazz with 27 points (9-for-16 FGs, 5-for-5 FTs), eight boards, four assists, two steals and four 3-pointers in 41 minutes. His presence has been heavily felt in round one.
Rudy Gobert showed why he is a strong defensive player of the year candidate once again with a monster showing on Tuesday. Gobert posted 11 points with 11 boards, one assist, five steals and two blocks in 36 minutes. He was a thorn in the Clippers’ side all night.
As for the Clippers, the void of Blake Griffin (toe) was hard to fill. Chris Paul shouldered the load for 28 points with four boards, nine assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes.
J.J. Redick helped fill Griffin’s scoring void with a superb effort. Redick shot 7-for-12 from the field and 9-for-10 from the line for 26 points, three boards, one assist and three 3-pointers in 34 minutes.
DeAndre Jordan double-doubled with 14 points, 12 boards, one assist, one steal and one block in 40 minutes. In the end, it wasn’t enough.
The Clipper look at avoid elimination on the road for Game 6 on Friday in Salt Lake City.
That will do it for Wednesday’s Daily Dish, playoff edition! As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter, I’m @RiazD. Don’t forget to follow all of our breaking news and rumors @HoopBallTweets. Happy Hump Day Hoop-Ballers!!