Knicks, Pacers, Grizzlies, Thunder in semis

New York, May 4 (IANS) New York, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Memphis all won their first-round NBA playoff series with Game 6 victories, reaching the Conference semifinals.

The New York Knicks got the staggers Friday and almost gave up a 26-point lead but steadied to beat the Boston Celtics 88-80 while Oklahoma City Thunder booked its spot in the last eight for the third straight season by downing the Houston Rockets 103-94, reports Xinhua.

The Indiana Pacers withstood a big final-quarter comeback from Atlanta and beat the Hawks 81-73, and the Memphis Grizzlies completed a comeback from a 0-2 series deficit by beating the Los Angeles Clippers 118-105. With Miami, San Antonio and Golden State already into the next stage, the last spot will be decided when Brooklyn host Chicago in their Game 7.

Boston cut a 49-75 deficit to four points but Carmelo Anthony made a jumper to give New York an 81-75 lead and then sank a 3-pointer. Then J.R. Smith converted a three-point play to restore the double-digit lead the Knicks had nursed most of the game.

Anthony finished with 21 points for the Knicks, who won a playoff series for the first time since the Patrick Ewing era in 2000. They will host the Pacers in Sunday’s opening game of their Conference semifinal series.

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored 27 points and Kevin Martin added 25 to lead the Thunder over the Houston Rockets. The top-seeded Thunder opened the fourth quarter with a big run to take the lead and cruised to the victory.

Indiana’s George Hill and David West each scored 21 points as the Pacers held off an Atlanta rally.

Memphis’ Mike Conley and Zach Randolph scored 23 points apiece as the Grizzlies won their fourth straight game of the series to take it out 4-2. The Grizzlies had never won four straight post-season games before this series and they became only the 10th team in NBA history to win four straight after trailing 0-2. They will open the second round at Oklahoma City Sunday.

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