The Skip Pass is your home on FanRag Sports for insights and nuggets on each game played in the NBA. This is different from your regular game recap or box score. We want to take you inside the game and call out things you might have missed.
Games: Hawks at Wizards – Game 2, Thunder at Rockets – Game 2, Trail Blazers at Warriors – Game 2
ROCKETS 115 – THUNDER 111
Russell Westbrook scored 51 points, the most ever in a playoff triple-double, but his play down the stretch might have cost Oklahoma City a chance at evening the series in Houston. As it stood, the Rockets held on and have a 2-0 series lead heading on the road.
Westbrook looked every bit the MVP candidate he is through the first three quarters, as he scored 36 points and scored at will. He added 15 more points in the fourth quarter, but shot just 4-of-18 in the final period and hit only 1-of-7 3-point attempts. He was especially bad late in the game. He repeatedly ignored open teammates and forced contested jump shots, often contorting his body in an attempt to create contact that wasn’t coming. No other Oklahoma City player took more than three shots in the fourth quarter as the lead slipped away.
On the other side of the floor, James Harden looked like an MVP candidate from start to finish. He finished the game with 35 points, including 18-of-20 from the line, and eight assists. He also played through foul trouble for most of the night, but came up with some good defensive plays late in the game. Most importantly, he showed faith in his teammates, who rewarded him.
Sixth Man of the Year hopefuls Eric Gordon and Lou Williams were excellent off the bench. Gordon scored 22 points and Williams had 21, as they each shot 8-of-14 and hit three triples apiece. Nene also had another strong game, as he made all three of shots for seven points to go along with five rebounds. Houston’s bench has clearly outplayed the OKC bench by a wide margin this series, and it’s making a huge difference.
The teams head to Oklahoma City on Friday for Game 3:
WIZARDS 109 – HAWKS 101
In an ugly game that saw a combined 55 fouls and 71 free throw attempts, the Wizards hung on to take a 2-0 series lead over the Hawks. Washington did so behind the play of its star guards.
John Wall controlled things from the start, finishing with 32 points, including 12-of-15 from the charity stripe, and nine assists. Beal struggled through most of the first three quarters, hitting just 6-of-18 shots. In the fourth quarter, when his team needed him most, Beal drilled 6-of-9 for 16 of his 31 points.
Beal and Wall combined for 20 of the Wizards’ final 21 points. In addition to scoring, Wall helped hold Dennis Schroder, who has carried the Atlanta backcourt, to only two points in the fourth quarter.
Schroder scored 23 for the Hawks, but he hit 8-of-21 shots, including just 1-for-8 from behind the arc. Overall, Atlanta shot just over 40 percent and hit 4-of-20 3-pointers for the game. The Hawks were able to stay in the game on the back of 33-of-38 from the free throw line, including 14-of-15 from Paul Millsap. The free throws enabled Millsap to score 27 for the night, while Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19.
The problem for Atlanta is that its offense seems disjointed and has very little flow. For large stretches it is either Schroder overhandling the ball and taking off-balance jumpers, followed by a period where everything runs through Millsap. Then, late in the game, Hardaway Jr. had the ball and was taking all the shots. Washington has done a good job of forcing the Hawks to be very one-dimensional.
The Hawks will look to get back in the series at home on Saturday:
WARRIORS 110 – TRAIL BLAZERS 81
With Kevin Durant sidelined with a calf injury, the Warriors turned to their defense to blow out the Trail Blazers and jump out to a 2-0 series lead. Golden State broke open a close game with a 28-12 third-quarter advantage, with those 12 points tying a playoff franchise record for least amount allowed in a quarter.
And with Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes joining Durant on the shelf, you knew the Warriors would rely on Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Curry had 19 points, Thompson scored 16 and Green played great defense while grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out 10 assists. But it was the play of some role players that lifted Golden State.
JaVale McGee, more known for his “Shaqtin’ a Fool” segments, dominated Portland inside. He made all seven of his shots for 15 points, including finishing several alley-oops along the way. He also pulled down five rebounds and blocked four shots, all in just 13 minutes off the bench. McGee was joined in solid play up front by Zaza Pachulia, who scored 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
The Warriors also got big efforts from Patrick McCaw and Ian Clark, who saw extra time due to the injuries. McCaw scored nine points and played solid defense throughout the night. Clark came off the bench to score 13 points.
The Blazers need their guard to carry the load, and both Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum couldn’t repeat their massive performances from Game 1. After combining for 75 points to open the series, the two could only muster 23 points between them on 9-of-34 shooting. They also had nine turnovers as the game unraveled quickly after halftime.
Portland faces tall odds when heading home for Game 3 on Saturday, and who knows if Golden State even brings Durant back for it: