Two teams went ahead while two others tied the knot in the first round of the NBA playoffs Thursday.
The Los Angeles Lakers bounced back from a stinging loss to the Portland Trailblazers and tied their Western Conference playoff series at a game each.
Anthony Davis had 31 points and 11 rebounds on 13-of-21 shooting in the Lakers’ 111-88 victory over the Blazers who could miss guard Damian Lillard who sustained an injured finger in the third quarter.
Davis’ numbers were far better than the previous game in which he registered 28 points but shot a horrid 8-of-24 from the field.
”I just wanted to come out tonight with the mindset tonight to be aggressive and to help my team on both ends of the floor and do whatever I had to do to help the team win,” Davis said.
LeBron James played a notch lower – 10 points, six rebounds, seven assists, and six turnovers – compared to the 23 points, 17 rebounds, and a playoff career-high 16 assists he had in Game 1.
The Lakers started hot and posted an eight-point lead at end of the first quarter. Los Angeles maintained momentum, piling up the points in the second quarter to erect a 59-36 lead.
It was a breeze from then on, with the Lakers leading by 30, 88-58, at the end of the third.
Lillard was injured when he hit his hand on the shoe of Davis while reaching for the ball. He went to the locker room and returned to the bench with his fingers wrapped in tape.
“Dame Dolla” did not return as the game was all but wrapped up but said this won’t stop him from playing in Game 3.
”Oh, I’m playing,” he said.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts had earlier said that it was too soon to say if Lillard would be ready for the next game.
The Milwaukee Bucks started fast and hung on to a 111-96 win over the Orlando Magic to even their Eastern Conference first round playoff series at 1-1.
Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 28 points and hauled 20 rebounds to power the Bucks to victory.
Nikola Vujecic as usual stood out for the Magic, scoring 32 on 13-of-23 shooting, but he did not get a lot of support from his teammates.
A message delivered by Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer during a film session set the tone for the game.
”He told us if we want to win and if we want to go far and if we want to be us, we’ve got to play defense, and we didn’t do that in the first game,” Antetokounmpo said.
”I think everybody took that personally. Nobody liked that. Nobody wants to hear that he’s not playing hard enough, so I think whole team came out playing hard. Everybody was playing hard.”
The Houston Rockets bucked the poor shooting night of James Harden and the absence of his backcourt partner Russell Westbrook to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-98 and take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first round Western Conference playoff series.
Harden scored 21 points on 5-of-16 shooting and Westbrook is out due to an injury.
”Couldn’t make a shot,” Harden said. ”I just tried to be active defensively, tried to do other things to impact the game.”
The Rockets rained threes on the Thunder, making 19 out of an NBA playoff record 53 three point tries.
Danuel House Jr. chipped in 19 for the Rockets. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander topscored 31 points for the Thunder and Danilo Gallinari added 17 for Oklahoma.
Thunder playmaker and All-Star Chris Paul also had a bad shooting night, scoring 14 points on 6-for-15 shooting.
”I’ve got to do more,” he said. ”Straight up. It’s that simple. That run they went on at the beginning of the fourth quarter – that can’t happen. Got to be better. I’ve got to be better.”
Duncan Robinson scored 24 points to power the Miami Heat to a 109-100 win over the Indiana Pacers and a 2-0 lead in their first round Eastern Conference playoff series.
Goran Dragic scored 20 points, Jimmy Butler had 18 and six assists, rookie Tyler Herro added 15 points, and Jae Crowder had 10 for the Heat.
Victor Oladipo topscored for Indiana 22 points. Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon had 17 points each; T.J. Warren 14, and Aaron Holiday 12.
The three winning teams in Thursday’s games — Lakers, Rockets, and Bucks — won by identical 111 scores.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have once again snagged the No. 1 pick in this year’s NBA draft.
The Golden State Warriors pick second, followed by the Charlotte Hornets.
The fourth pick is owned by the Chicago Bulls. Rounding up the Top 5 is the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They are followed by the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, New York Knicks, Washington Wizards, Phoenix Suns, and San Antonio Spurs.
Guard LaMelo Ball, brother of Lonzo Ball of the New Orleans Pelicans, University of Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman of the University of Memphis, and Obi Toppin of the Daytona Flyers are among the prominent names in this year’s draft.
”We couldn’t be more pleased to land the first overall pick in this year’s draft, marking only the second time in franchise history,” Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas of Colombia said.
”We are excited for the possibilities ahead of us to bring in a high caliber player now that we secured the first overall selection. We know with the number one pick we have the opportunity to draft an impact player who could immediately complement our young, strong core in All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns and All-Star guard D’Angelo Russell.”
Dec. 1 for next season a bit early, says commissioner Silver
A Dec. 1 start to next season is a little bit early for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Silver said the league is not focused on playing in a fan-free campus next season, but hopes to have fans in their home stands.
”I’d say Dec. 1, now that we’re working through this season, is feeling a little bit early to me,” Silver told broadcaster ESPN.
”I think our number one goal is to get fans back in our arenas… So my sense is, in working with the Players Association, if we could push back even a little longer and increase the likelihood of having fans in arenas, that’s what we would be targeting.”
The NBA players’ union had been advising players that the start of free agency could be delayed from its scheduled launch on Oct. 18, although the draft remains scheduled for Oct. 16.
The NBA Finals are slated to end in Orlando no later than Oct. 13.
LeBron James, Stephen Curry support Joe Biden
LeBron James has declared support for former US Vice President Joe Biden who has accepted the Democratic nomination for president.
James bared his desire to campaign for Biden and his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris at the “Cari & Jemele: Stick to Sports” show.
He told them he would “for sure” campaign for Biden and Harris.
Also declaring their support for Biden are Stephen Curry and his wife Ayesha.
They announced their endorsement of Biden in a video shown at the Democratic National Convention.
Four years ago, James campaigned for Hillary Clinton. (Compiled by Tristan Lozano)