Taj Gibson’s dunk on Wade in super slo mo [video]

This is pretty awesome, outside of the failed chest bump/high five with Omer Asik after the dunk.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Western Conference Finals Commentary

Dallas Mavericks small forward Peja Stojakovic (L) ,forward Dirk Nowitzki (C) and center Tyson Chandler (R) walk to the bench for a timeout in their win over the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: This matchup between these two outfits in the Western Conference finals provides a unique glimpse of the past (Mavericks), present (whoever wins this series) and perhaps the future (Thunder) of the elite in the West. … So instead of Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan waging a battle of seasoned champions to reach yet another NBA Finals, twin freaks of nature and dueling superstars Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant are left to fight it out for the right to face either the Bulls or Heat for that coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. Had either one of their teams made it this far and faced the Lakers or Spurs to get to the championship round, it wouldn’t have been much of a shock. But now that they’re here facing one another, this clash between these two would-be rivals can take its place among the many interstate showdowns folks in Texas and Oklahoma have enjoyed over the years.

J. Michael Falgoust, USA Today: This is the Mavs’ first trip back to the conference finals, and they — like their star — are fighting the label that still defines them from their three first-round exits since. In 2007, they became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 8 after the NBA switched to a seven-game series format. Even after winning 57 games this season and entering the playoffs as the West’s No. 3 seed, the Mavericks appeared to be heading down a familiar path. They lost a 23-point lead in the second half of a first-round game against the Portland Trail Blazers and fell into a 2-2 tie in the series. But they closed out the Blazers by winning the next two, the finale coming on the road, then made the NBA take notice by sweeping the Lakers. It was a big step for Nowitzki and the Mavericks toward getting that first ring.

Barry Tramel, The Oklahoman: Old means wise. Old means experienced. Old means skilled, since one thing the NBA doesn’t tolerate is old and bad. Young means fresh. Young means fast. Young means never having to say you’re tired. The Western Conference Finals begin Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, and it’s a classic matchup. Can the Mavs make the Thunder pay for youthful mistakes? Not finding Terry on the wing. Leaping to block a Dirk Nowitzki shot that has yet to be launched. Can the Thunder make the Mavs pay for old joints? Not having anyone with a prayer of guarding Russell Westbrook. Not getting back quickly when the Thunder seizes possession and takes off like the Oklahoma Land Run. … If the Thunder pushes the ball, turns this series into a sprint relay, the Thunder is NBA Finals bound. But if the Mavericks control tempo, if this series becomes a game of halfcourt offense, Dallas will win and probably easily.

Jennifer Floyd Engel, Dallas Star-Telegram: And all of this happy-happy, joy-joy local May basketball fun is brought to you by the Mavs’ good friend and frequent companion in recent postseason, sports disappointment. I submit the catalyst for all this happiness was the ugly Game 4 meltdown in Portland on April 23. Every long playoff run has a seminal moment, a point in hindsight that you look back upon and go, “Aha — that is where this run started.” Dallas’ seminal moment, for me at least, was the immediate aftermath of that Game 4 choke as well as the team’s Game 5 reaction a couple of days later. The Mavs took it in, sucked it up and punched back hard. They have been whaling on opponents ever since.

Playoffs Commentary

Chicago Bulls’ Taj Gibson celebrates after a basket against the Atlanta Hawks during Game 5 of their NBA Eastern Conference second round playoff basketball game in Chicago, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

Rick Morrissey, Chicago Sun-Times: So here the Bulls were to start the fourth quarter Tuesday night, locked in mortal combat with determined Atlanta, and, well, what was it going to be? Were the Bulls going to chop down this pesky, maddening team? And if so, how would they do it? With Derrick Rose, of course. You play against Rose, and you expect to see 33 points and nine assists. You almost cede it. But you don’t expect Taj Gibson to pour in 11 fourth-quarter points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor. You don’t expect Gibson to pour in anything not involving Gatorade. You certainly don’t expect Omer Asik to play almost 20 minutes in a playoff game, including all 12 in the fourth quarter. You don’t expect Ronnie Brewer to play the entire fourth quarter either. You expect Brewer to be waving a towel at the end of the bench. It’s proof that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is smart enough not to get in the way of a good thing, even if the good thing might require nametags.

Bill Reiter, FSFlorida: In February, after the Heat failed to beat a similarly under-performing Celtics team in Boston, I wrote the following: “Miami cannot beat Boston. Not now. Not later. Not in a seven-game playoff series. Not gonna happen.” I was wrong. I did not believe LeBron and his coach would find enough harmony to work together in a way that could lead to such a win. They did. I did not think, after watching LeBron and Wade after that game, that either man would get their confidence back in the face of a Celtics onslaught. But that’s exactly what happened. I certainly didn’t think Boston would trade away Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson for the likes of Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic, but that certainly happened, too. When the Celtics traded Perkins, they gave away more of their team’s heart and soul than most of us knew. Though perhaps we should have guessed it by the way Celtics players cried at the goodbye; by the way they bristled at the news.

