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Miami Frustrates Chicago Again, Nails 8th Seed in the East; Pelicans Eliminate Kings for 8th in the West


PhilBoxing.com




For the second straight season, the Miami Heat frustrated the bid of the Chicago Bulls to enter the playoffs, scoring a 112-91 romp at its home floor to win the 8th and final seed.

The Heat will be up against the top seed Boston Celtics in the first round, hoping to essay a repeat of their last year's feat that led them to an Eastern Conference Finals victory over the same Celtics team.

Last season, Miami defeated the Bulls, 102-91 to catch the last bus to the playoffs where they progressed into the NBA Finals where they lost to the Western Conference champions, the Denver Nuggets.

This season's play-in loss to Miami could have been doubly painful for the Bulls as the Heat were without their star, Jimmy Butler who sustained an injury in the closing minutes of the Heat's game for the 7th seed against the Philadelphia 76ers, which they lost, 105-104 the other day.

But Tyler Herro continued stepping up in the absence of Butler and with Jaime Jaquez Jnr, Bam Adebayo and Kevin Love, spearheaded the demolition of the Bulls, racing to a 34-17 first quarter on the way to a 47-37 halftime lead. The Heat bloated the lead to 82-60 by the end of third quarter and coasted to victory.

Herro nearly had a triple double as he scored 24 points, hauled down team best 10 rebounds and issued 9 assists in an all around performance. Sophomore "Juan Wick" Jaquez Jnr. continued his fine play with 21 points, 6 boards and 6 assists while veteran Kevin Love came off the bench for 16 markers. Adebayo contributed 13 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists.

Demar DeRozan lead the Bulls with 22 points. Center Nikola Vucevic had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Three other Bulls scored in double figures led by Coby White (13), Jevonte Green (12) and Ayo Asunmu (10) but proved too little to make any difference.

Meanwhile, the New Orleans Pelicans caught the last train to the Western Conference playoffs, beating an undermanned Sacramento Kings, 105-98 for the 8th seed.

New Orleans will take on West topnotcher Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round.

The Pelicans which once placed as high as sixth place, lost back to back games to the Los Angeles Lakers including the last for the 7th seed the other day, were without scorer Zion Williamson who was injured in the closing minutes of the recent loss to the Lakers.

Jonas Valenciunas took charge with help from Larry Nance Jr and scoring support from Brandon Ingram, Tre Murphy III and reserves Naji Marshall and Jose Alvarado as CJ McCollum continued to struggle to find his shooting touch.

But with main men Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter still out, the Kings seemed to continuously struggle in these last few legs of the competition.

Nonetheless, center Domantas Sabonis kept the Kings together with his on court leadership which drew a game high 35 points from D'Aaron Fox and three others. Sabonis himself scored 23 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists. But Sacramento missed the scoring of Keon Ellis who was held scoreless.

The Pelicans essentially had the game sewn up by posting a ten points lead in the first half on the strength of a 32-21 second quarter.

West top team Oklahoma City Thunder will be the Pelicans' first round opponent.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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