#6 Dallas Mavericks vs. #3 Oklahoma City Thunder, OKC leads series 3-1
(8pm ET Monday, TNT)
An already chippy series went next-level Saturday night, as Kevin Durant got whistled for a flagrant 2, Serge Ibaka got a T for throwing an elbow, and Russell Westbrook got a T for getting into a shouting match with the Mavs’ Salah Mejri. Nonetheless, OKC went on to win Game 4 against Dallas 119-108. Up 3-1 in their opening round series, the Thunder have a chance to close it out tonight.
Westbrook would finish the game with 25 points and 15 assists, and Kevin Durant dropped 19 points while grabbing 4 boards, but it was Enes Kanter who led all scorers with 28 points on a blistering 12-of-13 shooting performance, and he still had time to grab 6 rebounds, all in 26 minutes coming off the bench. For the Mavs, it was Dirk Nowitzki who led the team in scoring for the ka-billionth time in the last 18 years, but his efforts were hampered by Deron Williams needing to throw in the towel 89 seconds after tip-off, as he finally succumbed to a hernia that had been slowing him for a few days, and has now finished his season.
Kanter has probably been the MVP of this series for OKC, scoring 17.8 ppg, with 8.8 rebounds in just 22 minutes a game, while hitting on 73% of his field goal attempts. He won’t continue to play this well – nobody could – but if he did, and Ibaka kept posting 15-7 and shooting 71%, and Westbrook and Durant were to get back on track, these cats would be unstoppable.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Portland Trail Blazers, LAC leads series 2-1 (10:30pm ET Monday, TNT)
Heading home Saturday down 2-0 in their best-of-seven series, the Portland Trail Blazers did what they had to do, as their vaunted guard tandem finally got back on track, leading the team to a 96-88 win over the Clippers.
Damian Lillard led all scorers with 32 points, while backcourt mate CJ McCollum chipped in 27 more, and both men had 5 rebounds and 5 assists. But it was Portland’s mild-mannered center Mason Plumlee who erupted for 21 rebounds and 9 assists, as the Blazers controlled the boards 56-44. The Clippers’ Chris Paul dropped 26 points and 9 dimes, and DeAndre Jordan had a typical 11-16 night, but Blake Griffin was a non-factor, scoring just 12 points on 5-of-16 shooting, while grabbing just 7 rebounds.
Lillard got off to a hot start, scoring 12 points in the opening quarter, while McCollum scored 2 in the second, as Portland went into the half up by 9. The lead slowly dwindled away, and the Clips eventually went up 85-81 with 4:28 to play, but Chris Paul missed all 3 of his shots and DeAndre Jordan missed 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch, while Lillard scored 6 and McCollum 5 more to close it out.