dont know if posted or not but i liked this article. btw didnt kahn recently say spurs would lose to det and hopped on their bandwagon? oh well...
Spurs' title defense starts with a bang
In the event you were out of the country on a mission for the past year and had no idea who the defending NBA champions are, all you had to do was watch Saturday's opening day of the 2006 playoffs.
It would be wise to reconsider the state of the San Antonio Spurs after the way the Spurs emphatically reminded everyone that they are the champs until further notice. Shooting better than 68 percent from the field in the first half — and outscoring the Sacramento Kings' bench 26-6 — the Spurs exploded to a 73-39 lead at intermission and cruised through the second half on their way to a 122-88 victory over the Kings in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series. The Spurs, who set a franchise mark with 63 wins during the regular season, were extraordinarily sharp from the opening tip, led by their All-Star point guard Tony Parker. Playing with the grace and speed as if he were on roller skates, Parker scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the opening half — making 9-of-11 shots from the field and all five free throw attempts — on a variety of drives and pull-up jumpers.
And the extent of the Spurs' domination of the Kings was so apparent, veteran point guard Nick Van Exel entered the game to start the second quarter in place of Parker, and quickly rang up 11 points before the period was halfway over. Anyone seen Mike Bibby?
That experienced group of Kings that finished the season 26-14 with Bibby, Ron Artest, Brad Miller and Bonzi Wells was shell-shocked almost immediately. The Spurs placed seven players in double-figures, most notably center Nazr Mohammed, who contributed 18 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, as nobody played as many as 26 minutes for the defending champs. They crushed the Kings on the boards 51-32 partly because they were so much more physical and partly because the Kings, who shot .393 from the field, missed so many more shots than the Spurs, who made .575 of their field goal attempts.
All-NBA forward Tim Duncan, struggling all season with plantar fasciitis, had a negligible effect on the game with 11 points and seven rebounds, when realistically, it was the Spurs' will and swagger initiated by Parker that took out the Kings right away.
For all the noise coming out of Artest's mouth prior to the series how the Kings were not only going to take out the Spurs, but were going to win the NBA title, it was somewhat ironic that Manu Ginobili caught Artest right in the mouth with an elbow on the Spurs' first possession.
So much for the cocky Artest.
Although it was just one game in this best-of-seven series, it was stunning how omnipotent the Spurs were, particularly when so many analysts have talked about the vulnerability of the Spurs. Allegedly, the time is ripe for them to be knocked off in the West — perhaps by the cross-state rival Dallas Mavericks. True, some of what happened Saturday was the bizarre convergence of a great start and the Kings not being ready for any of it.
Nonetheless, everyone needs to remember the Spurs finished just one game behind the Detroit Pistons for the best record in the entire league. The quality play and experience that veterans like Van Exel, Michael Finley and Brent Barry bring off the bench gives them a stability and level of execution that will make them a tough out all the way to the Finals again.
Tony Parker and the Spurs blew by Mike Bibby and the Kings in Game 1. (Eric Gay / Associated Press)
Maybe the Detroit Pistons remain the team to beat, but nobody sent that message to the Spurs. They've got their own thoughts on the subject, being the road to the NBA Finals still very much travels through the SBC Center in San Antonio.
Nobody will be howling at the Kings to [i]remember the Alamo. But close enough. Suffice to say the Spurs fired a warning shot Saturday that was heard from coast to coast.
LeBron James became the third player in history to record a triple-double in his first NBA playoff game, with 32 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the Cavs' 97-86 win over the Washington Wizards. Johnny McCarthy of the St. Louis Hawks did it in 1960 in the Hawks 112-99 win over the Minneapolis Lakers. And Magic Johnson pulled off the hat trick for the Los Angeles Lakers in their 119-110 win over the Phoenix Suns in 1980.
Miami Heat forward Udonis Haslem, frustrated by a no-call when he forced his way down the lane onto the floor, threw his mouth guard at official Joey Crawford with 4:11 in the first half. It took Crawford about three seconds to eject Haslem, who may draw further punishment from the league office before Monday's Game 2.
"I got a little frustrated and threw my mouthpiece at the ground," Haslem said. "Looking at it on TV, I can see how Joey would think I was throwing it at him, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for the officials. We do not always agree, but I would never physically approach an official or throw something at an official. ... My intentions were not for the mouthpiece to bounce in Joey's direction."
