Thursday, May 30, 2013

Mets Blowout Yankees, Win 2013 Subway Series


... And the 2013 Subway Series champions are... The New York Mets!

(SAY WHAT!?!?!?!)

That's right, the New York Mets, a team perceived as Dead Team Walking has won the Subway Series over the seemingly unbeatable New York Yankees.

After taking the first two games of the series in Flushing, the Mets blew past the Yankees thanks to a five-run first inning en route to a 9-4 victory. Even though one game remains in this year's Subway Series, it doesn't matter, the Mets have New York bragging rights!

The Metroplitans demolished Yankees' starter David Phelps, tagging him for five runs on four hits in just a third of an inning.

After Ruben Tejada led off the game with a single, Daniel Murphy drove the speedy Tejada in with a long double to right to make it 1-0. Three batters later, John Buck broke out of his slump when he singled to shallow center field to drive in Murphy.

After Phelps walked Rick Ankiel to load the bases, Marlon Byrd's Fielder's Choice drove in David Wright, and Ike Davis (that's right Ike "hits .140" Davis) drove in a pair of Mets with a single to left center to make it 5-0.

Phelps was then removed for Phil Claiborne, and Mets fans could turn out the lights on this one.

Jeremy Hefner, who everyone thought would get shelled, pitched extremely well for the Blue and Orange. Hefner gave up only three runs on nine hits over six innings, with five strikeouts. Hefner is now 1-5 on the season.

Still the Mets were not done offensively. They teed off of reliever Adam Warren in the third and fourth innings. Bryd hit a solo homer in the third inning, his fifth homer of the year, to make it 6-0, Mets. Then in the fourth, Lucas Duda continued his recent surge lacing a two-run double to left to make it 8-0.

The Mets have a chance to sweep this four game series on Thursday night in the Bronx. And even if they don't this has been the best baseball the Mets have played all season!

Rangers Axe Tortorella

It didn't take long for Rangers' fans to get their wish granted.

After the team's underwhelming performance in this year's playoffs, and all season long for that matter, the Rangers decided to fire coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella became better known for his fiery and controversial press conferences rather than winning. He was abrasive, to both his players and the media during his stay in New York -- and some are speculating that "jagged edge" could have done Torts in.

According to ESPN, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was "lukewarm" to the idea of signing a long term contract -- perhaps a sign that Tortorella was wearing thin on even the best player on the entire team.

However one slices it, Tortorella had to go. This team came into the season with very high expectations and failed to match them at every corner. The Rangers added a high priced free agent in Rich Nash -- who was practically invisible in the playoffs. Not to mention the Rangers struggled to even qualify for the postseason -- dancing with the Islanders, Devils and Jets for the final playoff spot.

So in the end the Tortorella era had to come to an end; I am sure every member of the media who has covered the Rangers during the Tortorella era is very, very happy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mets Beat Rivera & Yankees, Now 2-0 vs. Bombers


Saying that there hasn't much to celebrate for the New York Mets this season is the understatement of the year. New York has languished near the bottom of the National League all season, and with so many of its star players struggling, it has been easy to question the long range plans of the franchise.

However over the last two nights, the Mets have put forth the kind of effort, zest and passion fans have been waiting for all season.

On Tuesday night, the Mets won another nail-biter against the New York Yankees, this time off the bat of David Wright and Lucas Duda in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Greatest Closer of All Time, Mariano Rivera.

Once Rivera entered the game, the Mets greeted the Hall of Famer rudely. Daniel Murphy, who has been red hot with the bat in recent weeks launched a ground rule double to left to start the inning. David Wright followed with a single, but the throw by center fielder Brett Gardner was air mailed, allowing Murphy to come home with the tying run.

Then, it was up to Lucas Duda. Duda has been putrid all season -- his batting average down to .235 with only 16 RBI on the season. He has not only been a defensively liability for the Mets in left field, Duda is quickly become a liability at the plate.

He had a chance to do some damage on the Yankees in Game 1, but went 0-4 with a couple of big strikeouts with runners on base. Tonight was different. Duda slapped a single into right field, allowing Wright to come chugging home from second for the game winning run.

