duo design
At least Lakers fans were forced to watch Duo Design. I'd call that a moral victory.

The Denver Nuggets: The Thunder raced out to a 31-15 lead after 12 minutes of action. I feel like I should go ahead and stop there because that was pretty much the ball game. The Nuggets continued to play hard but with little in the way of results: Denver shot 39.1 percent and got outrebounded 54-31...including 17-5 on the offensive glass. They also missed nine free throw attempts.

Still, it was that first quarter that doomed the Nuggets. Minus that opening 12-minute salvo, the score was 75-74 in favor of the Thunder. Definitey more of a game. Reminds me of a class I took in college in which the professor gave us the option of dropping our worst score from the four exams we were scheduled to take over the course of the semester. Which is basically like telling a college student: "You can go ahead and totally ditch one of your exams...consequence-free!" Which is exactly what happened. If David Stern let NBA teams drop their worst quarter of a game, this one might have provided some drama.

OKC's lead got as high as 26 points. The Thunder dozed off a little and let the Nuggets get to within 10 points (86-76) with 833 left in the fourth quarter. But a couple made shots by Kevin Durant combined with a series of empty possessions for Denver -- Wilson Chandler threw the ball away, All Harrington took the worst three-point attempt in the history of mankind, Chandler bricked a jumper, Ray Felton missed a layup, etc. -- killed any thoughts of a comeback.

Said Nuggets coach George Karl: "We gave them too many minutes, too many possessions of they were totally in control. They were energized, they were more physical, they were quicker, probably smarter. ... The hole was just too big. When it looked like we could get it under 10, a 3-ball would go in or an offensive rebound would break our heart."

One thing Karl neglected to say they were is more talented. It just felt that way. Other than their irrational optimism, what do the Nuggets have to counter Durant and Russell Westbrook? I know the box score will show balanced scoring for the Thunder, but Durant and Westbrook were there to kill any runs Denver tried to make.

I love what the Nuggets have done since trading 'Melo. But, in the NBA playoffs, talent usually wins out. I think they could definitely steal one in Denver. But you could tell last night that when the Nuggets needed to stop the bleeding or sustain a run, they didn't have a go-to guy. People say that doesn't matter...but it does.

Advanced stats of the game: The Thunder had a ridiculous Offensive Rebounding Rate of 39.5 percent. Rebounding four out of every 10 misses will give a team a distinct advantage. OKC finished the game wiht an Offensive Rating of 119.0.

The Memphis Grizzlies: Only because they lost. And just barely. But Spurs fans should maybe be little bit worried. San Antonio's game plan worked: After Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 49 points in Game 1, the Spurs clogged the paint, got physical and held the duo to only 23 points on 7-for-23 shooting. Furthermore, they held Memphis to 39 percent shooting (including 3-for-14 from downton), won the rebounding battle by a slim margin (48-47) and had a 32-20 advantage in free throw attempts.

And the game still came down to the final 15 seconds.

The Grizzlies did a surprisingly good defensive job, forcing 18 turnovers and holding San Antonio to 93 points on 43.8 percent shooting. The Spurs didn't do themselves any favors by bricking 10 free throw attemps, but still, they are struggling to score. The finished with an Offensive Rating of 97.1. And remember, during the regular season, San Antonio ranked second in O-Rating a 111.8.

Memphis is slowing down the game and forcing the Spurs to play physical. Ironically, that's exactly how San Antonio won four championships during the Tim Duncan era. Now the tactic they employed against everyone from the Lakers to the Suns is being used against them. Kind of ironic I guess.

Yes, it helped to have Many back...

...but the Spurs need to figure out how to counter Memphis' aggressive play. Unless Tim Duncan has a big role playing game convention to attend two weeks from now.

Shane Battier, quote machine: "Manu's Manu, come on. I don't care if he's in a body cast, he's going to be out there and he's going to be a handful to deal with. That's why he's a great player."

