The Jazz's Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points as his team held off the Thunder to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals. Picture: Gene Sweeney/AFP
The Jazz's Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points as his team held off the Thunder to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals. Picture: Gene Sweeney/AFP

Furious NBA star takes swipe at fan

NBA superstar Russell Westbrook twice had altercations with Utah fans when leaving the floor as the Jazz knocked Oklahoma City out of the NBA playoffs.

Westbrook was criticised for taking an incredible 46 shots during his team's loss.

The Thunder lost the plot in a bizarre meltdown in the final 30 seconds when they failed to stop the clock with a foul and then again failed to stop the clock after a foul on star Paul George went overlooked by the officials.

All of that was overshadowed by Westbrook's angry altercation with a fan as he walked off the court at full-time.

The Thunder star was spotted turning around and taking a swipe at a fan's phone.

He also angrily turned and said words to a fan when walking off the court at half-time.

The Jazz's Donovan Mitchell scored 38 points as his team held off the Thunder 96-91 in game six to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.

In the third quarter, Mitchell scored 22 points to boost the Jazz into a double-digit lead. The rookie scored on electrifying drives to the basket, spinning shots in the lane and rainbow three-pointers.

Westbrook had 46 points for the Thunder and Steven Adams added 19 points and 16 rebounds.

The Jazz moving on to face the top-seeded Houston Rockets in a series that starts on Sunday, local time.

Australia's Joe Ingles (12 points, five assists, seven rebounds) was one of five Utah players to hit double figures.

- with AP

 

 

Oladipo fires back in Pacers blowout

Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo was on fire in the first half. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indiana Pacers' Victor Oladipo was on fire in the first half. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

The Indiana Pacers will force LeBron James to go the distance to remain unbeaten in first-round series.

Behind Victor Oladipo's 28 points and first career post-season triple-double, the Pacers sent the series back to Cleveland and pushed the defending Eastern Conference champions to the brink of an early exit and a possible summer of unrest with a 121-87 rout.

If he can play that way one more time, the Pacers could reach the Eastern Conference semi-finals for the first time since 2014.

History does not bode well for the Pacers. James is 12-0 all-time in first-round series and home teams have a major advantage in game seven.

But the Pacers have defied the odds all season and this series has been no exception.

Their game one victory, in Cleveland, ended James' record-setting, 21-game winning streak in the first round.

In game six, Indiana handed the Cavs their first loss in a close-out game in 14 tries dating to 2009 and ended James' 11-game winning streak in close-out games. It wasn't even close.

While James finished with 22 points, seven assists and five rebounds, coach Tyronn Lue opted to keep four of his five starters, including James, on the bench for the entire fourth quarter because Cleveland trailed by 25.

"They just took it to us (in the third)," James said.

Indiana did it by playing old-school post-season basketball - hard, aggressive and relentless. It showed.

Kevin Love hurt his left wrist on a hard fall midway through the second quarter and wound up scoring just seven points while shooting three of 10 from the field. Lue provided no injury update after the game.

James took a shot, too, cutting the side of his left eye when he ran into Thaddeus Young's elbow on a drive late in the first half. No foul was called. James continued to play with a large bandage and needed stitches after the game to close the gash.

But the biggest difference was Oladipo, who had struggled mightily against the Cavs' relentless defence the previous four games.

This time, he relaxed and got his teammates back in sync on a night he finished with 13 rebounds, 10 assists, went 11 of 19 from the field and six of eight on threes.

It was enough to keep the Pacers in charge most of the game.

"This was probably the most complete game we've played," Lance Stephenson said. "We got the lead and they never got back into a groove. We played smart basketball. We played lockdown defence, and I think the biggest part was we fed off their mistakes."

James was asked after the game if he had given any thought to the possibility Monday's game could be his last in Cleveland.

"No, no," he said. "The thought that if we don't play well this will be my last game of the year, that will probably hit my mind. But, um, I haven't thought about (the future)."

James is expected to become a free agent this summer and many believe he could leave.

- AP

 

Raptors bench comes up big

Kyle Lowry starred in game six.
Kyle Lowry starred in game six.

For a team that had been 0-23 when trailing at half-time in road playoff games, the Toronto Raptors sure went about ending that drought and advancing in the playoffs in an usual way.

The second unit, led by Fred VanVleet, created the comeback.

Using a tremendous effort at both ends of the court from reserves, and 24 points from Kyle Lowry, the Raptors came back to beat the Washington Wizards 102-92 in Game 6 and end their Eastern Conference first-round series.

"Those guys have some ugly possessions, but most of the time, they figure it out," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said about his bench players, who overwhelmed Washington's in points, 21-6, and rebounds, 15-3, in the second half.

"We trust them. We trusted them all year."

Toronto fell behind by 12 points in the first quarter and by 53-50 at the end of the second.

The Raptors' first lead did not come until the third quarter, and they were back down by five points entering the final period.

Never in franchise history had the Raptors won after trailing at half-time in a post-season away game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"It's a different year. It's a different team," VanVleet said. "We've just got to keep our composure going forward and leave the past in the past."

With star guards Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, who had a personal series-low 16 points, resting to begin the fourth, VanVleet steered the turnaround, and the Raptors outscored Washington 29-14 in the last quarter.

Bothered by a bad right shoulder, VanVleet had played a total of three minutes in the series until Friday, but he was just what Toronto needed in this game, with five points, four assists and four rebounds.

"On the road, in a hostile environment, I just wanted to be another support guy out there, that can ease the starters a bit," VanVleet said.

"You know, me running the team and playing defence and stuff, I can do those things in my sleep."

It allowed DeRozan to play only 33 minutes, and Lowry 31, compared with more than 40 each for Washington's All-Star guards, John Wall and Bradley Beal, who looked tired by the end.

"It was great to have our full bench back. Freddie back out there with the guys," DeRozan said. "Just a testament to what they did all year."

The East's No. 1 seed will face LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers or the Indiana Pacers next.

Asked whether he has a preference for the upcoming opponent, DeRozan answered with one word: "No."

This marks the Raptors' third consecutive trip to the second round of the playoffs. They last failed to get that far in 2015, when they were swept in the opening round by the Wizards.

But this time Washington bowed out earlier than it was hoping - the season began with grandiose talk of a run to the conference finals.

Instead, the Wizards were without Wall for 41 games and wound up with the No.8 seeding. Wall had 23 points and eight assists in game six and Beal scored 32.

But none of that mattered to the fans who started heading to the exits early as the Wizards' run of eight home playoff wins in a row came to a close.

"We got some looks," said Wall, whose entire team had only 12 assists. "We just missed them."

- AP



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