For Duda it was sweet redemption.

For the Mets, it was sweet redemption to quiet their critics -- for now -- grabbing two games against a Yankees team that is not only in first place in the American League East, but has been on fire themselves.

Matt Harvey silenced the Yankees for much of the evening. He matched zeros with Hiroki Kuroda all night until the sixth inning. Harvey scattered eight hits and a run with ten strikeouts in eight innings. The Mets ace remains unbeaten, even though he didn't get the win tonight.

The Mets and Yankees now turn their attention to Yankee Stadium to continue this four game home-and-home series. The Mets would love nothing better than to take at least one of these two and finish with a winning record in the Subway Series in 2013.

Did we say redemption?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lifeless Knicks Pounded By Pacers


Game 4 felt a lot like Game 3. In fact, Game 4 felt like the entire series, as the New York Knicks put forth another lifeless, gutless effort against the Indiana Pacers, as they walked away with a dominating 93-82 victory over the dilapidated Knicks.

New York was never in this game. They took the court with no life, and left clinging to their playoff lives down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

Indiana jumped out to an 11-3 with 7:16 to go in the first quarter, and you knew right then, that this game was over with a capital O. The Knicks missed eight of their first nine shots, and whenever they appeared to be coming back to life -- Indiana put them away with either a big time three by Paul George, or a big time jumper by George Hill.

The Knicks did tie this game at 14 when Carmelo Anthony capped a 6-0 Knicks run with a bucket, but Hill answered with an 8-foot jumper and D.J. Augustin drove through the lane untouched for another bucket to make it 18-14.

The Knicks never tied the game again. They never even led in this contest.

The Pacers built their first half lead to 11, when David West nailed a jump shot to make it 32-21. The Knicks tried to respond with a three-pointer and a jumper by Anthony, but it was not enough, as Paul George answered with a three of his own to built the lead back up to nine, 35-26.

By the time George Hill hit a couple of free throw shots mid-way through the third quarter, the game had gotten totally out of hand with Indiana building an 18-point advantage, 61-43.

Other than Anthony, nobody was contributing on this basketball team. Whether it was J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton, or Jason Kidd, it didn't matter -- nobody could connect on a shot. Here are the grim stats: Kenyon Martin, 0-3; Iman Shumpert, 0-6; Felton 7-16 (with most of that coming in garbage time); Smith, 7-22; Kidd, 1-2; Tyson Chandler 4-9, and Amare Stoudemire 1-2. That was it from a Knicks team that shot 35 percent from the floor and 28 percent from behind the arch.

If it weren't for Anthony hitting 9-of-23 for 24 points, this game would have been a total embarrassment.

Now the Knicks limp home for a Game 5, in front of a what will be a shocked and impatient Garden crowd. The ire of the Knicks playoff flop is most definitely Smith, who has been rumored to be partying during this series. Smith has been awful all postseason, and another stinker could write the end of his stay in the Big Apple. But, it is not just him. Felton, who was so good against Boston, has been dreadful in this series.

If anything, the Knicks now know they have to get younger, and bigger if they really want to compete in the Eastern Conference.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Rangers Demolish Caps, Win Game 7

RANGERS 5, Capitals 0 

For six games Rangers' fans had plenty to complain about.

 New York was horrible on the power-play, and the team's offensive stars and veterans were silent for much of the series. If it weren't for an incredible performance by goalie Henrik Lundqvist in Game 6, as the Rangers held off Washington 1-0, this series would have been long over.

Yet in Game 7, the Rangers went from being gutless to resilient in virtually a New York minute.

The offense that didn't exist for six games was alive and well in Game 7, as New York pulled off a 5-0 blowout win in D.C. to advance to the semifinals against the Boston Bruins.

The Rangers wasted little time in setting the tone on this night as Aaron Ashman netted his second goal of the series on an assist from Chris Kreider--seven minutes into the first period.

