Archive for April 20th, 2008

Apr. 20: Celtics 104, Hawks 81

The AP reports: Ray Allen scored 18 points and Kevin Garnett had 16 as the two newcomers who led the Boston Celtics to the NBA’s best record sparked them to a 104-81 win Sunday night in their playoff opener against the Atlanta Hawks. Garnett stopped a 14-3 Hawks run with a jumper, starting a six-point Boston surge that made it 35-27 in the second quarter. And Allen scored 10 straight Celtics points midway through the third that extended a 13-point lead to 67-48 with 5:39 left in the period… Eighth-seeded Atlanta, which ended the NBA’s longest playoff drought with its first appearance in nine years, was led by rookie Al Horford with 20 points and 10 rebounds and Joe Johnson added 19 points… Paul Pierce scored 16 for Boston and Rajon Rondo had 15.

Apr. 20: Sixers 90, Pistons 86

The AP reports: Andre Miller scored 20 points and Willie Green had a career playoff-high 17, helping the 76ers stun Detroit 90-86 Sunday in Game 1 of their first-round series. Sixers forward Reggie Evans smiled when told the Pistons were shooting the breeze with Flip Murray during breaks in the game… Rasheed Wallace took the blame for the loss—despite having 24 points, nine rebounds and matching a franchise playoff record with seven blocks—but didn’t think blowing a big lead had anything to do with talking to Murray… Andre Iguodala Iguodala made two free throws with 7 seconds left to seal the win… Iguodala finished with a career playoff-high 16 points after a slow start, Evans had a career playoff-high 11 points and 14 rebounds and Thaddeus Young scored 10 for the Sixers in his postseason debut. Billups scored 14, Richard Hamilton had 13 points on 5-of-17 shooting, Maxiell contributed 12 points and a career playoff-high 11 rebounds and Prince added 12.

Apr. 20: Lakers 128, Nuggets 114

The AP reports: Pau Gasol established career playoff highs with 36 points and eight assists, and he also had 16 rebounds and three blocked shots Sunday as the Los Angeles Lakers took command in the third quarter and beat the Denver Nuggets 128-114… Kobe Bryant, who said he made himself a decoy through most of the game, scored 18 of his 32 points in the final 8 minutes to keep Los Angeles safely ahead. Lamar Odom had 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists and Luke Walton added 16 points for the Lakers, who entered having won eight of their last nine regular-season games to earn the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference… Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 12 rebounds for the eighth-seeded Nuggets. Allen Iverson also had 30 points before picking up two technical fouls with 2:10 remaining, calling for immediate ejection. Linas Kleiza scored a career playoff high 23 points and J.R. Smith added 15 before fouling out with 3:14 left.

Apr. 20: Magic 114, Raptors 100

The AP reports: Dwight Howard was in high school the last time the Orlando Magic won a playoff game. On Sunday afternoon, he made sure Orlando didn’t have to wait any longer. Howard had 25 points and 22 rebounds and blocked five shots, and the Magic defeated the Toronto Raptors 114-100 in the opener of their first-round series. Jameer Nelson added 24 points for Orlando… Anthony Parker had 24 points and 8 rebounds for Toronto, Chris Bosh scored 21 and Rasho Nesterovic had 16 points and 8 rebounds. Jason Kapono scored 18 off the bench. The Raptors, who trailed by 20 points after the first quarter, drew within five with 10:24 left in the fourth on two quick 3-pointers by Kapono and a Parker jumper. But Toronto went scoreless for the next 3:16 as Orlando pulled away.

As I said in my last post, the Magic needed a big second half from Dwight Howard in order hold of the Toronto Raptors and that’s exactly what they got.

Howard finished with 25 points, 22 rebounds and five blocked shots, and almost single handedly put away Toronto in the fourth quarter.

Howard had only seven points and nine rebounds at the half, and had only shot one free throw. In the second half Howard had 18 points, 13 rebounds and went 8-of-10 at the free throw line.

While the Magic won the game fairly easily, they’ll need more of the same from Howard to win the series.

Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh go way back

Chris Bosh and Dwight Howard have been buddies for years, but now they’re facing each other in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Here’s what Howard said about their relationship, as reported by Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun:

“We’ve really grown closer this past year, but for now we have to be enemies,” Howard said. “I just can’t wait to get it going. We’ve been talking about playing each other since the summer before last. We were around each other for the Olympic team (last year) and we were always talking about how his team would do against us and how my team would do against his.”

Hornets owner feels love in New Orleans

The Charlotte Observer (Tom Sorensen) reports: George Shinn, who owns the Hornets, is almost as beloved in New Orleans as he once was in Charlotte. And you might recall that he was once so popular here that his fans urged him to run for governor. And he considered it. You know the story. The Hornets, who came to town in 1988, were our first big-league team. Oh did we fall for them. We were beautiful in our naivete. We gave them everything. For years, they gave us everything they had. “The whole situation in Charlotte will never be duplicated in any city in any sports league,” Shinn says as he walks through the Quarter. “It was an incredible love affair. And I owe all of my knowledge and experience and drive and everything else I have to what happened to me there.” The relationship ended poorly, of course, and Shinn was the culprit. We felt he had turned against us, so we turned against them. By the time he left for Louisiana, almost nobody cared. Shinn admits he made mistakes. He says he committed no crimes, but he committed sins. He paid dearly. He grew up in Kannapolis and the family of his wife, Susan, still lives here. Our town was his town and his team was our team. “I love Charlotte and I always will,” Shinn says.

