Dallas Extend Lead, Bulls Tie Hawks
Dallas have gone 2-0 over Lakers whom they defeated 93-81 last night at the Staples. Mavericks are two wins from a third round berth, while Los Angeles have conceded both losses at home.
Dirk Nowitzki looked more shaped than Kobe Bryant though both scored 20+ points for their sides. Nowitzki came up with 24, including at the same time seven rebounds and two assists, while Lakers’ star finished his 38-minute showing with 23 points, five steals and three assists. Andrew Bynum proved to be on fire, leaving the court with 18 points, 13 rebounds, one assist and one block, by far the best performance among Lakers.
Dallas won the first quarter 26-20 only to concede the second round by four points in what seemed to be a comeback from the home side. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, the third quarter brought them a four-point deficit they couldn’t manage to recover. Thus, Mavericks won the third term 17-13 to re-build a six-point advantage. Finally, the fourth quarter found the same visitors going 12 points adrift of Lakers and clinching the second victory after two meetings.
Shawn Marion, too, had a great night, Dallas’s small forward bringing 14 points, nine rebounds and one assist. Jason Kidd came up with ten points, six assists, two rebounds and one steal, while DeShawn Stevenson, who converted the most three-pointers (3), had nine points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Finally, Tyson Chandler left with six points and seven rebounds.
Concerning their bench, Dallas’s reserves added 30 points, 12 of which being scored by a lively Jose Juan Barea, who managed to pick one rebound and deliver four passes within just 17 minutes. Brendan Haywood came off the bench to score five points, grab eight rebounds, one assist and three blocks, Jason Terry finished his 32-minute intervention with nine points, five assists, two rebounds and two steals, while Peja Stojakovic brought four points and one rebound.
As for the three-point performers, they were Stevenson, who converted three of six attempts, Kidd, who scored two out of eight throws and Nowitzki who converted two throws of three attempts. Overall, Dallas went 8 of 25 in three-pointers.
Apart from Bryant and Bynum’s shiny performances, Lakers’ Pau Gasol figure was not a less important one. The power forward had 13 points, ten rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Ron Artest came up with 11 points, six rebounds, three blocks and two assists, but things got more complicated when Derek Fisher stopped his 32-minute showing at four points, five assists, three rebounds and two steals.
Their bench, too, had a lamentable performance. Lamar Odom and Shannon Brown scored six points, each, while Steve Blake and Matt Barnes left scoreless. Odom managed instead to grab nine rebounds and deliver three assists. Luke Walton, Trey Johnson and Joe Smith did not play. Overall, Lakers converted two three-pointers out of 20 attempts.
Chicago Bulls 86 – 73 Atlanta Hawks
The same night Bulls recovered a one-loss deficit, beating Atlanta by 13 points at the United Center. With Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and Luol Deng in great shape, Chicago looked by far a better side. Rose hit 25 points, grabbed six rebounds, delivered ten assists and made two blocks, but even so, it was Noah to shine brighter. The central came up with 19 points, 14 rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block to resuscitate the East leaders for a 1-1 draw in Game 2.
Deng came up with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block, while the last two starters, Carlos Boozer and Keith Bogans, scored 14 points together. The first one added eight and grabbed 11 rebounds and the latter one completed his 18-minute showing with four rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Bulls’ bench scored 14 points, five of which being added by Kyle Korver. C.J. Watson had three points, while Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Kurt Thomas brought two points, each. Finally, Omer Asik, who played three minutes, left scoreless.
On the other side, Jeff Teague and Al Horford were the most shape Hawks. The first one had 21 points, three assists, three steals, two rebounds and two blocks, while the latter one came up with six points, 14 rebounds, six assists and one block. Joe Johnson, who had followed a great performance in Game 1, finished his 42-minute showing with 16 points, five rebounds, five steals and one assist.
Josh Smith brought 13 points, six rebounds, four blocks, three assists and one steal for the Hawks, who are to prepare for a couple of tough meetings in Atlanta. Finally, Marvin Williams came up with four points, seven rebounds, two blocks and one steal.
Hawks’ bench brought 13 points, Jamal Crawford being the only one to spend more than eight minutes on the court. He had 11 points and one assist, while Damien Wilkins finished his seven-minute intervention with two points, two rebounds and one block. Five other reserves left scoreless, including Jason Collins (3 minutes), Zaza Pachulia (8 minutes), Pape Sy (1 minute), Josh Powell (1 minute) and Hilton Armstrong (1 minute). Johnson, Teague and Craword were the only ones to convert a three-pointer.
Said Bulls’ Noah: “With Carlos, I think people have to understand he’s playing through an injury right now, and he’s giving us what he’s got. He’s somebody who has an unbelievable presence and he opens up a lot of things for a lot of us.” On contrast, Hawks’ Johnson claimed at the end of the game that he hoped Atlanta would go 2-0 ahead, something which didn’t happen. Atlanta will play the next two games at the Philips Arena and that should favor them.11