From there it was all Lundqvist as he made 13 saves on goal, and 26 total saves on goal through the games first two periods. Since giving up the game winning goal in Game 5, Lundqvist was unstoppable over the final two nights of this first round series, recording 62 saves in that span. 

Holding a 1-0 lead, many fans would easily assume that might be it for New York; the Rangers had struggled all series offensively as goals proved hard to come by. But in the second period, the Rangers offense finally came to life. Taylor Pyatt took a feed from Derek Dorsett and Steve Eminger and tapped it in to give New York a 2-0 lead, just 3:24 minutes into the second period.

 Two minutes later, New York was on the charge again when Michael Del Zotto's slap shot zipped passed the glove of Bobby Holtby to make it 3-0, New York. With a 3-0 lead, New York could feel it -- their confidence was back. With the best goalie in the sport in front of the net, Washington had next to no shot at coming back.
0:13 seconds into the third period, the Rangers quickly broke the Capitals spirit when Ryan Callahan scored his first goal of the series to make it 4-0, Blue Shirts.

Before anyone knew it, the Verizon Center had virtually cleared out, and all that was left were a handful of happy Rangers' fans, as New York took care of business in shocking fashion.

Now, the Rangers get set to face the Boston Bruins in the semis. New York is 2-1 on the season against Boston this year. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Open Mike 05-08-13, Knicks vs. Pacers Series Breakdown

In the first hour of the Open Mike program from Wednesday May, 8, Michael Cohen opens up his show discussing Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semis between the New York Knicks and the Indiana Pacers. Michael breaks down the game, and what it could mean for the rest of the series. In the second hour, Michael welcomes in John Pielli of the Passed Ball Show, to discuss Matt Harvey's recent gem against the Chicago White Sox.

Click on the link HERE. Then, hit the play button for each hour.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Harvey Nearly Unhittable as Mets Blank ChiSox

METS 1, White Sox 0 

In the first ever meeting in New York between the New York Mets and Chicago White Sox, Matt Harvey was nearly perfect.

Harvey dazzled Tuesday night, baffling the White Sox for nine innings, giving up only one slow infield single by Alex Rios -- a ground ball that he barely beat out. Even though he lost the no-hitter, Harvey never lost his effectiveness. His pitch count was reasonable all night, he threw only 105 pitches, and struck out a career high 12 batters.

If the Mets offense had only gotten Harvey a run, and had first base umpire Mark Carlson called Rios out, Harvey would have made history. This is the second time this year the Mets ace has flirted with a no-hitter. He flirted with one in Minnesota against the Twins on a cool Saturday afternoon in the Twin Cities. He carried a no-no into the eighth before it was ended on a home run by Justin Morneau. The Mets still won 4-2.

Harvey didn't get the win on this night. The White Sox Hector Santiago, a Newark native, was equally effective, surrendering only four hits over seven innings of work. The Mets had a couple of chances early on in the first and second innings to scratch out some runs on Santiago, but he shut the Mets down when he had to.

The game went into extras, and it took a poke into right field by Mike Baxter to drive in Ike Davis with the winning run, but this night was really about the Mets ace.

This is the fifth start this year that Harvey has pitched at least seven innings. He has given up only 22 hits in 49.1 innings and seven earned runs. He ranks second in the league in ERA by a starter with a 1.28 ERA, and is one of the league leaders in strikeouts, behind only Texas flame-thrower Yu Darvish.

While the All-Star game is still two and half months away, Harvey is making a case to be the NL starter when the game is played in Citi Field this summer.

Harvey probably wanted that no-hitter badly, especially after coming so close last time in Minnesota. But the fans know that Harvey is eventually going to be the second Mets starter to throw a no-hitter; that day is coming, and coming fast.

With the 1-0 victory over Chicago, the Mets earned their first ever win against the White Sox. The Mets are 1-3 lifetime against the ChiSox. The last time these two teams played one another was in 2003 at Comiskey Park when the White Sox swept the Mets.

