Sixers hurt by 2 blown calls in 4-point loss to Celtics, NBA says

Sixers hurt by 2 blown calls in 4-point loss to Celtics, NBA says

Two missed calls that hurt the Sixers and favored the Celtics in Friday's four-point loss in Boston were highlighted in the NBA's Last Two Minute Report.

According to the league, an offensive foul should have been called on Al Horford with 1:49 remaining and the Celtics up two. Instead, Isaiah Thomas got to the line on that possession and made one of two free throws.

Later, with eight seconds left and the Sixers down, 107-106, Ersan Ilyasova missed a jumper. The NBA concluded that on the rebound attempt, Joel Embiid and Amir Johnson should have been called for a double-foul on each other, resulting in a jump ball. Instead, the rebound was awarded to Johnson and a foul was called on Embiid. Johnson also made one of two.

The NBA began issuing the Last Two Minute Reports in March 2015. The reports look at all calls made in the final two minutes of a game within five points. 

Kevin Durant, following the Warriors' one-point loss to the Cavs on Christmas, recently criticized the reports. 

"You can't fine us for when we go out there and criticize [the refs] and then throw them under the bus for the two-minute report. What about the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter? I think it's bull----," Durant told the San Jose Mercury News. "They should get rid of them. Refs don't deserve that. They're trying their hardest to get the play right, then you look at the play in slo-mo and say it's wrong. I think it's bull---- that they do that. Full of s--- that you throw the refs under the bus like that after the game. Like it matters. The game's over. We move on."

Per ESPN's Zach Lowe, NBA vice president of basketball operations Kiki Vandeweghe indicated the Last Two Minute Reports will continue to be issued and that the league will "probably" advance to issuing game-long reports.

NBA Playoffs: Nene, Rockets take 3-1 series lead on Thunder

NBA Playoffs: Nene, Rockets take 3-1 series lead on Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Nene scored 28 points on perfect shooting from the field, and the Houston Rockets beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109 on Sunday to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.

Nene made all 12 of his shots and had 10 rebounds. He helped the Rockets overcome an off night by James Harden, who finished with 16 points on 5-for-16 shooting.

Eric Gordon and Lou Williams each scored 18 points for the Rockets. Trevor Ariza had 14.

Oklahoma City star Russell Westbrook had a triple-double by halftime and finished with 35 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists. The Thunder said Westbrook joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to claim three consecutive playoff triple-doubles.

Steven Adams scored 18 points and Victor Oladipo added 15 for the Thunder (see full recap).

Cavs hold off Pacers, earn sweep into 2nd round
INDIANAPOLIS -- LeBron James made a 3-pointer with 68 seconds left Sunday and the Cleveland Cavaliers hung on for a 106-102 series-clinching victory at Indiana.

James finished with 33 points and 10 rebounds as he became the first player under the current playoff format to win 21 straight first-round games. He also set a league record with his 10th career playoff sweep.

It sure wasn't easy. After taking a 96-83 lead with 9:29 to go, the Cavs found themselves in a 102-100 deficit with 1:31 left.

But James answered with the go-ahead 3-pointer and Cleveland sealed the win on James' free throw with 1 second left.

Lance Stephenson scored 22 points and Paul George added 15 but missed a 3-pointer that could have forced overtime in the closing seconds. It's the first time the Pacers have lost a series 4-0 in their NBA history (see full recap).

Thomas, Celtics top Bulls to tie series, 2-2
CHICAGO -- Isaiah Thomas scored 33 points, and the Boston Celtics beat the Chicago Bulls 104-95 on Sunday to tie their first-round playoff series at 2-all.

Boston blew a 20-point lead, but Thomas keyed a third-quarter run that put the Celtics back on top after Chicago briefly went ahead.

Gerald Green made four 3-pointers on his way to 18 points, helping the top-seeded Celtics return the favor in Chicago after dropping the first two games at home. Al Horford added 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston.

Jimmy Butler carried the Bulls with 33 points and nine assists (see full recap).

NBA Notes: Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25k for tripping incident

NBA Notes: Bulls' Rajon Rondo fined $25k for tripping incident

CHICAGO -- The NBA has fined Chicago Bulls guard Rajon Rondo $25,000 for attempting to trip Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder from the bench in Game 3 of their first-round series.

The league announced the fine hours before Game 4 tips off on Sunday.

The incident happened with 31.1 seconds remaining in the first quarter on Friday.

Crowder jawed at the Bulls' bench after hitting a jumper and Rondo -- sidelined by a broken right thumb -- extended his leg as Crowder walked by.

The top-seeded Celtics went on to win 104-87 after dropping the first two games at home. Rondo said afterward he was simply stretching his leg.

ROCKETS: Beverly fined for postgame incident in OKC
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The NBA has fined Houston Rockets guard Patrick Beverley $25,000 for confronting a fan after Game 3 of the team's first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The league announced the fine about two hours before Game 4 tipped off Sunday.

Beverley had two incidents with the same fan Friday night in Oklahoma City. Video shows Beverley falling in front of the fan in the first half of the game, then getting up and pointing at him before teammate Nene redirected him.

Beverley also exchanged words with the fan after the game. The NBA specifically mentioned the postgame incident as the one for which Beverley was fined.

Houston leads the series 2-1. Beverley is the primary player responsible for guarding NBA scoring champion Russell Westbrook.