James Harden scored 31 points, Joel Embiid had 24 points and 11 rebounds and the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Miami Heat 116-108 on Sunday night in Game 4 to even the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Heat won the first two games in Miami with Embiid out with a right orbital fracture and mild concussion. The 76ers won Games 3 and 4 at home with Embiid and his mask in the lineup.
Game 5 is Tuesday night in Miami.
The Heat pecked away at the lead and got within five until Harden sank his fifth three-pointer of the game with three minutes left. Harden crushed the Heat on catch-and-shoot threes and hit one clutch shot after another in the fourth.
He at last played in the post-season like the three-time scoring champion the Sixers needed when they traded for him in February.
James Harden was dominant in the clutch!<br><br>🏀 16 PTS & 4 3PM in Q4 alone.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel <a href=”https://t.co/1BgMWWLMpI”>pic.twitter.com/1BgMWWLMpI</a>
Harden drilled a step-back three for a 114-103 lead that sent the crowd into a frenzy — and the Sixers off to Miami with new life.
Jimmy Butler scored 40 points and nearly one-man willed the Heat to victory. The Heat missed 28 of 35 three-pointers.
Embiid worked out the Game 3 cobwebs and returned to the dominant form that earned him season-long “MVP!” chants from the Philly diehards. His first quarter was about as good as it gets for the centre. He made five of six shots, including a three-pointer, and scored 15 points to put the Sixers ahead. Worn out in Game 3 from days of inactivity because of the concussion, Embiid played all 12 minutes in the quarter.
“He’s really weathering the storm and getting through stuff,” coach Doc Rivers said before the game.
The handle + and-1 bucket 😤<br><br>Joel is a one of a kind big man.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBAPlayoffs?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#NBAPlayoffs</a> presented by Google Pixel on TNT <a href=”https://t.co/yQiRs5ouSW”>pic.twitter.com/yQiRs5ouSW</a>
Harden took over the next quarter. After a scoreless first quarter, Harden scored 13 in the second. He missed his first four shots of the game until he buried a three and then got rolling. He scored a bucket in transition during a 15-2 run and then waved his arms toward the crowd, calling on the to get louder.
Philadelphia shot 64 per cent from the floor in the half. But 10 turnovers — that Miami converted into 13 points — kept the Sixers from stretching the lead well into double digits. The Sixers made nine threes in the half to Miami’s four.
Butler kept the Heat in the game with six straight points. He hit a layup, was nailed in the face by Embiid — who was whistled for a flagrant, then helped his former teammate to his feet — and Butler made the free throw. Butler hit a three off the possession and the Heat pulled to 74-70.
Butler drew Embid’s third foul with 1:37 left in the third and converted the three-point play that kept the Heat within four. Butler trolled Embiid on Instagram after the Sixers posted a picture of him in the mask and quoted a line from “The Dark Knight Rises.”
“[Expletive] yo mask,” Butler wrote.
Butler scored 17 points in the third, yet the Heat still trailed 89-85. The 76ers fans let him have it when Butler fired an airball in the fourth and Harden came right down and nailed a step-back three for a 97-85 lead.
Doncic leads Mavericks past Suns to even series
Luka Doncic scored 26 points and the Dallas Mavericks took advantage of foul trouble for Chris Paul to beat the Phoenix Suns 111-101 on Sunday, evening the Western Conference semifinal series at 2-2.
Dorian Finney-Smith scored a playoff career-high 24 points on the most three-pointers he’s had, regular season or playoffs. He was 8-of-12 from deep, including consecutive threes for a 14-point lead midway through the fourth.
Dallas matched its 20 threes (20-of-44) from a Mother’s Day rout of the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011, a win that completed on a four-game sweep in the second round on the way to the championship. The Mavericks are playing beyond the first round for the first time since then.
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Devin Booker scored 35 points for the Suns, who dropped two straight on road with a 2-0 lead just as they did in last year’s NBA Finals. Milwaukee won the last four to take the title. Top-seeded Phoenix lost consecutive games for the first time in the playoffs.
Turnovers were the story with Paul in Dallas’ Game 3 win, when the 37-year-old had the most in any half for his playoff career with seven before halftime.
This time it was fouls, and it started when coach Monty Williams put him back in the game with three in the final minute of the first half. Paul picked up his fourth just before the halftime buzzer when he tried to rebound his own miss and bumped Doncic.
Just two and a half minutes into the second half, Williams had no choice but to use his challenge when Paul stopped and backed into Jalen Brunson as Paul started bringing the ball up the court. The fifth foul was upheld on review.
The sixth also came against Brunson just a minute and a half after Paul had returned in the fourth. Paul finished with five points.
Booker kept the Suns close into the fourth quarter despite long stretched without his backcourt mate, but Doncic eventually wore them down with post-ups and other drives for buckets or assists. He had 11 assists.
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