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LaMarcus Aldrigde Goes for 43 To Take Portland to 2-0 Versus Rockets

LaMarcus Aldridge has been going off for the Portland Trail Blazers in their first round play-off series against the Houston Rockets.

Portland was in Houston again last night to play game 2 of the series, and Aldridge dropped 43 points to take the Trail Blazers to their second win, at 112-105.

Aldridge had 46 points in game 1, which was a career-high, and franchise play-off record. His 43 points last night made him the first player in the NBA with consecutive 40+ point play-off games since Tracy McGrady did it in 2003, and the first player in Trail Blazers history to have two 40 point games in the post-season.

Playing in Texas means a lot to Aldridge, who grew up in Dallas and attended the University of Texas, especially when he can chalk up a couple of road wins there, before taking this series back to Portland.

After Aldridge did so much damage to the Rockets in the first game, Houston have spent a couple of days looking at what they can do to slow him down, but again they struggled.

Portland's Damian Lillard said; "What can they do to stop him? He was great once again, just like Game 1… When a lot of guys couldn't get going and couldn't hit shots, he just carried us. He played like an MVP again."

Dwight Howard came out for the Rockets and had a much more aggressive game. He scored Houston's first 13 points, and had 25 points by the half. He finished the game with 32 points, 14 rebounds and 4 blocks. His first quarter performance, where Howard had 19 points on 8-9 shooting and 5 rebounds broke Hakeem Olajuwon's 1995 record for scoring in the opening quarter of a play-off game.

James Harden, who had maybe the worst scoring night of his career in game 1, struggled again against the Trail Blazers. He had 18 points on 6-of-19 shooting. He also had 5 turnovers and fouled out of the game in the final minute.

Speaking after the game Harden said; "I'm not worried about my offence. I'm worried about our defense as a team. When we get stops and get out in transition, everybody feels good about themselves, and that's when assists flow in and things start going well."

Only 3 teams in NBA history have ever come back from losing the first 2 home games in a play-off series to win it, those being the 1968-69 Lakers, 93-94 Rockets and 04-05 Mavericks, so this current Rockets team have history going against them.

The Rockets will make the trip to Portland tomorrow to play game 3 where they really have to put a lid on Aldridge, and Harden has to find some kind of form if Houston are going to put up any sort of fight in this series.

Watch the highlights from last night's game.

Goran Dragic Named as Most Improved Player for the 2013-14 NBA Season

Phoenix Suns point guard, Goran Dragic has been named as the Kia NBA Most Improved Player for the 2013-14 season.

Over the course of this season with the Suns, Dragic has managed to take his average points to a career-best 20.3 per game, and he has shot a career-best 50.5% from the field, and 40.8% from 3-point range.

Dragic was the only player in the NBA to score at least 50% from the field and 40% from 3-point range this season, with is seriously impressive.

He has also averaged 5.9 assists and 3.2 rebounds, in helping the suns to a 48-43 record, finishing just one game behind the Dallas Mavericks who clinched the last play-off spot in the Western Conference.

Dragic' s new-found confidence, and flair with the basketball, helped the Suns to improve by 23 wins over the previous seasons performance (they only got to a record of 25-57 in the 2012-13 season).

The Suns joined a very select group of teams who have won 48 games in a season, and still missed out on the NBA play-offs.

The award is voted for by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters across the US and Canada, and they scored Dragic 408 points out of a possible 1,134. Lance Stephenson of the Indiana Pacers, finished second with 158 points and Anthony Davis of the New Orleans Pelicans, finished third with 155 points.

Check out Dragic's top 10 plays of the 2013-14 NBA season:

Gregg Popovich Wins NBA Coach of the Year 2014

Gregg Popovich has been awarded the NBA Coach of the Year for the 2013-14 NBA season, after leading his San Antonio Spurs to an NBA-leading 62-20 record.

Of all the teams in the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs are one of the most consistent teams, pulling out great season records year after year, and that is, in large, thanks to the vision, attitude and coaching philosophies of Gregg Popovich.

Last year, the Spurs fought their way to the NBA finals, only to lose out to a ferocious Miami team who were determined to get back-to-back championships. Now the Spurs are at the start of another play-off journey, and with a 62-20 record on the season, they get homecourt advantage right the way through.

