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Enes Kanter sets Portland Trail Blazers’ record 30 rebounds in win over Detroit Pistons

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Enes Kanter had 24 points and a franchise-record 30 rebounds, and the Portland Trail Blazers routed the Detroit Pistons 118-103 on Saturday night.

Kanter bested Sidney Wicks’ Portland record of 27 rebounds set in 1975. Each time Kanter added to the record Saturday, the Blazers’ bench stood and cheered.

Kanter is the fourth player with 30 rebounds in a game in the past 20 seasons, joining Dwight Howard in 2018, Andrew Bynum in 2012 and Kevin Love in 2011. He also surpassed his own career high of 26 set while he played for the Knicks in 2018.

Damian Lillard had 27 points and 10 assists and CJ McCollum added 26 points for the Blazers, who snapped a two-game losing streak.

Kanter started in place of center Jusuf Nurkic, who was not available for the Blazers because it was the first game of a back-to-back. Nurkic had knee swelling that kept him out of a game earlier this week against the Clippers. Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game that Nurkic would be available for Sunday night’s game at home against Miami.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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NBA playoffs 2021 – How Atlanta Hawks flipped script on Philadelphia Sixers, again

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For 24 minutes in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals of the NBA playoffs, the Philadelphia 76ers appeared to be their best selves.

A team that ranked near league average in offensive efficiency during the regular season popped the ball around the half-court and drove it down the Atlanta Hawks‘ throats in transition. Joel Embiid, coming off one of the worst individual offensive halves in NBA history, was indomitable from every spot on the floor. When the Hawks sent double-teams at him on the block, he flicked the ball out to the perimeter where it found the sweet strokes of Philadelphia’s shooters.

For their part in the first half, the Hawks looked like a young squad overwhelmed by the demands of the moment. They missed three shots at the rim in the game’s first four minutes. Their wings whiffed from distance. Trae Young encountered roadblocks in the half-court against the Sixers’ lanky defenders. By halftime, the Sixers had built a 22-point lead that extended to 26 in the first three minutes of the third quarter.

“There’s 48 minutes on that clock and pretty much the conversation was we’ve been here before,” coach Nate McMillan said of the message he delivered to the Hawks in the locker room at halftime. “We’ve been here before, down big at the half. We need to come out with that energy, that urgency. We know what we need to do and we need to do it in a hurry.”

Basketball is an intrinsically frenetic game, especially in the NBA’s golden age of offense. But Wednesday night reached an exceptional level of mayhem, as the energy and confidence of the Sixers and their notoriously boisterous fans leaked out of the Wells Fargo Center.

“I thought it started in the beginning of the second half,” Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said. “Even though we kept the lead, I think we had six turnovers in our first 10 possessions to start the third quarter. That’s why I called the early timeout. You could see we kind of exhaled, relaxed.”

The Sixers racked up seven turnovers in the first 12 possessions, but the spirit of Rivers’ lament was accurate. Only two Sixers made a shot from the field in the second half — Embiid and guard Seth Curry.

“We didn’t get any movement offensively in what we were doing,” Sixers forward Tobias Harris said. “And then defensively, we were just nonexistent out there for their run.”

With the margin 22 points and just a minute and a half remaining in the third quarter, Embiid and Curry checked out, while the Hawks inserted their second unit alongside Young. That’s when the bloodletting began.

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The Hawks stun the 76ers on the road, thanks to a 15-0 run and a key defensive stop from John Collins, to take a 3-2 series lead.

“We just gave it to them,” Sixers point guard Ben Simmons said. “We got too comfortable and didn’t play the way we should be playing. Didn’t move the ball as much in the second half. Didn’t get as many easy shots. And defensively there were too many lapses where we didn’t communicate.” Embiid did not address the media following the game.

With Philadelphia’s only two productive offensive players on the bench, Atlanta’s second unit led the first charge. Rookie big man Onyeka Okongwu, who played sparingly through much of the regular season and spot minutes in the postseason, wreaked havoc in six minutes, in which he recorded a plus-12: An offensive rebound that led to a couple of free throws. A tip-in off a Lou Williams miss. Then payback from Williams with an emphatic alley-oop just as the Philadelphia cavalry of starters stepped back on the floor.

