Philadelphia’s Spencer Hawes scored 21 points, grabbed nine rebounds and hit the go-ahead jumper late in the fourth quarter to help the 76ers beat the Chicago Bulls 79-74 on Friday and take a 2-1 lead in their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.
Hawes scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for the eighth-seeded Sixers, who took the series edge against the top-seeded Bulls.
Already playing the rest of the series without reigning MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls got another scare in the third quarter when Joakim Noah left with a sprained left ankle. Noah, who scored 12 points, returned in the fourth quarter and mostly hobbled around the court.
The Sixers scored only 11 points in the third quarter and trailed by double digits early in the fourth.
Hawes hit a 20-footer for a 72-71 lead and Evan Turner made two free throws for a three-point lead with one minute, 24 seconds left. Chicago’s John Lucas III buried a three-pointer to make it a one-point game, but Jrue Holiday hit two free throws to seal the win.
Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls and Richard Hamilton scored 17 points.
Game 4 is today in Philadelphia.
CELTICS 90, HAWKS 84, OT
In Boston, Massachusetts, Rajon Rondo had a triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists as Boston edged Atlanta in overtime and took a 2-1 series lead.
The Celtics went on an 11-1 run to open a double-digit lead with seven minutes to play in regulation, but Atlanta tied it 80-80 on Joe Johnson’s three-pointer with 1:23 left. Boston’s Paul Pierce took a long, fallaway jumper that bounced off the rim at the buzzer, but the visitors still prevailed in overtime.
It was the seventh career playoff triple-double for Rondo, who missed Game 2 because he was suspended for bumping a referee in the closing minutes of the series opener.
Ray Allen returned for Boston after missing almost a month and scored 13 points in 38 minutes. Kevin Garnett had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Paul Pierce had 21 points.
Joe Johnson scored 29 points and Jeff Teague had 23 for the Hawks. Tracy McGrady had 12 points but 10 were in the first half, before he landed awkwardly on his right ankle.
Game 4 is today.
NUGGETS 99, LAKERS 84
In Denver, Colorado, the hosts raced to an early 24-point lead to set up a victory over Los Angeles, cutting the series deficit to 2-1.
Ty Lawson scored 25 points and JaVale McGee had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Nuggets, who will try to even the best-of-seven series at two games each today at the Pepsi Center.
The Nuggets grabbed a 55-39 halftime lead by stifling Andrew Bynum down low and forcing Kobe Bryant to work harder for his baskets.
Bynum’s putback with 1:18 left in the third quarter not only pulled the Lakers to 68-64, but his inadvertent elbow on the play broke Al Harrington’s nose. Harrington did not return, but the Nuggets went on a 12-5 run to regain their composure and control of the game.
Kenneth Faried had 12 points and 15 rebounds as the Nuggets outrebounded the Lakers 55-44. Denver’s bench outscored Los Angeles’ reserves 39-9.
Bryant finished with 22 points on seven-of-23 shooting and Bynum had 18 points and 12 rebounds.