As the NBA playoffs got underway, game one for eight teams featured two blowouts and two nail-bitters. Each of the higher seeds won, some in a much easier fashion than others. The Denver verses Golden State game came down to a last second shot, while the Nets basically won before even entering the fourth quarter.
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored 36 points, and the New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 85-78 on Saturday in their playoff opener.
After knocking the Celtics from the top of the Atlantic Division, the Knicks took the first step to knocking them out of the playoffs by holding Boston to three baskets and eight points in the final period.
Anthony, the NBA's scoring leader, shot only 13 for 29 from the field but scored eight points in the fourth quarter, including consecutive baskets late in the period that finally gave the Knicks breathing room in a tight game.
Game 2 is Tuesday night before the Celtics host Game 3 on Friday in what will be their first home game since the Boston Marathon bombings.
Jeff Green scored 26 points and Paul Pierce added 21 for the Celtics, who badly missed injured point guard Rajon Rondo, committing 21 turnovers that led to 20 points. The Knicks got their hands on the ball at will in the fourth quarter, when Boston shot 3 of 11.
Kevin Garnett had eight points and nine rebounds but shot only 4 of 12 from the field. Jason Terry, another veteran on a young Celtics team, missed all five shots off the bench.
The Celtics led after three quarters and tied the game for the final time at 72 on Garnett's basket with 8:13 remaining. Anthony then made consecutive jumpers, and after the Celtics got back within three later in the period, he made a layup and a long jumper that gave New York an 83-76 advantage with 1:21 left.
Green made two free throws and the Celtics double-teamed Anthony, but he fired a pass to a wide-open Kenyon Martin under the basket to put it away with 40 seconds left.
J.R. Smith scored 15 points and Raymond Felton had 13 for the Knicks, while Martin finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.
DENVER — David Lee clutched at his right hip, hardly able to put any weight on his leg as he tried to scramble back down the court to play defense.
The painful grimace on his face told the story — this wasn't good.
Just when the Golden State Warriors got one big man back in Andrew Bogut, they lose their best post player. Lee went down with a strained right hip flexor early in the fourth quarter of Saturday's 97-95 loss to the Denver Nuggets in Game 1 of their playoff series. He will soon undergo an MRI to find out the severity.
Call it a big loss before a stinging defeat.
Andre Miller hit a driving layup with 1.2 seconds remaining as the Nuggets held on for their 24th straight win at the Pepsi Center.
Golden State did everything it intended, too. The Warriors kept up with the fast-paced Nuggets — even in the higher elevation — and silenced a capacity crowd that cheered the Nuggets to an NBA-best 38-3 home record in the regular season.
Until the end, that is, when Miller's shot sent the fans into euphoria. Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver.
"Tough loss," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said. "But I thought we did some things very well.
"What I told my team is that I don't think anybody came in thinking sweep of the Denver Nuggets. It's not over. Take the blow, be ready to make the adjustments and respond."
Whether Lee will be in the lineup remains uncertain. He was trying to get around JaVale McGee for a layup when he was fouled and fell awkwardly to the floor.
NEW YORK — The Chicago Bulls put together a couple of rallies while taking three of four from the Brooklyn Nets during the regular season.
There was no chance for any comeback on Saturday. Not with the defense lacking and Joakim Noah limping.
The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference the past two seasons, the Bulls failed to match the Nets' energy and trailed by as many as 28 points in a 106-89 loss in Game 1 of their playoff series.
Noah stopped short of giving Brooklyn all the credit.
"I feel like it's more us. We played so poorly. We didn't play well offensively. We didn't execute," Noah said. "Playoffs is all about executing. We didn't execute the defensive game plan and we didn't execute the offensive game plan."
Battling plantar fasciitis in his right foot, Noah managed just four points and five rebounds. The All-Star was a game-time decision, but opted to give it a try and played 14 minutes.
Carlos Boozer had 25 points and eight rebounds for the Bulls, and Nate Robinson scored 17.
"It was the end of the first (quarter) and they hit us with a haymaker, got us back on our heels," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "So end of the first, second quarter, poor defense, poor intensity, poor energy on offense. You can't win like that."
Chicago is still without Derrick Rose, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in last year's playoff opener. Thibodeau hasn't ruled out the former MVP returning in this series, noting the end would be two weeks from Saturday if it went the distance.
It's been a trying season while dealing with a slew of injuries for key players, and Noah expects the Bulls to come out fighting in Game 2 on Monday night at Barclays Center.
LOS ANGELES — Chris Paul led seven players in double figures with 23 points, Eric Bledsoe had 15 and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Memphis Grizzlies 112-91 on Saturday while getting just one dunk in their playoff opener.
Chauncey Billups scored 14 points, and Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford had 13 apiece on a night when Blake Griffin was held to 10 points and five rebounds before fouling out with 3:32 left as Lob City was grounded.
Reserve Jerryd Bayless led the Grizzlies with 19 points, Marc Gasol had 16 and Zach Randolph had 13 points and four rebounds while playing with five fouls in the rematch of last year's first-round series, won by the Clippers in seven games. Bayless was one of four Grizzlies with four fouls.
Griffin missed a dunk in the first quarter, when Tony Allen and Ed Davis had Memphis' only two. DeAndre Jordan's driving one-handed slam midway through the fourth was the Clippers' first, and the big man's first basket of the game.
Game 2 is Monday night at Staples Center.
The Grizzlies closed within a point early in the fourth on a 3-pointer by former Clipper Keyon Dooling. Los Angeles answered with a 15-3 run to go up 92-79, equaling the 13-point lead it had in the first half. Eric Bledsoe, who had seven points, opened and closed the spurt with layups as the reserves played an important role in the key stretch.
The high-flying Clippers kept their feet on the ground for most of a game dominated by the referees. Memphis was called for 29 fouls and the Clippers 28.
Memphis owned a 48-46 edge in scoring in the paint, while the Clippers dominated 25-5 in second-chance points and were better on the boards, 47-23.
The Grizzlies never led, and it didn't help that Randolph picked up two fouls and Mike Conley Jr. had three in the first half. Besides Griffin, Jordan had four fouls, while Matt Barnes, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf had three apiece for the Clippers.
Paul scored his team's first seven points in the third, extending their lead to 64-53.
The Clippers led 57-51 at halftime after Barnes tipped in Paul's miss just before the buzzer. They led by 13 points early in the second before the Grizzlies cut it to two points twice in the final 1:24.