Saturday, April 26, 2008

Spurs on brink of NBA series win

Tony Parker, San Antonio guard, scored a career-high 41 points to guide his team to a 115-99 win over the Phoenix Suns, giving the Spurs a commanding 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven NBA Western Conference series.
San Antonio, defending NBA champions, can wrap up the series with victory in Game four in Phoenix on Sunday, and history shows that no NBA team has won a best-of-seven series after trailing 0-3.
"We possibly played our best game of the year," Gregg Popovich, Spurs coach, told reporters.
"Tony [Parker] looked aggressive and did a great job at both ends of the floor. He's just been phenomenal."
Tim Duncan added 23 points and 10 rebounds and Manu Ginobili scored 20 points for the Spurs, giving them their ninth post-season win in a row.
For the Suns, Shaquille O'Neal had 19 points and Steve Nash was held to seven as Phoenix fans booed the team at the end of the game.
"Whatever we tried to do they seemed like they had an answer and Tony Parker obviously was terrific," Mike D'Antoni, Suns coach, said.
Parker said a four-game sweep would be difficult.
"We're going to try our best," the Frenchman told reporters.
"But they will play like they have nothing to lose and we just have to give at least a good effort and play good basketball."
Also on Friday the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Hornets 97-87 largely thanks to Dirk Nowitzki's 36 points, 19 rebounds and six assists for their first win after back-to-back losses in the opening games of their series.
The Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Detroit Pistons 95-75 to open a 2-1 lead in their Eastern Conference series.

Celtics look to dodge road kill vs. Atlanta
Rajon Rondo was onto something three days ago when he said the playoffs don’t start until the first road game.
As Cleveland and Orlando discovered Thursday night, a 2-0 series lead carries the weight of paper when put to a road test.
The Celtics are confident they don’t need to make the same discovery tonight at Philips Arena against a Hawks team that desperately needs a Game 3 win to remain alive in this first-round series.
The Wizards and Raptors - albeit of higher-quality timber than Atlanta - were able to convert on their desperate energy.
“Everybody lost the first road game (Thursday),” Paul Pierce said after yesterday’s practice. “Well, we want to be the team that goes on the road and takes care of business.”
Though Doc Rivers was emphatic in his assertion that he hasn’t thought a nanosecond about either Cleveland or Washington - the Celts’ potential second-round opponents - that doesn’t mean he hasn’t watched other playoff games.
Thursday indeed made an impression on the C’s coach.
“It’s interesting that all of the teams that were up 2-0 lost their games,” Rivers said. “I liked something that (Cleveland’s) LeBron (James) said: ‘Our focus was off, just a little off.’
“So it didn’t take much. There can be a lot of pats on the back after winning two games, with guys taking their eyes off what they have to do.”
The Celtics, of course, simply have to follow the blueprint they used all season en route to becoming the best road team in the NBA.
“I’ve seen this team all year, and we’ve had great practices all year,” Pierce said. “But today was one of our best practices of the season. It was like we were getting ready to play Game 1.”
Pierce feeling OK
Though Pierce woke up with a stiff back Thursday morning as the result of Josh Smith’s hard foul in Game 2 on Wednesday night, the Celtics captain was able to run through a full practice yesterday without any trouble.
A long rubdown from team massage therapist Vladimir Shulman appeared to do the trick.
But nagging aches never have been a problem for Pierce, who, save for last season’s 24-game absence with a stress reaction in his left foot, has been one of the NBA’s more durable players.
“He’s fine,” Rivers said. “We have no injuries right now - at least none that I care to know about.”
He won’t be getting any updates from Pierce, then.
“I’m feeling pretty good, actually,” Pierce said. “You want to see where you are as far as injuries go, but I didn’t feel any complications from it.
“I was a little stiff after it happened. I had trouble moving. But it’s all part of the game.”
Pierce said he doesn’t harbor any ill will toward Smith because of the hit.
Take out the trash
This marks Tony Allen’s first playoff experience since his rookie year, when he came away from his battle against Indiana’s Reggie Miller in 2005 with a lasting lesson.
“Reggie Miller - that’s all I can remember, Reggie Miller,” he said. “I was talking trash to him, and he didn’t play good, and then in the next game, he scored 34 points. He told me, ‘It backfired on you, didn’t it?’
“He was a great trash-talker, but I learned my lesson back then: No trash talk.”

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