Kurt Helin

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Clippers put on offensive showcase, take Game 1 vs. Spurs

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LOS ANGELES — The Clippers had the best offense in the NBA during the regular season, scoring 109.8 points per 100 possessions. But that was the regular season, how would things look in the playoffs? How would the Chris Paul look with Kawhi Leonard draped all over him? How would the Clippers score inside with Tim Duncan patroling the paint?

Everything looks good, thank you very much.

In an impressive offensive display, the Clippers shot 51.9 percent overall, hit 10-of-18 from three, and beat the Spurs 107-92 in Game 1 of their playoff series. Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.

It was an impressive performance — on both ends, an aggressive Clipper defense took the Spur out of rhythm (and the Spurs helped by missing good looks). The Clippers did whatever they wanted, and for a night it felt like Lob City was back. Blake Griffin was dunking on everyone.

“I tried to be aggressive, I did not want to settle for jump shots,” Griffin said.

Clippers took control of the game in the third quarter, when the Spurs kept missing their shots and the Clippers got out running and playing like their fans love. Chris Paul was dishing, while Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick were hitting threes. Clippers put up 30 in the third quarter and were up 15 entering the fourth.

But it all started with the Clippers defense, which was anchored by a strong DeAndre Jordan performance.

“They were just hard hedging (on the pick-and-roll)… they were very aggressive,” Tony Parker said. “On the pick-and-roll I had to give it up, and then Borris (Diaw) and Timmy (Duncan) become the quarterbacks. They found the players, Timmy and Borris, with good looks, we just missed.”

The Spurs shot 4-of-18 from three through the first three quarters. For the game the Spurs were 14-of-26 from the free-throw line. Both are very unSpurs numbers. Ones likely to be different on Wednesday.

Parker suffered both a tweaked left ankle and a knee to his thigh in the game. He said both would be sore Monday but that he’ll be ready to go Wednesday.

Paul finished 32 points — 13 in the fourth quarter — and six assists on the night, Griffin had 26, and Jamal Crawford had an important 17 off the bench.

It started well for Los Angeles. The Clippers got pretty much their ideal first quarter. Kawhi Leonard lost Matt Barnes and J.J. Redick at the arc, and they hit their threes. Crawford and Glen Davis gave the Clippers quality bench minutes. As a team, the Clippers shot 55 percent, the Spurs 28.7 (0-of-6 from three, 6-of-12 from free throw line), and it was 30-18 Clippers after one.

The Spurs roared back in second quarter, going on a 19-5 run to take a lead. But Crawford got hot, and despite CP3 being on the bench with three fouls and a round of hack-a-Jordan the Clippers led 49-43 at the half. The Spurs shot 3-of-14 from three in the first half, just 35.6 percent overall. They got some quality looks, they just missed.

We got a dose of DeAndre Jordan being sent to the free throw line at the end of the first half with a hack-a-Jordan system, something you can be sure will be an off-season topic for the rules committee. We’ll see more of that this series, but it didn’t work well for the Spurs in this game. Doc Rivers said the key reason is it let the Clippers set their defense, and their defense was good.

Clippers made a point to double Kawhi Leonard, both in the post and at times out by the arc. He said after the game he expected it, but he didn’t handle it smoothly.

The Clippers answered a lot of questions with this performance. The big question remaining, can they replicate it in Game 2? The Spurs will play better — history has taught us that much — but if the Clippers play like this they will be in a good spot this series.

Blake Griffin just destroys Spurs’ Aron Baynes (VIDEO)

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game One
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RIP Aron Baynes.

Blake Griffin has put a lot of guys in his trophy case over the years, having spectacularly dunked on a host of big men. But this season there has been less of it, more of Griffin getting his shots in the flow of the offense and hitting midrange jumpers.

But he can still dunk.

And that was a nice dish from Chris Paul.

Griffin and the Clippers had a strong offensive opening game against the Spurs Sunday night. and seemed to get whatever they wanted. That led to a return to Lob City for a night.

DeAndre Jordan blocks Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili in first half (VIDEOS)

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers - Game One
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DeAndre Jordan was a difference maker for the Clippers in Game 1 against the Spurs Sunday night. (And how does this marquee matchup get buried on Sunday night? Come on NBA, you can do better.)

His play protecting the paint was disruptive to the Spurs, who were altering and missing shots (who also were missing their threes) — and there were some monster blocks. Above he got Duncan early.

Later, he got Manu Ginobili good. (To be fair, the Spurs got the ball out of bounds and scored on the ensuing play.)

Kyrie Irving drops 30 on Celtics in his playoff debut (VIDEO)

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers- Game One
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Kyrie Irving basked in the bright lights of the playoffs.

In his first ever playoff game, he put up 20 in the first half, as he attacked the paint and was knocking down his threes (5-of-9 from deep for the game). He even hit a ridiculous buzzer-beater to end the first half.

The Cavaliers pulled away from the Celtics for a comfortable Game 1 win, 113-100. If Irving keeps playing like this, it will be a short series.

Pelicans’ Tyreke Evans leaves Game 1 with knee injury, MRI Sunday

New Orleans Pelicans v Golden State Warriors - Game One
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The Pelicans were gamers on Saturday in their first ever playoff series. They were getting blown out, down 25 in the third but fought back to make it interesting in the end, falling to Golden State 106-99.

They did all that without Tyreke Evans — and he may be out for a while.

With just more than five minutes left in the second quarter, Evans collided with Andre Iguodala and the Pelicans’ guard injured his knee. He did not return to the game with what was officially called a bruised left knee.

However, to hear Evans talk after the game it sounds like more than that. From John Reid at the Times-Picayune.

“We were coming down and banged knees real hard,” Evans said. ”I felt like a little pop or snap. I don’t know what it is, but I will get an MRI (Saturday night) and I’ll see.”

That’s not good. Evans is set to have an MRI on Sunday.

Evans averaged 16.6 points and 6.6 assists this year for the Pelicans, becoming the primary ball handler with Jrue Holiday out injured. If Evans has to miss time, the Pelicans have Holiday back to lean on again, plus we likely would see more Norris Cole.

Not that this would change the ultimate outcome of the series, but the Pelicans are less dangerous without him — this season the Pelican’s offense drops 6.8 points per 100 possessions when Evans is on the bench.