Quantcast 2009 NBA Playoffs: 2009 NBA Playoff Coverage

 

NBA Playoff Recap - Monday, May 4

Last year's NBA Finals combatants both fell behind in Game 1 of the conference semifinal round. The NBA Playoffs, fresh from the euphoria of the Boston-Chicago series, now have some Round 2 tilts that should last at least six games.
 
In Boston, the night began with the Orlando Magic using a massive run to accumulate a 28-point lead and then hold on for dear life against the uneven but untiring Celtics. Stan Van Gundy's crew played fast and loose with big leads in the first round against Philadelphia, and on Monday in TD Banknorth Garden, the same tendency almost came back to bite the East's No. 3 seed. Fortunately, a late 3-point miss by Ray Allen allowed Orlando to snag a 95-90 win and a 1-0 series advantage.
 
The Magic, up 41-34 with 2:25 left in the first half, uncorked a stunning 24-3 run to grab a 65-37 bulge just three minutes into the third quarter. While Boston guard Rajon Rondo committed a few of his shockingly-high 7 turnovers on what was his worst night of the playoffs to date, the Magic poured in points from all spots on the floor--the paint, the 3-point arc, the foul line--to run up the score and bank a big lead that was sorely needed down the stretch. The Celtics--who erased a 24-point deficit in Game 4 of last year's Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers--pulled within 91-87 in the final minute, and had Ray Allen open for a trey from the right wing. Allen's shot looked good upon its release, but the ball hit the inside of the back and front rims before spinning out with 44 seconds left. Orlando's J.J. Redick iced the game at the free throw line, giving everyone on the visitors' bench cause to exhale. Dwight Howard led the Magic with 16 points and 22 rebounds. The Celtics, who were led by Paul Pierce's 23 points, will need to have Rondo and Allen get back on the beam after their early-round heroics against the Chicago Bulls. Both of Boston's brilliant guards went 2-of-12 from the field, a fact that spelled doom for the defending world champions. Game 2 is Wednesday night in Boston.

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In Los Angeles, the team the Celtics defeated for last year's title also fell behind 1-0 in the second round. The L.A. Lakers might have swept the Houston Rockets, four games to none, in the teams' regular season head-to-head matchups, but that didn't matter on this May Monday in the Staples Center. Coach Rick Adelman brought his fifth-seeded club into the Lakers' lair and walked away with a 100-92 victory, injecting a fresh dose of drama into a series that--on paper--looked to be colored Gold and Purple all the way.
 
A number of trend reversals accompanied Houston's early breakthrough in Tinseltown. First, the Rockets won the fourth quarter, 30-25. That ranked as a huge shock, given the fact that the Lakers had outscored Houston, 127-80, in the four regular-season fourth quarters contested by the two teams. The other big key to this L.A. loss was the home side's inability to get 3-point makes from its role players. The Lakers are so good at home because they're able to score in the hundreds, and that normally happens because the likes of Derek Fisher and Trevor Ariza are able to knock down threes in a comfortable shooting environment when Kobe Bryant commands doubleteams and distorts the shape of a defense. In this game, however, Fisher and Ariza--who got their share of open 3-point looks, particularly in the fourth quarter--just couldn't deliver. Both men went 0-for-4 from long-distance, as the Lakers produced a shoddy 2-of-18 performance beyond the arc. If that number remains low, and if Kobe's colleagues can't hit shots when the Black Mamba inevitably draws Houston defenders, the Rockets have a real chance of winning this series. Yao Ming led Houston with 28 points and hit all 10 of his free throws, many of them in the final minutes to seal the issue. Ron Artest chipped in 21 points for the Rockets, and Aaron Brooks added 19. On the Laker side of the ledger, no one had an efficient offensive evening. Bryant led his team with 32 points, but that came at the expense of 31 shots. Pau Gasol scored 14 points to go along with 13 boards, but the Spaniard expects to do better than 6-of-14 from the field. Game 2 is Wednesday night in L.A., as Bryant--who played Game 1 with flu-like symptoms--will hope to feel better... and restore the health of this team as well.


 

By Matt Zemek
Pro-Basketball Fans staff-writer


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