The Denver Nuggets ended a long postseason drought last night while the Atlanta Hawks moved closer to ending theirs. The Nuggets have won a playoff series for the first time since 1994, advancing to the NBA's Western Conference semifinals by beating New Orleans 107-86 in Game 5. The game was tied at 62 until the Nuggets closed the third quarter on an 18-4 run.
Carmelo Anthony led the way with 34 points for the Nuggets, who will take on the Dallas Mavericks in the next round. J.R. Smith finished with 20 points and Chauncey Billups added 13 and 11 assists to the victory.
The Hawks whipped Miami 106-91 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to pull within one win of capturing a playoff series for the first time in 10 years. Atlanta shot 13-for-16 in the second period to turn a four-point advantage into a 63-40 halftime lead.
Joe Johnson paced the Hawks with 25 points, Flip Murray finished with 23 and Josh Smith added 20 and a team-high eight rebounds to Atlanta's second straight win.
The Hawks played the second half without center Al Horford, who sprained his right ankle late in the second quarter.
The Heat also had to play a few minutes without Dwyane Wade, who banged his head on the court following a collision with Smith in the opening period. Wade returned in the second quarter and finished with a game-high 29 points, 23 coming in the second half.
Game 6 is Friday at Miami.
Dwight Howard's elbows will leave the Orlando Magic very short-handed for tonight's first-round playoff game at Philadelphia.
Howard has been suspended for Game 6 after nailing 76ers center Samuel Dalembert in the shoulder with an errant elbow during Tuesday's win over Philadelphia. Howard drew a technical foul for the hit and remained in the game to finish with 24 points and a career playoff-high 24 rebounds.
Howard also hit teammate Courtney Lee with an elbow to the face, leaving the point guard with a broken nose that will force him to miss at least Thursday's game. Lee's status for the rest of the postseason is uncertain.
The Magic lead the Sixers 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
Michael Curry is coming back as the Detroit Pistons' coach. Team president of basketball operations Joe Dumars confirmed to reporters today that Curry will be back on the bench next season. The Pistons were 39-and-43 in Curry's first season as a head coach. They finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and were swept by Cleveland in the first round of the playoffs.
And New Jersey Nets president Rod Thorn says Lawrence Frank will remain the head coach The announcement comes two weeks after the Nets finished out of the playoffs with a second consecutive 34-win season.