San Antonio 102, Dallas 88; series tied, 1-1
I loved this game. I don't know if it was the familiarity with the two teams, the pairing of Dick Stockton and Mike Fratello, the 15 combined turnovers, or the Dallas comeback; but this was a great watch.
San Antonio had an offensive edge for 80 percent of the contest, with the team's brightest parts doing damage despite Dallas' sometimes sound rotations. Tony Parker(notes) (16 points on 16 shots) would clear enough space to get a shot off, Manu Ginobili(notes) (23 points on 8-13 shooting) is as potent as ever, and Tim Duncan(notes) had the line drive runner and hook going all night.
25 points and 17 rebounds for Tim, who was to go-to guy down the stretch for San Antonio as Dallas attempted to make this a nail-biter. Five offensive rebounds, and he didn't even bother to turn the ball over. He's not dominating defensively anymore, but as has been the case all season (even for short bursts), Duncan is as good as ever offensively.
Dallas was stinko, in that regard. Save for the late comeback mentioned above (after trailing for double-digits for most of the contest, the Mavs got it down to five points before Duncan and Ginobili put it away), Rick Carlisle's team consistently failed to connect on shots that, I'm sorry, they've consistently made for years.
Dirk got his stroke going late, but it was a rough night, a night that didn't see many double teams sent his way. Now, the Spurs hedged and crowded him, but mainly it was Antonio McDyess(notes) and Tim Duncan that gave Dirk fits. And with all the fits, as great as the Spurs were and as off as Nowitzki was, the man still put up 24 points on 9-24 shooting.
He did miss a free throw after Stockton jinxed him, not that I'm into that sort of thing. His first clang from the line in 88 attempts.
Jason Kidd(notes), I think, had the roughest night. He had no chance guarding Ginobili, he was beat several times, and the Mavs were often caught out of step defensively trying to help a step-slow Kidd either going under or over a screen involving Manu. Kidd also missed his first six shots, finishing with a 1-7 shooting night, though he did toss eight dimes to zero turnovers.
Please go seven games, gents.
Orlando 92, Charlotte 77; Orlando leads the series, 2-0
By any measure, this was an incredibly ugly game that wasn't worth your time. Watching it live and going over parts of it this morning, I tried time and time again to blame standout defense for the terrible offense that marred the action for a good hour and a half of real time, but you can't call this sort of game the result of two great defenses butting heads.
No, the Bobcats are awful offensively, and the Magic missed shots. It was a terrible game until about midway through the third quarter, when Orlando started stringing together scores. Until Orlando started going to a screen and roll attack that prominently featured Vince Carter(notes), something that would have had me screaming "Hallelujah" were I either a Magic fan, or secure enough to yell such a thing with my already-annoyed girlfriend cooking fish tacos in the other room.
Clearly, I'm neither, but VC as a pick and roll participant is a huge thing. Whether or not he's setting the screen in a play with Jameer Nelson(notes), or working with a Magic big. And out of nowhere, you won't believe me, but Orlando turned in a stellar offensive game. 115 points per 100 possessions, which would lead the NBA if Stan Van Gundy's crew kept that rate up as an average over the regular season.
Charlotte, I'm sorry, but I have to make excuses. They overachieve. Tyrus Thomas'(notes) karmic-driven offensive foul just a few seconds after drawing a terrible offensive foul on the Magic's end was the only part of the game that left me feeling any bit of enmity for the Bobcats. Otherwise, this was a team revealed.
We entered the season wondering if the Bobcats would finish 30th in offense this year, they added Stephen Jackson(notes) (27 points on 20 shots, but with seven turnovers) midway through the season which allowed for a bit of a jump in that area (Larry Brown's team finished 24th), but let's not forget that this squad consistently struggled to put together 20-point quarters all season.
Nearly 24 percent of Charlotte's possessions ended in turnovers, a terrible mark. Orlando had a lot to do with that, but the Bobcats were far and away the biggest reason behind the offensive stink. That said, they play hard, and are made of tough stuff. This series will continue to be a battle in North Carolina, even if the Magic sweep.