There’s a first time for everything, and in yesterday afternoon’s matinee in San Antonio, we saw an injured star player attempt to coach a playoff team through 140 characters. Anxious that he can’t be out there helping his teammates, Kobe Bryant took to Twitter with the same aggressiveness he usually shows on wing isolations. Not everyone was feeling it. (More on this later) … As for the game, the Spurs controlled the series opener throughout, and finally ended any drama during one sequence late in the fourth quarter. First, Danny Green dropped a triple from the corner. After a missed shot on their following possession, Green ripped Pau Gasol after the rebound and the extra possession ended in a Matt Bonner three-pointer, expanding the lead to 16 with four minutes to go. With the Lakers struggling to score all day without Bean, San Antonio’s runs were the theme of the game. Manu Ginobili scored 18 points in 19 minutes, and eight of them came at the very end of the third quarter to put the Spurs up 13. Tim Duncan had 17 points and 10 boards, and even though Dwight Howard went for 20 and 15, Duncan was the main cog in another third quarter run that ended with Superman on the pine in foul trouble. Every time L.A. made a push, their shooting would desert them (41 percent for the game), and the Spurs would add some distance between them, eventually winning 91-79. … Tracy McGrady didn’t suit up. He was in street clothes behind the bench, next to Boris Diaw. Looks like he’s already in midseason form. … The game was cool, but what was happening on Twitter was even better. In just a few months, Kobe’s already become the go-to guy among NBA players on social media, and he ramped it up during yesterday’s game. He preached for the ball to get into the post, asked for more than “matador” defense and dished out defensive strategy against the Spurs’ vaunted drive-n-kick game.
We were waiting on Mike D’Antoni to don a headset and start conversing with Bryant during timeouts. For a while it was funny. Then the tone started to change once Phil Jackson got involved, with Zen and Mamba acting like high school sweethearts reconnecting after a few years away at college. Naturally, D’Antoni wasn’t feeling it, and when asked afterward about KB’s tweeting, he was rolling his eyes, saying of Bryant, “He’s a fan. He’s a fan right now.” The media blew it out of proportion, but still, the back-n-forth on both sides was a little awkward.
In his first playoff game as the team’s undisputed leader, Paul George went out and destroyed Atlanta during the Pacers’ 107-90 Game 1 win. Last year, George looked lost at times against Miami in the second round, finishing that series with a total of 60 points on sub-37 percent shooting. But yesterday, he didn’t let a bad shooting night discourage him, bulldozing his way to 18 free throws and finishing the game with a triple-double (23 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds).
Indiana dominated the paint in this one, taking 20 more free throws and winning the rebounding battle 48-32. Take one look at the Hawks’ shot chart and it isn’t hard to see why. They started the game, according to @TimDonahue8p9s, by taking 11 of their first 21 shots outside of 16 feet. Jeff Teague (21 points, seven assists) was in the lane most of the night, and Josh Smith (15 points, eight boards) didn’t float as often as he usually does… and still some of Atlanta’s shot charts could burn your eyes out. … Keep reading to hear what happened when James Harden returned to OKC as the enemy…