Portland 112 Houston 105: It was the LaMarcus Aldridge show. But as good as LaMarcus was, and he was spectacular scoring 43 points, Dwight Howard matched him, at least in the first half. Dwight had 19 first quarter points. He had taken seventeen shots by the half. So his give me the ball demand was more than a show, he meant it. Dwight even made most of his free throws. And yet as dominant as he was it all felt as if he was off the island. This is not the Rockets style, letting him abuse Robin Lopez. The Rockets are a perimeter shooting team. Suddenly Chandler Parsons and James Harden were irrelevant. On the opposite end of the floor LaMarcus Aldridge was as brilliant as he was in the first game if not more so. The Rockets said they had a plan to defend him. Uh, not really. He was shooting a blistering 65%. He simply dominated whoever the Rockets put on him. Note to Kevin McHale: there is such a thing as double teams. Aldridge had 39 going into the 4th and the Blazers were up by 6. But the Rockets were confused much of the fourth quarter. Play through Harden? Play through Dwight? Dorel Wright gave the Blazers good minutes off the bench as did burly center Joel Freeland. Howard had to sit with his fifth foul but came in and had a spectacular dunk over two Blazers. A 4 point game in the last 50 seconds and Houston had the weight of their Dwight dreams hanging like a cloud. James Harden was truly terrible in this game while Damien Lillard who missed twelve shots also had eleven assists and seven rebounds. He hit two free throws to give the Blazers a six point lead. The Rockets defense was Dantoni-esque, losing sight of the details. A streaking (and laughing) Wes Matthews was alone for a layup with 30 seconds left to give the Blazers a six point lead. And eventually the win.
Dallas 113 San Antonio 92: Guess Dallas was having none of it. None of the we choke like the Cowboys. None of the Tony Romo-esque collapses. Just so no one would be confused, they came out in game two firing up shots, acting like the Spurs stole something- which they did, game one. The Mavs offense was a whirlwhind, not seven seconds or less but close enough. If pizza guy was at the door you knew you were going to miss something. Like Dirk getting his eyeball scraped by Tiago Splitter. And Kawhil Leonard committing a stupid foul in the second quarter to give him his third, taking away a defender for Dallas’ shooters who were singeing the nets and leading the Spurs by five. The Spurs turned the ball over and over again. What. Is. This? Monta Ellis was channeling his Golden State days and his decisions were perfect. So was Shawn Marion’s shooting. But the Mavs struggle holding leads. A lot of Manu Ginobli and a 10-0 Spurs run cut the Mavs lead to 5 at the half. Dallas kept the foot on the gas in the second half, there was no let up, three point shots, cuts to the rim, just dominant shooting which is what they have been good at all year. What they have been bad at is defense. But Tim Duncan was barely there. I stopped counting the Spurs turnovers when it got to 24. The Spurs couldn’t throw a brick into a puddle. When you give up 100 points with seven minutes left in the 4th, when Vince Carter is dunking…I’m just sayin’. Spurs are lucky Dallas choked in game one.
Miami 101 Charlotte 97: The Bobcats had a chance to win. Not. Really. But they did have a chance to tie the game and send it to overtime. But they couldn’t get a shot off thanks to Gary Neal and Chris Douglas Roberts who for some crazy reason did not look for Kemba Walker. Instead they thought they could be the hero. Lebron James, at this point, was still nursing a stinging larynx by game’s end thanks to Josh McRoberts forearm digging into his throat on a would be King dunk. No ejection or flagrant foul. Really? But that’s what you love about Charlotte. They are a tough, gritty team. They play hard but hard isn’t worth two points. Remember when Gary Neal was a good shooter and played for the Spurs. Not anymore. I love that floater of his in the lane that hits absolutely nothing. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s mechanics are so horribly wretched, all over the world coaches are screaming for kids to cover their eyes and run. But he was the Bobcats best player as he sliced in the lane and threw the ball at the rim. In the first half the Bobcats gutty little defense kept the game manageable. In the second half Jefferson got going. Henderson had a monster block on Udonis Haslem. Kemba hit a big three to give Charlotte a chance at the end. But they couldn’t close the deal. Their last play was a turnover.