San Antonio Spurs' George Hill, left, Matt Bonner, center, and Richard Jefferson celebrate a late fourth-quarter three-point basket by Bonner during an NBA playoff basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies. (Photo: AP Photo/Darren Abate)
You would be hard pressed to find a better opening weekend of the NBA Playoffs than the eight games that took place on Saturday and Sunday.
Seven of the eight games were competitive (My condolences to Dwight Howard for the scrubs on his team) and the two top teams in the Western Conference, San Antonio and Los Angeles, suffered defeats at home.
Let’s squash this debate now before fans start hopping on the New Orleans and Memphis bandwagon — yesterday’s game has no impact on the final outcome of these two series.
The Spurs were without their best player, Manu Ginobili, and it showed at times late in the contest. If it weren’t for a pair of clutch three-pointers by Matt Bonner and missed free throws by the Grizzlies, Memphis would have won easily. Ginobili took part in a one-on-one scrimmage on Monday and is doubtful for Game 2 Wednesday. Regardless if their second-leading scorer in the regular season returns, head coach Gregg Popovich will make the necessary adjustments on the defensive end. It’s not every day a team shoots 55 percent against the Spurs - - especially in the playoffs.
As for the defending back-to-back champs, they had no answer for Hornets point guard Chris Paul, making Derek Fisher look very much like an aging 36-year-old. Fisher’s lack of defense wasn’t the biggest no-show for the Lakers yesterday as Pau Gasol scored only eight points and looked lost on the floor at times. Paul is arguably the best point guard in the NBA but he can’t carry the Hornets to three more victories. At the end of the day, Kobe is still Kobe.
Breathe easy, Laker and Spurs fans. You will both make it to the second round.