TrueHoop: Kevin Johnson
The Spurs are the fourth team in NBA history to win at least 20 straight games in one season. Two of the three teams to reach that threshold in the past won the NBA title that season. During the streak, the Spurs are winning by nearly 15 points per game.
San Antonio is the third team to win at least 10 games to start the playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers started the postseason with 11 wins twice in franchise history. They made the NBA Finals both times, winning the title in 2001 and losing in 1989.
Tony Parker scored a game-high 34 points while shooting 16-for-21 from the floor. He is the third guard in the last 25 years to attempt at least 20 shots and make at least 75 percent of those attempts. The others were Kevin Johnson for the Phoenix Suns in 1995 and Gerald Wilkins for the New York Knicks in 1989.
Parker was especially successful from mid- and long-range. He hit 11 of 15 shots from at least 10 feet from the basket. That ties his best shooting percentage from that range over the last three seasons.
On the defensive end, Tim Duncan blocked four shots to move past Hakeem Olajuwon into second place all-time in postseason blocks. Duncan has 473 playoff blocks in his career and trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by three for the NBA record.
The Thunder scored 67 points in the second half to close a 22-point deficit to six points midway through the fourth quarter. It was the first time that the Spurs allowed triple digits in this year’s playoffs. According to Elias, their nine straight games without allowing 100 points was the longest streak in a single postseason.
Low-scoring games have been common in the 2012 playoffs. This was just the third time this postseason that both teams scored at least 100 points.
In Game 1, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden each made fewer than half their shots. They bounced back in Game 2, but didn’t get much help from the rest of the team. Durant, Westbrook and Harden combined for 88 points and 17 assists while shooting 56 percent from the floor. The rest of the Thunder contributed just 23 points and two assists on 21 percent shooting.
Smith became the first Hawks player to have a 20-point, 15-rebound, 5-assist game in the playoffs since Moses Malone, who did it in a loss in 1989. No player had done so in a Hawks playoff win since 1966 (Bill Bridges).
Smith, like the rest of his teammates, saved his best for last as he scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta entered the fourth trailing by two with the daunting task of trying to come from behind against the NBA's best fourth-quarter team. (The Bulls had +187 point margin in fourth quarter during the regular season.)
But it was all Atlanta down the stretch as they finished the game on a 16-4 run over the final 4:30 of the game to pull out the victory.
Al Horford (20 points), who shot an efficient 9-for-11 from the field for his fifth career 20-point playoff game, had six points during the Hawks final run.
During that same span, the Bulls only took five field goal attempts thanks to three turnovers, two of which were committed by Derrick Rose.
A quick glance at the stat sheet would make it appear Rose had another stellar game as he notched 34 points to go along with 10 assists, his first 30-point, 10-assist game of this postseason.
However, he needed 32 shots for those 34 points, taking home the rather dubious honor of becoming just the third player in the past 20 postseasons to take 30 field goal attempts and record 10 assists in a non-overtime game.
The others to do so were LeBron James in the 2007 NBA Finals against the Spurs and Kevin Johnson in 1994 against the Rockets. Not coincidentally, both of those players lost as well.
Still the Bulls will likely chalk this loss up to a letdown on the defensive end in the fourth quarter. Atlanta shot 65 percent from the field in the final frame.
Including both the regular season and postseason, the Bulls had allowed opponents to shoot just 41 percent from the field in the fourth quarter, best in the NBA.
According to game footage, the Bulls held the Hawks to only 52 points on possessions in the half court through the first three quarters. However in the fourth, the Hawks scored 31 of their 33 points in the half court, making 12 of their 18 field goal attempts.
The key for Atlanta was getting the ball inside. Of the Hawks 33 fourth-quarter points, 22 came in the paint, with another six coming from the free throw line.
Posted by Kevin Arnovitz
Fresh off his victory in Sacramento's mayoral race, Kevin Johnson is doing the national media rounds. Last night, he sat down with Stephen Colbert. Johnson volunteers that he's evolved from "Pocket Magic" to "Little Barack." On a substantive note [I apologize], Johnson is a big charter school guy, which warms TrueHoop's heart.
- Chris Bosh offers a congratulatory video to Barack Obama. "I've been watching the election all day...I took a nap -- I wasn't feeling well today -- I took a nap. Woke up at, like, 5 o'clock. Then the polls started closing, so I started watching CNN. I just turned it off. And it's 12:30. I watched the speech. It was a very, very moving speech."
