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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Fired-up Garnett, Celts put away Hawks

AP

BOSTON — Call him old. Call him dirty.

News photo
Vintage performance: Boston's Kevin Garnett puts up a jumper over Atlanta's Josh Smith in the first half of Game 6 on Thursday night. The Celtics beat the Hawks 83-80 to take the series 4-2. AP

It just fires up Kevin Garnett even more — and that didn't work out very well for the Atlanta Hawks in their first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics.

Upset by comments from a Hawks owner calling him "the dirtiest guy in the league," Garnett responded with 28 points and 14 rebounds to give the Celtics an 83-80 victory in Game 6 on Thursday night that eliminated Atlanta.

"Thank you to their owner for giving me some extra gas tonight," Garnett said. "My only advice to him is next time he opens his mouth to know what he's talking about with X's and O's vs. checkbooks and bottom lines."

The Celtics will open the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday in Boston against the Philadelphia 76ers, who eliminated East No. 1 seed Chicago in six games with a 79-78 victory earlier Thursday.

"At least we don't have to travel," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who had hoped to be playing a day or two later. "I would rather be going to Game 1 here than Game 7 in Atlanta."

Garnett topped his regular-season high of 25 points and had five blocks and three steals for Boston. Paul Pierce had 18 points despite playing with a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee, and Rajon Rondo had 14 points and eight assists.

But Garnett, who turns 36 this month, was the star, defying age and a reputation that led Hawks co-owner Michael Gearon Jr. to say within earshot of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "They are old. I know what happens when you play basketball, old guys foul. Garnett is the dirtiest guy in the league."

Garnett responded on the court, hitting a jumper with 31 seconds left to give Boston the lead for good.

Then he responded off it.

"I just found that comment to be a little rude and a little out of hand and I wanted to address it," he said. "Just because you've got a lot of money doesn't mean you can open your mouth."

Josh Smith had 19 points and nine rebounds for Atlanta, which failed to advance in the playoffs for the first time in four years. Joe Johnson had 17 points, Marvin Williams added 16 and eight rebounds and Al Horford had 15 points and nine rebounds.

Boston has won at least one playoff series every year since the new Big 3 was assembled in the summer of 2007.

"The one thing about the Celtics is those guys know how to win," Williams said.

76ers 79, Bulls 78

In Philadelphia, Andre Iguodala made the go-ahead free throws with 2.2 seconds left and the 76ers rallied for a victory over top-seeded Chicago in Game 6, advancing to the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs for the first time since 2003.

Omer Asik missed two free throws with 7 seconds left that would have given the Bulls a three-point lead. Iguodala grabbed the second miss, sprinted the length of the court, was fouled by Asik and made both free throws.

Philadelphia is the fifth No. 8 seed to win a first-round series against a No. 1 seed.

Chicago lost star guard Derrick Rose to a knee injury in the series opener and center Joakim Noah didn't play in the last three games because of an ankle injury.

Iguodala scored 20 points, and Jrue Holiday and Lou Williams each scored 14 for the Sixers who were outrebounded 56-33.

Luol Deng had 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulls, while Richard Hamilton scored 19 points and Carlos Boozer grabbed 13 rebounds.

Nuggets 113, Lakers 96

In Denver, Ty Lawson scored 32 points and Corey Brewer added 18 as the Nuggets forced a Game 7 in their first-round playoff series.

Game 7 in the Western Conference series is Saturday night at the Staples Center.

This will be Denver's first all-or-nothing playoff game since losing to Utah in Game 7 of the 1994 conference semifinals.

Kobe Bryant followed his 43-point outburst in Game 5 with 31 points in 3½ quarters despite a sour stomach that prevented him from attending the Lakers' morning shootaround and forced him to take intravenous fluids all day. He took a seat for good with Los Angeles down 101-73 with 7:52 remaining.

Andrew Bynum pulled down 16 rebounds but made just 4 of 11 shots for 11 points for the Lakers and Pau Gasol was just 1 of 10 from the field, finishing with three points and three rebounds.

Harden top sixth man

AP

OKLAHOMA CITY — In his first season fully understanding the role, James Harden won the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award after leading all bench players in scoring.

Harden averaged 16.8 points on career-best 49 percent shooting this season, and he recorded his first career 40-point game last month in a win at Phoenix.

Lou Williams, who led Philadelphia in scoring despite not starting a single game this season, was second in the balloting.



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