On paper, the Spurs shouldn't be as good as they are, but Popovich is famed for being able to hold a team together, to get his players to fall in line, and to get results. The Spurs had by far the best record in the whole NBA this season, and that's with their star players pushing on in their 30's. Manu Ginobili is 36, Tim Duncan will be 38 this week, and Tony Parker will be 32 next month.

We say star players, but there's something special about the way that everything the Spurs do is done together, as a team, as a solid unit. Everyone takes responsibility for the wins and the losses.

No single player is marked out as the crown jewel of the team, in the way that LeBron James is to Miami, or Carmelo Anthony is to the Knicks. No single player averages more than 30 minutes of playing time in a game, and as a result, the Spurs tend to reach great heights each season without any of the headlines that other NBA franchises get.

We’re fortunate,” Popovich said as part of his acceptance speech. “These guys don’t care about stats, they only care about winning basketball games. You might get a championship, you might not, but you give it your best effort. But these guys could all have better stats. I play them for 29 or 30 minutes a game in their careers and their stats suffer because of it, but that sacrifice helps our entire team. and this year, whatever adversity we had — every team has adversity — but our bench really helped us through that. We would not have had the same success without what our bench did. I think that and the leadership that our older players showed helped us get through the hard times.”

This is Popovich's 3rd NBA Coach of the Year award, with only Don Nelson and Pat Riley having taken home 3 awards previously.

Pops had 380 points in voting by the media, with the Phoenix Sun's Jeff Hornacek coming second, Chicago's Tom Thibodeau coming third, followed by Charlotte's Steve Clifford and Toronto's Dwayne Casey.

The Spurs are currently up 1 - 0 in the first round of the play-offs versus the Dallas Mavericks. 

Clippers Beat Warriors By 40 Points in Game 2 of First Round

The play-off series between the LA Clippers and the Golden State Warriors was always going to be a good one. Last nights game proved that beyond a doubt.

The Clippers set a franchise record for the most points scored in a playoff game with 138, and the largest margin of victory in the postseason with 40 points, as they beat the Warriors 138 - 98.

Blake Griffin stepped up to the plate scoring 35 points on 13-17 from the field and 9-10 from the free throw line. He also had 6 rebounds and 2 steals in a win that levels the play-off series 1 - 1.

The Clippers led by 11 points in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, the second unit, consisting of Danny Granger, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison, pushed the lead out further for the Clippers. Griffin and the rest of the lead unit came back in to finish off the half, taking LA's lead to 26.

After fouling out of in the first game of the series, and perhaps costing the Clippers the game, Griffin didn't get called for a single foul in this game.

Steph Curry, who has been the hot hand for the Warriors throughout the season, has struggled so far in the postseason. He shot just 6-16 in the first game, then 9-17 from the field last night. He also shot just 1-7 from beyond the arc in game 2, finishing with 24 points.

As a team, the Warriors made 26 turnovers, to the 13 made by the Clippers. The Clippers had 15 steals in the game, a third of which belonged to Chris Paul who had 12 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds and 5 steals.

DeAndre Jordan had 5 blocks for the second game running, tying the Clippers franchise record for the play-offs. He also had 11 points and 9 rebounds.

The two teams meet again on Thursday for game 3 at Golden State.

Check out the game highlights from last night.

Joakim Noah Wins Defensive Player of the Year Award

Joakim Noah has been named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year after getting 100 out of a possible 125 first place votes from a panel of broadcasters and sportswriters.

Noah's impressive total of 555 points put him on top of the pile to get the Defensive Player of the Year award, beating off competition from Roy Hibbert (who got 166 points) and DeAndre Jordan (who got 121 points).

As a Chicago Bulls player, Noah joins a seriously elite rank, with Michael Jordan being the only other Bulls player to have won the award back in 1988. As a centre, Noah joins legends such as Hakeem Olajuwon, Dikembe Mutombo, Alonzo Mourning and David Robison in winning the award.

Noah has been averaging 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists this season, as well as 1.5 blocks. He's been a key part of the Bulls defence, being known for his ability to move and hustle across the court, and his strength in the paint.