- Toronto was idle last night, but the Celtics played in Houston. Doc Rivers couldn't be distracted from game prep to watch election coverage, but he told the Boston Globe that the C's -- the whole league, really -- were consumed by the election: "'The guys are celebrating in there,' Rivers said of his players' reaction to Barack Obama's victory. 'I told them this isn't a black-and-white thing, don't look at it that way. It's good for America. I don't care who you voted for, America got involved.' Before the game, Rivers had observed, 'This is the first time I can remember in sports so many guys being so interested in the results. I've never seen anything like this, ever. Players, coaches, everybody talking about it - it doesn't mean they are pro-Obama, pro-McCain, or whatever. It's just that I'm amazed at the interest.'"
- Kevin Johnson unseats the two-term mayor of Sactown. How did he pull it off? The lead story on his campaign website offers a glimpse into his novel GOTV effort: "A Sacramento limousine company is teaming with the Kevin Johnson for Mayor campaign to get voters to the polls in style on Tuesday...BigThingsLimo.com and GM Michael Osorio are leaders in the 'Promote the Vote' effort in Sacramento, and will be holding an Election Night Results Viewing Party at Chris Webber's 'Center Court with C-Webb' restaurant in Natomas."
- Dan Shanoff speculates that, given the president-elect's intense love of hoops, "Obama will be 'Baller-in-Chief.'" Shanoff adds: "He will install a basketball court in the White House. He will resuscitate the visibility and cachet of the sport, inspiring a generation of kids to take up the game. If there is a phrase that might have defined his campaign -- and will certainly define his presidency -- may I suggest: 'Obamaball.'"
- To Shanoff's point, what did Obama on the biggest day of his life while waiting for the polls to close? The lede from the Associated Press' midday report: "Barack Obama unwound by playing basketball and eating a steak dinner with extended family Tuesday as he awaited Election Day results that he hoped would send him to the White House with support from red and blue America." Tom Ziller has more particulars.
- Check out what Steve Francis was rocking during introductions in Houston last night. "Francis, who's been out since last season with a knee injury, arrived at the arena wearing a red velvet sports jacket with 'Barack Obama' spelled on the back in sequins. If Obama wins the presidency, Francis said he would try to attend the inauguration. 'Today is a transitional day in my career and everybody else's career,' he said before the game. 'Hopefully, there will be a change.' Francis said he had the jacket made by a tailor in New York City, where he played for the Knicks in 2006-07. He would not divulge how much it cost, but said he got it last week and was wearing it for the first time. 'Hopefully, this will show my support,' he said."
- Valley of the Suns says that Matt Barnes has been an unlikely, but very serviceable, replacement for Shawn Marion: "Although Barnes is no Matrix, he fills many of the voids left by Marion's trade to Miami, while lessening a burden on Hill. The decision to play Barnes with the starters seems to be a sound one through three games, as he's a perfect player to surround Nash with because of his floor-spacing shooting ability (with more range than Hill) and his proficiency at running the court."
- Will Kevin Johnson be the next mayor of Sacramento? He's the favorite, but the race has turned ugly in recent days.
- Matt Moore is spending the season following the Grizz as his "pet team." He offers some stellar insights on the ursine evolution over at Hardwood Paroxysm. The early takeaway?: "I can't tell you how much better this team has been coached through four games than it was last year. Iavaroni's getting through to them. They're out in transition, abusing lanes to create confusion, and playing consistent defense. Even if they whif on a steal attempt, they're planning for it. This team is growing, and it's got pieces to compete. Good start for the year."
- Orlando's narrow victory over Chicago last night left Third Quarter Collapse unimpressed: "They beat the Chicago Bulls, 96-93, to pull their record to .500 last night, but they once again played poorly, owing their victory to Chicago's ineptitude more than anything else. Stan Van Gundy's team committed 7 turnovers in the final quarter, watching what had been a 17-point lead disappear against a team that, even with a brand-new coach, still doesn't play its best lineup enough."
- Can't bear to peek at your own portfolio these days? Check out Celticsblog's "Stock Up, Stock Down" feature. While you're at it, short Brian Scalabrine.
- Matt Watson at Detroit Bad Boys takes issue with the notion that the Pistons underchieved by winning only one ring: "I've never bought the argument that the Pistons needed to win multiple titles to justify their place in the league - by that measure, the only team worthy of holding its head high for the greater part of the last decade is the Spurs. The Pistons are what the are: consistently good, sometimes great, a champion once. They're like the NBA's version of Martin Scorsese - a body of work that makes every director drool with only one Academy Award to show for it."
- Reacting to the Iverson-Billups deal, Marcus Camby takes a few more digs at the Nuggets' organization.
- