Blazers Go Up 2-0 on Rockets, Real Madrid Up 1-0 on Bayern in Champions League

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

An exciting night in NBA playoff action that I mostly missed. Life sometimes intervenes.

Among the eight first round playoff series, only the Miami Heat have won the first two games at home, after they hung on against the Charlotte Bobcats last night 101-97. Charlotte tried to come back from a 10 point half time deficit, but ultimately fell short as LeBron James poured in 32 points to go along with 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 4 steals.

The road teams won the two Western Conference games last night. The Mavericks evened their series with the Spurs in surprisingly comfortable fashion, 113-92. The key was turnovers, as the Mavs forced 22 Spurs TOs while committing only seven themselves, more then enough to overcome the Spurs 50% shooting.

The big story from last night though is LaMarcus Aldridge. He backed up his 46 in game one with 43 last night in another Portland win in Houston. Key Dae (I think, it wasn't me) had the tweet of the night:

Aldridge is just raining jumpers down on the Rockets like a biblical flood.  Meanwhile, James Harden is really struggling, and Houston looks like they have no idea what to do on the defensive end of the floor.  It isn't pretty.

Game Threes get started tonight:

Pacers at Hawks
6:00 pm Central
NBA TV

The series is tied at one after the Pacers rebounded in game two. I expect them to take control of the series at some point, but it would help if Roy Hibbert could show up. Rumors abound that Frank Vogel is coaching for his job. Not clear what that means, but if the organization is really thinking that way, even beating Atlanta might not be enough.

Thunder at Grizzlies
7:00 pm Central
TNT

Another series that is tied at one, the scene shifts to Memphis, site of many an exciting playoff game over the past few years. The Grizzlies found their mojo in game two, stifling the Thunder and finding their paint game. They will look to grind out another win tonight in front of fans who appreciate their tenacity. Ultimately the Thunder are probably too good for the Grizz, but I wrote prior to the series that this was not the match up they wanted, and it's still true. They likely get through this, but there will be bruises.

Clippers at Warriors
9:30 pm Central
TNT

Also even at one, the series shifts north for the next two games in front of one of the loudest, most passionate fan bases in the league. We saw in the first two games that Blake Griffin is a huge difference maker in this series. When he can stay on the court, he just overwhelms David Lee, who simply cannot stay with him physically. When he can't, due to foul trouble, things get much tougher for the Clippers. The Warriors always have a shooters chance, and games in Oakland are always fun.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid scored a goal against the run of play at home against Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal tie.  That goal held up, and Real heads to Munich up 1-0.  Bayern's failure to get an away goal puts them in some jeopardy, but as with the 0-0 Atletico v. Chelsea tie, this semi is still anyone's to win.

I failed to mention the death of one of my favorites last week: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Colombian Nobel Prize laureate who passed at the age of 87. A genius of magic realism and a fantastic observer of his continent, Garcia Marquez was the author of many novels and short stories, the best known being One Hundred Years of Solitude, his fable about the political vicissitudes of his native Colombia and the small towns that weather the storms.

"Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."

Today in history

1184 BC: Traditional date given when the Greeks used a wooden horse to enter Troy
1800: Library of Congress founded
1898: Spain declares war on U.S. after refusing to leave Cuba
1953: Winston Churchill knighted

Today's musical birthday is Barbara Streisand, born in 1942.


Happy Thursday.

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