NBA play-offs opportunity opens up for Bogut
AUSTRALIA'S Andrew Bogut is ready to be elevated to the Golden State Warriors' starting line-up after a horror night in which All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins suffered a potential season-ending injury and the LA Clippers pulled off the biggest comeback in NBA play-off history.
The defending champion Warriors led by 31 points in the third quarter on Monday (local time) against the Clippers, who duly staged a miraculous comeback to win 135-131 and even the series at 1-1.
Warriors coach Steve Kerr said his team "stopped playing" midway in the third quarter.
Bogut, who joined the Warriors last month after his inaugural season in the NBL with the Sydney Kings, told reporters: "I guess we thought we were going to cruise to the finish line."
Game three and four of the best-of-seven series are in Los Angeles on Thursday and Saturday.
The Warriors signed Bogut as a back-up for the injury-prone Cousins and it would appear to be a masterstroke.
Cousins, who had just returned from an Achilles injury that kept him off the court for almost a year, crashed to the floor while running for a loose ball in the first quarter.
"There is a pretty significant quad injury," Kerr said.
"He is going to be out for a while."
The extent of the injury will become clearer when Cousin undergoes an MRI on Tuesday.
Bogut, the Warriors' starting centre during their 2015 title-winning season and runner-up finish in 2016, said he hoped Cousins' injury was not serious, although "it didn't look good", and was ready to start.
"Obviously there will be more minutes," Bogut said.
"I'll probably be starting games and playing the first three or four minutes and then coming out."
The Clippers also achieved a franchise best third-quarter points haul, outscoring the Warriors 44-35 to set up the tense final period.
Key baskets in the final minute by the Clippers' Landry Shamet and Lou Williams, who had 36 points, fended off the Warriors.
Steph Curry top-scored for the Warriors with 29 points.
In Philadelphia, meanwhile, Aussie Ben Simmons received standing ovations instead of boos as he delivered a masterclass triple-double in the 76ers' 145-123 demolition of the Brooklyn Nets.
The game two win also locks the series at 1-1.
Simmons registered 18 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and two steals, and the 76ers' 145 points was a franchise play-off record.
"I just tried to be me - be aggressive and find my guys," Simmons said.
The Nets inflicted a surprise nine-point win in Saturday's game one in Philadelphia and the crowd booed Simmons and the 76ers for their substandard effort.
Simmons immediately had the crowd on their feet in game two by aggressively scoring seven of the 76ers' first 14 points.
He defensively shut down the Nets' All-Star guard D'Angelo Russell in the decisive third quarter, when the 76ers outscored the Nets 51-23.
The series moves to Brooklyn with game three on Thursday and the fourth on Saturday.