TORONTO — For the Orlando Magic, the first game of the playoffs felt a lot like the final few weeks of the regular season: high stakes, small margins, and a big win at the end of the day.
scored 25 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, and the Magic beat the Toronto Raptors 104-101 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series on Saturday.
got a final shot for Toronto, but missed the rim with his 3-pointer from the top.
Orlando went 22-9 over the final 31 games of the season to clinch its first playoff berth since 2012.
“I think it helps,” Magic coach Steve Clifford said of his team’s tough regular-season finish. “We’ve been playing games that we had to win and were meaningful games for a while.”
, who scored 11 points, said Orlando’s stretch drive help the team’s mental preparation for the grind of the postseason.
“Throughout this last month, we were able to fight through a lot of different adversity and it has kind of prepared us for the playoffs,” Vucevic said.
And, when crunch time arrived in Game 1, Orlando was entirely unfazed.
“We made a bunch of big plays in the last three or four minutes,” Clifford said.
had 10 points and 10 rebounds, scored 16 points and had 11 as the No. 7-seeded Magic became the latest team to beat Toronto in the opening game of a playoff series. The Raptors are 2-14 in playoff openers.
“We know who we are and this is one game,” Toronto’s said. “We’ve got to make sure we know who we are and execute what we can do. When we do what we are supposed to do, we are really, really good.”
Leonard scored 25 points, had 24 and had 14 for the second-seeded Raptors, who reclaimed the lead after trailing by 16 points in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold on down the stretch.
Toronto got 13 points apiece from and , but Lowry finished scoreless, missing all seven of his attempts. Lowry did have eight assists and seven rebounds.
“He had some really good looks that he’s normally going to knock down,” coach Nick Nurse said. “I’m sure he’ll bounce back and play a little better in the next game.”
Leonard hit a tying 3 with 1:35 left, then put Toronto up 101-99 with a jumper at 1:02. Augustin made a layup to tie it again with 44 seconds left, then connected from long range for the fourth time to win the game.
Gasol said he and Leonard got their defensive assignments mixed up on Augustin’s decisive shot, leaving the guard wide open.
“It was a mistake made on that play,” Gasol said. “We miscommunicated and he made a good shot.”
Augustin’s 3 was the seventh lead change of the final quarter and the 13th of the game.
“When I saw the opening, I shot the ball with confidence and it went in,” he said.
Augustin made 9 of 13 attempts, going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Leonard made all four of his attempts in the first and added a pair of free throws. He scored 11 points in the opening quarter as Toronto led 30-25.
Leading 42-41 with 3:46 remaining in the second, Orlando got 10 points from Augustin in a 15-0 run that put the Magic up 57-41 with 55 seconds left. Siakam stopped Toronto’s drought with a jump shot, and Gasol and Green added 3-pointers but the Raptors trailed 57-49 at halftime.
Leonard scored five points as Toronto used a 12-2 spurt at the start of the third, reclaiming the lead on Gasol’s 3 at 8:19. Siakam scored eight points in the third, while Leonard and Green each had seven, as the Raptors took a narrow 76-75 lead to the fourth.
, the Detroit Pistons are no match for the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Detroit probably doesn’t stand much of a chance against Milwaukee even if Griffin plays, but without the forward who averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.4 assists per game season — and was the fulcrum of their offense — the Pistons were utterly overwhelmed in Game 1, 121-86. We may be seeing that movie again this series because Griffin’s knee pain could keep him out the entire first round, .
Detroit Pistons star Blake Griffin will likely miss the entire first-round series against the Milwaukee Bucks because of a left knee injury, sources told Yahoo Sports…
Griffin will be listed as day to day for the remainder of the series, with a league source calling it a “slim chance” he plays this weekend. There’s no structural damage in the left knee, and it’s unclear whether he’ll need some type of minor procedure this offseason. Griffin and team doctors will decide the best course of action when the season concludes.
Griffin was healthy much of the season, playing in 75 games and performing at an All-NBA level. He was the reason the Pistons made the playoffs in the East.
Griffin first sat out with knee issues on March 30 and was in street clothes for three games before returning against Oklahoma City and dropping 45 in a Pistons’ loss April 5. Two nights later, after his knee swelled up, Griffin didn’t look right in a 5-of-18 outing against Charlotte. He barely played against Memphis after that, then sat out the season finale against the Knicks — two games the Pistons had to win, and did, to make the playoffs.
If Griffin misses Game 2, which now appears likely, he will end up with 10 days off between when he last played and Game 3, the first in the playoff series back in Detroit. If Griffin can’t go in that one, it shows just how serious this is, and how much pain he is in.
Without a healthy Griffin, this is going to be a very short playoff series.
had 29 points and 10 assists to help the Houston Rockets rout the Utah Jazz 122-90 on Sunday night in Game 1 of a best-of-seven first-round playoff series. The Rockets had a double-digit lead for most of the game, but the Jazz got within five points midway through the third quarter before Houston used a big run to pull away and sail to the victory.
It’s the second consecutive year these teams have met in the postseason after the Rockets eliminated Utah in five games in the second round last season.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.
Houston was up by 15 in the fourth quarter before Harden, who had eight rebounds, scored six points in a 9-2 run that stretched the lead to 108-86 with four minutes left and both teams cleared their benches about a minute after that.