The New Orleans Hornets: They held the Lakers to only 87 points while shutting down both Kobe Bryant (11 points, 3-for-10) and Pau Gasol (8 points, 2-for-10, 0 defensive rebounds. Unfortunately, Andrew Bynum (17 points, 8-for-11, 11 rebounds) and Lamar Odom (16 points, 8-for-12, 7 rebounds) did whatever they wanted and New Orleans couldn't shoot (39.1 percent), rebound (the Lakers had a 44-36 advantage on the glass) or knock down free throws (20-for-32). They also gave up 22 points off 16 turnovers.

I'm mildly suprised they kept it as close as they did.

The Lakers were much more aggressive in protecting the area around the basket last night. According to ESPN Stats and Information: "After allowing over 60 percent shooting from inside nine feet in Game 1, the Lakers limited the Hornets to 43.2 percent from that range on Wednesday."

In related news, Aaron Gray (2 points, 1-for-4, 0-for-2 from the line) came crashing back down to earth.

Said Gray: "You could tell that they were hungry for a win tonight. Like they weren't able to match our energy in Game 1, we weren't able to match their energy tonight."

Added Jarrett Jack: "Obviously we got their attention in the first game, and their intensity was raised up a little bit more. It's going to be like that throughout the rest of the series."

And hey, giving credit where credit is due, Kobe took up the challenge of guarding Chris Paul for part of the game. The Lakers couldn't stop Paul -- 20 points, 5-for-11, 8-for-12 at the line, 9 assists and only 1 turnover -- but they slowed him down and kept him from taking over the game.

Update! Brandon Roy, quote machine: Almost forgot to post this, but Basketbawful reader Pinto Raine reminded me. From OregonLive.com:

"There was a point in the first half, and I was thinking 'You better not cry.' I mean, serious. I mean, there was a moment where I felt really sorry for myself. Then I was like, nah, you can't be sorry for yourself. I'm a grown man, but there was a moment there that I felt sorry for myself. Especially when I think I can still help."

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little hurt, or disappointed," Roy said. "But the biggest thing is to keep moving, to try and keep my spirits up. But it's tough man. I just ... I just always thought I would be treated better. That was a little disappointing for me."

"I come in the last sub of the first quarter ... then OK, I'm in there for (2:36), then I play, then it's the end of the quarter," Roy said. "Then I start the second and Bam! I'm right back on the bench again. I mean, I don't know what I could have done! Then I sit, and he puts Patty and Rudy in before me. I know physically I have to play, but mentally, how do I just go..."

Roy acts like he is being put in the game, and feigns a skipping motion.

"'It's OK! I'm going to play' and be all giddy?"

"I think my nature I've never been one to confront. Never been the one to create controversy," Roy said. "I think coach is comfortable with his guys and it's hard for him to get me back in there. If that's what he is comfortable with, then I'm going to try and support the team. And if he can get us past (the first round), then he can. I just always thought I would be treated a little better, but ... it is what it is. I'll be all right. I'll go home see my kids, and be happy."
I'm honestly not sure what's been more surprising: The rapid disintegration of Roy's knees or his character.

Chris' Playoff Lacktion Report:

Nuggets-Thunder: Chris "Birdman" Andersen flew into the ledger tonight by fouling once in 6:09 for a +1 and a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl, while Oklahoma City's Nazr Mohammed bricked once and fouled thricely for a +4 n 11:16 as well as a 3:0 Voskuhl.

Grizzlies-Spurs: Leon Powe earned a 2.5 trillion for the baby cubs (2:32) while Danny Green taught typing with Koopa shells in 45 seconds to give San Antonio a celebratory Mario.

Hornets-Lakers: DJ Mbenga buzzed off a steal and block in 3:03 with a foul for a 1:0 Madsen-level Voskuhl.

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Anonymous Karc said...

It's about Kobe doing some things during the game last night, like traveling and getting outsmarted by Chris Paul behind the three-point line.

But at least he didn't use a slur when "complaining" about it. Baby steps...

