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Knicks finish off Celtics in Boston
The Knicks withstood a furious comeback in Boston to close out the Celtics, 88-80. It was New York's fourth victory in Boston this season (two in the regular season, two in the postseason). This is the fifth time in NBA history that a team defeated the Celtics four times in Boston in a single season, including both the regular season and the playoffs: the Pacers did it twice (2003-04 and 2004-05), the Chicago Stags in 1947-48 and the Knicks in 1947-48.
Low scoring first half too much to overcome for Celtics
The Celtics scored 27 points in the first half Friday night, tying their franchise-low for fewest points in the first half of a playoff game. The other was March 24, 1951, also a series-ending loss against the Knicks. In the shot-clock era, only one other team scored 27 or fewer points in the first half of a playoff game at home. The other team to do so was the Pistons on June 1, 2004 against the Pacers. In that game, Detroit scored 27 points in the first half but rallied for a 69-65 victory, advancing the Pistons to the NBA Finals.
Durant too much for Rockets
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 off the bench (21 in the first half) as the Thunder dispatched the Rockets, 103-94, in Houston. Durant's scoring is all-too-easy to take for granted - it was his 32nd straight playoff game scoring 20-plus points - but Martin had scored just three points, making one of 10 field-goal attempts, in the Thunder's home loss in Game Five. Martin became just the fifth player in NBA playoff history to score 25 or more points and eliminate a team for which he had played the previous season on its own home court. In 1957, Slater Martin of the St. Louis Hawks had 26 in a double-overtime victory at Minneapolis to eliminate the Lakers; ten years later, Jeff Mullins of the San Francisco Warriors scored 26 points at St. Louis to send the Hawks home (both of those games came in the Western Division Finals). Then in 1976, the Celtics' Charlie Scott scored 25 points in the climactic game of the NBA Finals at Phoenix; and in 2005, Steve Nash's 39 points helped the Suns to eliminate the Mavericks in overtime, in Dallas, in the Conference Semifinals.
Hack-a-Grizzly fails in Memphis
Zach Randolph and Mike Conley each scored 23 points for the Grizzlies in their 118-105 series-clinching win over the Clippers. Conley reached 23 the hard way: he made only four field goals (including three from beyond the arc) but sank 12 of the 38 free throws made by his team (the highest such total for any team in this year's playoffs). While several other players have scored 23 points in an NBA playoff game in which they scored just four field goals, only one player had more points while making so few shots from the floor: Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points against the Spurs in 2006 in a game in which he made just three field goals.
Memphis connected on 38 free throws Friday night, setting a new franchise record for most free throws in a playoff game. The Grizzlies' previous high was 37 in a triple-overtime loss in May 2011 against the Thunder.
The Grizzlies' victory gave them a unique distinction, as they became the first team in NBA history to win a playoff series by winning four consecutive games, each by a double-digit margin, after having lost the first two games of that series.
Team effort in Memphis
Seven Grizzlies players reached double-digits in points Friday night, marking the second time in team history that seven or more players scored at least 10 points in a playoff game for Memphis. The other such game was on May 1, 2005, when seven did it in a loss to the Suns.
Pacers advance past Hawks
David West and George Hill scored 21 points apiece to lead all scorers in the Pacers' 81-73 series-clinching victory in Atlanta - while Paul George, who had averaged 21.6 points over the first five games of the series, scored only four points in 44 minutes, 20 seconds on the court. It marked just the second time in NBA history that in a team's series-clinching victory, one of its players who had been averaging 20-plus points per game in that series scored fewer than five points while playing at least 40 minutes. The other instance came in the 1983 Western Conference Finals, when the Lakers eliminated the Spurs, 101-100, in Game Six, a game in which Magic Johnson scored just two points - but had 16 assists and 15 rebounds! - in 48 minutes. (Magic had averaged 20.6 over the previous five games in the series.)
Korver quiet from long distance
Kyle Korver, who ranked second in the NBA this season in three-point field-goal percentage (45.7%), went 0-for-7 behind the arc in Atlanta's Game 6 loss. That's tied for Korver's career-high for most three-point attempts without a make in a game, regular or postseason. Korver went 0-for-7 in December 2006 and April 2009, both times in the regular season.
Four teams were eliminated from the playoffs Friday - the Celtics, Clippers, Hawks, and Rockets. It's the first time in just over 10 years that at least four teams were knocked out of the NBA postseason on the same day. On May 1, 2003, the Bucks, Pacers, Suns, and Timberwolves were all sent home.
Howard and Utley homers lead Phillies to victory
Ryan Howard and Chase Utley each hit solo homers in the Phillies' 4-1 victory over the Marlins, marking the 49th time Howard and Utley went deep in the same game. That's the highest total by any pair of teammates in Phillies history. The only pair of active teammates to go yard at least 30 times in the same game are the Yankees' Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez (30).
King Felix reigns supreme
Felix Hernandez continued his dominant start to the season Friday night, allowing five hits and no walks in eight shutout innings as the Mariners shut out the Blue Jays, 4-0. In seven starts in 2013, Hernandez has allowed only 39 hits and seven bases on balls while striking out 51 batters. The only other pitcher in American League history to strike out at least 50 batters over his first seven starts of a season while allowing no more than 40 hits and seven walks was Johan Santana for the Twins in 2005 (59 strikeouts, 36 hits allowed, five walks allowed).
