Ginobili, Parker lead Spurs past Lakers 91-79 in Game 1
SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili cautioned against expecting too much from him in his second game back from a hamstring injury.
All he did is help the San Antonio Spurs snap a three-game skid and win their playoff opener against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each as the Spurs led from early in the first quarter and beat the Lakers 91-79 on Sunday.
“It was great to have Manu back,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He does what he does. He makes big shots. He creates problems for the opponent and he’s got a great will, a great desire. I’ll worry all night about how he’ll feel in the morning. If he says he feels great, then that will be a good sign for our team.”
In his 11th season, Ginobili has battled leg injuries all season and was playing for the second time following a nine-game absence due to a strained right hamstring. He looked like his old self, going 6 for 13 from the field and 3 for 5 on 3s in 19 minutes.
“I feel good,” Ginobili said. “I’m very happy that I played the whole game, that I didn’t get hurt and that I scored a little bit.”
Tim Duncan added 17 points and 10 rebounds, Matt Bonner had 10 points and Kawhi Leonard had eight points and 11 rebounds for San Antonio.
Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Steve Nash scored 16 points and Pau Gasol added 16 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles.
Despite the double-doubles from Howard and Gasol, the Lakers failed to take full advantage of their inside presence, much to the consternation of the injured Kobe Bryant, who watched the national broadcast.
“Post. Post. Post,” Bryant, sidelined with a torn Achilles, tweeted in reference to the Lakers’ offense.
“Yea, that’s what we did,” D’Antoni said when asked about Bryant’s tweet. “It’s great to have that commentary.”
Los Angeles’ height caused San Antonio problems early as the Spurs missed their first three shots — all inside the paint — as they altered their shots to avoid Howard and Gasol.
Nash, who returned after missing nine games with a hip/hamstring injury, gave the Lakers their only lead with a jumper on the game’s opening possession.
Duncan broke the drought, hitting a pair of jumpers over Gasol that gave San Antonio a 4-2 lead with 9:33 remaining and the Spurs led the rest of the way.
“It was a very physical game,” Duncan said. “It was a good start to our playoff run. We shook off a lot of cobwebs we’ve had over the past 10 games or so. It was great to have everybody back out there together. It was a good start overall.”
NOTES: Duncan and Parker have won 594 games in 12 seasons, which is three shy of tying the Lakers’ Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant for fourth all-time. ... San Antonio evened their overall series with Los Angeles at 75 wins apiece, giving the Spurs a .500 or better record against every team in the NBA. ... Ginobili was asked if it was true his freestyling play caused Popovich’s hair turned from gray to white. “Yeah, and he lost a bunch, too,” Ginobili said. “We both did.”
Bucks struggle in opener, fall to Heat 110-87
MIAMI — So many things went the way the Milwaukee Bucks wanted. LeBron James matched his playoff-low for shots in a game, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were held in relative check and the Miami Heat turned the ball over far more than usual.
And none of it really mattered.
Game 1 was a Heat blowout, as probably everyone outside of Milwaukee would have expected.
James scored 27 points on 9 for 11 shooting — finishing two assists shy of a triple-double — while Ray Allen scored 20 off the bench and the defending champion Heat picked up where they left off in the NBA playoffs a year ago, never trailing on the way to beating the Bucks 110-87 to open their Eastern Conference first-round series.
“Second half, they just came out and we kind of had no answer for them,” said Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, who led Milwaukee with 26 points.
Jennings and Monta Ellis were the majority of Milwaukee’s offense, the starting Bucks’ backcourt combining for 48 points in all. The rest of the Bucks managed 39, and against the Heat, that almost surely won’t be enough.
James finished with 10 rebounds and eight assists, both game-highs.
“All I care about is the win,” James said. “I didn’t even know my stats. I just knew that we were playing efficient offensively besides the turnovers. We want to try to keep that going.”
Wade scored 16, Bosh added 15 and Chris Andersen finished with 10 on 4 for 4 shooting for the Heat, who opened their title defense by holding Milwaukee to 42 percent shooting and outrebounding the Bucks 46-31.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Miami.
“We’ve got nothing to lose,” Jennings said. “Nobody should be scared or anything. Let’s just hoop.”
