The Philadelphia 76ers won 109-92 against the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics rallied to defeat the Atlanta Hawks 87-80 to even their series in the National Basketball Association playoffs.
In yesterday’s third game, Kobe Bryant scored 38 points as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets 104-100 to take a two-games-to-none lead in their series. Andrew Bynum had 27 points for the Lakers at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
The top-seeded Bulls were playing without Derrick Rose, the reigning NBA Most Valuable Player who was lost for the rest of the playoffs with a knee injury in the first game of the series.
The 76ers outscored the top-seeded Bulls 36-14 in the third quarter at United Center in Chicago last night to tie their best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece.
“The third quarter was the game,” said Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau. “They got into the open floor and crushed us off isolation. We have to come back with a lot more fight.”
The odds on the Bulls winning their first NBA title since the Michael Jordan era widened to 12-1 from 4-1 before the postseason began after Rose suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear in his left knee in Game 1.
Jrue Holiday had 26 points on 11-for-15 shooting and Lou Williams added 20 points for the eighth-seeded 76ers, who hit 59 percent of their shots, compared with 45 percent for Chicago.
“A wonderful win,” said 76ers coach Doug Collins.
Joakim Noah led the Bulls with 21 points. The 76ers host Chicago on May 4 for Game 3.
“We’re capable of playing a lot better,” Thibodeau told reporters. “It starts with me. I have to get us ready to play better. We have a couple of days to get it right.”
Pierce Leads Celtics
At Philips Arena in Atlanta, Paul Pierce had 36 points and 14 rebounds for the Celtics, who were missing point guard Rajon Rondo because of a suspension and shooting guard Ray Allen because of injury.
The Celtics, who trailed by five points after three quarters, outscored Atlanta 26-14 in the fourth period to tie their series at 1-1.
“I told our guys, it was just a team win,” Boston coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “You can pick out so many different little things that every single guy that played on the floor did for us and that’s how you grind out wins.”
Joe Johnson had 22 points for the Hawks, who visit the Celtics on May 4 for Game 3.
“We will not hang our heads at this point,” Atlanta coach Larry Drew said. “There’s just too much basketball to be played. It gives us an opportunity to go up (to Boston) and show what we’re all about and show what we’ve been about all season.”
In tonight’s games, the Utah Jazz visit the San Antonio Spurs trying to tie their series at 1-1; the Orlando Magic host the Indiana Pacers in their effort to take a 2-1 series lead, and the Los Angeles Clippers seek a 2-0 advantage against the host Memphis Grizzlies.