NBA playoffs: Weekend action sees both highs and lows

The Golden State Warriors knotted their Western Conference semifinal series at two games each with a thrilling 97-87 overtime win yesterday over the visiting San Antonio Spurs. Meanwhile, Indiana took a 2-1 series lead against the New York Knicks in their Eastern Conference semifinal with a win Saturday.

Robert Galbraith/REUTERS
Golden State Warriors' Harrison Barnes (c.) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs' Tiago Splitter (l.), Gary Neal (2nd l.), Tony Parker (2nd r.) and Manu Ginobili (r.) during Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference semi-final playoff basketball game in Oakland, California May 12, 2013.

Barnes, Warriors Knot Series at Two Against Spurs

Harrison Barnes, Roy Williams’ former prodigy at the University of North Carolina, scored 26 points on Sunday and led the Golden State Warriors to a 97-87 overtime victory against the visiting San Antonio Spurs. Barnes added ten rebounds to help defeat the Spurs, who won their first playoff game ever in Oakland on Friday, and helped Golden State to erase an eight point fourth quarter deficit to get the game into the extra frame.

The Warriors’ Jarrett Jack, who had barely missed an opportunity to end the game in regulation with a last-second jumper, had 24 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists off the bench. Andrew Bogut, the Warriors’ seven-foot Australian who starred at the University of Utah, overcame the burden of four early personal fouls to amass 18 rebounds. And Stephen Curry, the team’s prolific three-point shooter, had 22 points, along with two huge threes early in the third period to get what was to that point a lethargic Warriors crowd back into the game.

Some days, the hoop is as big as a peach basket, and on other occasions like a thimble. The Spurs definitely encountered the latter yesterday, as their last five minutes of regulation and the overtime period were an offensive horror show. Over that time, Golden State outscored them 25-7, and the Spurs could only manage to hit two of 18 shots in that time, including only one three-pointer. It was a slight hint of vulnerability for the older San Antonio squad, which effectively ran out of gas against the Warriors – themselves the youngest team remaining in the playoffs. And to add insult to injury, the Spurs hit only 56% of their free throws, contrasted with 80% for Golden State.

Knicks’ Offense Evaporates as Pacers Take a 2-1 Series Lead in East

The highly anticipated return of Amar’e Stoudemire to the New York Knicks lineup on Saturday night proved to be merely sound and fury signifying nothing, as the Indiana Pacers ground out an 82-71 victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse against the visiting Knicks to take a 2-1 Eastern Conference Semifinal lead. Roy Hibbert, who was seen prior to the game making numerous consecutive sky hooks in the paint, dominated inside to score 24 points on a night when solid defense by both teams was most evidently on display.

For New York, only Carmelo Anthony, with 21 points, scored in double-figures, but both teams barely eked out 35% in shooting from the floor. Indiana, on the other hand, got four players in double-digits, including Hibbert, David West, George Hill (who had 5 three-pointers) and Paul George. And along with Stoudemire’s minimal offensive output (7 points in almost 9 minutes), a genuine concern for the Knicks has to be J.R. Smith, who since his suspension for elbowing Celtics guard Jason Terry in the opening round, has shot the ball terribly. In this game, he was 4-12 from the field, and 0-3 from three-point land.

Also, speedy Knicks guard Raymond Felton, who drove the lane almost at will against Boston, has been effectively neutralized by the post play of Indiana’s Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough. In this game, he was only 1-for-8 from the field. And Pablo Prigioni, the Knicks’ perimeter-shooting specialist, was a woeful 0-5 from the field in 24 minutes of action, with no three-pointers.

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