No more sweeps, and actually some interesting series developing, as the Brooklyn Nets even things at 2-2 with the Atlanta Hawks, the Milwaukee Bucks win again to make it 3-2 and the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time this season, narrowing it down to 3-1.
Deron Williams has to be the ‘hero’ of the night, scoring 35 points in game 4 to lead the Nets to a 120-115 victory, shockingly tying the series. Williams scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone, almost his total from the three previous games combined. It was as if all of his injuries disappeared, and all the criticism he’s been taking recently propelled him to a performance no one actually thought he had in him anymore.
Brook Lopez scored 26 points as the one constant the Hawks continue to have trouble with. Atlanta didn’t have problems scoring this time, shooting 48.4% from the field, getting 20 points from Jeff Teague and DeMarre Carroll, but their defense was atrocious, and becoming a number one seed that loses to a number eight has to be going through their minds.
Still in the East, but up in the Midwest. The Milwaukee Bucks have turned their series with the Chicago Bulls around, mostly with defense. They beat the Bulls 94-88 to take it to game 6 (in Milwaukee) with 22 points from Michael Carter-Williams and 21 from Khris Middleton, but their ability to make the Bulls look uncomfortable on offense has been the most impressive.
Chicago players shot just 34.4% from the field, as Derrick Rose (13 points) and Jimmy Butler (20 points) finished with 10-of-41 shooting. Mike Dunleavy didn’t score a single point and while Pau Gasol (25-10) and Joakim Noah (scoring 10 points) didn’t do too badly, the Bulls have been struggling to get anything special from their bench, messing up the big man pairings. Nikola Mirotic’s injury which he is playing through seems to be more serious and limiting than initially thought.
Out West, the Blazers finally won a game in front of their home fans, which means they’re heading back to Memphis. They beat the Grizzlies 99-92 in game 4 behind 32 points from Damian Lillard. Lillard didn’t have to face Mike Conley (eye injury), instead having Nick Calathes and Beno Udrih guarding him. LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points on 6-of-22 from the field) keeping looking bad, but not as bad as Memphis in the fourth quarter.
Memphis actually led by as many as 10 points in the fourth, but a great finish from Lillard and C.J. McCollum (18 points) helped keep the Blazers in this series floating for a couple more days, and maybe more if Conley is going to miss more games. The Blazers are down to an 8-man rotation, finding out that going to McCollum and Meyers Leonard (13 points, 13 rebounds) might be the best thing for them with their backs to the wall.