Around the Rim: Boston saves the best for last


1. Through to round two
The Hawks still shocked the world, even if they didn’t shock the world. Nobody expected Atlanta to make it past Game 4, but the Hawks forced a deciding game against the Celtics in Boston on Sunday. Unfortunately, they forgot to show up. The Cs saved their season by destroying the pesky Hawks 99-65, advancing to the second round where they must now face the defending Eastern Conference champions. LeBron James and his Cavaliers have been patiently waiting to see who would survive the David vs. Goliath battle to the bitter end and can now finally game plan for the league’s top trio. Paul Pierce led Boston on Sunday, scoring 22 points, followed by Kevin Garnett’s 18-point, 11-rebound double-double. Ray Allen was subpar, connecting on just 3-of-12 attempts for seven points, but it didn’t even matter in the rout. Boston’s beatdown included a near record performance, holding Atlanta to the second fewest points scored in a Game 7 since the shot clock came into play.

2. Lakers now 5-0 in playoffs

Kobe Bryant’s first MVP reign has yet to become officially official, but that’s not preventing him from making other players bow down. The Jazz felt the wrath of the soon-to-be NBA’s newest king of the mountain yesterday when Bryant dropped 38 points to go with six rebounds and seven assists in a 109-98 series-opening victory for the Lakers. Kobe converted a franchise playoff-record 21 free throws in the contest, missing only two during the entire contest. Game 2 goes down Wednesday night. The Jazz played a decent game except in the second quarter when they were outscored 29-17. Carlos Boozer (15 pts, 14 reb) and Mehmet Okur (21 pts, 19 reb) each recorded a double-double in the loss and Deron Williams dished out nine assists to go with 14 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Bryant and his buddies. Pau Gasol posted 18 points and 10 rebounds while Lamar Odom scored 16 and grabbed nine boards.

3. Bye-bye Bynum
With a 1-0 lead in the second round of the postseason, everything appears to be ice cream and cherries for the Los Angeles Lakers. Not so fast. The Lakers got some bad news from Andrew Bynum over the weekend when he told the press that a return to action this season is highly unlikely. Many believe Los Angeles needs their true center to compete with some of the West’s forces in the post, but so far, so good for LA. The Lakers have an incredible opportunity to take it all this year, but they have to be concerned about the future. Bynum could be a critical piece to the puzzle over the next five years as the Lakers are primed to be amongst the elite of the league with all their players basically peaking in their careers.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Utah 40 min, 38 pts (FG: 8-16, 3FG: 1-2, FT: 21-23), 6 reb, 7 ast, 1 stl

Buzzer Beater:

Papa John’s Pizza issued an apology to Cleveland and the Cavaliers for making T-shirts with LeBron James’ number and the word “crybaby” under it.

To apologize, Papa John’s will sell Cleveland residents a large, one-topping pizza for 23 cents on Thursday. The 23 is an homage to James’ jersey number. The company also will donate $10,000 to the Cavaliers Youth Fund.

The pizza chain’s T-shirts were featured during the Cavs’ games against the Wizards on Friday in Washington. Wizards fans taunted the Cavs, who won the playoff series that night in Game 6.

The shirts started after James complained about hard fouls, and Wizards center Brendan Haywood called him a crybaby.

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