NBA Playoffs: Heat, Thunder Enter Round 2; Spurs Stay Alive

Kevin_DurantThe Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder both advanced to the second round of theĀ 2011 NBA Playoffs after dispatching the Philadelphia 76ers and the Denver Nuggets, respectively, on Wednesday, while the San Antonio Spurs staved off elimination with an OT victory over the Memphis Grizzlies.

Dwayne Wade scored 26 points while Chris Bosh and LeBron James chipped in 22 and 16, respectively, as the Heat escaped with another nail-biting win over the 76ers, 97-91, to end the series 4-1, and set up an explosive conference semifinals match-up with the Boston Celtics. Mario Chalmers also came up big off the bench to help Miami advance against a Philadelphia team that just could not find a way to win at the end.

In Oklahoma, Kevin Durant took over the game in the homestretch, scoring all of the Thunder’s final nine points to help his team rally for a series-clinching 100-97 victory over the Nuggets. Durant finished with 41 points, including four in the final 45 seconds that eventually ended Denver’s season. The Thunder will get a chance to recharge for at least a couple of days more while waiting for their opponent in the next round after the San Antonio-Memphis series was extended to at least a Game 6.

Undrafted Spurs rookie Gary Neal hit a game-tying three as time expired in regulation to force overtime, then watched as Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli took over in the extra period as San Antonio won 110-103 over the Grizzlies, who return to Memphis on April 29 with a 3-2 series lead.