The only thing seemingly happening more often than freak injuries through the playoffs first two days are blocked shots. We saw Roy Hibbert sending away all sorts of shots from the Orlando Midgets. Kevin Durant somehow had four of them. And Serge Ibaka was just… Serge Ibaka. But only one guy this weekend tied the NBA Playoff blocked shot record, and that was Andrew Bynum. By the four minute mark in the third quarter of the Lakers’ blowout win against Denver, 103-88, Bynum already had seven rejections and before the night was over, he not only had a triple-double (10 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks), but he had also broken the franchise playoff record and tied Mark Eaton and Hakeem Olajuwon for most blocks ever in a playoff game. Just for that, let him shoot a three. Denver was never close, and it spells doom for them if they’re gonna get beat up like a punching bag even though Kobe Bryant had one of the quietest 31-point games we’ve seen from him. A few things really hurt the Nuggets. One, when Kenneth Faried stands next to Pau Gasol, he looks like a guard. Crazy size advantage for the Lakers. Two, Andre Miller was twice the player Ty Lawson was yesterday, and while that might fly against most teams – it happened a lot during the regular season – Lawson is the single biggest difference-maker for Denver. This is looking more and more like one of those series where Lawson doesn’t do anything in the first few games, then turns the Lakers’ point guards into shredded wrapping paper in Game 3 before coming back to Earth again at the end of the series … Another reason why the Staples Center always feels closer to a bingo hall than an NBA arena during the playoffs: in OKC last night, every person in the crowd was rocking a blue t-shirt. But yesterday in L.A., maybe half the crowd wore the shirts they were handing out … During the regular season, the Spurs were a calculator-smashing 41-2 when they had the lead at the half. They’re now 1-0 in the playoffs after doing enough to down Utah by 15. Tony Parker (28 points, eight assists, four of Jamaal Tinsley‘s ligaments and both of Devin Harris‘ ankles) carved up Utah all afternoon. He had 12 in the second quarter and was in the paint at will – off pick-n-rolls, fast breaks. Remember when Parker and Harris was actually a memorable playoff matchup? … The old timers had it working as well. It’s unreal how good Tim Duncan (17 points, 11 rebounds) looks right now. He had one pump fake and dunk where we thought it was straight from the Spurs’ 2003 championship video. The arena had “Still D.R.E.” bumping while this was going on too. TD and Dre together = perfection. And Manu Ginobili had two consecutive unreal passes – one was an over-the-shoulder dime to Duncan and then the other was a wraparound pass to DeJuan Blair – in the third quarter to push the lead to 13 … Check out this tweet from @RedsArmy_John: “This is not a joke: When Dick Bavetta first broke in as an NBA official, the Spurs were still in the ABA.” So basically, Bavetta the ref is older than the NBA’s Spurs … Derrick Favors is easily one of the most underrated players in the league. At one point in the second quarter, he had two consecutive rejections that would’ve killed anyone’s confidence. First, he destroyed Duncan’s jam attempt. Then, Favors stopped a three-on-one break by sending Parker’s layup back to France. Of course, the next time down, Parker got him in the air and Duncan soared like he didn’t just turn 36 years old … Keep reading to read about what happened to Rajon Rondo …
Atlanta jumped out 1-0 on the Celtics after their 83-74 win, and Josh Smith (22 points, 18 rebounds) continued his season-long transformation into a heady, almost trustworthy player who is capable of making perimeter shots, but the real story of the game was Rajon Rondo chest bumping a ref. The Celtics point guard – the guy Kevin Garnett would later call “The head that forms Voltron” – had 20 points and 11 dimes, but with under a minute to go, a loose ball call had steam coming from Rondo’s ears and consequentially, he walked right into official Marc Davis. After being immediately ejected, Rondo later complained that he deserved the first tech for arguing, but not the second for bumping, saying it was an accident. Rondo told reporters Davis stopped suddenly, and he couldn’t stop his momentum, tripping and falling into the official. Honestly, there’s basically no way this dude doesn’t get suspended, which could suddenly have the Celtics looking at a big hole … Atlanta jumped out 20-6 and led by as many as 19 in the first half as the Celtics apparently hadn’t closed up their tab at Magic City fast enough. They did eventually wake up with a late run just before the break, punctuated by a crazy Rondo backdoor bounce pass to Avery Bradley, who couldn’t make open threes or open layups but hit a wild reverse finish … There was a point in the third quarter where the Hawks pushed the lead back up behind… Kirk Hinrich and Jason Collins? Yep. The two were rolling like Kareem & The Big O, and Collins even hit a couple of jumpers. No words could describe it … And Memphis was schooling the Clippers in the nuances of playoff basketball in the nightcap, disintegrating them until a 26-1 run by L.A. delivered what could’ve been the single. Greatest. Comeback. In NBA History. Unreal. After Rudy Gay‘s shot fell short in the closing second, the Clippers walked out with a 99-98 win. It was fitting Reggie Evans hit the shot to put them up in the fourth quarter after being down 27. The dude was a complete beast (13 boards in 20 minutes), and between Evans, Nick Young (19 points and two huge transition threes to make this W possible) and Eric Bledsoe, L.A. caught everyone by surprise in the final eight minutes, even us watching on TV. In all of our years as a magazine, the Clippers’ crunch time D was some of the best we’ve ever seen … Grit N’ Grind was in full effect in the first half. The Grizz manhandled the Clippers in every sense of the word, and the crowd was thirsty for blood. They were making shots, playing physical and forcing L.A.’s stars to hit the bench with early foul trouble. Meanwhile on the other end, Chris Paul was out there flopping and flailing while Blake Griffin looked like Forrest Gump after Jenny showed him her titties for the first time … In the third quarter, it got even worse. Mike Conley hit three straight triples to open the second half, pushing the lead back up to 21 (at that point, Memphis was 8-for-10 from deep), and a few minutes later he hit another one after shaking Caron Butler into a 360 dance … And Butler also fractured his left hand last night. Are we going to get a major injury every night? … We’re out like Rondo’s explanation.
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