The Heat were 1-9 in playoff games against the Bulls prior to Saturday' 111-106 Miami victory. Shaquille O'Neal looked 10 years younger with 27 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks, while Dwyane Wade scored 14 points in the fourth quarter — finishing with 30 points and 11 assists — to lead the way. The Heat kept threatening to run away from the Bulls — girded by a 32-of-39 showing from the free throw line compared to 13-of-17 for Chicago — but the Bulls hit 13-of-26 from 3-point range to stay in the game. Ben Gordon had a career playoff-high with 35 points to lead the Bulls, with Andres Nocioni adding 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Kirk Hinrich shook off a shaky first half to finish with 19 points and eight assists. Heat point guard Jason Williams, who sat for two weeks in April, started and set the tone early and finished with 17 points and three assists — a key to the Heat's success. The victory was coach Pat Riley's 156th in the postseason, tying him with Lakers coach Phil Jackson for the most ever. The Lakers play at Phoenix Sunday. Wade hobbled off the floor before the game ended, apparently with a cramp in his left leg, but it wasn't considered serious.
The Cavs haven't won a playoff series since 1993, when LeBron James was an 8-year-old. Their last playoff game was in 1998. It was a nightmarish game for the Cavs' Larry Hughes, playing against his former teammates. Struggling with a broken finger that kept him out three months, Hughes was 1-for-9 from the field with just two points. Not only did he play with Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison last year with the Wizards, but they were teammates at Golden State before they all landed in Washington. But the Cavs were able to weather Hughes' bad game thanks to five players in double-figures. Jamison managed just 11 points — more than nine points below his average — while Arenas got hot with 17 of his 26 in the fourth quarter. … The winner of Game 1 has won 79 percent of the first-round series, a record of 263-70. Of course, that's also generally the team with homecourt advantage as well. … Kobe Bryant averaged 42.5 points a game against the Suns during the regular season, the third-highest average in history against an opponent entering the playoffs. He trails only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan. … The Wizards shot .357 from 3-point range during the regular season and were 3-of-22 in Saturday's loss to the Cavs — a putrid .136.
The San Antonio Spurs shot a playoff-record .684 from the field in the first half in their 122-88 win over the Sacramento Kings. against the Kings, including 8-of-11 from 3-point range, with Michael Finley's trey at the first-half buzzer going in and out. It was the worst playoff loss in Kings' history. … Second only to retired Reggie Miller (320) in playoff 3-pointers, Spurs forward Robert Horry added one more, giving him 238 postseason treys. … The Nuggets have 12 players who have participated in the playoffs, tied for the most experience, while the Clippers have just six — the least.
This and that
The Los Angeles Clippers pulled out their first playoff victory since 1993 with an 89-87 decision over the Denver Nuggets. All-Star Elton Brand led five double-figure scorers with 21 points, eight rebounds, five assists and four blocks, while underrated center Chris Kaman added 15 points and 13 rebounds, followed by Sam Cassell's 19 and 17 from Cuttino Mobley. The Nuggets didn't have a fast-break basket until the 1:08 mark of the fourth quarter, but that tied the score to cap a 10-0 run, but Vladimir Radmanovic hit a pair of free throws to give the lead back to L.A. for good. The Nuggets had a chance to tie it, calling time out with 24 seconds left and they went to Carmelo Anthony who already had five game-winners since Jan. 8. But he fired an airball from 18 feet, and then misfired again just before the buzzer — capping an 0-for-8 fourth quarter despite having 25 points overall. Andre Miller also had 25 points for the Nuggets, but nobody else finished in double-fi gures.
This is the first time since 1987-88 that the Washington Wizards have been in the playoffs in successive seasons. … With Tony Parker leading the Spurs in scoring this season, it marks the first time since Tim Duncan's rookie year that somebody besides Duncan has led the team in scoring. David Robinson led the Spurs in scoring during the 1997-98 season. … Kings forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim ended his playoff drought Saturday at 744 regular season games, with six points, eight rebounds and five fouls. Abdur-Rahim's non-playoff run is second in NBA history to Tom Van Arsdale (929). … Heat center Alonzo Mourning didn't dress and continues to be on the mend from the torn calf muscle suffered in a March 22 game at Detroit. Keep in mind, his medication is limited due to his kidney transplant, but he is expected back this series.
Really? The Spurs finished just one game behind Detroit?
This must be breaking news bacause very few of the NBA talking heads seem to know this stat. How is this possible.
The Spurs still need to win 4 games, 3 now, so it's still to early to give them anything, but this game reminds me of what some of the more saner people said back when the Pistons whooped up on our Spurs here in SA, you don't win a title in Jan. Same thing here, but it's obvious that this team is not the same team from just 1 month ago. Tim is looking real good although his timing and offense is still not there his mobility looks very very good, Manu is starting to look like his old self, and that all star point guard of ours looked like he is ready to continue his excellent play in the playoffs, I gotta like what I see.
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