#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #7 Indiana Pacers, Toronto leads series 3-2 (7:30pm ET Friday, ESPNews)
The Indiana Pacers’ Paul George and the Toronto Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan had an old fashioned shootout Tuesday, and though George won the battle, it was the Raptors who won the war. George scored 39 points on 11-of-19 shooting, adding 8 boards and 8 dimes, while DeRozan scored “just” 34, but the Raptors came out on top, winning 102-99, after a DeRozan 3 put them up for good with 4:15 to play.
The Pacers roared out to a 17-point lead late in the first quarter, but an 11-point run got the Raptors back within shouting distance, only for the Pacers to go up by 13, which was the difference at the end of three quarters. It was in the final frame that the Pacers went off the rails, as they made just 4 of 15 field goal attempts, and missed both free throws, on their way to a 9-point quarter, while the Raptors got at least 4 points from five different guys, including Bismack Biyombo, who had 4 points and 7 boards in the quarter, a fine capper to a 10-16 night.
#3 Miami Heat vs. #6 Charlotte Hornets, CHA leads series 3-2 (8pm ET Friday, ESPN)
The Miami Heat are in deep trouble, facing elimnation following a Game 5 loss to the Hornets on Thursday. The Hornets slogged through a brutal 3rd quarter during which they shot just 26%, allowing Miami to go into the fourth quarter nursing a 6-point lead. But Charlotte’s 3-point shooters got hot again, making 4 of 8 in the final period, and taking the lead for good on a Courtney Lee 3 that made it 90-88 with 25 seconds left on the clock. That would be the final, as the Charlotte D clamped down on the Heat, with Kemba Walker blocking a Goran Dragic three-point attempt and Dwyane Wade’s final 2-footer deflected by Lee.
Wade led all scorers with 25 points, to go along with 5 rebounds and 4 assists, but he also made 5 turnovers, and Dragic had a rough night, scoring just 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting, while the Heat got little to nothing from their bench, which shot a collective 4 of 19 from the floor for just 13 points. For the Hornets, it was Marvin Williams who led the offense with 17 points, 8 boards, 2 dimes, and 3 steals, while Walker had 14 on 4-of-18 shooting with 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and Jeremy Lin had another solid game off the bench with 11 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists.
#4 Los Angeles Clippers vs. #5 Portland Trail Blazers, POR leads series 3-2 (10:30pm ET Friday, ESPN)
Less than two weeks ago, the Clippers were a dark horse pick to make a title run. They’d just welcomed Blake Griffin back from a 3-month absence due to injury and idiocy, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan were humming along nicely, the future looked bright. But on Monday they lost Paul to a broken hand, and Griffin to an aggravation of a his shoulder injury, leaving them sorely lacking in talent to run with Portland.
Deadlocked at 71-71 after three quarters, the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday dropped the hammer on the outmanned Los Angeles Clippers, scoring 37 points in the fourth, on their way to a 108-98 win. Damian Lillard, who struggled through the first four games, continued to have problems on Wednesday, hitting on just one field goal in the first three quarters. But Lillard caught fire in the fourth, opening the quarter with a 26-footer, his first of 6 consecutive makes for 16 points. By the time Lillard’s streak was over, the Blazers were up 105-88 with 3:38 left on the clock. Lillard wound up with 22 for the game, while backcourt mate CJ McCollum led all scorers with 27, and Mason Plumlee again came up big with 10 points and 15 rebounds. JJ Reddick led the Clips with 19, and DeAndre Jordan had a big night with 16 points and 17 boards, but it wasn’t nearly enough to fill the void left by Paul and Griffin.