NBA Playoffs Roundup: April 25, 2015

The 2015 NBA Playoffs saw two teams move within a win away of advancing to the next round as Houston and Washington gained 3-0 series leads over their respective foes. Meanwhile, San Antonio completely dominated the Clippers to get a 2-1 lead in their own series.

Game Capsules from The Sports Network:

April 25, 2015:
Houston 130, Dallas 128
Dallas, TX ( - James Harden and Dwight Howard set playoff career highs on Friday night. The Houston Rockets needed every bit of their production. Harden netted 42 points, Howard snatched 26 rebounds and the Rockets edged the Dallas Mavericks 130-128 to take a commanding 3-0 lead in their Western Conference first-round series. After Harden found a huge crease along the left wing, he slashed through it and layed the ball in for a three-point play and a 127-123 Houston lead with 56.8 seconds left. Dirk Nowitzki exhibited a nice use of the pump fake and was fouled on right wing 3-pointer at the other end before sinking all three free throws. Harden then knocked down a step-back left elbow jumper over Tyson Chandler which bounced in and out, ricocheted off the glass and rattled in to put Houston up 129-126 with 12.9 ticks to play. Monta Ellis answered by lofting a high-arching floater high off the glass and over the outstretched arms of Josh Smith and Corey Brewer split a pair of foul shots at the other end with seven ticks on the clock. Ellis, though, couldn't come through as his jumper from the top of the key over Smith was nowhere close to the rim, bounced off the right side of the backboard. The MVP candidate Harden was 15-of-24 from the floor, knocked down 5-of-7 from beyond the arc and sunk all seven of his free throws. He had connected on just 9-of-28 shots from the field over the first two games of this set.

Washington 106, Toronto 99
Washington, DC ( - Paul Pierce was the man down the stretch for the Washington Wizards as they took a commanding 3-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. Pierce scored 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter -- including a couple of clutch 3-pointers -- to help the Wizards to a 106-99 win over the Toronto Raptors in Game 3 on Friday night. Marcin Gortat had 24 points with 13 rebounds, John Wall contributed 19 points and 15 assists and Bradley Beal added 16 points for Washington, which will look to close out the series at home on Sunday. No team in NBA history has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. DeMar DeRozan scored 22 of his playoff career-high 32 in the first half to lead the Raptors, who had won three straight in Washington. Amir Johnson finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the loss. Kyle Lowry, who fouled out in Game 1 and left Game 2 with an ankle injury, scored 15 points on 5-of-22 shooting and dished out seven assists.

San Antonio 100, LA Clippers 73
San Antonio, TX ( - Kawhi Leonard added to his growing collection of hardware on Thursday when he was named the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year. He put his complete game on display in Friday's Game 3. Leonard scored a career-high 32 points in less than 29 minutes and anchored an incredible defensive effort to guide the San Antonio Spurs to a 100-73 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. Leonard showcased his two-way dominance from the opening tip. He finished 13- of-18 shooting with three steals and two blocks, playing less than two minutes in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand. Boris Diaw chipped in 15 points and six rebounds off the bench to make up for the relative lack of production from Tim Duncan, who scored 28 points to carry the Spurs to their overtime win in Game 2. The two-time MVP was quiet in this one, netting just four points on 2-of-6 shooting. The Spurs will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in Sunday's Game 4. The Clippers won Game 1 in convincing fashion and lost a heartbreaker in Game 2, but they looked overmatched in their first game in San Antonio. Blake Griffin was the lone bright spot with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Chris Paul was limited to seven points and committed six turnovers, but perhaps the bigger issue for LA was the lack of production from its reserves. Jamal Crawford's 1-for-11 highlighted an abysmal night for the Clippers reserves, who contributed just 30 points on 41 shots.

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