Williams, a feast-or-famine slingshot, remained on the floor and drained five consecutive field goals over five possessions. The cosmos blessed a 3-pointer from John Collins, banking it off the glass. Then, as the lead dipped to single digits, the Hawks brought out the kitchen sink: Belt-a-Ben. Though Simmons converted two of the four free throws gifted by Atlanta’s intentional fouls, Rivers yanked him as his team nursed a six-point lead with 3:20 remaining in the game.

“Obviously I got to knock down free throws and step up and do that, but it is what it is,” Simmons said. “Coach’s decision.”

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As Ben Simmons is shooting free throws, a 76ers fan tries to show him the proper form.

Simmons is a star-level player, which lends the spectacle of Belt-a-Ben some intrigue. But Simmons’ pair of successful free throws was actually Philadelphia’s most successful offensive possession in the final 4:45 of the game — and the Sixers didn’t hit a shot from the field during the final six minutes of the game.

The Hawks, suffering from rigor mortis for the better part of the night and ineffectual against Embiid’s dominance in the first half, attacked the Sixers in the closing minutes with both the probable and improbable. Over the course of three possessions that vaulted the Hawks into the lead with 1:26 remaining, Young unleashed his holy trinity: a pull-up, a floater, and a devilish 3-point attempt from Easttown that deked Matisse Thybulle into a collision and sent Young to the line. And Williams, an anti-Thybulle on the defensive end if there ever was one, added to his body of work on the night with a crucial steal.

By the time Collins blocked Harris at the rim, Curry missed a bomb from distance and Embiid uncharacteristically clanked a couple of free throws, the Hawks had wrested what little fortitude remained for the Sixers. Young took a trip to the stripe to ice the game with 8.4 seconds left in the third-largest halftime comeback in NBA playoff history — a 109-106 win that gives Atlanta a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to close it out in Atlanta on Friday night.

Asked if he could contemplate how special the win was, Young demurred. “I can’t yet,” he said. “We have to finish the job.”

For the Sixers, the collapse comes only two days after they blew an 18-point second-half lead in Game 4. Prior to Wednesday night, they were 165-0 when leading by 25 or more points over the last 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. A snake-bitten Rivers has now presided over five of the eight largest blown leads in the past two postseasons.

Harris was at a loss for words when asked to explain the Sixers’ propensity of late for blowing large leads in the second half.

“It’s a great question,” he said. “You know it’s … I don’t know.”

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Atlanta Hawks erase 26-point deficit to defeat Philadelphia 76ers, take 3-2 series lead

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The Atlanta Hawks had been here before. In fact, they didn’t even have to go back that far to remember the same situation, either.

In Game 5 of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night, Atlanta was staring at a 26-point deficit as they tried to take advantage in the Eastern Conference semifinals matchup.

On Monday, Atlanta trailed by as many as 18 before storming back to win. So why couldn’t they do it again?

“There’s no quit,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said after his team’s 109-106 win. “We always talk about playing a 48-minute game. It’s a long game. And it took all 48 minutes tonight to get it done.”

And as they did in Game 4, the Hawks stormed back for an improbable comeback and took a 3-2 lead with Game 6 scheduled for Friday at home.

Just how improbable was the victory? According to ESPN Stats and Information research:

  • Philadelphia became the only team to lose back-to-back 18-point leads in playoff games in the last 25 seasons

  • The 22-point halftime deficit the Hawks overcame was the third largest halftime comeback in NBA postseason history

  • The 76ers were 165-0 in the last 25 seasons when leading by at least 25 points at any point in the game (regular season or playoffs)

  • At one point, Philadelphia had a win probability percentage of 99.7 (the highest it got in Game 4 was 95.5%)

Atlanta trailed by 24 with 2:10 left in the third quarter but a quick 8-2 run set the tone for the big fourth quarter that followed. In the final quarter, Atlanta outscored Philadelphia, 40-19.

Hawks guard Trae Young, who finished with 39 points and went 17-of-19 from the free-throw line, said it’s “not very difficult” to picture the comeback when down 26 because of the weapons a team like Atlanta possesses.

“We have guys who can make shots and make threes and really get our offense going. We can put up points really quick,” Young said. “I think early on we were missing a lot of open shots and it was one of those first halves again. Hopefully we shoot a lot better at home [on Friday] than we did tonight and the last game. We always have a belief that we’re in the game.”