If they 2013 White Sox have some familiar faces to Mets fans, they do. Former Mets' third baseman Robin Ventura is the club's manager, while his old Mets teammate, utility man Joe McEwing in the third base coach. Santiago, who pitched on Tuesday, grew up a Mets' fan, while former Mets farmhands Matt Lindstrom and Jeff Keppinger now play for Chicago. 

Knicks Blow Away Pacers in Game 2

KNICKS 105, Pacers 79

An offensive explosion thanks in part to their uncanny ability to convert turnovers into points keyed a 105-79 blowout in favor of the Knicks, as New York tied their best-of-seven series with the Indiana Pacers.

After a sluggish Game 1 that saw the Knicks shoot horribly from the floor, New York made it a point to find as many ways to score as they could against the physical Pacers. New York forced 21 turnovers on the night for 32 points, which proved to be a mega difference in the victory.

Right from the get-go the Knicks offense was on fire; jumping out to an 27-18 lead thanks to three-pointers by Iman Shumpert, Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith.

The Pacers couldn't find their groove early on, and it stayed that way. In the first quarter, Indiana turned the ball over five times, and missed eight shots, as they struggled to keep pace after down nine after the first. The Knicks out-hustled them in every aspect of the game. Whether it was Keynon Martin; or Jason Kidd; or Tyson Chandler; and Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks put tremendous defensive pressure on a Pacers unit that is not only bigger but a better shooting team overall.

New York extended their lead to double digits a couple of times in the second quarter, with the exclamation point coming when Iman Shumpert squeezed through the lane -- in mid-air -- to grab a missed three-pointer by Chris Copeland and slam it through the net for the put-back, giving the Knicks a 37-26 advantage. Shumpert would add another bucket on a lay-up to make it 39-28, and Keyon Martin drove to the hoop for slam dunk to extend the lead to 43-34.

Indiana tired to make a comeback in the third quarter, but their run was short lived. They tied the game at 58 on Roy Hibbert's seven foot jumper, and took their first lead of the night on a three-pointer by Lance Stephenson. That was it.

If the Pacers were hoping the Knicks shooting woes would return after they took that slim 61-60 lead, those hopes were quickly dashed. Carmelo Anthony knocked down consecutive shots to give the Knicks a 66-64 lead with 2:09 to go in the third.

From there the Knicks offense kicked it into high gear. The Knicks went on a 30-2 run in the fourth quarter, highlighted by back-to-back buckets by Pablo Prigioni to open the quarter, and a long distance three pointer by Anthony to extend the Knicks lead to 82-66 that electrified the crowd.

The Knicks who thrived off of playing great defense in the fourth quarter of their series against Boston continued that trend outscoring the Pacers 33-13 in this fourth quarter. Anthony who had struggled in the postseason broke out of his slump knocking down 13-of-26 shots with nine boards; he scored 32 points. Shumpert added 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and Felton put up 14 points of 5-of-9 shooting.

With the series tied at one, the Knicks-Pacers semis now turn to Indianapolis for Game 3 on Saturday night. Can the Knicks keep the pressure on? Can they continue to play great defense against the larger Pacers? We will have to wait and see.

Nets Fire Coach P.J. Carlesimo after Game 7 defeat

The game of musical chairs that is the Brooklyn Nets coaching situation has gotten bizarre ... yet again.

Earlier this year, the iron fist of Mikhail Prokhorov put down the ax on Avery Johnson, ending his tenure just a week after receiving the coach-of-the-month honors for the Nets sizzling start in November. The reasoning behind it had a lot to with the fact that Johnson's schemes and game plan didn't mesh well with star player Deron Williams who had complained to management amidst a lengthy losing streak. 

Now it is P.J. Carlesimo who has been shown the door by Prokhorov after leading the Nets to a 35-19 record during the season after taking over for Johnson.

Yet, losing Game 7, and not being the right "fit" going forward was enough of an offense for the Nets' brass to can him.

Carlesimo deserves better.

He turned around a fledgling basketball team with a high payroll and higher expectations and made them into a playoff team. He got Williams and Joe Johnson to buy in, and found a payer in Andray Blatche -- yet it was not enough for him to keep his job.