The AP reports: Several Denver Nuggets players were stranded on the highway for about a half hour Sunday when the team bus broke down on the way to Staples Center for a playoff opener against the Los Angeles Lakers. The bus left the team’s hotel about 2 1/2 hours before tipoff as scheduled, but experienced problems about 15 minutes into the trip, club spokesman Eric Sebastian said. Players and staff had to wait on the Santa Monica Freeway.

The Orlando Magic had one of the best first quarters in NBA playoff history, but a lackluster second quarter effort has the Raptors within 13 points at the end of the first half.

The Magic led by as much as 23 in the second quarter, but finally started to miss some shots from behind the arc, just as Jason Kapono of the Raptors started to heat up.

The Magic scored 43 points in the first quarter, a team playoff record, and shot 9-for-11 behind the arc, which set an NBA record for 3’s made in the first quarter of a playoff game.

Unfortunately for Magic fans, who have definitely had in impact in the first half, the Magic managed just 17 points in the second quarter.

The Raptors appear to have weathered the Magic storm, and if Orlando can’t establish an inside game with Dwight Howard in the second half, Toronto could come back and win this game.

As for the marked advantage that Toronto was supposed to have at the point guard position, it has yet to materialize as Jameer Nelson and Keyon Dooling have outplayed T.J. Ford and Jose Calderon in the first half. Nelson had eight points and four assists in the first half, Dooling added eight points in just seven minutes off the bench. Ford had two points and four assists, but shot just 1-for-7 from the field. Calderon had four points and three assists.

As for my second half prediction, I expect the Magic to hold on and win by double digits.

Apr. 19: Jazz 93, Rockets 82

The AP reports: The Utah Jazz failed to secure home-court advantage for their playoff series with Houston. Maybe they won’t need it after all. Andrei Kirilenko scored 21 points, Carlos Boozer had 20 points and 16 rebounds and the Jazz beat the Rockets 93-82 to take a 1-0 series lead Saturday night. Deron Williams had 20 points and 10 assists as Utah, 17-24 on the road during the regular season, won its second straight playoff game in Houston. The last victory came in Game 7 last season, and that was when Houston had Yao Ming… Kirilenko hit 8 of 12 shots and Utah’s reserves also contributed, outscoring Houston’s reserves 28-17… Shane Battier scored 22 and Tracy McGrady had 20 points for Houston, which shot 37 percent (29 of 79). The Rockets are also playing without starting point guard Rafer Alston, who strained his right hamstring late in the season. His backup, Bobby Jackson, scored seven points on 3-for-15 shooting.

Apr. 19: Hornets 104, Mavs 92

The AP reports: Chris Paul had 35 points, 10 assists and four steals in his first playoff game Saturday night, lifting New Orleans to a 104-92 come-from-behind victory over Dallas in Game 1 of their first-round series… David West scored 23 points against Dallas. Tyson Chandler had 10 points and 15 rebounds to help New Orleans not only storm back but win going away. Dirk Nowitzki had his way with New Orleans early and finished with 31 points, but scored only four during Dallas’ fourth-quarter collapse. Josh Howard added 17 points for the Mavericks, who were in the finals two years ago… Jason Kidd, the All-Star point guard the Mavericks were hoping would be the missing piece to a championship run when they traded for him midseason, finished with 11 points and nine assists… The Hornets also got 14 points from Peja Stojakovic, one of their few grizzled playoff vets, who hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final period to help squelch any notion of a Dallas comeback.

Apr. 19: Spurs 117, Suns 115 2OT

The AP reports: Tim Duncan’s first 3 of the season with just ticks left sent his team into double overtime against the revenge-minded Phoenix Suns. Then it was Manu Ginobili’s turn, and his layup with 1.8 seconds left pushed the defending champions past the Suns 117-115 Saturday in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series… Tony Parker added 26 points for the Spurs and Manu Ginobili had 24… Amare Stoudemire, who fouled out with 12 seconds left in the first overtime, led the Suns with 33 points. Shaquille O’Neal scored 11 points… Mike Finley had 13 points for San Antonio, and Kurt Thomas, who played for the Suns last season, grabbed 10 rebounds… “We had the game won a few times and just weren’t tough enough or disciplined enough to make every single play when it counted,” said Steve Nash, who had 25 points and 13 assists.

Apr. 19: Cavs 93, Wizards 86

The AP reports: Bumped and banged by the Wizards on every drive, LeBron James scored 32 points, making two tough shots in traffic down the stretch as the Cleveland Cavaliers opened the NBA playoffs with an intense 93-86 win over Washington on Saturday… Resting a bothersome back, James sat out the early part of the fourth quarter… Following a miss by Gilbert Arenas, who led the Wizards with 24 points, James powered past Stevenson and dropped a floater with 55 seconds left in the game—and one tick to spare on the 24-second shot clock… Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 22 points and 11 rebounds and Delonte West finished with 16 points for the Cavaliers, who, unlike the Wizards, stayed quiet in the weeks leading up to the series.

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