Author: John Krolik

Utah Jazz v San Antonio Spurs - Game One

Jazz plan to get more physical with Tony Parker in Game 2


The AP’s Paul J. Weber:

The Jazz are mapping a more physical game plan for All-Star Tony Parker after the Spurs point guard shredded them for 28 points in Game 1. Jazz point guard Devin Harris said his counterpart will likely be in for a ”hard foul or two” after Parker slashed into Utah’s big and bruising frontcourt without hesitation.

It wasn’t tough talk from Harris, who had complimented Parker in the same breath. Jazz center Al Jefferson said the goal was ”not to hurt him or nothing like that,” but rather to dissuade Parker from barreling into the paint and punishing Utah with either an acrobatic layup or kicking out to a 3-point shooter.

”The playoffs is physical. We just can’t let him feel like he can come down in that paint any time he ready,” Jefferson said.

Parker brushed off the warning Tuesday. He’s heard worse.

”It’s not the first time someone has said that,” Parker said. ”My answer is always going to be the same: I’m going to keep coming.”

Parker torched the Jazz for 28 points on 10-19 shooting and 8 assists in San Antonio’s 106-91 defeat of the Jazz in Game 1. Parker is clearly the “head of the snake” for San Antonio’s offense right now, and the Jazz will have to slow him down in tonight’s Game 2 if they want to have any chance of evening up the series before it goes to Salt Lake City. As NBA fans, all we can hope is that the Jazz don’t cross the line with Parker when they try to muscle him up and cause another injury in a playoffs that has already seen to many of them.

NBA Playoffs: 76ers take home-court advantage from Rose-less Bulls

Andre Iguodala, Louis Williams

It’s been a very tough 49:09 of basketball for the Chicago Bulls, who finished the regular season with the Eastern Conference’s best record. At the end of Game 1, which the Bulls were winning comfortably, Derrick Rose awkwardly landed after a jump-stop and blew out his ACL, which ended Rose’s season and probably effectively ended the Bulls’ title hopes.

The Bulls, who are more than capable of beating the 76ers without Rose, did their best to come out tough in Game 2, and led 55-47 after the 1st half. However, the 76ers responded by thrashing the Bulls with a 36-14 3rd quarter, and Chicago was never able to recover. Lou Williams and Jrue Holliday, who both struggled in Game 1, absolutely torched Chicago in Game 2, combining to score 46 points on a combined 19-28 shooting from the field, and Evan Turner added 19 points of his own for Philadelphia.

The Bulls certainly didn’t have a bad game offensively, as Joakim Noah (21 points on 10-11 shooting from the field) led their offense to 92 points on 45.2% shooting from the field, which isn’t a bad showing against a top-5 defense like Philadelphia’s, but Tom Thibodeau’s top-ranked defense had few answers for the 76ers, which is odd because Rose is a much more integral part of Chicago’s offensive game plan than he is of their defensive one.

More than anything, Game 2 suggested that losing Rose (and the title hopes that go along with him) may have taken some of the wind out of Chicago’s sails, which is completely understandable. The Bulls have always played each game like it’s their last, with or without Rose, so I’d expect this to be an extremely competitive series that the Bulls still have a great chance of winning, but it looks like the psychological effects of losing a superstar in the first game of the playoffs may be taking their toll on the Bulls sooner rather than later.

NBA Playoffs: Clippers end game on 28-3 run, win 99-98

Blake Griffin, Zach Randolph

With 9 minutes and 12 seconds remaining in Game 1 of the Grizzlies-Clippers series, O.J. Mayo hit a 3 to put the Grizzlies up by 24 points in front of their hometown crowd.

The Grizzlies were doing everything perfectly: Mayo and Mike Conley were on fire from beyond the arc, the Clippers had no answers for Marc Gasol in the post, and Memphis’ tough-as-nails defense was shutting down the Clippers’ simplistic pick-and-roll attack with ease. To make matters even worse for the Clippers, Caron Butler was forced to leave the game with a fractured left hand. Game 1 appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, in the books.

Then the run happened.

