Day 8 of the NBA playoff bubble tipped off Monday with the second slate of Game 4s at the league’s campus at Walt Disney World in Florida. Action from the playoffs will be updated here throughout the day.
Lakers blow out Blazers on Kobe Bryant Day
If there was ever a night for a Lakers blowout win, it was on Monday night.
They cruised to a massive 135-115 win over the Trail Blazers in Game 4 of the series to take a 3-1 lead on Kobe Bryant day, a perfect way to honor the former Lakers star on 8/24.
The Lakers wore special “Black Mamba” jerseys to honor Bryant and his daughter Gianna, who were among seven people who died in a helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles in January.
The jerseys also featured a heart with the number “2” on them for Gianna’s number.
Los Angeles opened the game up on a 15-0 run, and never looked back. They even held a 24-8 lead in the first quarter, and quickly pushed to a 38-point lead early in the second half. Their win, it seemed, was never in doubt.
LeBron James put up 30 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes in the win. Both Anthony Davis and Kyle Kuzma added 18 points, too. Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Damian Lillard finished with 11 points and left the game early after suffering a non-contact knee injury.
Another look at Damian Lillard's non-contact knee injury pic.twitter.com/263IjR9C3e— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) August 25, 2020
Jimmy Butler plays through shoulder sprain as Heat advance
The Indiana Pacers kept it competitive, but the Eastern Conference has its third sweep of the first round.
The Miami Heat topped the Pacers 99-87 to advance to the second round, and did it despite their biggest star being barely able to use his left arm. Jimmy Butler appeared to be dealing with a shoulder issue entering the game and exited it in the first quarter with a shoulder strain.
Butler was still able to return in the second half, taped up and once again setting the culture for his team. Butler finished with 6 points and 3 rebounds in 23 minutes, deferring to the likes of Goran Dragic (23 points) and Bam Adebayo (14 points, 19 rebounds, 6 assists).
The biggest difference in the game for the Heat was a bench that outscored Indiana 41 points to 3, led by Tyler Herro’s 16-point night.
With their first playoff series win since 2016, the Heat will go onto face the winner of the series between the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic. Oddly enough, despite the Magic missing multiple key players, the Bucks are the only higher seed in the East to be taken to five games.
As for the Pacers, a respectable season has ended in quiet fashion, and with some significant what-ifs due to the absence of All-Star Damontas Sabonis.
Thunder erase 14-point deficit in thriller
The NBA’s most surprising team keeps on showing they are for real.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, down as much as 14 in the third quarter, rallied for a 117-114 win over the Houston Rockets to even the series at 2-2. Leading the way were Sixth Man of the Year finalist Dennis Schroder with 30 points off the bench and Chris Paul with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Not bad for a team expected by money to land in the lottery after trading away Paul George and Russell Westbrook, who had some words for his old teammates during the game.
Westbrook wants the smoke with the Thunder bench, and he’s not even playing😂 pic.twitter.com/Sd895vJITW— NBA Retweet (@RTNBA) August 24, 2020
The Rockets set an NBA playoffs record with 58 3-point attempts, but went cold in the fourth quarter shooting only 4-of-19 from deep. James Harden posted 32 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 15 assists and 8 rebounds.
After the game, Paul addressed the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin and urged players and fans to vote.
Bucks hold off another upset from Magic
The first round matchup just about everyone had down as a walkover has been much more competitive than expected. And yet, the Milwaukee Bucks are still just one game from advancing.
After three competitive quarters in Game 4, the Bucks dominated in the final period for a 121-106 win and 3-1 series lead against the Orland Magic.
Up only 84-81 entering the fourth, the Bucks reeled off an 18-3 run to take a commanding lead. The Magic responded with a 17-5 run of their own to get back within single digits, but couldn’t complete the comeback.
The difference for the Bucks was Khris Middleton suddenly coming alive after posting only three points in three quarters. With 18 fourth-quarter points, it should be little surprise that the Bucks looked their strongest when Middleton finally played like the co-star they need alongside Giannis Antetkounmpo, who was his usually dominant self with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists.
Still playing without three of their most important players in Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba, the Magic made do with 31 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists from Nikola Vucevic and strong complementary efforts from Markelle Fultz and Terrence Ross.
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