Anonymous Batmanu said...
I can't believe Roy says he should be treated better. What did he THINK would happen when he's playing hammy-on-calf?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Love the site and I normally enjoy the targeted jibes but I think B. Roy should be allowed some Basketbawful latitude, even if he's been bawful-worthy so far in the playoffs. I mean the dude's been through a lot the past year, going from All-Star/franchise player to a guy who will probably have to be limited to less than 30 minutes a game for the rest of his career if he wants to be able to walk without a cane before he's 40.

Besides that gripe though, I think you guys are doing an excellent job with the coverage so far.

Blogger winnetou said...
Just lost two paragraphs in the vein of Karc's post :(

Anyway, Kobe reached double digits due to meaningless free throws with the game already decided (< 1 minute, ~10 points difference) and Reggie Miller wondered aloud when Kobe's last playoff game with single digit points was. So I had a look: Streaks with Points ≥ 10, from 1997 to 2011, in the playoffs.
Start End Games
2000-06-19 2011-04-20 151
1999-05-09 2000-06-07 26

Anonymous AK Dave said...
B-Roy is disappointing right now. Sure he's had some injuries and all, but he needs to stop being so damn impatient and figure out 1) just how healthy he can get and 2) what his new role is going to be on the Blazers now that he has to slow his game down a little.

As far as giving him 'lattitude' as anonymous suggested, I disagree. This is just Roy showing us that he turns into a whiner when the chips are down. A famous man once said:

It's easy to grin, when your ship has come in, And you've gotten the stock market beat-
But the man who's worthwhile,
Is the man who can smile,
When his shorts are too tight in the seat

ha ha! ha ha! Okay, pookie.

In other words: suck it up, Roy. It isn't the end of the world because you get benched because of injury.

Blogger Fishy said...
Anyone else not surprised that Amare Stoudemire is 'hurt'?

Anonymous TransINSANO said...
With fans like these, Brandon Roy doesn't need enemies. Isn't this the same guy who basically sacrificed his career to play for a perennially medicare Blazers squad in the playoffs 8 days after surgery on his knee? Whatever, man up, dude!

Blogger Marmatard said...
How's this for bawful: JR Smith incurred a -17 in a whopping 6:42 of play.

Blogger stephanie g said...
TransINSANO: I don't think pointing out that he basically did this to himself helps the defense against him being an alpha male attention whore. If anything, it just sheds more light on his dumb sense of machismo. Which isn't exactly rare in sports, either.

Blogger tonious35 said...
Brandon Roy,

Your team, including LaMarcus Aldridge, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, and the guy you cussed out, Andre Miller, are playing their asses off to content for playoff respectability. Here is some advice to make your interviews much shorter and less whiny & douche-bag filled.

"Riding the pine and going through injuries sucks as it is compared to my previous seasons, but I'm-a try to do whatever Nate and the team need from me. I have faith in the team and the starting lineup that fought for all of us and brought hope when I felt down. I don't care how I contribute to the wins, as long as my play doesn't put the team down in offense and defense. Maybe I can take some pride making the other teams' benches change their underwear when I step in."

Doesn't that sound much better and fan supportive?

Blogger Fasefax said...
BRoy was asked a question and he answered. Why do you expect him to say? "I'm fine with only playing 8 minutes?" As for the "I thought I would be treated better" to me it just vindicates "The Decision" not so much the show (that was just horrible), but the decision itself. There's no reason for a player to be loyal to a franchise when we all know when you're no good to them anymore, you're out like a cheap date. See: Patrick Ewing for further evidence.

Anonymous Tree said...
Harrington's three was pretty bad, but the defense would like to introduce the following evidence:


Anonymous Batmanu said...
As far as being limited goes, I know what Roy is going through. I've had surgery on both knees before I was old enough to drink [legally], and I was a scorer/slasher back then, relying on my atheleticism as much as my craftiness (I'm short).

Thing is, it does take a while to come to grips with your inabilities. It took me a while, but I have now learned to become a better passer, greatly improved as a shooter and leverage my strength in the post against smaller (as in weaker or lighter, since I'm a Nate Rob's height) oppenents. Thankfully, my meniscii (is that the plural version? I guessed) were repaired and not removed.

