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|Posté le: Ven 7 Sep - 04:50 (2018) Sujet du message: Western Conference
|With the best regular-season record in the NBA all locked up Zane Gonzalez Jersey , the Houston Rockets have begun looking ahead to the playoffs.
The Rockets still have two games remaining before postseason play begins next week, however, and they don’t plan on taking any chances against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Those who are healthy will play at least some against the Lakers, but the Rockets (64-16) will likely keep shooting guard Eric Gordon and stretch forward Ryan Anderson on the bench as they recover from ankle injuries.
“We’re going to be very careful with whoever plays, let’s put it that way,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told the Houston Chronicle. “When we play, we’re going to play hard. It might be for three quarters, it might be for a half, it might be for a quarter. That will be determined.
“Most guys want to play. If somebody needs a break, we’ll give him one, but we’ll be very careful about how much we play.”
Houston forward James Harden seems like a lock to win his first NBA scoring title. He’s averaging 30.6 points, though he has only bettered that mark once in the past eight games. He’s third in the NBA at 8.7 assists after leading the league in that category last season (11.2).
Winning individual awards means little to Harden at this point of his career, however.
“The ultimate goal is holding that trophy up,” Harden said. “So until we do that, there’s no celebrations. … We haven’t done anything yet.”
Los Angeles (34-46) will be playing its final home game of the season.
The Lakers will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, but there’s plenty of optimism heading into the offseason.
The player generating the most excitement lately is rookie shooting guard Josh Hart Calais Campbell Jersey , who’s coming off back-to-back 20-point games for the first time this season.
Hart had 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 113-96 loss to the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night, and then came back with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting in a 112-97 loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday.
“Throughout the season, every time he gets the opportunity to play big minutes or have a bigger role, he has been pretty good for us,” Lakers coach Luke Walton told reporters after the game against Utah. “He is one of our best finishers, he’s one of our best rebounders, and he can push it in transition.”
Hart started in place of another rookie on Sunday. Kyle Kuzma missed the game after spraining an ankle against Minnesota. Los Angeles was also without rookie point guard Lonzo Ball (knee) and forward Brandon Ingram (concussion protocol).
“He’s done a nice job of figuring out what the NBA game is about,” Walton said. “I think he’s another one of those guys that’s going to have a big offseason, now that he’s gotten to experience guarding James Harden, guarding other teams’ best players, elite scorers, and also figured out where he can get his shots.”
Hart scored a season-high 26 points against the Rockets on Dec. 31, going 9 of 13 from the field in a 148-142 loss in Houston.
The Tampa Bay Lightning understand what it takes to be successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs. ”You need your best players to be the best players, and they rose to the occasion,” coach Jon Cooper said Saturday after the top seed in the Eastern Conference beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1, ending their first-round series in five games.
”People are going to look at this series and say: `Oh Dan Skuta Jersey , 4-1. Tampa took it to them.’ Anybody that was actually watching these games knew clearly that’s not what happened in this series,” Cooper added. ”It was fought from the drop of the puck to the end. We just happened to get big goals at the right time.”
Nikita Kucherov scored his 27th career postseason goal and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots for the Lightning, who advanced to a second-round matchup against either the Boston Bruins or Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kucherov, the NHL’s third-leading scorer during the regular season with 100 points, had five goals and five assists in the five games, setting a franchise for points in a playoff series. He also tied Vincent Lecavalier for second-place on the club’s all-time postseason scoring list.
”I thought he elevated (his play) throughout the series, no question,” Cooper said of the 24-year-old, two-time All-Star, who has 27 goals and 25 assists in 50 career playoff games.
”He’s an extreme competitor,” New Jersey coach John Hynes said. ”When you look at a guy like Kucherov, he has talent but he’s not a perimeter player. He’s very strong on the puck, he competes hard, he’s got good hockey sense. He’s the type of offensive player you need to have success if you’re going to have a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”
Mikhail Sergachev became the youngest player in Lightning history to score a playoff goal and Ryan Callahan, back in the lineup after missing the previous two games with an upper-body injury, sealed it with an empty-netter for the Atlantic Division champions with 1.7 seconds remaining.
”Feels great Rob Havenstein Jersey , especially at home in front of our fans,” Kucherov said. ”I think we played well defensively, and teams that play well defensively move forward.”
Tampa Bay won the first two games at home before splitting a pair of the road, returning to Amalie Arena after Kucherov had two goals and an assist to key a 3-1 victory in Game 4
The right winger’s sizzling shot past goalie Cory Schneider put the Lightning up 2-0 at 12:27 of the third period of the clincher.
The 19-year-old Sergachev, meanwhile, became the youngest player in franchise history to score a playoff goal, giving the Lightning a 1-0 lead in the first period.
Schneider did all he could to give the Devils a chance to extend their first playoff appearance since 2012.
The goalie, who lost his starting job after being injured in January, stopped 35 of 37 shots, including Tyler Johnson’s breakaway that kept New Jersey within striking distance after Kyle Palmieri trimmed Tampa Bay’s lead to one goal with three minutes left.
Will Butcher and Taylor Hall assisted on the only goal for New Jersey, which played without injured defenseman Sami Vatanen.
”I felt good and enjoyed playing, but at the end of the day I didn’t get the job done,” said Schneider, who replaced Keith Kinkaid during Game 1 and started the last four games. ”I didn’t extend the series, and I didn’t get us the win, so a little bit for naught.”
New Jersey kept it close Ethan Westbrooks Jersey , killing off four consecutive penalties in the second period, when the Lightning outshot the Devils 18-4 but couldn’t expand its one-goal lead.
Schneider had two more saves early in the third as Tampa Bay sputtered on a fifth power-play opportunity.
”We have to stay out of the box better than we did tonight,” Hynes said. ”It sometimes disrupts the flow of the game, but I think if you look at the penalty kill, those guys played their hearts out. I thought Cory was fantastic. . Those guys kept us right in the game, right to the end.”
Notes: The Lightning was 0-for-10 on the power play in Games 4 and 5, yet won both games. … Vatanen, New Jersey’s top defenseman, was injured during the opening period of Game 4 when he was checked high by Kucherov. The Devils also played without RW Stefan Noesen, who was scratched with a lower-body injury. … Callahan (upper body) returned after missing Games 3 and 4. ”It’s always tough watching your team play, especially in the playoffs,” he said. ”To be able to get back out there and play was big.”
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