Sixers Give Up 20th Straight to Heat, But It Was Close (And Jrue Dunked on LeBron)

Sixers Give Up 20th Straight to Heat, But It Was Close (And Jrue Dunked on LeBron)

In a way, this was sort of a best of both worlds situation for the
Sixers. Sure, it would have been fun to snap the Heat's near-historic
win streak, get the team their first win against Miami since they were
starting Sherman Douglas and Rony Seikaly, and cause LeBron's hairline
to recede back a little further. Instead, they gave their fans one of
the most entertaining games of the season (and easily the play of the
year at the WFC), showed why the Sixers do still have some potential for
the future remaining, all without further disrupting the master plan of
Tankapalooza '13. Everyone's a winner, really.

Normally, I'd
wait a couple paragraphs to talk about Jrue's play of the game, try to
build up suspense for it and such, but that thing was so much fun that
I'm not gonna insult you by burying it any further down. With 90 seconds
left and the Sixers down two, Jrue split a double-team trap well beyond
the arc, blew past the help man and dunked on the final line on
defense, late to rotate to the basket—and that guy just happened to be
LeBron James, far more used to being on the fun side of the
posterization.


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Not quite DeAndre Jordan over
Brandon Knight—LeBron doesn't get himself in the frame quite enough for
that—but considering who LeBron is, considering how good Jrue's move
was, and considering the late-game situation (and that the reigning MVP
had an uncharacteristically terrible fourth quarter, going only 1-10 in
the final frame), it's probably a dunk they're gonna be talking about
for a long time. It's also one of the few truly fond memories we'll take
as Sixers fans from this utterly lost NBA season.

Jrue was
awesome for much of the game, though, particularly the second half,
where his dishing and swishing (sorry, Knicks fans) helped get the
Sixers back into it a couple times when it looked like Miami was gonna
pull away. He ended with one of his best all-around stat lines of the
season, with 21 points, seven boards, seven assists and three steals
(with three turnovers), now officially out of the slump that plagued him
for a four-or-five-game stretch there. Evan Turner also had his first
good game in a while, scoring 15 on 7-13 shooting (over half his shots!
Evan!) with five assists (and it should've been six, but more on that in
a minute) and three rebounds.

Undoubtedly, though, the star
tonight was Thaddeus Young. Thad absolutely tortured the Heat—who have
struggled much of the season to rebound the ball—with his activity in
this one, feasting on the boards (15 rebounds, one away from a season
high) and scoring 24, most on easy slips to the basket and a couple open
jumpers. After struggling a little bit in his first couple games from
injury, Thad is now back to the near-All-Star form he was playing at
pre-injury, averaging 21 points and 9.3 rebounds over his last six
games.

So how did the Sixers lose this one? Well, LeBron was
absolutely unstoppable in the first half, and his final stat line—a
typical 27/7/8 for LBJ—reflects just what an incredible first two
quarters he had, considering what a non-entity he was in the fourth,
settling for far too many long jumpers and handling the ball with
uncharacteristic carelessness. And Dwyane Wade wasn't all that far
behind, ending with a 21/8/3 that included a huge third-opportunity
putback in the game's final minute to put the Heat up three.

But
the real undoing for the Sixers tonight came with two Evan Turner
interior feeds to Spencer Hawes late in the game. The first one was just
too risky a needle-threading on Evan's part, and it resulted in an
unsurprising turnover for the Sixers. The second one, with the Sixers
down three with a little over 20 seconds to go, was beautiful, and hit
Spence virtually unguarded underneath the hoop—but Spence blew the gimme
reverse, and the game was basically over.

Another one for the
ping-pong balls, then, and they'll have another chance to slip in the
rankings on Saturday when the Pacers come to town. Still...fun to have a
reason to write a recap after a loss. Thanks for keeping it
interesting, Ballers.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

NBA Playoffs: LeBron James makes history as Cavaliers roll into Finals

BOX SCORE

BOSTON -- LeBron James scored 35 points and passed Michael Jordan to become the NBA's all-time playoff scoring leader as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics 135-102 on Thursday night to claim their third straight Eastern Conference title and a return trip to the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving added 24 points and Kevin Love finished with 15 for the Cavs, who never trailed and led by as many as 39 points in one of their most dominating wins of the series. The Cavs set an NBA record by winning their 13th consecutive series closeout opportunity.

Cleveland's 4-1 series' win gives it a 12-1 record this postseason and sets up a third consecutive matchup with Western Conference champion Golden State, the team it beat in the Finals last season to claim the franchise's first championship.

It will mark the seventh straight trip to the Finals for James.

Avery Bradley led Boston with 23 points.

The Cavaliers basically conceded the East's top seed to the Celtics at the end of the regular season by opting to rest its starters in advance of the playoffs. But they displayed their superiority over the final two games to wrap up the series.

After allowing the Celtics to seize the early momentum in Game 4, the Cavs barely gave them the chance in Game 5.

Led by its Big Three, Cleveland quickly built a 21-point lead in the first quarter, while getting lots of contributions from their teammates.

Love continued to knock down shots from the outside, Irving sliced his way into the lane to the rim and James got free for several of his one-handed, tomahawk dunks.

It was a very welcomed sight in Irving's case, after he rolled his left ankle in the third quarter of Cleveland's Game 4 win. He showed no signs of lingering issues, though, beating several defenders off the dribble and handing out seven assists.

Meanwhile, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver all helped spread out Boston's defenders by connecting on several wide-open scoring opportunities.

Deron Williams, who had been quiet for most of the series, also got in on the act with a series-best 14 points for Cleveland.

The Celtics did their best to keep up, but the consistent outside shooting, bench scoring and defense they relied on to stun Cleveland in Game 3 wasn't there Thursday night.

Tip-ins
Cavaliers: James has scored 30 or more points in 11 of Cleveland's 13 games this postseason. ... Improved to 36-5 against Eastern Conference opponents in the playoffs since 2015. ... The 43 points Cleveland scored in the first quarter set a team postseason record for points in a quarter.

Celtics: Injured point guard Isaiah Thomas led his teammates in a pregame huddle before they took the court for warmups. Thomas sat out the rest of the series after aggravating a hip injury in Game 2. ... Held a pregame moment of silence for the victims of the Manchester bombing. ... Were whistled for 16 fouls in the first half.