08-11-2018, 07:28 AM
MIAMI -- For the entirety of the regular season, the supremacy of the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference was brought into serious question by the Indiana Pacers. Emmanuel Lamur Raiders Jersey . Then came the playoffs. And the question was answered -- emphatically. The Heat became the third franchise in NBA history to reach the title series in four consecutive seasons, a laugher of a conference-title finale getting them there again Friday night. LeBron James and Chris Bosh each scored 25 points, and Miami eliminated the Pacers for the third straight year with a 117-92 romp in Game 6 of the East championship series. "Im blessed. Very blessed. Very humbled," James said. "And we wont take this opportunity for granted. Its an unbelievable franchise, its an unbelievable group. And we know we still have work to do, but we wont take this for granted. Were going to four straight Finals and we will never take this for granted." Dwyane Wade and Rashard Lewis each scored 13 points for Miami, which trailed 9-2 before ripping off 54 of the next 75 points to erase any doubt by halftime. The Heat set a franchise record with their 11th straight home post-season win, going back to the final two games of last seasons NBA Finals, leading by 37 at one point. "The group loves to compete and loves to compete at the highest level, and be pushed to new levels," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. Indiana led the East for much of the regular season, one where the Pacers were fueled by the memory of losing Game 7 of the East finals in Miami a year ago. So they spent this season with a clear goal: Toppling Miami as kings of the East. The Pacers were two games better in the regular season. They were two games worse in the post-season. Game 7, this time, would have been in Indianapolis. The Pacers just had no shot of making it happen, not on this night. "Its bitterly disappointing to fall short of our goals," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "Its bitterly disappointing to lose to this team three years in a row. But were competing against the Michael Jordan of our era, the Chicago Bulls of our era, and you have to tip your hats to them for the way they played this whole series." Paul George had 29 points for Indiana, David West scored 16 and Lance Stephenson -- booed all night -- finished with 11. "No regrets. All of us played hard. They were just the better team, and they won," Stephenson said. So now, the Celtics and Lakers have some company. Until Friday, they were the only teams in NBA history to reach the Finals in four straight years. The Heat have joined them, and their quest for a third straight title starts in either San Antonio or Oklahoma City on Thursday night. "Its all about 15 special men and what theyve been able to accomplish these last four years," said Heat managing general partner Micky Arison, who handed the East title trophy to Greg Oden. "Just a little bit more work to do, but Im really proud of the incredible job that these guys have done." The way they played in Game 6 made a prophet out of Bosh, who predicted Miami would play its best game of the season. The numbers suggested he was right, and then some. Miamis largest lead at any point this season, before Game 6, was 36 points. Indianas largest deficit of the season had been 35 points. After a layup by James with 3:39 left in the third, the margin in this one was a whopping 37 -- 86-49. James night ended not long afterward. "It was just one of those games that we want to play from beginning to end," Bosh said. "Here on our home court, we wanted to make a statement." There were the now-requisite Stephenson events, adding intrigue to the first half. The Indiana guard walked over to James and tapped him in the face in the opening minutes, stood over him after both got tangled under the basket, and got whistled for a flagrant foul for striking Norris Cole in the head in the second quarter. It was the end of a memorable series for Stephenson, none of which really had anything to do with basketball. His string of newsworthy moments from these East finals started when he talked about the health of Wades knees before the series and reached an apex in Game 5 when he blew into James ear and walked into a Heat huddle. When it was over, Stephenson went out and shook hands with plenty of Heat players, as did the rest of his teammates. "To work so hard and to get to where we are now really hurts," Stephenson said. The Heat were bothered by it all -- "angry," Spoelstra confessed -- but got the last laugh. Big Brother, again, reigned supreme in this rivalry. Vogel was using the big brother-little brother analogy earlier in the series, telling the tale of how at some point in every sibling rivalry the younger one has to make a stand. Indiana thought it would happen now. The Heat, obviously, had other ideas. "Theyve won championships," West said