Even Carlesimo said that if the Nets had won Game 7 against the Bulls it wouldn't have mattered. Prokhorov and his group had made their minds up.

"I think short of winning a championship, it wouldn't have made any difference. I mean, Billy [King] was pretty candid," Carlesimo said during an interview on "The Dan Patrick Show" on Monday, a day after the Nets general manager notified the interim coach he would not be offered a new contract. "Had we won Saturday and advanced and were getting ready to play the Heat tonight, I think anything short of winning a championship wasn't going to change his mind or [ownership's] mind."

This is yet another sad chapter in the history of the Nets franchise.

Brooklyn's front office has its sights set on Phil Jackson, the former Lakers coach, and winner of 11-NBA titles as head coach in his career with both the Lakers and the Bulls.

Who can blame them? Jackson is easily the greatest coach in NBA history. His presence would make the Nets an instant favorite in both the league and in the city of New York. He would take headlines away from the Knicks, and would sell out the Barclays Center. Jackson = success.

However, it's a pipe-dream if there ever was one. Why would Jackson want to come out of retirement to coach a team that has $90 million committed to it already, and has a core of players who are not considered tough, around the league? Plus Jackson has proven to be picky in the past -- he prefers to coach team's that are ready to take that leap at the NBA title, and I am not sure that the Nets as they are currently constituted are ready.

Jackson, 67, has revealed in the recent past that he would prefer to be involved in a front office position rather than coach -- a position that is already held at the Nets, by Billy King, who I doubt would want to give up his GM title to Jackson. Plus, Jackson overcame prostate cancer a couple years ago, and seems to be content with retirement. And, oh yeah, there is always the chance the Lakers come crawling back to Jackson when they finally decide to fire Mike D'Antoni.

So for the Nets to waste their time and our time with the idea that Jackson is going to come to New York to coach a stubborn personality in Deron Williams, is ludicrous.

Other candidates that Brooklyn will consider include, former Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy; his brother and former Magic coach, Stan Van Gundy; as well as former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, and possibly, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers.

Now Sloan is the least likely to take the job. Like Jackson, he's up there in age, and two, Sloan had a falling out with Williams when the two worked together in Utah. Why would Sloan want any part of that again?

The VanGundy boys are interesting. Both are fantastic coaches. Jeff knows how to handle the New York media, or any media for that matter, a lot better than his brother does. However, with Jeff having so much success and fun doing television, I have to wonder if he really wants to come back.

"If you read, I was candidate, and now I believe Billy King has told the local beat writers that I'm not really a candidate, so you can read into that what you want," VanGundy said in an article via ESPN. "But I just find for me, I like it better when I just lay low, do the job that I have, and if ever somebody wants to talk we do it quietly."

As for Stan -- he would be a great addition to the Nets. He's has a fiery personality, and like his brother is a winner. But can he take the heat? Remember the incident when he told reporters in Orlando that star Dwight Howard wanted him fired?  Can you imagine that in New York? Fudgetabouit!

The only options that would make the most sense, are Doc Rivers, or Brian Shaw.

Rivers has a tremendous resume that he built up in Boston. He won an NBA title in 2008, and has taken that team to the playoffs virtually every year. He knows how to win, and he was able to manage the big personalities of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo over the years. He would bring instant credibility and stability to the franchise if given the job. Then again, will Rivers ever leave his contract in Beantown?

As for Shaw, he might be the guy at the end of the day. He's currently an assistant with the Pacers, and has been a hot commodity for a lot of teams in recent years. He did work eight years under Phil Jackson in L.A. He's young, 47-years-old, and would likely mesh extremely well with the Nets personalities.

But, no matter who coaches this team, that person is taking over a franchise that has invested a ton of money on a group that has had its heart and desire questioned at times this past season. The lack of heart and determination was front and center in Game 7 as the Nets put together a lackluster effort in an elimination game against Chicago. Williams and Johnson both had a terrible series, and the Nets don't have a consistent enough shooter on this team.

In short this will not be an easy job by any stretch of the imagination. Add the pressure of working for Prokhorov and Jay-Z, and you have a job that could be impossible.

