NBA playoffs tracker: Lakers advance despite rally from short-handed Blazers

Yahoo Sports Staff
·5 mins read

The NBA resumed its playoff schedule in the bubble Saturday after a three-day player strike to protest police brutality in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

A three-game slate tipped off with the rescheduled Bucks-Magic matchup that initiated the player walkout when Bucks players refused to take the court on Thursday.

Saturday’s schedule/results

Milwaukee Bucks 118, Orlando Magic 104 (Bucks win series, 4-1)

Houston Rockets 114, Oklahoma City Thunder 80 (Rockets lead 3-2)

Los Angeles Lakers 131, Portland Trail Blazers 122 (Lakers win series 4-1)

Lakers win on big nights from LeBron James, Anthony Davis

The Blazers put up quite a fight despite missing Damian Lillard and nearly half of the forwards in their rotation, but it just wasn’t enough against the team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Behind another big effort from their pair of stars, the Lakers advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs with a 131-122 win. They will face the winner of the series between the Rockets and Thunder.

While the score ended up lopsided, the Blazers actually had the game tied midway through the fourth quarter at 109-109. However, it was all Lakers from there.

James finished with a triple-double with 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, while Davis posted 43 points and 9 rebounds. Neither player attempted more than 20 shots. The series win improves James’ record in the first round of the playoffs to 14-0.

On the Blazers’ side, CJ McCollum did all he could with 36 points and 7 assists. Carmelo Anthony also had a throwback performance with 27 points and 7 rebounds in what could be the final playoff game of his career.

James embraced Anthony, one of his best friends in the league, after the game.

Rockets blow out struggling Thunder for series lead

Even with a relatively quiet return for Russell Westbrook, the Houston Rockets had little trouble dispatching the Oklahoma City Thunder to take a 3-2 series lead.

Led by 31 points and 5 assists from James Harden, the Rockets posted a 114-80 win on a night in which the Thunder dealt with brutal games from three of their starters.

Lu Dort, the Thunder’s defensive ace tasked with covering Harden, tried his hand at volume shooting and ended up 3-of-16 from the field for just 6 points. That included an 0-for-9 mark from 3-point range, despite many of his shots being wide open. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was similarly bad with 4 points on 2-of-8 shooting, and heavily struggled to defend the Rockets’ perimeter game. Danilo Galinari didn’t make a field goal and finished with just 1 point.

And yet, the lowest moment came from the Thunder’s best performer of the night, Sixth Man of the Year finalist Dennis Schroder. As he was leading the team in scoring with 19 points off the bench, Schroder was ejected on a flagrant 2 after replay caught him striking Rockets forward P.J. Tucker in the groin.

Tucker was also ejected after receiving his second technical foul for head-butting Schroder in a heated confrontation.

In his first game since Aug. 11, Westbrook posted 7 points on 3-of-13 shooting with 7 assists and 6 rebounds.

Bucks fend off Magic rally to advance

The Orlando Magic didn’t quit when they trailed by 21 points in an elimination game.

But a furious fourth-quarter rally fell short as the Milwaukee Bucks secured a 118-104 victory Saturday as NBA play resumed in the bubble. With the win, the Bucks secured the series 4-1 to advance to an Eastern Conference semifinals matchup against the Miami Heat.

First game back from NBA player strike

The game was the first in the NBA since a three-day player strike initiated by the Bucks to protest police brutality in the aftermath of the Jacob Blake shooting by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Players agreed to return to the court after internal discussions and an agreement from owners to advance social justice causes.

The Bucks looked well on their way to an easy win while taking a 76-55 lead in the third quarter. But the Magic cut their deficit to 96-93 midway through the fourth quarter as Giannis Antetokounmpo sat on the bench with five fouls.

Milwaukee called timeout after an Evan Fournier 3-pointer cut its lead to three. Antetokounmpo did not rejoin lineup after the break at 7:37, but the Bucks were able to extend their lead back to double digits thanks in part to a pair of Marvin Williams 3-pointers.

The Bucks advanced to a second-round matchup agains the Miami Heat as the NBA returned. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
The Bucks advanced to a second-round matchup agains the Miami Heat as the NBA returned. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Giannis addresses player protest

Antetokounmpo returned later in the quarter as the Bucks secured the win. The newly crowned Defensive Player of the Year and presumptive league MVP led all players with 28 points and 17 rebounds while hitting 3-of-6 3-point attempts.

He spoke with ESPN about the player protest in a postgame interview.

“We made a powerful move — decided not to play, decided to bring awareness,” Antetokounmpo said. “Just seeing other athletes around the world, other leagues doing the same thing. It says a lot about us, it says a lot about our league that gives us a platform to speak up.”

Miami and Milwaukee will meet for Game 1 of their series on Monday.

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