Break out the Mase, Spurs fans. Tim Duncan’s back: 16 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and a Red Bull-like revitalized body and mind. San Antonio’s cruising. Tony Allen’s in foul trouble. Lionel Hollins is using a rotation looser than the girls in a Busta Rhymes video (no, seriously, Greivis Vasquez is playing). Life is good. We don’t need Manu. Tony Parker’s so hot right now.
Wait. What’s that? The remix featuring Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol? Turn that down. It’s ruining everything. No, seriously. It’s really loud. I don’t like it. Where’s the music director?
Music director: There’s nothing I can do. Z-Bo and Marc are ballin’. 25-14 and 24-9. They’re shooting 69% inside of 9 feet.
Tiago Splitter: Dammit. When am I getting some burn?
Gregg Popovich: Get back in your hole, Splitter. Wait, did Tony Allen just miss two free throws? That’s funny. Give the ball to the red-headed guy. (1 minute, 37 seconds, and two Matt Bonner threes later.) Wait, did Tony Allen just hit both of his free throws?
Tony Allen: Yeah I did, old man. That’s game.
Pop: Grumble, grumble, grumble. Give it to Manu. What? Oh, yeah. Okay. Nice suit. See you clowns in Game 2.
Mike Conley: Don’t forget I got 15 and 10.
Zach Randolph: That’s cool, boy. I just got paid.
Chris Wallace: And as I was saying, it’s all about timing…
Media #1: Yeah, whatever. Any of those Caesar wraps left? (Under breath to colleague: “Seriously? $188 million to Randolph, Gay and Conley?”)
End scene. —Patrick Crawley (@BasketballFiend)
This one is quickly living up to its billing, as Ray Allen drew first blood with a game winning three to propel the Celtics to an 87-85 victory. The basket highlighted an aggressive night from Sugar Ray who finished with a team high 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting. Allen, who hadn’t been much of a factor in the C’s offense for the better part of a month, came up big with tough drives to the hoop and his trademark jumpers from long range to pace the Boston attack.
The Knicks had one last chance, but Melo’s three bricked off the front of the iron. The misfire from Melo highlighted a forgettable second half for Brooklyn’s favorite son who shot 1 for 11 in the final half and was whistled for an offensive foul with 21 seconds left. The questionable whistle gave the Celtics possession and set up Allen’s big shot off of a feed from Pierce and a screen by Garnett.
For New York, Amar’e put the Knicks on his back with a 28-point, 11-rebound performance. STAT went hard for his, connecting on jumpers, tough drives, and an explosive dunk on JO and Garnett. His work on both ends of the court kept the Knicks in the game throughout the second half.
Allen’s heroics erase an underwhelming first half for Boston who couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm and found themselves down 12 at the half. Rondo’s effort was big for Boston in their comeback as he flirted with a triple double, finishing with 10 points, 9 boards and 9 dimes. The other bright spot for the C’s was Jermaine O’Neal, whose 12-point, 4-block effort made everyone momentarily forget about Perkins. —Jonathan Evans
If you’re looking for reasons why the Lakers lost yesterday, you can tell this from the box score: Kobe showed up for the Lakers and no one else did. So, yes, New Orleans stunned Los Angeles in Game 1, winning 109-100.
But if you watched it with your very own eyeballs, you’d know this: It wouldn’t have mattered if Kobe’s teammates were MJ, the Joker at the 40-minute mark of a Batman movie, Dan Majerle in NBA Jam while on easy and on fire, and a couple of guys walking around with pipes, clubbing every stray Hornet not named Chris Paul.
Because as long as Chris Paul was on the floor yesterday, the New Orleans Hornets would’ve won 109-100.
He had 33, 14, and 7, but he was better than that. Immeasurably better than that. He got under Derek Fisher’s skin, so Derek Fisher turned into the Derek Fisher of seven years ago, but that didn’t seem to work. He’d just blow by him on isos.
Then the Lakers started doubling Paul on pick-and-rolls, and this immediately turned Aaron Gray into Wilt Chamberlain. He had to leave the game with 1:02 left to go have sex with 1,000 women. (He also might have shattered his ankle into many little pieces.) Aaron Gray—Aaron Gray—was 5-for-5 for 12 points and was +25 from the field.
That’s probably why you’re here, because you’re not believing that box score from yesterday. Aaron Gray and Jarrett Jack outplayed Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, Kobe dropped 34 even though his team didn’t have a lead at any point after the end of the first quarter, and the Hornets have home court advantage against the favorites in the Western Conference after Game 1.
Total disbelief at this sheet of paper, probably. That’s the emotion you’re experiencing. And that’s probably the same thing Chris Paul has been feeling when he picks up all of those expert MVP ballots and he’s not on it. —Ben Collins
Durant and Russell Westbrook scored 72 of the Thunder’s 107 points as both players led a resurging Thunder that was down at the half but had to crawl back to win Game 1.
Westbrook dropped 31 points and 7 assists while Eric Maynor came off the bench and added 12 points for Oklahoma City.
A crucial part of the game was when Kendrick Perkins tipped in a Westbrook missed jumper in the fourth quarter with 1:05 left in the game. The call should have been basketball interference and the basket waved off since the ball was still in the cylinder but unfortunately for Denver, the call stood and Oklahoma City had the lead 102-101 which they never lost again.
“Obviously, it was goaltending,” George Karl said of the no call. “We had our chances. The guys did everything we asked them to do. Durant and Westbrook make 72 points against us, I think we can make some adjustments there.”
Nene led all Nuggets scorers with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting. He also finished with eight rebounds but he was out of the game for almost eight minutes when he knocked knees with Perkins in the third quarter with 11:02 left. Danilo Gallinari chipped in 18 points while Raymond Felton who missed a potential three pointer to tie the game down the stretch finished with 12 points off the bench.
Denver started the first quarter with a great lead but the Thunder relied heavily on their two superstars Durant and Westbrook all night long even in the first quarter. Nene was hot for Denver, scoring 10 of his 22 points in the first quarter alone. Denver led the game 33-24 after the first and stunned the Thunder and everyone watching at the Ford Center.
But Oklahoma City would not be denied. The second quarter started with Eric Maynor and James Harden cutting into Denver’s lead with their efforts off the bench.
Even with Westbrook scoring 10 points in the second quarter—and Oklahoma City’s 35-27 second quarter performance—the Nuggets still had a one-point lead going into the half.
Denver relied on their guard combo of Felton and Ty Lawson to keep their lead. Lawson had a crucial steal off an inbound pass by Serge Ibaka with 3:49 left in the half.
At halftime, Denver led the game 60-59, but was shooting 50 percent from the free throw line (8-for-16) while Oklahoma City only missed four of their 20 attempts from the charity stripe.
Though Westbrook was leading all scorers with 21 points at the break Durant’s numbers were stacking up as he took over the second half for Oklahoma City. He scored 14 points in the third quarter alone as the Thunder wrestled the lead away from the Nuggets. Though there were a numerous lead changes in the third quarter, Durant’s shooting kept his team in it.
Durant hit back-to-back three point shots and got an assist to Maynor who nailed another three to finish the third as Oklahoma City had a slim lead 86-82 to finish the third. —Sulaiman Folarin