Should be a fun drama to watch play out.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Knicks hold off Celtics rally, Advance in Playoffs

KNICKS 88, Celtics 80

For a period of 5:32 it looked that the Knicks hopes and dreams of winning this first round playoff series against the Celtics was going to come to a crashing and humiliating end. The Celtics had erased a 26-point deficit thanks to an incredible 20-0 run where just about everything the Knicks did went wrong, while everything the Celtics did went right.

The Knicks, who flirted with disaster earlier in the game after allowing Boston to creep back into this game six in the second quarter, and had allowed Boston to creep back into this series with two embarrassing losses, couldn't hit the side of a barn in the fourth quarter.

 After J.R. Smith and Carmelo Anthony missed two makable three-pointers, Boston began its run when Avery Bradley hit a 23-foot jump shot, and Jeff Green accounted for the next seven points for Boston, as the Celtics trailed 75-56.

That was not all, as it went from bad to worse for the Knicks.

Four consecutive turnovers thanks to bad passes by Smith, Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd, turned into Celtics points on the other end to cut the Knicks lead 75-66, as Paul Pierce nailed a three-pointer, and Bradley hit a lay-up and a couple of free-throws.

Suddenly the shooting that had been so good for the Knicks earlier in the game was lost. Melo missed a couple shots, Tyson Chandler missed a couple of shots off rebounds, and Smith missed a 21-foot floater that bounced off the rim and into the hands of Kevin Garnett.

With 5:20 to play, the Knicks were clinging to a 75-69 lead, and if Boston could score once more to cut the lead to either four or three points, the collapse would certainly be in full throttle. However, that is when Iman Shumpert came to save the day.

Shumpert stepped in front of a pass by Pierce and took it coast to coast for the easy bucket to give the Knicks a 77-69 lead, but more importantly end a long drought and ease the fear that this would be a total Knicks collapse.

The rest of the Knicks took note and settled down ... again, and finally started to hit their shots. Carmelo Anthony knocked down back-to-back free throws and nailed a big time jump shot giving New York a 81-75 lead. Less than two minutes later, it was Anthony again, who made the big play when it mattered the most, as he connected from 24-feet away to extend the Knicks lead back to nine, 84-75. The play was punctuated when Anthony, then, blocked a Paul Pierce shot on the other end to keep the Knicks up nine with a 1:30 to play. 

Finally, J.R. Smith hit his last jumper and a foul shot to extend the Knicks lead back to double digits, and end this first round battle once and for all.

The victory was bitter sweet for the Knicks. Not only did they quiet their critics and shut down their old divisional rivals, the Celtics; but they were able to win the first playoff series by a Knicks' squad in 13 years.

Now, New York has to rest up quick and get ready for what should be a very, very physical series against the Indiana Pacers.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Nets avoid elimination again, force Game 7 vs. Chicago

NETS 95, Bulls 92 

After blowing a 14-point lead late in Game 4, and losing that contest 142-134 in triple overtime, it appeared that the Brooklyn Nets were destined for playoff elimination in this first round series against the Chicago Bulls.

The Nets were trailing three games to one, instead of being tied two games a piece after that Saturday matinee meltdown in the Windy City; their star player Deron Williams was in the midst of a terrible funk, and the only offense the Nets were getting on a consistent basis was from Brook Lopez, and occasionally from Josh Johnson.

Plus this was a team not known for its spunk and grit. Hardly, when most think of the Nets in 2012-2013 they think of a team that gets easily complacent, plays inconsistent too often, and, yes, even got its coach, Avery Johnson, fired weeks after winning Coach of the Month to start the season.

So nobody would have been stunned if the Nets went quietly against the Bulls, but this team is a lot different than we previously thought. The Nets not only won Game 5 convincingly at home; they won their first game in Chicago this season, on Thursday night in a critical Game 6 to force Game 7 back at their shiny new building on Flatbush Ave., in Brooklyn.

