The action and surprises continued into Sunday. There were a couple of losses even the “experts” didn’t see coming.
Grizzlies beat the Spurs 101-98
This was a game in which San Antonio went with out Manu Ginobili, one of the three members in their version of the big three. The Spurs and Grizzlies were close for much of the game trading runs back and forth. San Antonio had the lead going into the fourth quarter and lost it. Coming down the stretch it seemed like the Grizzlies were attempting to give the game away, missing four straight free throws. San Antonio cashed in on those missed free throws and got to quick threes from Matt Bonner. However Memphis took the lead on the last possession with a clutch Shane Battier three and would hold on to win it.
Tim Duncan was used by Spurs to carry the load early on but it seemed that in the fourth quarter San Antonio didn’t look to him as much, which is a shame because Tim had a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. For the Grizzlies Zach Randolph was key. He ended with 25 points and 14 rebounds. Randolph was the game’s most consistent scorer. He worked skillfully around the basket and was not really stopped by either Duncan or Dejuan Blair. This looks like it’s going to be another fun series.
The Hornets upset the Lakers 109-100
Chris Paul and his New Orleans Hornets played a good game up until the fourth quarter. Then they played a great game. With the injury to David West in the regular season it was a forgone conclusion that the Lakers would simply be to big to be beaten. Their size would make it near impossible to score in the paint and therefore the Hornets would simply not be able to score enough points to win the game. The Hornets had other plans. With precision and efficiency New Orleans was able to outscore the Lakers in the paint 52-34 to win the game.
The key stat of this game; just a mere three turnovers for the Hornet in the entire game. The Lakers had 13 turnovers. The difference was just taking care of the basketball. Chris Paul led his team with confidence and when they needed him to step up in the fourth quarter, boy did he ever. Paul had a personal 14 assist to 2 turnover ratio in the game and scored 15 of his 33 points in the game in the fourth quarter leading his team on an 8-0 run against LA for the win.
The Celtics hold off the Knicks 87-85
This game was interesting for a number of reasons. The game was close throughout most of the contest, the refs had some . . . interesting calls, and Ray Allen broke his shooting slump and went back to his late game heroics. This game was up and down and it was hard to get a read on who was better. Both teams did well in the paint. Both teams turned the ball over about the same amount of times. The difference was the top scorers in the game. Ray Allen was the top scorer for Boston he ended the game with 24 points. Amar’e Stoudemire ended with 28 points. Coming down the stretch the Celtics trusted Ray Allen to come through for them yet, with time ticking off the clock the Knicks went with Carmelo Anthony even though Amar’e had the hot hand. It’s things like this and of course the injury to Chauncey Billups that have me believing that there is no way the Knicks can win this series. The Knicks may have been hurt on a sketchy offensive foul call on them and an offensive foul no-call on the Celtics but they still had an opportunity to win the game. They chose to go with Anthony who shot 5 of 18 for 15 points in the entire game and you can’t blame the officials for that.
The Thunder survive the Nuggets 107-103
Which would you rather have? The stars that can get you points or the balanced attack?
This is another series that may very well answer our questions on that matter. The Thunder started the game slow but got their act together. It was a good thing too because it looked like Denver was going to run away with the game from the outset. Oklahoma City, with the crowd behind them, got themselves together and came roaring back. From the second quarter onward this was a back and forth game. Denver had 5 players in double figures and two players (J.R. Smith and Wilson Chandler) who scored 9 points each. The Thunder on the other hand relied heavily on Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Durant had 41 points a career playoff high for him, and Westbrook had 31 points. This means of course that Durant and Westbrook combined for 72 of their team’s 107 points. Even with these performances the Thunder barely won this game and this was with a controversial basket interference call going their way.
There is no doubt in my mind that this series going seven games. These teams when they play are just so close. This is one of the more compelling match ups in one of the more memorable playoffs in recent history.