Horford providing Hawks with big boost

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Horford providing Hawks with big boost

BOSTON When Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford got the green light to resume playing with the Hawks, his goal was to help in any way he could.

How does 40 minutes a night sound?

That wasn't exactly the goal for Horford or the Hawks. But two games into his return to the roster, that's exactly how things played out in Atlanta's 87-86 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 5 that kept their season alive.

Horford's 19-point, 11-rebound performance came in 41 minutes, significantly more court time than he or his head coach Larry Drew anticipated.

Will we see it again tonight?

Horford didn't sound too optimistic about a second straight game of 40-plus minutes.

"That might be a little bit of a stretch," Horford said. "I will, however, come out and give productive minutes. That's my whole thing. I want to have a positive impact on the game. But I'm going to need those guys to be ready, just in case.

"Back-to-back, 40-minute nights," Horford added, "I don't know about that."

Hawks coach Larry Drew had no idea of how much he would get from Horford, who had been out with a torn pectoral muscle since Jan. 11.

Josh Smith isn't totally shocked that Horford has been so effective after such a long lay-off.

"He has the freshest legs in the series," Smith said. "Why not play him? He's healthy. He feels good. He's contributing. The game that he had last game, the way he was helping us out . . . leave him out there."

No need to tell Drew that. He understands that the Hawks, while not wanting to put Horford's health in danger, will play him as long as Horford can go.

"He really has been a surprise," Drew said. "Having been out as long as he has and to play as if he hasn't missed a beat, says a lot about him."

Drew added, "I thought he could get out there and compete, but in short stretches. But he has shown an amazing amount of endurance. He's an amazing guy."

And while Horford doesn't anticipate having another game of 40-plus minutes tonight, he understands that the Hawks are in all-hands-on-deck mode which may require him to once again crack the 40-minutes played plateau.

"I'm saying I can't play 40, but if the game is going how it's going and I have to play it, I probably will," Horford said.

"It's an elimination game. I have to be ready for anything the coach calls."

Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

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Russell Westbrook wins NBA MVP; Rockets, Bucks take two awards

NEW YORK - Russell Westbrook was voted NBA MVP on Monday night after setting a record with 42 triple-doubles last season.

Westbrook's victory ended the first NBA Awards show, which included two wins apiece for the Houston Rockets and Milwaukee Bucks.

Westbrook joined Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double for the season, and he broke Robertson's single-season record set when he had 41 triple-doubles in 1961-62.

The point guard beat out Houston's James Harden and San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard to succeed Stephen Curry, who had won the past two MVP awards.

Earlier, Milwaukee's Malcolm Brogdon became the first player not picked in the first round to win NBA Rookie of the Year in the common draft era.

Brogdon was the No. 36 overall selection out of Virginia. The common draft era began in 1966.

"I think it's an example for guys that are told they are too short, they are not athletic enough, they are not real point guards, they are not real shooting guards," Brogdon said. "I just think it's an important message for people to see, and it can be done. It just takes a lot."

Teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo won the Most Improved Player award.

Houston coach Mike D'Antoni won his second Coach of the Year award, and the Rockets' Eric Gordon was Sixth Man of the Year after setting a record for most 3-pointers off the bench in his first season as a reserve.

The NBA formerly gave out its individual awards at various points throughout the postseason before switching to the awards show this season and presenting them all at once in front of the league's top players and stars from the entertainment world.

Two of the best moments came during segments that didn't include the NBA's six individual awards.

Bill Russell was presented the first Lifetime Achievement award, welcomed on stage by fellow Hall of Fame centers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Dikembe Mutombo. The 11-time champion as a player and the league's first black coach first pointed at them and joked that he would have kicked their butts, then told them: "You have no idea how much respect I have for you guys."

Former Thunder assistant coach Monty Williams was given the SagerStrong Award for the strength he showed after his wife was killed in a car crash in Oklahoma City. He was given a colorful jacket like the ones worn by Craig Sager, the longtime Turner Sports reporter who died of cancer this past season.

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi: People in Paul George's camp think Celtics are a great fit

Mike Giardi reports that there are some people in Paul George's camp that think the Boston Celtics would be a great fit, both short and long-term.

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