April 19, 2010
Dallas 100, San Antonio 94; Dallas leads series 1-0
You likely saw it, you know the Red Rocket did everything right, save for being about five inches taller. Moved his feet, pushed his hips into Dirk Nowitzki's(notes) airspace, got a hand in his face, contested the shot. It still went in. Over Antonio McDyess(notes), too. Nobody was stopping Dirk in this game. Thirty-six points for Nowitzki, who missed two shots all night.
Of course, even with Dirk going off, a massive (25 to 12 makes) free throw advantage, and a good turn on the offensive glass, the Mavericks won by only six points, at home. Is that score closer than the game actually was? Sure, but you get the feeling that double teams will be in the offing next time around, and that Caron Butler(notes) and/or Shawn Marion's(notes) jump shot will be the one on display in Game 2.
Butler acquitted himself well in Game 1. He turned it over five times and needed 19 shots to get to 22 points, but he was a threat. And while the Spurs plied their trade just fine, offensively, the defense was just off. I have no idea why they didn't double Nowitzki. Just don't understand it.
Of course, this thing is likely going seven games, so Dirk's 36 might seem like ancient history in two weeks, but this was a game San Antonio could have had. Dallas was always in charge, but SAS had its chances.
Los Angeles Lakers 87, Oklahoma City 79; Lakers leads series 1-0
For all of the first quarter and a good chunk of the second, man, it was great to see. The real Lakers were back.
It wasn't just that Andrew Bynum(notes) was converting on the inside. And it wasn't Derek Fisher(notes) and Kobe Bryant(notes) giving up on shooting from the outside. They both got their attempts. But both of them also passed on a few outside looks that I've seen them take time and time again over the last few months, and even if the ball didn't go directly into Bynum or Pau Gasol(notes) as a result, the rock was at least moving. And the Lakers looked renewed.
And they were playing the Thunder, who defend, so that all fell apart as the game went along. Didn't matter to me. For a little while, the Lakers seemed to see the light.
Russell Westbrook(notes) saw the light, too. That LED tracer that lines the perimeter of the backboard, as he was getting to the rim whenever he wanted. Good thing, because Kevin Durant(notes) (if I can go the cliché route) looked a little nervous in his playoff debut. Hesitant, in spite of the 24 shots he put up. Hopefully that goes away by Game 2.
Paul Gasol had 19 points and 13 rebounds and Bynum added 13 and 12. Bryant and Fisher combined to shoot 10-for-31.
Portland 105, Phoenix 100; Blazers leads series 1-0
It's not that the Portland Trail Blazers managed to force the Suns into a super-slow outing, turning the game into a slog-fest more befitting of Portland's 30th ranking in possessions per game. This contest was more or less on Phoenix's terms. The Blazers just match up well, and score with ease on the Suns.
The Blazers worked toward a seven point advantage in the fourth quarter, dropping 35 points, but they really had the Suns' number from the outset. This never felt like Phoenix's game, to me at least, as Andre Miller(notes) dropped 31, and Jerryd Bayless(notes) cornered his way into 18 points off the bench.
The Blazers had 114 points per 100 possessions and they never really seemed fazed by the whole process. Meanwhile, the Suns missed some gimmies. Not the easiest shots, these were still perimeter looks, but Jason Richardson(notes) and Grant Hill(notes) combined to shoot 6-for-21.
Orlando 98, Charlotte 89; Orlando leads series 1-0
The Magic blew a big lead — a 22-point lead, in fact — on their way toward taking the first game of the series, but I'm not too worried about that. Charlotte's good, it can really defend, and the Magic are probably about nine points better than the Bobcats these days, even in Orlando.
Plus, Vince Carter(notes) missed some shots (and a lot of shots, overall) that he usually makes. And Dwight Howard(notes) was pretty invisible offensively in his 28 minutes. Though he did send back nine shots. So there's that.
Jameer Nelson(notes) was the killer, early, dropping 24 points in the first half and 32 overall. Charlotte's Gerald Wallace(notes) was as everywhere as his 25 points and 17 rebounds would suggest, and you have to credit the Bobcats for treating this like a random Sunday in February. They just focused after the slow start and clawed their way back.