MIAMI: The Miami Heat advanced to the Eastern Conference finals for the fourth consecutive year by beating the Brooklyn Nets, 96-94, on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila) to win their NBA playoff series four games to one.
LeBron James worked both ends of the floor in game five, scoring 20 of his 29 points in the second half and then clamping down on the Nets’ star Joe Johnson, especially in the final seconds. James was the MVP runner up this season.
Two-time defending NBA champion Miami closed the game on a 13-3 surge after trailing 91-83 with 4:49 left in the final quarter in front of a crowd of 19,615 at American Airlines Arena.
“We did what we needed to do, when he had to do it,” said Heat guard Ray Allen.
Brooklyn won both regular season contests in Miami but this was different story as the Heat are 5-0 at home in the postseason.
Miami lost game three in Brooklyn but James put the Heat on his back in game four for a 102-96 victory. James scored a career postseason high 49 points as the Heat rebounded two days after having their eight-game playoff winning streak halted.
In San Antonio, Kawhi Leonard had 22 points and seven rebounds as the San Antonio Spurs advanced to the Western Conference final with a dominating 104-82 win over Portland on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).
Danny Green scored 22 points and Tim Duncan added 16 points with eight rebounds to help the Spurs win the series over the Trail Blazers four games to one and reach their third straight conference final.
Duncan said the Spurs are starting to come together at the right time.
The win in front of a crowd of 18,581 may have come at a cost as San Antonio’s all-star guard Tony Parker left midway through the first quarter with tightness in his left hamstring and did not return.
Duncan said after the game that he doesn’t think it is a serious injury.
The Spurs won by an average of 21 points in their three home wins in the series and await the winner of the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Sterling doubts players would strike – report
Donald Sterling, the embattled Los Angeles Clippers owner banned for life by the NBA for racist remarks, says he doubts players would strike if he still owns the team next season.
In portions of an interview with CNN released on the television network’s website on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila), the 80-year-old real estate tycoon said salaries would be more important that spiting him.
“That’s talk. The media pushes that,” Sterling told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Why would they do that? If they get their salaries, they are going to play.”