“I might be sick in the head or crazy or thrown off or something like that, but I still think we are going to win this series,” Bryant said after the Lakers blew a fourth quarter lead in a Game 3 loss to the Mavericks. “I might be nuts. Win on Sunday. Go back home and see if they can win in L.A.” When asked where that confidence comes from, the five-time NBA champion said: “I don’t know. I’m just nuts.” After LA’s performance in Game 4 (I won’t add any comments regarding Odom and particularly Bynum, as it’s pretty self-explanatory), look for Kobe to be checking himself into an LA-area sanatorium any day now. The Mavs broke open Sunday’s game with a 36-16 edge in the second quarter and the two-time defending champs (who had been to three consecutive NBA Finals), just plain quit in the second half, as Dallas closed out its four-game sweep of LA with a 122-86 victory.
Nowitzki was the dominant player in the series (25.3-9.3) but Sunday it was Terry, Peja and Barea (all who come off the bench) who were the stars. Terry made 9-of-10 three-pointers (32 points), Peja was 6-of-6 on threes (21 points) and Barea added a playoff career-high 22 points. The Mavs tied an NBA postseason record with 20 three-pointers while the Lakers finished the series 15-of-76 (19.7) from behind the arc. The Mavs have now won a franchise-record six straight playoff games, a streak that began right after they blew a 23-point lead in Game 4 of their first-round series against Portland. Dallas is a perfect 10-0 ATS in this year’s postseason. Teams falling behind 0-3 in a best-of-seven series are now 0-99 in NBA playoff history with the Lakers becoming the 60th team to get swept.
In Sunday’s other game, the Hawks couldn’t stop Rose again but unlike when he went for a career-high 44 points (on 16-of-27 shooting) in Chicago’s 99-82 Game 3 win, Atlanta forced him into a 12-of-32 shooting effort in Game 4 when he netted 34 points. Johnson scored 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Crawford has 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting, after the two combined to score just 17 points on 7-of-19 shooting in Game 3. However, Atlanta’s star was Josh Smith, who had 23 points and 16 rebounds. The Hawks outscored the Bulls 33-19 in the fourth quarter, including 16-4 over the game’s final 4 1/2 minutes. The Atlanta victory snapped a nine-game home losing streak in the second round, dating back to a May 13, 1996 win against Orlando. The series is now tied at two-all and resumes Tuesday in Chicago.
The Miami/Boston and Oklahoma City/Memphis series resume tonight, after the Celtics beat the Heat 97-81 and the Grizzlies beat the Thunder 101-93 (OT) in games played on Saturday. KG had totaled just 22 points and 14 rebounds in the two games at Miami but had 28 & 18 in Game 3. Pierce chipped in with 27 and Rondo returned to spark the team after dislocating his elbow. The Grizzlies trailed 70-54 in the late third quarter but sent the game into OT by outscoring the Thunder 23-10 in the 4th quarter. Memphis outscored Oklahoma City 15-7 in the OT period, as the Thunder made just 3-of-12 FGs in the extra period. Randolph had 21 points and 21 rebounds (set franchise record), Gasol 16 & 7 plus the guard trio of Conley (18), Allen (10) and Mayo (18) was terrific. Durant had 22 & 12 but made just 10-of-24 shots while Westbrook had 23-6-12 but hit only 7-of-22 FGs. Both series stand at 2-1, with Miami and Memphis leading.
The Heat have scored just 80, 82 and 81 points in their three games in Boston this year but with the Rondo injury, are favored by 1 1/2 points (total is 181) in a game that starts at 7:05 ET on TNT. Memphis is now 25-5 SU at home since January 1 (only the Bulls are better at home, going 27-3), including 3-0 SU and ATS this postseason. The Grizzlies are favored by 2 1/2 points with a total of 198 (9:35 ET on TNT). Home teams are 9-5 SU and ATS in the second round, after going 32-11 SU and just 17-23-3 ATS in the first round. Under bettors went 26-17 (60.5 percent) in the first round but it’s been a delight for over bettors in the second round, as 10 of the 14 games have gone over (71.4 percent). Those following the Zig-Zag Theory are 19-23-3 ATS (minus-6.3 net games) this postseason with plays tonight on Miami (which may close as the first road favorite of the second round) and Oklahoma City.