The award was made to Noah yesterday, with mixed emotions. Noah dedicated the award to Tyrone Green, his basketball mentor and second father figure, who support and pushed him to be an NBA player when he was a teenager growing up in New York, when members of Noah's own family weren't so sure.

“This award goes to somebody who I’ll never forget, somebody who just passed and meant so much to me,” Noah said, acknowledging it still was hard to talk about his friend. “Somebody who believed in me. Mr. Green, I love you and I appreciate you, and I know you’re smiling down right now, really proud. This award goes to you.”

There was also some more lighthearted moments, as Noah joked about the tough workout regime that Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau put his players through, saying;

''I told Thibs, 'If we weren't winning games, I would really, really hate you,''' he said. ''And he said, 'Trust me, Jo, I feel the same way about you.'"

At the end of the day, Noah is one of the most dedicated, intense, hardworking players in the NBA. He's not afraid to match up with anyone, big or small, and he gets results. Possibly one of the most deserving DPOY awards in a while.

Kevin Durant Makes Impossible 3-Pointer in Thunder vs Grizzlies OT Thriller

The Memphis Grizzlies took on the Oklahoma City Thunder last night in the second game of their first round play-off series, and what a game it was!

The Grizzlies would finally win the game 111 - 105 in overtime, but it was a helluva journey for both teams to get there.

OKC were down by 5 points at 93 - 98, with 14 seconds left to go in the 4th quarter, when Kevin Durant made an INSANE shot as he fell out of bounds in the corner. He swished that, and drew the foul on Marc Gasol to go in for the four point play after hitting the free throw.

Mike Conley was then fouled on the inbounds and he hit 1 of 2 free throws to put the Grizzlies back up by 2 points, with 12 seconds left to play. Russell Westbrook brought the ball down, passed it off to KD then got it back for a 3-point attempt to win the game. He missed, but Kendrick Perkins is waiting under the basket for the put-back that takes the game into overtime at 99 - 99.

Zach Randolph was big for Grizzlies in the OT period with 8 points to carry Memphis to the win, and to level the series 1 - 1 in this first round of the NBA play-offs.

While Oklahoma had some HUGE plays in the game, Memphis did all the right little things to keep things going including playing serious defence on Durant. Tony Allen had the job of guarding KD, getting 4 steals in the game and holding KD to just 12-28 from the field as a result.

Check out the full game highlights below:

Jeremy Lin Airballs Over the Backboard As Houston Drops First Game of Play-Offs vs Portland

The Houston Rockets and the Portland Trail Blazers tipped off their first round play-off series last night in memorable fashion, which was great for Portland, but not so good for Houston.

LaMarcus Aldridge went off for a play-off franchise record of 46 points and grabbed a post-season career-high 18 rebounds in an overtime thriller, that saw Portland take the win by just 2 points. Damian Lillard also scored 31 points in his play-off debut.

For the Rockets, Dwight Howard led the way with 27 points and 15 rebounds, but there seemed to be more things to forget about the performance, than to remember.

Howard missed 4 critical free throws late in the game, as Portland came from 11 points down to take the win. James Harden missed 20 of his 28 shot attempts - perhaps his worst ever shooting performance, and Harden and Chandler Parsons combined for just 6-of-25 from 3-point range.

Then Jeremy Lin was out there doing this:

Lin managed to airball a 9ft fade-away jump shot OVER the backboard, making Linsanity feel like a distant, faded memory.

The two teams will match-up again on Wednesday for Game 2 in this first round of the play-offs. Hopefully Houston will have ironed out some of the kinks.

Knicks Fire Mike Woodson and His Entire Coaching Staff

Mike Woodson

The New York Knicks have announced that they have fired head coach Mike Woodson, and his entire staff.

The Knicks have had a dire season, and missed out on the play-offs after finishing in 9th spot in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks president, Phil Jackson, wasted no time in doing something about the direction that New York are headed as soon as their season came to an end, clearing out the entire coaching staff in one go.

Jackson won 2 championships as a player with the Knicks back in the 1970's and he won 11 NBA championships as a coach with the Chicago Bulls and the LA Lakers. He was hired by the Knicks last month to come in and turn things around.