Ron Borges, BostonHerald.com: Regardless of why they failed to hold a 13-point second-half lead last year in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Lakers, that loss, in some ways, begat what has happened to them since. Big Three Lite seemed to wither and grow old that day, a circumstance that seldom reverses itself in sports. … The Heat have their own Big Three, and it is far from lite. It is made up of three guys who are younger, faster, stronger and perhaps even hungrier than the Celtics’ aging version, which is all the more reason why what happens tonight at American Airlines [AMR] Arena is so significant to the legacy of Pierce, Allen and Garnett in Boston. It seems foolish to suggest that somehow the aging and infirm team Danny Ainge put together this season will win three straight from the Heat, two of them in Miami, and thus advance to the East finals. Anything is possible, but some things are more unlikely than others, and at the moment a sighting of Halley’s comet seems more likely than a sighting of Banner 18 in the Garden rafters.

Berry Trammel, The Oklahoman: Russell Westbrook took 33 shots Monday night in the Memphis Marathon. Kevin Durant took 20. You know what that means. Here we go again. Why does Westbrook shoot so much? Why does he crave the spotlight? Why does he feel like he has to be the man? Crazed fans, we can forgive. But NBA veterans, from the likes of Chuck Barkley and Kenny Smith and Mike Fratello? Busting Westbrook even after he was the central hero in one of the most thrilling games in NBA history? Wondering why Durant wasn’t getting more shots than was his point guard. Are they not watching the games? To quote Strother Martin in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.” The Thunder has regained control of this rousing Western Conference semifinal against Memphis, armed again with homecourt advantage in a 2-2 series. And Westbrook is the No. 1 reason. The Thunder has a favorable mismatch with Westbrook. It does not have such an edge with Durant.

Thunder win triple-overtime thriller

Oklahoma City Thunder’s Nate Robinson (L) jumps into teammate Kevin Durant, 35, as they celebrate a 133-123 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in the third overtime of Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference playoff series in Memphis, Tennessee May 9, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Weber (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

I’ve been hard on Russell Westbrook over the past several games (as has most of the national media), but let’s give the guy credit. His brand of shoot-first point guard play was good enough to get Oklahoma City a 133-123 triple-overtime, series-tying win on Monday night.

In the last five minutes of regulation and the three overtime periods, Westbrook went 6-for-11 from the field with two assists and one turnover, and went 3-for-3 from the free throw line. He wasn’t perfect, but no one is expecting him to be. This is solid production from a player who has struggled mightily down the stretch in this series. In addition to the 40 points, he had five rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks and three turnovers.

It doesn’t hurt that he has Kevin Durant on his team either. Durant posted 35 points, 13 rebounds and four steals in the win, and scored 13 points in the final 20 minutes of the game.

What’s worrisome for the Thunder is that they had a 10-point lead with 5:11 to play and went into overtime. Then they had a seven-point with 1:54 to play in the first overtime, and blew that too. It wasn’t until the third overtime (and after a series of blown bunnies by the Grizzlies), that OKC was finally able to close out the game.

Speaking of blown bunnies, what happened to Zach Randolph’s touch around the basket? He scored 34 points, but was only 9-of-25 from the field and missed a series of close shots down the stretch.

Comeback puts Mavs up 3-0

Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) celebrates hitting a three-point shot in the second half against the Los Angeles Lakers during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference semi-final basketball playoff in Dallas, Texas May 6, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Stone (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

The Lakers led by eight with 7:35 to play, but a flurry of three-pointers brought the Mavs back and they eventually won Game 3, 98-92.

Earlier this season, the Mavs signed Peja Stojakovic for his shooting and after a dreadful first half, he scored 11 points in the fourth quarter (4-of-6 from the field, 3-of-4 from 3PT) to catalyze the Mavs’ comeback.

But without Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs wouldn’t even be here. He was brilliant tonight, hitting 12-of-19 shots for 32 points. Jason Terry was huge down the stretch, scoring seven points in the final two minutes, including a big three-pointer with 2:00 remaining that gave the Mavs a two-point lead.

Pau Gasol (12 points on 5-of-13 shooting) is going to take most of the criticism for the loss, but Kobe Bryant didn’t touch the ball on two crucial Laker possessions down the stretch. One ended in a missed shot by Lamar Odom and then on the following possession (with the Lakers trailing by four with 0:18 remaining), Derek Fisher threw the ball over Odom’s outstretched hand.

Related Posts