He can and eventually will get over it. Just don't complain about how bad they treat you when you got a max extension and they KNEW he had bad knees.

Anonymous The Other Chris said...
There's no reason for a player to be loyal to a franchise when we all know when you're no good to them anymore, you're out like a cheap date.

I guess he'll just have to console himself with his 82 million dollars.

Of course the decision was fine. It was The Decision itself that was so distasteful. To review: Leaving for another team as a free agent - your right as a free individual. Having an hour-long TV special to fellate your own already overinflated ego - in poor taste.

Anonymous Shrugz said...
Funny I used to find Brandon Roy more level headed....and then he got 83 million dollars in guarenteed money.

Money changes people and the people around you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Guys need some perspective. Just look around the teams whose seasons have already finished, with the prospect of spending the next x-months trying to trade a draft pick which will inevitably end up being a 19 year old then just hoping that there is a season for them to play next year.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
@Fasefax: ridiculous! He is still not 100%, he plays a team sport, team sports require egos to be checked to be a good team mate. The goal of playing the games is to win the games ("Hello?!? You play to win the game!"). To win games, teams play the players that give them the best chance. Roy is not prepared to play heavy playoff minutes and not be a liability due to his injuries. He knows this, or at least ought to know this. Plus, he has 82M reasons to be loyal ... because, you know, the team showed their loyalty to him by giving him a huge contract. The fact that the coach didn't play a severely hobbled and half-speed player does not indicate a lack of loyalty - it indicates a desire to make the best moves to win the game.

Narcisism and its defenders are alive and well.

Anonymous TransINSANO said...
stephanie g - You mean what his negligent organization did to him? Blazers selfishly and short-sightedly ruined their franchise player's career. Players, good players, want to play. When it's dangerous, that's when the team should step in. Also, damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's not like he'd be getting any more respect for having NOT played (I'm sure you're a big admirer of T-Mac's more sensible ways). Even less rare than the dumb sense of machismo in sports is the dumb sense of fan entitlement.

tonious35 - I love it, Roy literally played his knee off for the Blazers the same way last year, but it's already forgotten and now he's just a stupid whiner. Maybe the irony of them not playing him now just isn't lost on him. Today's playoff warriors are tomorrows selfish bums, you'll feel the same way about all those guys eventually.

I'm not even a fan of Roy, but it's sad what's happened to him, and the way the same fans that used to tout him as this model player (not like that selfish Kobe Bryant, for example) is an even sadder joke. I look forward to watching everyone do the same to Chris Paul in a couple years.

Anonymous Jon L. said...
The Nuggets have been terrible and I think we can attribute that to a lack of a superstar like Melo. Someone needs to step up big time or a sweep is definitely coming.

Blogger DDC said...
OMG JR Smith did you suck last night....6:42 minutes of sickeningly play. If I'm George Karl, I think I deactivate this clown.

Anonymous TransINSANO said...
Jon L. said... "The Nuggets have been terrible and I think we can attribute that to a lack of a superstar like Melo."

Ironic, isn't it? I don't really blame Denver, because I think it's more about the potential monster growing down in OKC. If the Lakers are having trouble with a team like the Hornets, I don't want to know what the Thunder can do. I hope the Spurs can somehow pull through battered and bruised like in '08 so hopefully the Lakers can finish them off.

Oh, and in my Ode to Roy I notice that I left out that the fans turning on him was the joke, but you get the idea.

Blogger Fasefax said...
A: If it were about only about the money the guy wouldn't be on the verge of tears sitting on the bench. He'd be doing his best Eddy Curry impression.

When these guys don't care we bash them, when they do we bash them anyway...

B: If Dallas can find a way to play Jose Juan Barea 16 minutes, Portland can find a way to get BRoy 16-20 minutes.

Blogger beanykim said...
LOL did anybody notice in Manu's clip Shane Battier getting pulverized by the screen. LMAO