Welp. Last night was a bit of a dud in the NBA playoffs if you like close, competitive games. Instead we got two routs, with the Cavs returning from their week-long sabbatical looking sharp and took care of the Raps with ease, while the Rockets, in a stunning display of pace and shooting made the Spurs look old and slow in a game that was never close.
The 116-105 final score flatters the Raps—they closed the game on a run in garbage time but it wasn’t nearly that close. The Cavs jumped out early, led by 12 after the first quarter, 14 at halftime, and put it away by dominating the third quarter behind the brilliance of LeBron James, who had 35 and for whom the Raps had no answer. The Cavs did what the do: Take and make a lot of threes (14-34) and get to the line (24-29,) and tonight it was more than enough. Kyrie Irving (24 and ten assists) and Kevin Love (18 and nine boards) provided ample support for James, and the Cavs cruised.
The Raptors meanwhile appeared to lack the necessary fire power to keep up with the Cavs’ offensive juggernaut. DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry were alright (a combined 39,) but the Raps need even more than that from those two stars if they want to compete in this series.
Later, the Houston Rockets absolutely took the Spurs to the woodshed in a 126-99 shellacking. Again, the Rockets got off to a hot start, making threes and pushing the pace. This was a turnaround from their first round series against the Thunder when the trailed after every first quarter, and struggled from beyond the arc. Last night they won the first by 11, and they made nine of their first 16 three point attempts. The Spurs couldn’t keep up, and the second quarter was the end of things, when the Rockets outscored them 35-16 and took a 30 point lead into halftime on the road. The game was over.
The Spurs offense was the real problem in this one—the Rockets blitzed Kawhi Leonard with multiple defenders and dared the Spurs’ secondary scorers to beat them, and those guys were poor last night. Tony Parker, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Danny Green combined to shoot 8-26 from the field, and all three looked uncomfortable out there. The Spurs as a team shot under 40 percent for the game, and those misses allowed the Rockets to push the ball and get into early offense, which is their forte. It was a blowout, and the Spurs need to figure out some answers.
I’m not sure we’ve mentioned a couple of Wolves agent notes yet:
Darren Wolfson reported the rumor that Ricky Rubio may be dropping Dan Fegan and hiring new representation. Presumably this is at least partly in response to Fegan getting fired from ISE (formerly Relativity Sports) and sued. It may also be in part because either a) Despite a lot of bluster, Fegan failed to get Rubio traded, or b) Because Fegan was unwilling to work constructively with the Wolves and kept pushing for a departure, take your pick.
Meanwhile, Shabazz Muhammad has left Landmark Sports (which was Rob Pelinka’s agency before he took the Lakers’ GM gig,) for Rich Paul and Klutch Sports. Paul is LeBron James’ agent, among many others.
Today in History
1497: John Cabot’s expedition across the Atlantic departs Bristol.
1536: Anne Boleyn arrested.
1670: Charles II gives royal charter to Hudson Bay Company.
1776: France and Spain agree to provide weapons to American rebels.
1863: Stonewall Jackson is wounded in failed attack on Chancellorsville, VA.
1878: U.S. stops minting 20 cent coin. I mention this because I had no idea there ever was a 20 cent coin.
1885: Congo Free State established by Belgian King Leopold II.
1890: Oklahoma Territory created.
1918: General Motors acquires the Chevrolet Motor Company.
1926: Civil War erupts in Nicaragua after coup by ultra-conservatives.
1927: Supreme Court issues ruling in Buck v. Bell, upholding constitutionality of a state statute permitting compulsory sterilization of the “unfit.”
1933: Adolf Hitler bans trade unions in Germany.
1936: Haile Selassie flees Abyssinia.
1945: German army in Italy surrenders.
1945: Soviet army takes Berlin.
2011: Osama bin Laden is killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
Today’s Musical Birthday
Lou Gramm, front man of Foreigner, born in 1950.