NOTES: Miami outrebounded Milwaukee 22-9 after halftime. ... The Heat stayed with what was their normal regular-season rotation, with Udonis Haslem starting and allowing Bosh to play more away from the basket — which paid off by him making a pair of 3-pointers in the first 4 minutes. ... Rihanna was in attendance. ... Miami’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s reserves 43-25.
George’s big game leads Pacers past Atlanta 107-90
INDIANAPOLIS — Paul George insisted a little rest and a new focus would make change everything for the Indiana Pacers.
His made sure that prediction came true Sunday.
Following the best season of his three-year career, George opened the playoffs by producing the first postseason triple double of his career — 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists — and led the Pacers out of their late-season funk and past Atlanta 107-90 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Suddenly, all those problems ailing the Pacers have been forgotten.
“I know what the team will expect from me now,” George said. “But, again, I like the pressure”
He can expect to be dealing with even more of it in the best-of-seven series.
There were plenty of questions after Indiana coach Frank Vogel gave four of his starters — George, George Hill, Roy Hibbert and David West — a three-day break this week. The move meant those four came into the opening game without playing a minute since last Sunday’s loss at New York sealed Indiana’s fate as the East’s No. 3 seed.
Outsiders wondered whether those off-days would rejuvenate the Central Division champs, who looked so good from mid-December through early April, or whether would be rusty after stumbling to five losses in their last seven regular-season games.
Those inside the locker room said that the extra rest would be beneficial. Sunday’s performance left no doubt as fans repeatedly waved the gold towels the Pacers handed out before the game.
While George went 3 of 13 from the field, he made his first 17 free throws tying Reggie Miller’s single-game playoff mark for best percentage. George missed his 18th and final attempt with 2:35 to go. It was about the only thing that went wrong for the All-Star forward who had Indiana’s first triple double in the playoffs since Mark Jackson on May 13, 1998 against New York.
Indiana also has a 1-0 lead for the first time since beating the New Jersey Nets 90-88 in 2006.
“It was huge for our confidence,” George said. “We got back to playing our style of basketball.”
NOTES: The Hawks dropped to 0-3 this season at Indiana but have won 11 straight in Atlanta over the Pacers. ... This is only the fourth time these teams have met in the playoffs. Atlanta holds a 2-1 advantage and won the last postseason matchup 3-2 in 1996. ... Hibbert played with the phrase “B Strong” written on his white shoe Sunday, a message to the people of Boston from the bombings earlier this week. ... The Hawks went home after the game and will practice there Monday and Tuesday before returning to Indy on Wednesday.
Warriors lose All-Star David Lee to hip injury
DENVER — The Golden State Warriors got a double dose of bad news Sunday. They learned All-Star forward David Lee had torn his right hip flexor, as feared, ending his season. So, they’ll have to continue their playoff series against Denver without the NBA’s leader in double-doubles. Making that task all the more difficult will be the return of the Nuggets’ top rebounder and energizer, Kenneth Faried, from an injured ankle. Faried sat out the opener Saturday, when the Nuggets edged Golden State 97-95 despite getting outrebounded 55-45.
“Whoa, I didn’t know that,” Faried said Sunday after declaring he’d be back in action Tuesday night in Game 2. “That can’t be happening. It’s playoff basketball and that’s one of the biggest keys. ... Every possession counts and they’re that much more valuable in the playoffs. You need to secure rebounds and lock the ball down and make sure we can start our break and have that fun and flair that the Nuggets play.”
The Nuggets haven’t been winning as handily as they did before Faried went down with a sprained left ankle on April 14. He wanted to play Saturday but by keeping him on the bench, he’ll get another 72 hours of rest and rehab.
“He’s our hustle guy, he’s our rebounder,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Last night I think we missed him. You’ve got two teams that like to run and when you take your best runner off the court it’s going to affect the flow of the game. And his offensive rebounding is probably the reason why we’re No. 1 in offensive rebounding, point blank. He’s the guy that always goes and is always there.”
The matchup of Lee and Faried was billed as a headliner in this first-round series pitting two high-octane teams that like to get up and down the floor.
“It would have been exciting,” Faried said.