Indeed, the Hawks were missing shots in the first half. Atlanta shot only 31% from the field in the first two quarters and went 3-of-12 from 3-point range. They shot a respectable 47.6% from the field in the third quarter, and made half of their threes, before going 16-of-22 from the field in the scorching fourth quarter.

For the Hawks duo of Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams, it was something they’d seen before. Two seasons ago, those two were playing for the Doc Rivers-coached LA Clippers team that overcame a 31-point deficit against the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs — the largest comeback in NBA postseason history.

“I’ve done it already when we were down 31. And 26 is better than 31,” Gallinari said. “I think you can do it as long as you believe, as long as everyone believes. That’s been the main thing since the beginning of the season. When you keep believing and doing your job, amazing things can happen.”

Both played big roles in the Hawks’ comeback. Gallinari hit a tough fadeaway jumper to put Atlanta up 107-104 in the final minute while Williams carried them there.

Williams, the 16-year NBA veteran who is from the Atlanta area and got his start playing for Philadelphia in 2005, had 13 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter.

“Just no quit in these guys,” McMillan said. “They continued to stay with what we were trying to do. We eventually found a hot hand in Lou and found a rotation that was working for us. We were starting to get stops and just continued to stay with it.”

As jubilant as the Hawks were after the victory, the Sixers were distraught and looking for answers. Sixers coach Doc Rivers said he felt like the momentum started to change in the early part of the second half.

“Even though we kept the lead, I think we had six turnovers in our first 10 possessions to start the third quarter. That’s why I called the early timeout,” Rivers said. “You could see we kind of exhaled, relaxed. The first unit was just good enough and Seth [Curry] carried us in that stretch to keep the lead at 22. Where it could have very easily been at 30 if we don’t turn the ball over.

“And then obviously you got to take guys out and the second group really struggled tonight in the second half. They were phenomenal in the first half and then in the second half, they struggled. And then down the stretch. Listen, we scored 19 points and gave up 40. So it’s on us. It’s on all of us. It’s on me. It’s on the players. And we have to figure out how to get back up, which we will, and bring this game back here for Game 7.”

In the last two postseasons, Rivers-coached teams are 11-5 when having at least a 16-point lead in a playoff game. Every other team in the NBA is 76-3 in that span.

As a part of their strategy to get back in the game, Atlanta went to the Hack-a-Ben technique against Sixers point guard Ben Simmons. In the second and fourth quarters, Simmons was intentionally sent to the line eight times — he went 3-of-8.

It’s not the first time the Hawks have picked on Simmons and exploited his free-throw shooting this series either. Simmons shot 61.3% on the season but he was shooting 67.1% prior to the All-Star break and just 53.3% after.

Following his 4-of-14 performance from the line on Wednesday, Simmons is now shooting 32.8% in the playoffs from the stripe.

When asked about where the nose dive in the later part of the season came from, Simmons said, “No idea. But I need to get it back. It’s on me.”

Joel Embiid (37 points) and Seth Curry (36 points) carried the load offensively for Philadelphia but no other player scored more than eight points. Embiid and Curry were the only two players to hit a field goal for the Sixers in the second half and only Simmons added one in the final 31:34.

“We needed to come more together, I think,” said the 76ers’ Furkan Korkmaz. “This is the playoffs. They are taking advantage of every minute and I think that’s the whole point of the game. You got to take care of all the positions. Every position matters. Every point matters.”

Tobias Harris, who carried much of the scoring burden in the first four games of the series along with Embiid, said this loss “is going to hurt.”

“But tomorrow we have to put it behind us, find a way to get better,” Harris said. “Go to Atlanta and get a win. I mean, our backs are against the wall right now and we have to play like it.”

When they make it to Atlanta, they’ll be met with a Hawks’ crowd trying to cheer their fans on to what would only be the franchise’s second conference finals appearance since 1970.

As the Hawks look toward Game 6, Young was asked if he stopped to think about what the historic comeback meant.

“Not yet. I can’t yet,” Young said. “We have to finish the job. Maybe after we hopefully close it out next game. Then we can look back at it.”

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Follow live: Kawhi-less Clippers face uphill climb versus Jazz

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