December 7, 2019

‘Insane’ battle makes NBA history

Giannis’ performance had Kyrie Irving fuming.

 

The Portland Trail Blazers have claimed a long, hard fought battle against the Denver Nuggets to take a 2-1 lead in what is shaping up as an epic NBA Playoffs series.

After dropping the first game, the Trail Blazers hit back, but in game three it went the distance — and then some.

The match went quadruple overtime, is just the second quadruple overtime in NBA history and the first in 66 years, with the Trail Blazers coming away with the 140-137 win.

It was the second quadruple-overtime playoff game in NBA history, joining a 1953 game between the Boston Celtics and the Syracuse Nationals.

The sides could not be separated after seven periods of play before Rodney Hood sunk a three to give the Trail Blazers the lead by two.

After a time-out, the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic then had two free throws, missing the first but nailing the second.

It’s hard to blame Jokic, who played 65 minutes, the most minutes in a playoff game in 66 years, scoring 33 points, 18 rebounds and 14 assists.

What a performance on a losing team for Jokic.

What a performance on a losing team for Jokic.Source:AP

CJ McCollum came up huge for the Trail Blazers, scoring a game-high 41 points and ending the Nuggets’ last ditch hopes with an intercept.

“Both teams competed man,” McCollum said after the game. “We wanted that game bad, we’re on our home floor, our fans gave us a lot of energy.”

Damian Lillard added 28 points for Portland, which stretched its winning streak at home to 12 games dating back to the regular season.

“That’s the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of,” Lillard said. “Each over-time… it just kept flip flopping. Each team just kept giving the other team life. Coach said at half-time it was going to come down to who can dig the deepest. Everyone out there was tired, fatigued and I thought we dug a little deeper tonight.”

Hood came off the bench to score seven points in the final OT and help the Blazers remain unbeaten at home this post-season.

Social media blew up over the stunning result of the marathon match.

 

GREEK FREAK DOES IT AGAIN

Giannis Antetokounmpo kept attacking and the Boston Celtics kept fouling. The fouls may have slowed the second half of Game 3, but nothing could stop Antetokounmpo from putting together a signature performance in TD Garden.

Antetokounmpo had 32 points and 13 rebounds, George Hill finished with 21 points and the Milwaukee Bucks beat Boston 123-116 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semi-final series.

Antetokounmpo had only 13 field goal attempts but had 16 points from the free throw line in a game that featured 53 total fouls called — 39 in the second half.

Giannis again showed how good he is.

Giannis again showed how good he is.Source:AFP

Including Milwaukee’s two regular-season games in Boston, Antetokounmpo has scored 30or more points in each of his trips to TD Garden in 2018-19.

“I’m just gonna keep being aggressive. That’s what my teammates want me to do,” Antetokounmpo said. “If I have to take it all the way, I’ll take it all the way.” Kyrie Irving scored 29 points and Jayson Tatum had 20 for the Celtics, who host Game 4 on Monday.

Boston led by a point at the half but was outscored 40-31 in the third quarter and trailed by as many as 17 points in the final period.

The Celtics were also outscored 52-24 in the paint and had 18 turnovers leading to 28 Milwaukee points.

Irving acknowledged the fouls did slow down the game and stunt Boston’s efforts late.

“It’s getting ridiculous at this point,” Irving said, using an expletive to describe the lulls the fouls created.

The Bucks threw the Celtics a tactical curve ball in Game 2, inserting Nikola Mirotic into the starting line-up in place of Sterling Brown. In Game 3 it was Celtics coach Brad Stevens who brought new wrinkles, notably going with a small line-up that featured 6-foot-7 Semi Ojeleye guarding the 6-11 Antetokounmpo when he returned to the game at the start of the second quarter and again in the third quarter.

Boston also kept going at Antetokounmpo throughout the game when it had the ball. It included a one-handed dunk by Jaylen Brown over the Bucks’ star early in the third quarter that brought the Celtics fans inside TD Garden to their feet. It was reminiscent of a two-handed dunk he had over Antetokounmpo in Boston’s Game 1 win.

Friday’s version complemented several nice defensive plays by Brown, including blocking a Tony Snell layup attempt off the backboard.

Giannis’ performance had Kyrie Irving fuming.

Giannis’ performance had Kyrie Irving fuming.Source:AFP

Still, Milwaukee managed to keep racking up points in the paint. The Bucks led by as many as 12 in the third quarter and took a 95-87 lead into the fourth. That was the score when Brown was called for his fifth foul with 10:53 left on what appeared to be a light touch of Eric Bledsoe near the baseline. It brought animated protests from both Brown and Stevens. A few trips later, Tatum received a technical for protesting his foul of Antetokounmpo.

Stevens said he didn’t think his team was overly frustrated by the foul calls. “I just think ultimately they made a lot of plays in that quarter and we didn’t,” he said.

The Bucks started to rack up points at the line and their lead grew to 114-97 by the time Brown came back into the game with 4:53 remaining.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said Antetokounmpo is hard to stop when he’s this locked in to finding ways to score and get his teammates involved.

“He’s just such a force. He can get through cracks,” Budenholzer said. “He’s going to finish or get to the free throw line a lot if he keeps playing like this.”

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