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Atlanta's Jeff Teague demolished the Pacers' grand playoff plan. The Pacers didn't have an answer. Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points, Paul Millsap added 25 and the eighth-seeded Hawks won their first road playoff game in three years, shocking top-seeded Indiana 101-93 to take a 1-0 lead in the first-round series. Or it could be that Teague remembers the frustration Indiana caused when it clinched last year's 4-2 first-round win on Atlanta's home court.
Kevin Durant put a dazzling end to Memphis' gritty comeback. The Grizzlies erased most of a 25-point deficit before Durant, the league's scoring champion, got hot. He scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Oklahoma City Thunder defeat Memphis 100-86 on Saturday night in the opening game of their first-round playoff series. He scored 11 points in a 5-minute, 21-second surge that stretched Oklahoma City's lead from seven points to 14 and put the game out of reach.
The Golden State Warriors stumbled out of the gate, missing their first eight shots while falling behind by 11 points and forcing coach Mark Jackson to call two timeouts to steady his young team. Stephen Curry glanced at the clock and realized there was still plenty of time left to knock off the Los Angeles Clippers. Klay Thompson scored 22 points, spiking the ball as time expired, and Golden State beat Los Angeles 109-105 after getting Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Saturday. We're not going to quit.'' David Lee had 20 points despite his own foul trouble and Curry scored 14 for the Warriors, who rallied in the third when Griffin and Paul were on the bench together.
The Houston Rockets were happy simply to return to the playoffs last season. A year later and with the addition of Dwight Howard, the Rockets are back in the postseason and looking to make some noise. ''Just being here is not good enough,'' said Chandler Parsons, who made his playoff debut last year. ''We want to win and we want to contend for a championship and we want to be the last team standing.'' The Rockets returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2009 and battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the first round before being eliminated by Oklahoma City in Game 6.
The only obstacle that matters now for the Chicago Bulls is the one in front of them. They lost Derrick Rose to a season-ending injury to his right knee in November after he sat out last season because of surgery on his left knee, and they traded away one of their top remaining players in Luol Deng. Not only did the Bulls get by, they started to flourish just when it looked as though they might come apart. With 36 victories since Jan. 1, the Bulls led the Eastern Conference and captured the fourth seed.
Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri let loose a profanity about the Brooklyn Nets during a pregame address meant to pump up a group of fans outside Air Canada Centre before Saturday's opening game of the NBA playoffs. Ujiri, the NBA's reigning executive of the year, apologized in a brief news conference at halftime, saying he'd made the ''wrong choice of words'' and was ''just trying to get our fans going.'' Asked if the profanity represented his feelings about the Nets, who have been accused of tanking in order to face Toronto in the first round, Ujiri said: ''You know how I feel. I don't like them, but I apologize.'' Raptors coach Dwane Casey said he had no problem with Ujiri's colorful language. ''It doesn't offend me whatsoever,'' Casey said after the Nets won 94-87 in Game 1.
The Brooklyn Nets made a case for the important of playoff experience in their opening victory over the Toronto Raptors. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 24 points, Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter and the Nets beat the Raptors 94-87 Saturday in Game 1 of their first round series. Playing in his 137th career postseason game, Pierce connected on four of his five shot attempts in the fourth as the Nets kept the Raptors at bay. I just try to stay calm and bring my calmness to the game.'' Nets coach Jason Kidd said Williams ''set the tone'' by scoring 18 points in the first half.
If the Miami Heat are going to watch their season and reign atop the NBA end at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats, then fates of the franchises will have to change in a hurry. Miami has lost only four of its last 23 games against the Bobcats, going 15-0 in the series since LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade teamed up with the Heat. But it's numbers like those that the Heat are rendering irrelevant heading into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference first-round matchup on Sunday. Miami may deserve the confidence of a two-time defending champion bidding for a fourth straight NBA Finals trip, but the Heat aren't overlooking any team heading into these playoffs.
While San Antonio Spurs steamrolled toward their fourth 60-win season in 11 years, coach Gregg Popovich was asked if there is a secret formula for the franchise's almost unfathomable run of excellence. ''Yes there is,'' said Popovich, in typical deadpan fashion. What the Spurs have created is a program unlike any other in the league, one built on the willingness of three stars to take less money, band together and establish a culture and a pecking order under their no-nonsense coach. ''It doesn't do you any good, though.'' The Spurs finished with an NBA-best 62-20 record, wiping out last season's heart-breaking loss in the NBA Finals in emphatic fashion.
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