NBA playoff scores, results and highlights from Monday's action
Chris Paul goes off
The Clippers' star wouldn't miss, leading his team to a blowout win over the Thunder on the road in Game 1. Elsewhere, Bradley Beal played like a 10-year veteran in leading the Wizards to a win over the Pacers.
What is often misunderstood about Chris Paul is the nature of his purity as a point guard. His pick-and-roll addiction, gaudy assist numbers and total contentment to score 16 points masks the reality that he can be every bit a shot-hunting scorer that Russell Westbrook is known to be.
Need proof? Try on CP3's masterful 32 points in L.A.'s Game 1 win on Monday in a shooting night for the ages. Paul put up those numbers in 28 minutes, dropping 17 of them in a first quarter marked by the Clippers' hyperefficiency. For the night, CP3 hit 12-14 shots and 8-9 from long-range. He added 10 assists and only two turnovers for good measure.
Any gruff CP3 received in the first round on account of missed crunch-time free throws or poorly-timed turnovers disappeared in a cloud of sheepish smoke Monday. This was one of the very best players in the league, a contemporary of LeBron James and Kevin Durant, absolutely ruling a playoff game. This was New Isiah Thomas in the flesh, and in a way the ideal of what Westbrook (29 points on 9-14 shooting himself) can hope to be.
Playoff series are long, and Durant will have his say before this one ends. But the opening statement by CP3 left an impression and the Thunder's coaching staff has some work to do by Wednesday.-Tom Ziller
Nobody beats the Wiz
As the Wizards opened up a lead as large as 16 points in the third quarter and withstood a late comeback attempt by the Pacers, one thing became apparent: the dominant performance from Washington in these playoffs is no fluke. The Wizards improved to 4-0 on the road in the playoffs by going into Indiana and handing the Pacers a defeat that left little room for doubt. The Wizards crushed the Pacers on the glass, finished with seven more assists and shot better from the floor and from three. Yes, this is the playoffs and we're still talking about the Washington Wizards.
The top-seeded Pacers were taken to the brink by a 38-win Hawks team in round one, and they're facing a much better opponent now. A Pacers defense that was the best in the league during the regular season had no answer for 20-year-old shooting guard Bradley Beal, who followed his strong first-round series against the Bulls by dropping 25 points, seven rebounds and seven assists on Indiana. Trevor Ariza continued his hot shooting as well, finishing with 22 points and making all six of his attempts from three-point range. When even Drew Gooden is getting in on the fun, the Pacers realized it wasn't their night.
All this, and John Wall still finished with more shot attempts than points. That the Wizards look this good with the face of the franchise struggling to shoot the ball well in the playoffs might be the most impressive thing of all.
And yes, we're still talking about the Washington Wizards. It's weird, we know. -Ricky O'Donnell
Back to the drawing board ... again
If the Pacers were a normal team, they would lick their wounds, shrug their shoulders and write off their Game 1 loss to the Wizards as a bad night at the Fieldhouse. They would say, with justification, that their opponent isn’t likely to make 63 percent of their three-point shots or get 17 offensive rebounds again. If they were a normal team, one that’s been through a postseason battle or two, they would watch film, tighten things up and make it their mission to head to Washington with a series split.
But the Pacers are far, far away from anything resembling normal these days. Roy Hibbert was held scoreless for the third time in his last four games and without a rebound for the second time in as many contests. He was so bad (again) that you have to wonder if coach Frank Vogel will finally say enough is enough and banish his forlorn All-Star to a spot on the bench between Andrew Bynum and Solomon Hill.
With a little more attention to detail, the Pacers can clean up a lot of the things that went poorly. Paul George, Lance Stephenson and David West will also shoot better than their collective 14-for-45. But while it's only one game, it feels like an endless repeat for a team that can’t seem to help itself. -Paul Flannery
Oklahoma City Swiss Cheese
There's no reason to talk about Oklahoma City's stagnant offense on this day. When the opposing team reaches Lawler's Law in the third quarter, you know exactly what the problem is. Oklahoma City's defense went through some bad stretches during the regular season, but never like this.
It'd be one thing if Chris Paul went off and everyone else struggled, but the problems ran deeper. Oklahoma City's strategy is to aggressively trap the ball on pick and rolls and relies on its speed and length to recover ... but what happens when the other team stops running pick and rolls. Or, more accurately, stops "picking" and instead slips (NBA lingo for faking the screen and darting to open space)?
The answer, apparently: Blake Griffin goes wild in the high post. The Clippers' star kept finding himself in 4 on 3 situations and kept making the right passes, whether to DeAndre Jordan on lob passes or to any number of three-point shooters. The Clippers also kept up the misdirection to confuse the other three Oklahoma City defenders further, creating massive openings like the one you see above.
Oklahoma City isn't going to abandon its base defense, but the Clippers clearly have the perfect gameplan and personnel to exploit it. What's Scott Brooks' next move? -Mike Prada
Can you feel the love tonight?
Lovers' quarrels are awful. You love each other, for crying out loud! But they're even worse when they're in front of people, which just makes everyone uncomfortable. That could be bad enough for just a small group of friends, but for over 18,000 people?
So to see Blake Griffin and Russell Westbrook put what was clearly an unfortunately emotional moment behind them and make a much more endearing one before the world on television was magical. How do you spread love better than through the wonder of radio frequency signals or satellite plastered before on eyes on big screens? I'm not sure it's possible.
You can keep your gruff-men-being-tough basketball. I'll take this new basketball that features halftime cuddling sessions. Spring is here and romance is in the air. -Ben Swanson
Brooklyn Nets at Miami HeatSeries tied 0-0 | 7 p.m. ET, TNTAmerican Airlines Arena, Miam, Fla.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. San Antonio SpursSeries tied 0-0 | 9:30 p.m. ET, TNTAT&T Center, San Antonio, Texas
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