Houston’s starting lineup helped carry the scoring load on Sunday night, with each starter scoring at least 10 points. had 17, scored 16, added 14 and had 11.
had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Jazz after not scoring more than 15 points in a game in the playoff series against the Rockets last season. had 19 points, but did not have an assist as the Jazz went long stretches without scoring.
started after missing four of the last five games of the regular season with a quadriceps injury. Rubio, who finished with 15 points, didn’t play against Houston in the playoffs last season after injuring his hamstring in a first-round series win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Houston had a 12-point lead entering the fourth quarter and an 8-0 spurt, with two 3-pointers from , extended it to 95-75 with nine minutes remaining.
The Rockets led by 17 when Harden re-entered the game about a minute later. Soon after he returned he found House behind the 3-point line in the corner and drove to the basket and finished with a one-handed slam.
The Rockets were up by 15 at halftime, but Utah opened the second half with a 10-3 run, with six points from Gobert, to cut it to 62-54 with nine minutes left in the third.
The Jazz got within five with a shot from Mitchell later in the third, before the Rockets scored next 10 points, with a 3 from Gordon and a three-point play from Harden, to make it 76-61 with about four minutes left in the quarter.
Mitchell ended a Utah scoring drought of about 4 1/2 minutes after that with a 3-pointer, but Harden hit a 3 seconds later to leave the Rockets up 79-64.
Utah cut into the lead a bit after that and trailed 83-71 after three.
Jazz: had 13 points. … Utah went 7 for 27 on 3s. … The Jazz had 18 turnovers. … scored nine points off the bench.
Rockets: Coach Mike D’Antoni was back on the sideline after missing Houston’s last three regular-season games with an intestinal virus. … Hall of Famer and former Rocket Hakeem Olajuwon watched the game from a courtside seat. … Houston made 15 3-pointers, led by four from Harden.
After Game 2 on Wednesday the series moves to Utah for Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on April 22.
More AP NBA: and
had 24 points and 17 rebounds in just 24 minutes, and the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks showed they were serious about making a playoff run with a 121-86 rout of the Detroit Pistons in Game 1 on Sunday night. The MVP candidate ran and dunked all over the Pistons, who only really caught him when center shoved him to the ground with both hands late in the third quarter after Antetokounmpo grabbed an offensive rebound with Detroit trailing by 41 points.
Drummond was given a flagrant 2 foul and ejected. He threw a kiss to the Fiserv Forum crowd as he was escorted off the court.
Antetokounmpo struggled at the foul line, making only 5 of 12 attempts, but was 9 for 17 from the field and 1 of 5 from 3-point range.
Seven Bucks players scored in double figures. had 15 points, and and each added 14. scored 16 points off the bench.
paced the Pistons with 21 points off the bench and Drummond had 12 points and 12 rebounds. also had 12 points. Detroit played without forward , who sat out with a left knee injury.
Detroit shot 38% from the field, converting 35 of 92 attempts.
The Bucks rolled to a 27-point lead in the first half, taking a 70-43 margin at halftime. Antetokounmpo had 14 points and 10 rebounds while Lopez added 14 points and Hill contributed 13.
Detroit shot 34% in the half (18 of 53) and made just 3 of 14 3-point attempts.
Pistons coach Dwane Casey said his team made a big step forward in qualifying for the playoffs but vowed to fight against the heavily favored Bucks.
“We’re not in the class of where Milwaukee is with their program right now,” Casey said. “They were not two or three years ago.
“I remember coming here a couple years ago (with Toronto) and playing against them. They were getting started, building what they’ve got now. Their patience has paid off. It’s a great experience for us to come in and play against a great team like Milwaukee.”
Detroit: Casey said Griffin was “day-to-day but too sore to go” in Game 1. The Pistons forward averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists in 75 games in his first full season with the Pistons. … Griffin was called for a technical for protesting Drummond’s ejection . Former Bucks forward faced his former team and started in Griffin’s place. He avoided a flagrant foul when he brought Antetokounmpo to the floor in the second quarter. Maker came to Detroit in the three-team trade in February that brought to the Bucks from New Orleans. He had four points and four rebounds in 22 minutes and was booed heavily by the home crowd. “You don’t have to say giddy-up to Thon Maker,” Casey said. “He wakes up in the morning ready to go.” . Former Bucks assistants Sean Sweeney and Tim Grgurich are on the Pistons’ staff. . Detroit entered with a 14-3 playoff record against Milwaukee, winning all four series.
Milwaukee: Mirotic was available and played 15 minutes while scoring four points. “He’s just getting back in conditioning and health and everything like that,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. Mirotic had missed the last 11 regular-season games after fracturing his left thumb on March 19 against the Los Angeles Lakers. . The Bucks’ 70 points were the second-most in a first half in franchise history. They scored 77 in March 1970. . Budenholzer said he was concerned about the rebounding battle and going against league-leading rebounder Drummond (15.6 per game). “It’s going to take our whole group to make sure we’re taking care of the defensive boards. It’s not the big guys’ job or the center; we have to do it collectively,” Budenholzer said. The Bucks had a 54-46 rebounding advantage.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in Milwaukee.
, Detroit, who is always slated to struggle against the team with the best record in the NBA, had a hard time matching up with and his teammates.
The game was a rout, and it no Bucks player played more than 28 minutes. A good example of the kind of dominance that Milwaukee had over Detroit on Sunday came halfway through the third quarter as Antetokounmpo got loose on a break.
The Greek Freak pulled a Michael Jordan and dunked in-game with a free throw line slam.
That’s legit even if his foot was just inside the free-throw line itself.
Detroit doesn’t have much of a chance against Milwaukee, and this series will be a showcase of Antetokounmpo ability and readiness to take on responsibilities of a deep playoff run.
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Watch D.J. Augustin’s game-winning three, Magic upset Raptors 104-101