Leadoff homer is enough offense for A's at Yankee Stadium
The Athletics' Adam Rosales led off with a home run against CC Sabathia, which would be all the scoring Oakland needed in the A's 2-0 victory at Yankee Stadium. The last time a team hit a leadoff homer and held the Yankees scoreless in the Bronx was April 14, 1967, when Reggie Smith homered off Whitey Ford to open the game and Billy Rohr didn't allow a hit until two were out in the ninth inning in a 3-0 Red Sox victory.
Zeros aplenty for the AL East
Four teams from the AL East were shut out Friday - the Blue Jays (versus the Mariners), Orioles (at the Angels), Red Sox (at the Rangers), and Yankees (versus the Athletics). It's only the second time in divisional play (since 1969) that four different teams from the AL East scored no runs in the same day. The other date was September 24, 1976 (Brewers, Red Sox, Tigers, and Yankees).
Late homers help Mets in Atlanta
The Mets defeated the Braves, 7-5, in Atlanta, aided by game-tying homers from Marlon Byrd in the eighth inning and David Wright in the ninth. It's the first time in Mets history that two players hit home runs to wipe out their opponent's lead in both the eighth and ninth innings of the same game. The last major-league team with game-tying homers in the eighth and ninth inning of the same game was the Rangers (Michael Young and Nelson Cruz) in May 2011 against the Royals.
Maybe move him up to the eighth spot tomorrow?
Ninth-place batter Drew Stubbs capped off a 4-for-5 night with a game-ending RBI double in the Indians' 7-6, 10-inning win over the Twins. Since the designated hitter was introduced in 1973, only four other starting #9 batters have recorded at least four hits and a walkoff RBI in a game: Cleveland's Tom Veryzer (1978), Seattle's Todd Cruz (1982), Tampa Bay's Brendan Harris (2007), and Texas' Ramon Vazquez (2008).
Avila available with late-inning heroics
With the Tigers trailing 3-2 in the ninth inning, Alex Avila hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Astros' closer Jose Veras, propelling Detroit to a 4-3 victory in Houston. It's the third time Avila has hit a go-ahead home run in the ninth inning or later; Avila also did so in August 2010 and April 2012. In the last six seasons (2008-2013), the only other Tigers catcher to give his team the lead with a long ball in the ninth inning or later is Gerald Laird, who homered in the 13th inning on September 2, 2010 in Minnesota.
Burnett piling up strikeouts
A.J. Burnett leads the National League with 57 strikeouts after punching out nine batters in the Pirates' 3-1 victory over the Nationals. Only one other Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1900) had more than 55 strikeouts in his first seven starts of a season. That was Jose DeLeon, who K'd 62 batters in his first seven starts of the 1983 campaign.
Reds shine during the day against Cubs
J.J. Hoover struck out Darwin Barney with the bases loaded to preserve a 6-5 victory over the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Dating back to April 2012, the Reds have now won their last 10 day games against the Cubs. The only team with a longer active winning streak during the day versus a particular opponent is the Rays, who have won their last 12 day games against the Blue Jays.
Islanders come back strong against Penguins
The Islanders, who lost 5-0 in Game 1 of their series against the Penguins, trailed 2-0 and 3-1 early in the first period of Game 2 but rallied to post a 4-3 win at Pittsburgh. It's the first time that an NHL team won the second game of a playoff series after losing the series opener by five goals or more since 2003, when the Canucks lost 6-0 at home in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Blues then won 2-1 in Game 2.
The Islanders' victory marked the first time they won a playoff game in which they trailed by two or more goals since 1993, when they won Game 4 of their first-round series against Washington, 4-3 in double-overtime, after the Capitals had taken a 3-0 lead. Before Friday, the last time the Isles won a playoff game in regulation time after trailing by at least two goals was in 1985, also against Washington (6-4 in Game 4).
First-timers shine in Pittsburgh
The Islanders' goal-scorers in their 4-3 win at Pittsburgh were Matt Moulson, Colin McDonald, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo, and for each man it was the first playoff goal of his NHL career. It was the first time that an NHL team had first-time playoff goal-scorers in one game since 2002, when the Islanders beat the Maple Leafs, 6-1, in Game 3 of their first-round series and got first goals from Mark Parrish, Brad Isbister, Shawn Bates and Dave Scatchard.
Canadiens' rookie scores game winner
Rookie Brendan Gallagher scored the winning goal for the Canadiens in Game 2 of their series against Ottawa, after scoring one of Montreal's two goals in its Game 1 loss. Over the last 60 years the only other rookies to score goals for the Canadiens in each of the team's first two games of a playoff year were Lorne Davis (1954), Phil Goyette (1958) and Sergei Kostitsyn (2008).
Frolik and Sharp light the lamp twice each as Chicago leads 2-0
Michael Frolik and Patrick Sharp each scored their first two goals of the 2013 playoffs to help the Blackhawks beat the Wild, 5-2, and take a two-games-to-none lead in their series. Frolik scored the game-winning goal in Chicago's regular-season opener (January 19 at Los Angeles) but he scored only two goals in 44 games over the remainder of the season and both goals came in one game (March 25 vs. the Kings in Chicago).
Surprise Shark attack gives San Jose a 2-0 lead
Patrick Marleau found the back of the net in the last minute of regulation in Vancouver before Raffi Torres provided the game-winner in overtime as the Sharks downed the Canucks, 3-2, to win the first two games in the series. It's the second time in team history that San Jose tied a playoff game in the last minute of the third period. The other such game was on April 16, 2010, when Joe Pavelski scored a game-tying goal with 32 seconds remaining before Devin Setoguchi won it in overtime against the Avalanche.