Three more 2013 NBA playoff underdogs slipped into the dreaded 0-2 hole with road losses on Wednesday, which should make fans of the higher-seeded San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder and Indiana Pacers feel pretty good about advancing to the second round. Now the Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks will limp home for Game 3 to perform under intense pressure to avoid embarrassment and elimination.
The stars in each series came out to play. James Harden led all scorers on the night with 36 points, but Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook each scored 29 points to pace the Thunder. Tony Parker notched 28 points for the Spurs and Paul George posted 27 for the Pacers. Here's a rundown of the playoff action from Wednesday night.
Spurs 102, Lakers 91 | San Antonio now leads series 2-0
Jordan Hill returned to the lineup for the Lakers after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, but he wasn't able to provide L.A. with a big enough boost to get them past the Spurs in Game 2. Hill played six minutes off the bench and scored two points, so most of the scoring duties still fell to the Lakers starters. Steve Nash (nine points, six assists) was the only starter to not to score in double figures for L.A., but strong contributions from Spurs reserves made it difficult for the Lakers to stay in the game.
The Lakers never led at any point in the second half, while the Spurs pushed their lead as high as 17 points over that span. Tony Parker potted 24 of his game-high 28 points in the final two periods, and he did so on 8-14 shooting as San Antonio executed well down the stretch. Manu Ginobili finished with 13 points on seven shots, and Spurs blog Pounding the Rock is feeling good about how Manu has started the postseason:
One of the biggest 'ifs' facing the Spurs as they entered this postseason was, 'If Manu can get healthy and play like Manu....' Well, two games into the playoffs it would appear that Ginobili is healthy and playing at his former All Star level. Post game, when asked if 19 minutes was about right for him, Manu responded, "No, I'm ready to play more. I'm ready to play my minutes. Around 25 to 30, what I usually play. I think I'm ready."
Game 3 is scheduled for Friday night at STAPLES Center.
Thunder 105, Rockets 102 | Oklahoma City now leads series 2-0
James Harden (36 points, 9-24 shooting, 11 rebounds, six assists) carried the load for the Rockets offense throughout the evening. He sliced and diced through the Thunder defense to create opportunities for guys like Carlos Delfino (11 points) and Chandler Parsons (17 points), but Durant and Westbrook made plays down the stretch to seal the game for the Thunder.
The Rockets shot just 10-35 from beyond the arc, but Harden helped Houston develop a 50-30 edge on points in the paint for the night. The lead changed hands 22 times in Game 2, but even a stellar effort from Harden wasn't enough for Houston. Jeremy Lin left the game with a chest injury, and Patrick Beverley filled in nicely with 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists.
Kendrick Perkins may have provided some *special* help to Oklahoma City's cause. OKC was up 98-97 with just over one minute remaining in the game, and as Kevin Durant kicked it to Thabo Sefolosha for wide open three-point shot on the right wing, Perkins got away with grabbing Chandler Parsons' arm to prevent a closeout on the shot. The three pushed OKC's lead to four, and they played from the front for the remainder of the game. Here are a few looks at the play:
Pacers 113, Hawks 98 | Indiana now leads series 2-0
When the Pacers play well on offense, they are hard to beat. Indiana shot 47.1 percent for the night and hit 10 of 25 three-pointers as Paul George and George Hill combined to score 49 points on 18-33 shooting. That was more than enough to sink the Hawks in Game 2. Roy Hibbert added 15 points and nine rebounds, and he helped to limit the Hawks to 40 points in the paint.
Gerald Green scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and led the bench to a 38-27 advantage over Hawks reserves, and with the strong play from so many players the Pacers rolled to a win. Atlanta never led in the second half, while Indiana pushed its lead as high as 24 points after halftime.
Pacers blog Indy Cornrows was impressed with the effort from the Indiana offense in Game 2, including the contributions from the bench:
Fresh off receiving his Most Improved Player Award, Paul George showed his wares early, scoring 16 first half points as part of a 27-point, eight rebound, three assist, and four steal night. While he didn't reach the triple-double and 18 free throw heights of Game 1, George shot a considerably better 11-21 from the field, looking every bit the best player in the series with his all around game, doing everything without a single turnover. George continued to give Kyle Korver fits on both ends, while being part of the receiving end of one of Indiana's many highlight dunks.
Gerald Green led a 38-point bench effort that helped overcome tonight's issues for West and Stephenson. Green had a trio of three pointers as part of 15 points, not only looking capable of leading the bench, but playing far better than he did in Game 1, where he did play fairly well, at least for how he had a majority of the season.
Game 3 is set for Saturday in Atlanta.