Before the Boston Celtics and the Philadelphia 76ers started the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Sixers appeared to be a mere speed bump on the Celtics' way to the Eastern Conference finals.
That perception was challenged when the eighth-seeded 76ers split two 1-point games with the Celtics and entered Wednesday's Game 3 with a chance to continue as the surprise of the post-season.
Instead, the Celtics made an authoritative statement in a 107-91 win in Philadelphia, quieting a crowd enlivened for the team's first home playoff game beyond the first round since 2003.
Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett combined for 74 points. By halftime, Boston built an 11-point lead. By the end of the third quarter, the lead had swelled to 23.
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Garnett had 27 points and 13 rebounds, Pierce had 24 points and 12 rebounds, and Rondo added 23 points and 14 assists. Thaddeus Young led Philadelphia with 22 points.
A trifecta for Bird
Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird has been voted the NBA's Executive of the Year, becoming the first person to win that award, plus the league's MVP and Coach of the Year honors.
The Pacers went 42-24 and are tied 1-1 with Miami in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Bird's moves to strengthen the team during the off-season included promoting Frank Vogel from interim to head coach and signing starting forward David West.
Bird was a three-time MVP as a Boston Celtics player, then led his home-state Pacers to a 147-67 record in three seasons and their only finals appearance in 2000.
Bird received 88 points and 12 first-place votes from a panel of his fellow team executives Wednesday. San Antonio's R.C. Buford was second with 56 points.
Bobcats to interview Ewing
Two people familiar with the situation say the Bobcats will interview Orlando assistant Patrick Ewing on Thursday in Charlotte for their vacant head coaching position. The people say Charlotte will interview Memphis assistant Dave Joerger on Friday.
Tuesday's late game
Spurs 108, Clippers 92: Tim Duncan had 26 points and 10 rebounds as host San Antonio, recharged after a weeklong layoff, wore down Los Angeles in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series.
Playing for the sixth time in 11 days, Los Angeles gave San Antonio its toughest first half of the playoffs before fading fast. And unlike their stunning Game 1 comeback at Memphis in the first round, the Clippers didn't have the wind this time.
Manu Ginobili added 22 points for the Spurs.