LOS ANGELES—The San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers both romped to easy home victories in a pair of NBA Western Conference playoff openers on Sunday.
Kawhi Leonard tallied 20 points as the Spurs routed the Memphis Grizzlies 106-74 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series.
The Spurs dominated the middle two quarters but were especially effective in the final eight minutes of the third against the Grizzlies, who were led by 39-year-old journeyman Vince Carter.
In the night game, Chris Paul finished with 28 points and 11 assists as the Clippers pounded the Portland Trail Blazers 115-95.
LaMarcus Aldridge collected 17 points, Tony Parker and Patty Mills scored 15 points each for the Spurs and Kevin Martin added 10 points, all in the fourth quarter.
“It all started with our defense. They only scored 74 points so that is pretty good,” said Parker.
In Los Angeles, Paul also had 11 assists and six rebounds for Los Angeles who, like the Spurs, blew the game open with a dominating third quarter.
“We just tried to make it tough on them, make it uncomfortable,” said Paul.
Blake Griffin added 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Clippers and DeAndre Jordan contributed 18 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s top trio of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love combined for 81 points on Sunday as the Cavaliers battled to a 106-101 victory over determined Detroit in their NBA playoff opener.
The Pistons, back in the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, did all they could to steal an away win, draining 15 three-pointers as they shot 52 percent from long range.
Deng turns up Heat
It wasn’t close in Miami, where the Heat bolted to a 41-22 first-quarter lead and never trailed en route to a 123-91 rout of the Charlotte Hornets.
British NBA veteran Luol Deng scored 31 points in his first playoff appearance for the Heat, connecting on 11 of 13 attempts from the field and five of seven from three-point range.
Hassan Whiteside added 21 points and 11 rebounds in his playoff debut making nine of 11 shots and blocking three shots.
Dwyane Wade scored 16 points and Goran Dragic had 10 assists in his Miami playoff debut. Amar’e Stoudemire and Joe Johnson were Miami’s other double-figure scorers with 11 points each.
Deng scored 14 points in the first quarter and Whiteside added 10. It was Whiteside’s hook shot with 4:42 left in the period that gave Miami their first double-digit lead.
Unlike the Heat’s regular-season finale at Boston on Wednesday, when they squandered a 24-point halftime lead and lost by double digits, Miami never let up on the accelerator.
They opened the second half with a 7-0 scoring run, and the Hornets can only hope to bounce back in game two on Wednesday. AFP
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