NBA playoffs roundup
Heat 110, Bucks 87
LeBron James has never taken fewer shots in a playoff game than he did on Sunday night, which at first glance might seem like a good thing for the Milwaukee Bucks.
It was not.
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 in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first-round series.
"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."
Dwyane Wade scored 16, Chris 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.
Brandon Jennings scored 26 points and Monta Ellis added 22 for the Bucks, who have not won the opening game of a playoff series since May 2001.
Game 2 is Tuesday in Miami.
"We've got nothing to lose," Jennings said. "Nobody should be scared or anything. Let's just hoop."
James had taken only 11 shots in a playoff game twice before, and his postseason per-game average entering Sunday was just under 21 tries. But with the way he controlled the game Sunday, he didn't exactly need to shoot.
That's probably not the best of signs for the Bucks.
"Obviously, incredibly efficient," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "When you have a game like that, what can you do?"
Milwaukee came into the series with Jennings predicting his team would oust the reigning champions in six games.
They'll have to win four of five now for that to happen.
And with James playing like this, the odds would seem particularly slim. He had 10 rebounds and eight assists — both game-highs. His assist total was only six shy of what the Bucks managed, combined.
"That's about as efficient as you can get," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Made that look easier than it was."
The 23-point margin notwithstanding, it was far from a perfect night for Miami. The Heat shot only 30 percent from 3-point range, plus turned the ball over 19 times — giving Milwaukee 22 points — and still won with ease.
Milwaukee had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half, zero in the second half.
"I think we played good basketball in stretches," Ellis said. "They're a great team. They capitalized on our mistakes. I think they were more aggressive towards the end. In the third and fourth, they never looked back."
The Bucks said coming into Game 1 that they would brace for Miami to come out flying, and the Heat more than delivered on that expectation. Miami scored on its first five possessions and after back-to-back scores at the rim by James — the first of those a vicious one-handed slam after Wade set him up on a 3-on-1 break — the Heat were up 21-8 early.
Spurs 91, Lakers 79
Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker scored 18 points each as San Antonio led from early in the first quarter and beat Los Angeles in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series.
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 tweeted in reference to the Lakers' offense.
Bryant is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles.
Los Angeles' length 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.
The Lakers shot 35 percent from the field in the first half, primarily missing shots from 11 feet and out. Los Angeles had 10 points in the paint, but could not consistently work the ball inside for attempts.
"What I would say if I was there right now," Bryant tweeted. "Pau get ur (butt) on the block and don't move till u get it."
Los Angeles pulled within 28-24 with 7 minutes left as Howard had four points in an 8-0 run, including an alley-oop dunk off a feed from Gasol to cap the run.
It was the closest Los Angeles would come as San Antonio extended its lead to 10 points in the quarter.
The Lakers shot 50 percent from the field in the second quarter, but also had seven turnovers.
Pacers 107, Hawks 90
Paul George scored 23 points and recorded his first playoff triple double, leading Indiana past Atlanta for a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series.
George made just 3 of 13 shots but was 17 of 18 from the free-throw line, had 11 rebounds and 12 assists. George Hill added 18 points despite playing with a left groin injury. It's the first time since 2006 that the Pacers have opened a playoff series with a win.
The best-of-seven series resumes Wednesday at Indy.
On Sunday, the Central Division champs played more like the team that was contending for the No. 2 seed rather than the one stumbling to five losses in its previous seven games. Atlanta was led by Jeff Teague with 21 points and Josh Smith with 15.
The Pacers weren't sure what to expect after four starters - George, Hill, Roy Hibbert and David West - took a six-day break from game action.
All that rest appeared to help the struggling Pacers get back in sync. They took advantage on the glass with a 48-32 advantage, forced Atlanta to play a half-court game instead of allowing the Hawks to run and were nearly flawless at the free-throw line. Indiana made its first 24 free throws, a streak that ended when Lance Stephenson missed the second of two shots in the final minute of the third quarter. The Pacers finished 30 of 34 from the line, compared with 7 of 14 for Atlanta.
Things still got off to the rocky start Indiana has become accustomed to over the past two weeks.
Atlanta scored the first six points. Unlike those other six games, the Pacers turned things around fast.
Following a simple game plan of limiting turnovers to prevent the Hawks from running away on fast breaks, the Pacers took control with a 9-0 run that gave them a 19-13 lead. By the end of the first quarter, Atlanta was in a 34-26 hole, and for the first time in seven games, Indiana did not have to dig itself out of a deficit of 20 or more points.
Thunder 120, Rockets 91
Kevin Durant scored 24 points, Russell Westbrook made a run at a triple-double in three quarters and Oklahoma City routed ex-teammate James Harden and Houston.
After letting Houston wipe away an 11-point deficit in the first half, the Thunder regained control with a 14-1 surge just before halftime and kept pouring it on.
Just after a fan nailed a half-court shot to win $20,000 in the break after the third quarter, Durant drove for a two-handed slam while getting fouled and Oklahoma City was soon up by 30.
Harden, playing against the team that traded him away just before the season started, had 20 points but the league's second-highest scoring offense was held 15 points below its regular-season average while shooting 36 percent.
"We were trying to be solid on the defensive end," Durant said. "We knew they were a great scoring team. We just tried to pack the paint and get out to their shooters. We had to make the second and third efforts, and I think we did that."
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder were already up by 23 when Larry Hill connected on the half-court shot and went bounding toward Oklahoma City's huddle in celebration, getting congratulated by Thabo Sefolosha before the team's bison mascot pulled him back away.
Durant's dunk sparked a string of seven straight points for Oklahoma City, and Harden never even came off the bench in the fourth quarter. Coach Scott Brooks called timeout and pulled Durant a few moments later, and reserves finished out the game for the Thunder.
Westbrook ended up with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. Serge Ibaka chipped in 17 points and Kevin Martin, Harden's replacement in the sixth man role, had nine of his 16 points in the fourth quarter with the game already in hand.
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