Wednesday, 2 May 2012
Playing without injured superstar Derrick Rose, Chicago were humbled 109-92 by Philadelphia on Tuesday in a NBA play-off stunner that exposed major weaknesses of the Bulls.
Jrue Holiday scored 26 points and Lou Williams came off the bench to score 20 as the 76ers, who had the worst regular-season record of any NBA play-off team, pulled even at 1-1 in the first-round eastern conference series.
Momentum in the best-of-seven series clearly swung to the 76ers after the Bulls struggled without Rose, who suffered a torn left knee ligament in the final seconds of Chicago's game one triumph on Saturday.
Rose, last season's NBA Most Valuable Player, was lost for the remainder of the playoffs and the Bulls missed his firepower, leadership and playmaking skills during a drought of 11 consecutive missed shots in the second half.
"We did focus a lot less (on containing scoring threats)," Holiday said of the 76ers' defence.
"Last year, we focused on Rose a lot. Now we can start in on (other players) and they didn't start off as hot as they wanted."
Joakim Noah scored 21 points to lead the Bulls while John Lucas added 15 and CJ Watson contributed 12 for Chicago.
In the night's other eastern conference game, Paul Pierce scored 36 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics to an away win over the Atlanta Hawks 87-80, levelling that series at 1-1.
The Celtics had 15 points and 12 rebounds from Kevin Garnett while Avery Bradley contributed 14 points for the Celtics, who were playing without injured shooting guard Ray Allen and suspended point guard Rajon Rondo.
Rondo was serving a one-game ban for bumping into a referee in a game-one loss, prompting Pierce to take charge from the beginning for the Celtics.
"I wanted to be aggressive at the start," Pierce said.
"I knew it was coming to me and I had to take the shots."
The Celtics will host the next two games in the best-of-seven series on Friday and Sunday and return to Atlanta for game five next Tuesday.
In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 38 points to lead the Lakers to a 104-100 win over Denver and to a 2-0 series lead.
Andrew Bynum followed up his playoff-opening triple-double with 27 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who still haven't trailed in this series but had some anxious moments in the closing stages as the Nuggets and Ty Lawson, who scored 25 points, went on a fourth-quarter charge.
Los Angeles' 19-point lead in the third quarter dwindled to four with three minutes to play, but Ramon Sessions scored four key points in the final 1:14 before Bryant's icing free throws with 9.4 seconds left.
The Nuggets lost their ninth straight road playoff game.
Game three is on Friday in Denver.