A statement was released by the Knicks, with Jackson saying; "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff. The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond. Everyone in this franchise owes a great deal of gratitude to what Mike and his staff have done. We wish him the best."

Woodson had a record of 109-79 over the two and a part seasons that he was with the Knicks, including leading the Knicks to a 54 win season in his first full year (2012-13), taking them to their first Atlantic Division title in 19 years.

Things were bad from the start this year, with the Knicks going through some tough losing streaks, despite having a talented roster. Questions were asked of Woodson early on and by the time Jackson came on board, most people guessed that Woodson's time with the Knicks was up.

Now we wait to see who is named as the new head coach. Yahoo! Sports are saying that Steve Kerr, who played for the Bulls under Jackson in the 90's, is a strong candidate. They also suggest that Nuggets coach, Brian Shaw, Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Jim Cleamons and Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis could be in the running.

Full NBA Play-Off Schedule - Round One - 2014

That's it folks! The regular NBA season is a wrap, and now we have the play-offs to look forward too!

After a few tight games last night, this is what the final standings were in each conference:

EASTERN CONFERENCE 

  1. Indiana Pacers
  2. Miami Heat
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Washington Wizards
  6. Brooklyn Nets
  7. Charlotte Bobcats
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Cleveland Cavaliers
  11. Detroit Pistons
  12. Boston Celtics
  13. Orlando Magic
  14. Philadelphia 76ers
  15. Milwaukee Bucks

WESTERN CONFERENCE

  1. San Antonio Spurs
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. LA Clippers
  4. Houston Rockets
  5. Portland Trail Blazers
  6. Golden State Warriors
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Dallas Mavericks
  9. Phoenix Suns
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
  11. Denver Nuggets
  12. New Orleans Pelicans
  13. Sacramento Kings
  14. LA Lakers
  15. Utah Jazz

There are going to be some awesome match-ups in the first round of the play-offs as a result. The Warriors and the Clippers have had a hot rivalry all season, so seeing them match up is going to be well worth a watch.

Portland vs Houston is also another nice match-up, that's pretty hard to call. Both teams have had a pretty solid season, but the real test for them is whether they can hold together well in the off-season.

Since Memphis beat Dallas last night, Dallas finished the 8th seed in the West, so they are up against the Spurs, which is a seriously tough match-up in the first round.

Miami ended up matched against the Bobcats, which is going to be interesting. A lot of people know that Miami can breeze through the series, but there are a few Charlotte fans out there hoping for a massive upset.

With play-offs games starting on the 19th April, here's the full game schedule for the first round:

EASTERN CONFERENCE - FIRST ROUND

(1) Indiana Pacers vs. (8) Atlanta Hawks 

  1. Sat. April 19, Atlanta at Indiana 

  2. Tue. April 22, Atlanta at Indiana

  3. Thu. April 24, Indiana at Atlanta

  4. Sat. April 26, Indiana at Atlanta

  5. Mon. April 28, Atlanta at Indiana 

  6. Thu. May 1, Indiana at Atlanta 
  7. Sat. May 3, Atlanta at Indiana

(2) Miami Heat vs. (7) Charlotte Bobcats 

  1. Sun. April 20, Charlotte at Miami 

  2. Wed. April 23, Charlotte at Miami 
  3. Sat. April 26, Miami at Charlotte 

  4. Mon. April 28, Miami at Charlotte 
  5. Wed. April 30, Charlotte at Miami

  6. Fri. May 2, Miami at Charlotte

  7. Sun. May 4, Charlotte at Miami

(3) Toronto Raptors vs. (6) Brooklyn Nets 

  1. Sat. April 19, Brooklyn at Toronto 

  2. Tue. April 22, Brooklyn at Toronto 
  3. Fri. April 25, Toronto at Brooklyn 
  4. Sun. April 27, Toronto at Brooklyn 

  5. Wed. April 30, Brooklyn at Toronto 

  6. Fri. May 2, Toronto at Brooklyn 

  7. Sun. May 4, Brooklyn at Toronto

(4) Chicago Bulls vs. (5) Washington Wizards

  1. Sun. April 20, Washington at Chicago

  2. Tue. April 22, Washington at Chicago 

  3. Fri. April 25, Chicago at Washington 

  4. Sun. April 27, Chicago at Washington 

  5. Tue. April 29, Washington at Chicago

  6. Thu. May 1, Chicago at Washington 

  7. Sat. May 3, Washington at Chicago

WESTERN CONFERENCE - FIRST ROUND

(1) San Antonio Spurs vs. (8) Dallas Mavericks

  1. Sun. April 20, Dallas at San Antonio 

  2. Wed. April 23, Dallas at San Antonio

  3. Sat. April 26, San Antonio at Dallas

  4. Mon. April 28, San Antonio at Dallas 

  5. Wed. April 30, Dallas at San Antonio 

  6. Fri. May 2, San Antonio at Dallas 

  7. Sun. May 4, Dallas at San Antonio

(2) Oklahoma City Thunder vs. (7) Memphis Grizzlies

  1. Sat. April 19, Memphis at Oklahoma City
  2. Mon. April 21, Memphis at Oklahoma City 

  3. Thu. April 24, Oklahoma City at Memphis 

  4. Sat. April 26, Oklahoma City at Memphis 

  5. Tue. April 29, Memphis at Oklahoma City 

  6. Thu. May 1, Oklahoma City at Memphis

  7. Sat. May 3, Memphis at Oklahoma City

(3) L.A. Clippers vs. (6) Golden State Warriors

  1. Sat. April 19, Golden State at L.A. Clippers 

  2. Mon. April 21, Golden State at L.A. Clippers 

  3. Thu. April 24, L.A. Clippers at Golden State 

  4. Sun. April 27, L.A. Clippers at Golden State 

  5. Tue. April 29, Golden State at L.A. Clippers

  6. Thu. May 1, L.A. Clippers at Golden State 

  7. Sat. May 3, Golden State at L.A. Clippers

(4) Houston Rockets vs. (5) Portland Trail Blazers

  1.  Sun. April 20, Portland at Houston 

  2. Wed. April 23, Portland at Houston 

  3. Fri. April 25, Houston at Portland 

  4. Sun. April 27, Houston at Portland 

  5. Wed. April 30, Portland at Houston 

  6. Fri. May 2, Houston at Portland

  7. Sun. May 4, Portland at Houston

Miami Heat Lose Top Seed in the Eastern Conference After Losing to Wizards

The Miami Heat lost to the Washington Wizards last night, meaning that they have dropped to the number 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James and Chris Bosh sat out of the game in Washington, where a 93-114 loss meant that the Indiana Pacers would secure the top spot in the Eastern Conference and get the number 1 seed.

You might have thought that the Heat would be bothered about that, but they didn't seem like it. Dwayne Wade, who did play after missing a lot of time recently with an injury, said; ''There would be no disappointment… When the playoffs start, we have a new season and we will be looking forward to it.''

The seeding now means that the Indiana Pacers will definitely play the Atlanta Hawks (who are the 8th seed) in the first round of the play-offs, while the Heat will play either the Charlotte Bobcats or the Washington Wizards, depending on who ends up in that 7th position.

It's become a little bit of a routine for James to miss the final regular games of the season. He missed the final game in 2011, and sat out the last two games in both 2012 and 2013. The Heat again made the decision that it's more important to give him time to rest than it is to throw everything they have at the last few games before the play-offs.

The Wizards played a good game, shooting 59% from the field and making 14 3-pointers. Trevor Ariza led all scorers with 25 points, while Marcin Gortat added a double-double of 10 points and 13 rebounds.

Washington really dominated the second quarter of the game, knocking down 15 of their 16 field goal attempts and outscoring the Heat by 43 - 22.With one game left to play, the Wizards have the chance to move up to 5th spot, or drop to 7th, so they're still grinding and putting in the work.

Michael Beasley led the Heat with 18 points, while Shane Battier was moved up to the starting lineup by went 0-5 in the 15 minutes that he was on the court. Wade played 18:27 minutes and had 9 points and 3 assists.

The Heat play their final game of the regular season tomorrow against the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Wizards play the Celtics up in Boston.

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