AP Photo/Eric Gay

Rockets shake up playoffs by smashing Spurs in Game 1


In the second quarter:

  • Rockets: 17 fastbreak points
  • Spurs: 16 total points

Houston followed an eye-opening first quarter with a whirlwind second quarter, building a 30-point halftime lead en route to a 126-99 win over San Antonio in Game 1 of their second-round series Monday.

This was tied for the second-biggest road Game 1 victory ever. The Jazz beat the Suns by 39 in the 1991 first round, and the Rockets also beat the Trail Blazers by 27 in the 2009 first round.

For any playoff game in the shot-clock era, Houston built the 12th-biggest halftime lead. The advantage swelled to 39 in the fourth quarter before the Spurs won the dredges of garbage time.

“It’s one win,” said James Harden, who scored 20 points and dished 14 assists, half on 3-pointers. “It’s a good win for us, but we’ve got to get ready for Game 2.”

The Spurs ought to know. They beat the Thunder by 32 in Game 1 of last year’s second-round series then lost in six.

But winning early is San Antonio’s M.O. The Spurs had won 14 of their last 15 Game 1s. They often have a superior strategy to start a series, and then sometimes their lack of athleticism catches up to them.

It’s unclear where they go from here.

San Antonio’s bigs – David Lee, Pau Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge – looked inept defensively. They couldn’t hang in the pick-and-roll or keep up in transition.

Houston center Clint Capela (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting and 13 rebounds) had an incredibly clear path to the rim.

Trevor Ariza (23 points on 5-of-10 3-point shooting), Ryan Anderson (14 points on 4-of-10 3-point shooting) and Eric Gordon (11 points on 3-of-6 3-point shooting) helped by spacing the floor. In all, Houston shot 22-of-50 (44%) from beyond the arc.

Mike D’Antoni’s Rockets will keep attacking those mismatches, and James Harden appears uniquely qualified to orchestrate.

The Spurs’ size netted little on the other end. Lee, Gasol and Aldridge combined to score 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting in 75 minutes.

Kawhi Leonard (21 points on 5-of-14 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists) posted impressive individual numbers, but he didn’t move the needle.

It’s difficult to find a solution that doesn’t involve San Antonio going small, something Gregg Popovich has been reluctant to do. Perhaps, Popovich will give a bigger role to center Dewayne Dedmon who played somewhat well in garbage time but made a bigger splash by having Nene grab his neck and get ejected then getting ejected himself.

Report: Grizzlies starting power forward JaMychal Green out several weeks

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The Grizzlies are undefeated, having topped another playoff hopeful (Pelicans) in their season-opener.

But things seem tenuous in Memphis.

Not only is Chandler Parsons feuding with Grizzlies fans, JaMychal Green is hurt.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The supporting cast looks rickety around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unless second-rounder Dillon Brooks (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting +17 against New Orleans) keeps humming. And maybe even still then.

Green’s injury opens the door for bigger roles for Jarell Martin and maybe Parsons (gulp).

At least Green locked in his guaranteed money. This shows why he couldn’t afford to risk taking the qualifying offer.

Booed by Grizzlies fans, Chandler Parsons says he’ll treat home games like road games

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Chandler Parsons‘ great sin? Signing a four-year, $94 million contract and failing to justify it due to injuries. He missed 48 games last season and struggled mightily while on the court.

His more recent transgression? Missing a couple free throws.

The Grizzlies forward missed a pair from the line in yesterday’s season-opening win over the Pelicans, and Memphis fans booed him:

Later, Parsons drew a three-shot foul, and Marc Gasol tried to rally the crowd behind Parsons:

Plenty of fans cheered, but as Parsons went 1-for-3, others still booed.

Parsons, via Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal:

“I’ll just go into every game with the mentality that it’s a road game, if that’s how it’s going to be,” he said.

Finally, Parsons stuck up for himself, saying, “They can boo me, they can sarcastically cheer me, they can do whatever they want. … It’s tasteless , man, it makes no sense. We’re athletes, we’re human beings. I don’t know them personally, so, it’s just a little strange to me, but that’s sports.”

If Parsons didn’t understand Mavericks fans booing him after he left Dallas, he sure isn’t going to understand Grizzlies fans booing him while he’s still in Memphis.

Fans largely see Parsons as a character in the drama that is the Grizzlies – something removed from their everyday reality. Of course, Parsons is taking it personally. He’s a person, and it’s his everyday reality.

It’s unclear what portion of Memphis fans booed him. Grizzlies fans probably aren’t excited about cheering him right now, but many did – as a direct response to the boos. Even if they would’ve preferred no reaction a vacuum, those cheering fans didn’t want the boo birds speaking for them.

Parsons ought to remember those supportive fans before painting the entire home crowd as the enemy, or else he’ll turn everyone against him. None of this is fair to Parsons, who has surely been frustrated with his injuries, but he can control how he reacts to the fans.

Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac forgot to put on jersey for debut

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In the above video, Magic rookie Jonathan Isaac can be seen sitting on Orlando’s bench wearing his warmups midway through the first quarter. After a timeout, his seat was empty.

Where did he go?

Isaac, via Chris Barnewall of CBS Sports:

“I didn’t even put my jersey on. I was on the bench and I completely forgot my jersey. I didn’t even put it on,” Isaac said.

When asked when he retrieved his white, pinstriped Magic jersey, he said: “five minutes left in the first quarter. [I left it] sitting right there.”

Isaac checked in a few minutes later – with his jersey on – and quickly scored.

Good thing the Magic’s rotation didn’t call for him to enter the game sooner. And this was obviously easier to laugh off after Orlando beat the Heat.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin out for season

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The fears for Nets point guard Jeremy Lin have been realized.

Nets release:

Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin has been diagnosed with a ruptured patella tendon of the right knee.  The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of last night’s game at Indiana. Lin is expected to miss the entire 2017-18 season.

This is obviously a devastating setback for Lin, who missed 46 games last season in his first year with Brooklyn. The Nets’ already-slim playoff chances fade further with the loss of arguably their best player, though fellow point guard D'Angelo Russell shined in his Brooklyn debut with 30 points.

The trickle-down effects of this injury are perhaps more intriguing.

This makes the Nets’ first-round pick – owned by the Cavaliers – more valuable. Does that make LeBron James more likely to re-sign with Cleveland next summer (either because the Cavs add a top-flight rookie or trade the selection for a valuable veteran)? Does that alter long-term plans in Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere?

Lin’s injury doesn’t just sting in Brooklyn. It could alter the entire landscape of the NBA.