Memphis’ offense stalled as they started settling for outside jumpers instead of looking inside, and their only field goal in the last 9:12 of the game was a Rudy Gay jumper with 28 seconds remaining. Meanwhile, the Clippers finally got hot, and cut the Memphis lead from 12 to 3 when Nick Young made 3 consecutive 3-pointers in the span of a single minute. Then Blake Griffin made two free throws, Reggie Evans got a go-ahead layup to fall, and Paul answered a go-ahead jumper on Memphis’ side by drawing a foul and draining both free throws. Gay missed a jumper on the last possession of the game, and the Grizzlies found themselves on the wrong side of one of the worst collapses in playoff history.

This is a crushing defeat for the Grizzlies, who finished the regular season with a 26-7 home record. Now they’ve lost their home-court advantage, and after this loss, game 2 is almost a must-win situation for Memphis. Los Angeles, meanwhile, should be worried about how futile their offense was against the Grizzlies for the first 39 minutes of the game, but should take solace in the fact that the Grizzlies can’t count on shooting 68.8% from beyond the arc every night, or any other night in this series. After 9 crazy minutes of basketball, the Clippers managed to snag victory from the jaws of defeat, and they are now in total command of this first-round series. We’ll see if they can carry that momentum over to Game 2.

NBA Playoffs: Thunder hold onto home-court advantage thanks to Durant’s last-second jumper

Durant Marion

It certainly wasn’t easy, but the Oklahoma City Thunder managed to eke out a 1-0 series lead over the Dallas Mavericks after a back-and-forth final period that ended with Kevin Durant nailing a game-winner with 1.5 seconds left to play.

The Mavericks had plenty of chances to win — Shawn Marion did a great job on Durant all night, holding him to just 10-27 shooting from the floor, and actually played perfect defense on Durant when he hit his game-winner, which took a major “shooter’s bounce” before going in. Jason Terry was red-hot for most of the game, and finished with 20 points in 24 minutes on 8-10 shooting from the floor. Some late turnovers aside, Dirk Nowitzki was on his game, and hit two clutch free throws to put the Mavericks up by one before the game’s final possession.

The Mavericks clearly gave the Thunder all they could handle on Saturday night, and had more than their share of chances to take the game. They led by four points after the third quarter, and had what appeared to be a commanding 7-point lead with just over three minutes remaining, but none of that mattered when the reigning scoring champion rolled home an impossible-looking off-balance jumper to put his team up 1-0. After a great performance, the Mavericks now find themselves in the exact same position as the Knicks do — even though one team lost by 1 point and the other by 33, both teams are down 1-0 with a chance to steal a game on the road before coming back to their buildings.

The question for both teams is how they will carry this game — will the Mavericks be deflated after giving the Thunder their best shot and coming up one play short, or gain confidence from how well they matched up against the Thunder and come out confident in Game 2? Will the Thunder freak out when they realize they have to win 11 more of these games just to get to the NBA Finals, or be able to wipe the slate clean and play like a 47-19 team in Game 2? That’s what we’ll find out later, but for now it looks like this is the best first-round series going.

NBA Playoffs: Bulls win game 1 vs. 76ers, but Rose injured

Rose injury

Everything was going perfectly for the Bulls in Game 1 of their series against the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia was having no luck scoring on the Bulls’ defense, Lou Williams was never able to get anything going, Derrick Rose was approaching a triple-double, and new addition Rip Hamilton had 19 points on 6-7 shooting from the field.

Then it happened. With the Bulls up 12 and 1:09 left in the game, Derrick Rose was driving to the basket, and then he went down. Hard. Rose looked to be in a great deal of pain, and the air was instantly sucked out of the building. Rose eventually limped off with help, and the Bulls held on for an easy 103-91 win, but everyone in Chicago is wondering about the left knee of their young superstar point guard.

If Rose’s injury is serious, there’s still a good chance the team will get through the first round, but it would be almost impossible for any team to make a serious run at a championship with their best player in street clothes. All the right things happened for the Bulls in the 1st 47 minutes of Saturday’s game, but everything about their playoff run is now very much an open question after Rose’s injury.