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Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Bynum blocks 10 shots as Lakers open series with rout
LOS ANGELES — A day before Andrew Bynum produced one of the most eye-popping defensive performances in NBA playoff history, he spoke up to his Lakers teammates about the importance of getting off to a good start in their championship quest.
With an NBA record-tying 10 blocked shots, the 213-cm All-Star center put the Lakers on the good foot — and the Denver Nuggets on their heels.
Kobe Bryant scored 31 points, Bynum posted the Lakers' first playoff triple-double in 21 years, and Los Angeles thoroughly controlled the tempo in a playoff-opening 103-88 victory Sunday.
Despite a few well-chronicled fluctuations in his motivation and discipline this year, the seventh-year pro had perfect focus in Game 1, capping his utter dominance in the paint with his record-tying block of Timofey Mozgov with 3:02 to play. Bynum also had 10 points and 13 rebounds before checking out to an ovation.
"It's the only way really possible for me to get a triple-double — through blocked shots," Bynum said of his first career triple-double. "If I play good D, we'll win games. I think I'm just going to be as aggressive as I can defensively to contest their shots. . . . You've got to win Game 1. Statistics are against the teams that lose Game 1, especially on the home court."
Just how dominant were Bynum and his tall teammates against the NBA's highest-scoring team? Bynum blocked 11 percent of the Nuggets' 90 shots, and with 15 total blocks, the Lakers swatted one of every six Denver shots, separating the Nuggets from any hope of a late rally.
While Bynum had the Lakers' first playoff triple-double since Magic Johnson's in the 1991 NBA Finals, fellow big man Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the playoff-tested Lakers, who never trailed while forcing Denver to play Los Angeles' preferred half-court style.
Bynum blocked eight shots in the first three quarters before tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's franchise-record nine blocks in the fourth. He eventually equaled the NBA record set by Utah's Mark Eaton on April 26, 1985, and matched by Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon on April 29, 1990.
Hawks 83, Celtics 74
In Atlanta, Josh Smith scored 22 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, leading the Hawks over Boston in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the final minute turning ugly when Celtics star Rajon Rondo was ejected for bumping an official.
The Hawks, who led by as many as 19 in the first half, were clinging to a four-point lead when Rondo lost his cool with 41 seconds remaining — and may have cost himself a chance to play Game 2 Tuesday night.
Rondo scored 20 points and dished out 11 assists. Kevin Garnett bounced back from a miserable start to put up 20 points and 11 rebounds. Smith carried the Hawks on a night when Joe Johnson managed just 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting.
Spurs 106, Jazz 91
In San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 28 points and the Spurs beat Utah to win their playoff opener for the first time in four years.
Tim Duncan added 17 points and 11 rebounds, helping the Spurs dodge another early playoff letdown. Despite boasting the No. 1 seed again, San Antonio hadn't won a Game 1 in its last six postseason series — including the one that began a shocking first-round ouster last year.
Paul Millsap led Utah with 20 points. The Jazz hung close until the third, when the NBA's top 3-point shooting team began burying Utah with three in a two-minute burst to finish the quarter.
Clippers 99, Grizzlies 98
In Memphis, Chris Paul hit a pair of free throws with 23.7 seconds left, and the Clippers rallied from 27 down to beat the Grizzlies in the opening game of the Western Conference series.
Rudy Gay missed a 15-footer with 0.9 seconds left after the Grizzlies squandered a lead they held for the first 47 minutes.
The Clippers lost Caron Butler to a broken left hand. But Nick Young scored 19 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers in the midst of the Clippers' 26-1 run. Paul finished with 14 points. Blake Griffin had 17 and Butler 12 before leaving the game.