The NBA 2014 Playoffs: Day 5 - Blazers, Heat Grab 2-0 Leads

Dwight Howard dominated the 1st quarter but LaMarcus Aldridge took over the game
(Image from: AP/David Phillip)

#LMA #RipCity #BeastMode
Dwight Howard vowed to demand the ball more and be more aggressive in Game 2. He was true to his word after a hot start of 19 points in the first quarter. Unfortunately, LaMarcus Aldridge was a lot hotter as he took over the whole game, again. LMA posted 43 points and 8 boards to lead the Blazers over the Rockets to take a 2-0 lead going back to Portland for Games 3 and 4. LMA was hitting most of his shots from mid-range (his specialty) even with a defender all over him. Meanwhile, despite of Dwight's awesome start, he cooled off and scored 13 points in the final 3 periods. Howard also missed a ton of easy shots around the rim. For the 2nd straight game, James Harden shot awful from the field. He finished 6-19 for 18 points and 5 turnovers. The Rockets got close to nothing from their bench (13 points) while the Blazers got 28 points between Mo Williams and Dorell Wright. By the way, Portland had the worst bench production during the regular season. This series is far from over but Houston needs to find an answer for LMA fast or we might be looking at a sweep. Harden also needs to hit some shots sooner rather than later.

#TexasRivalry #blowout #LetsGoMavs
The Dallas Mavericks have lost 10 straight to the Spurs before Game 2. They are now 10-1 in their last 11 vs the Spurs but more importantly, the series is tied going back to Dallas for 2 games. The Mavs have played great for 2 games and quite frankly, almost took both games in San Antonio. Dallas led most of the time in Game 1 while  in Game 2, they were ahead from the start of the 2nd quarter onwards. The Spurs played opposite of what their strengths are: assists and low turnovers. The Mavs had more assists (19 to17) and fewer turnovers (8 to 24) than the Spurs and the result was a 21-point win. Dallas had balanced scoring with 5 players scoring in double digits while the Spurs were led by Manu's 27 but not a lot more from the rest. Tim Duncan and Parker combined for 23 points while Kawhi Leonard was held to 6 points. Shawn Marion and Devin Harris bounced back from so-so Game 1s to provide additional scoring for the Mavs.

#InjuriesSuck #KaBosh #LBJ 
Miami escaped with a win in Game 2 to go up 2-0 in their series vs Charlotte. It totally sucks that Al Jefferson is thoroughly limited with an injured foot. He has plantar fasciitis which hurts a lot and affects his lift and mobility. Jefferson took painkillers to be able to play but his movements on the court were labored. Still, he finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Just imagine if he was playing healthy, the Bobcats might be tied or leading the series. Anyway, LeBron James and Chris Bosh made sure that Miami wasn't leaving Florida with a tied series. They combined for 52 points that showcased LBJ attacking the paint and CB making 4 of 5 threes. The young Bobcats received an amazing game from Michael Kidd-Gilchrist who scored 22 points and grabbed 10 boards while being the primary defender of LBJ. Kemba Walker also made clutch shots near the end to keep the Bobcats close but a turnover by CDR at the final moments decided their ultimate fate. Nonetheless, the Bobcats should be encouraged that they managed to hang around with Miami even with an injured Al Jefferson. Maybe things will be different in Charlotte.

#MIP #Dragon #Suns
The Most Improved Player award is often the hardest and tightest race to decide. The MIP winner is Goran "The Dragon" Dragic who had a career-year scoring and shooting the ball. More importantly, Dragic headed the Phoenix Suns to a competitive season that fell just a tad short of making the playoffs when most people (me included) predicted the Suns to be near the bottom of the standings. He navigated the Suns to a winning record even when Eric Bledsoe missed 40 games. Dragic also aided Gerald Green, Markieff Morris and the rest of the Suns to achieve career years. He should have been named an All-Star but this award should serve as a consolation prize. Other guys who received votes include: Lance Stephenson and Anthony Davis.

#Player of the Night
LaMarcus Aldridge - 43 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks, 18-28 FGs

#Highlights of the Night
Just one of LMA's multiple jumpers
Henderson with the wicked block
Flagrant or Not

#Tweets of the Night
Worth repeating what was said in farewell Power Rankings: You kept hearing Rockets "wanted" Blazers. But Blazers wanted Rockets just as much

This 21-point home embarrassment will turn out to be the best thing that could've happened to the San Antonio Spurs.

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