While the Nets didn't shoot well in Game 6, the fact is nobody did on either side, as Game 6 proved to be a true defensive stand-off with the Nets never relinquishing their early lead. After Carlos Boozer sunk a 13-foot jump shot to give the Bulls a brief 14-13 lead in the first quarter, Brook Lopez answered with a 20-footer to give Brooklyn the lead right back -- they never looked back.

Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Lopez would hit the next three shots for the Nets, building a 21-17 edge. Whenever the Bulls tried to answer, someone in the black and white jersey would answer. Case in point, after Joakim Noah's jump shot tied the game at 27, Brooklyn sailed to a 6-0 run to end the quarter thanks to a bucket by Johnson and a pair by Lopez.

The trend would continue for the rest of the night as Chicago could never overcome even the slimmest of margins against the Nets.

At one point Chicago cut the Nets lead to two-points on Marco Belinelli's 20-foot jumper, but the Nets held firm--they connected on a couple of free throws, and Chicago helped out the Nets cause by missing three long range shots to end third quarter, keeping the Nets up 75-71.

Later with Brooklyn holding onto a five-point lead in the fourth, Chicago missed seven consecutive shots in a span of two minutes. The Nets had done nothing offensively themselves, but because of Chicago's poor shooting in the perimeter, it gave the Nets renewed life.

After Belinelli missed a 26-foot three for the Bulls, C.J. Watson made Chicago pay when he nailed a three-pointer for the Nets to extend the lead to 81-73.

Once again Chicago had a decent comeback after Boozer, Jimmy Butler, and Nate Robinson connected on a series of shots to cut the Nets' lead down to four points, 83-79. And like clockwork, with the Bulls back to within striking distance they couldn't hit the side of barn when they needed to the most. 

 Taj Gibson missed a jumper.

Joakim Noah missed a tip in.

Marco Belinelli missed another layup.

The Nets, once again, had renewed life.

Williams added a pair of free throws, and Lopez dropped a slam dunk to keep the Nets afloat, 87-83. But, the Bulls continued to hang around. Belinelli, inspite of his big misses earlier in the quarter, hit a bucket to cut the Nets lead back down to two, 90-88.

But, the resilient Nets hung in there. Andray Blatche hit a key jump shot to extend the lead back to four, 92-88. Then, when things got really interesting Blatche hit three of four free-throw attempts down the stretch to keep Brooklyn in front 95-92.

Even with Blatche's efforts the game was still far from over. With :19 seconds to play the Bulls still had a shot. Belinelli took a chance at a three-pointer, but his shot was off; Noah retrieved the rebound, but as he came down his foot landed out of bounds -- turning the ball back over to the Nets to ice the contest and force Game 7. 

It wasn't pretty, but the Nets have found a way to send this series back to Brooklyn for a winner-take all Game 7. This is going to be fun. The winner gets to play the Miami Heat in the next round -- so much for the fun. 

Second period dooms Rangers in playoff opener

Capitals 3, RANGERS 1

This was not exactly how the Rangers drew it up. Then again, the way this season has gone for the Rangers -- nothing has come easy.

 Leading the Washington Capitals 1-0 in Game 1 of their opening round playoff series, the Rangers watched the Caps catch fire in the second period scoring three unanswered goals to beat New York.

After a solid finish to the regular season since the Marian Gaborik trade, that saw the Rangers catapult from being barely a playoff team to the number six seed in the Eastern Conference, many thought drawing Washington in the first round was a real boon to the Rangers playoff hopes.

This was not the start they envisioned.

After Carl Haglin's goal late in the first period the Rangers fell asleep at the wheel in the second period, committing three penalties, and watching the Captials play in three separate power play opportunities. It was not until Washington's third power play of the period, that they finally scored to tie the game on Alex Ovechkin's wrist shot, and from there it was down hill.

The Capitals score two more goals in a matter of 0:46 seconds in the middle of the period, first on a shot by Marcus Johansson and later by Jason Cimera to make it 3-1, Washington.

It's not like the Rangers didn't have chances -- they took 28 shots on goal in the final two periods of play, but nothing went into the net as Brandon Holtby saved 35 shots on the night for the Capitals.