Friday when asked if the Pacers considered themselves Miamis equal. "No, were not equal." West said those words about eight hours before game time. They were in no dispute at nights end. NOTES: James appeared in what became his 100th playoff victory. ... The Pacers are now 7-12 against Miami in the last three postseasons, and 20-10 against everybody else. ... Wade and Udonis Haslem are going to the NBA Finals for the fifth time in nine seasons -- with a 15-67 season on their record during that stretch as well. ... Chris Andersen returned from a thigh injury, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 13 minutes for Miami. Gareon Conley Jersey . Durant had 33 points, 12 rebounds and six assists, hit the tying 3-pointer late in regulation and made the go-ahead foul shots in overtime to lift the Thunder past the Wizards 106-105. John Wall missed a driving layup attempt at the buzzer for Washington, which was seeking its third straight win. Rashaan Melvin Raiders Jersey . Traditional contenders Brazil, Greece and Turkey drew the other three spots to complete the 24-team field for this summers tournament in Spain, basketball governing body FIBA announced Saturday at its meeting in Barcelona. http://www.theraidersfansclub.com/Black-...ml?cat=971 . Last year, Matt Kuchar closed with a 4-under 68 to beat Kevin Chappell by two strokes for his second win of the 2013 season and sixth of his career.BEIJING, China - Serena Williams narrowly avoided a bagel against Spanish qualifier Silvia Soler-Espinosa, then won 13 of the next 15 games to pull out a 7-5, 6-2 victory Monday in the first round of the China Open.Williams looked lethargic and flat-footed at the start, pushing the ball back without much pace or direction and occasionally shanking groundstrokes several feet out. After only 15 minutes, she had already dropped serve three times and fallen behind 5-0.Just as quickly as she gave up such a big lead, however, Williams turned it around. In the next game, the 18-time major winner saved a set point and broke Soler-Espinosa to finally get on the board.I didnt want to lose 6-love, Williams said. I just started fighting. I was like, just let me at least try to break here.Soler-Espinosa had another set point on Williams serve in the following game, but the American saved it with a cross-court backhand winner at the net and cruised the rest of the way.Williams routinely doles out the bagels in matches, but shes rarely on the receiving end of one. The last player to win a 6-0 set against her was another Spaniard, Anabel Medina Garrigues, in Madrid last year. Williams came back to win that match, too, 6-3, 0-6, 7-5.After the match, Williams said she hadnt been sure shed be healthy enough to play in Beijing after pulling out of a match against Alize Cornet with dizziness and nausea last week at the Wuhan Open.I just started hitting a couple days ago, taking it day by day. Finally I decided Im here, I may as well see what happens, Williams said. Im feeling a lot better. I have more energy. I look back. Like my eyes arent as dead as they were.. Dwayne Harris Raiders Jersey. It was the latest health issue to sidetrack Williams this year. She also pulled out of a Wimbledon doubles match after looking completely out of sorts in her warm-up and hitting four straight double-faults in the match. She later blamed a viral illness.On the mens side, U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic struggled with his consistency against Chinese wild-card entry Bai Yan, ranked 462nd in the world, but held on to win 6-3, 6-4.Cilic said hes still getting used to the feeling of being a Grand Slam champion and dealing with all the pressure and attention that brings.Most of the guys at the top are dealing with that already for a few years. Its a bit new thing for me, so Im learning day to day, he said. Most important for myself is also not to put too many expectations on my own shoulders.Fifth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria also advanced with a 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Fernando Verdasco of Spain.Other womens winners included ninth-seeded Ana Ivanovic, who took advantage of eight double-faults by Belinda Bencic to beat the Swiss teenager 6-2, 6-1, and U.S. Open semifinalist Peng Shuai of China, who defeated Zhang Kailin 6-4, 6-1.In the only upset of the day, 10th-seeded Jelena Jankovic lost to Cornet 7-5, 3-6, 6-4.Fourteen-time major winner Rafael Nadal also returned to the court for the first time since injuring his wrist in July to play a doubles match. He and partner Pablo Andujar lost to Tomas Berdych and John Isner 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.Nadal will play his opening singles match on Tuesday against Richard Gasquet, while top-seeded Novak Djokovic, who has a 19-0 record in Beijing, faces Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain. 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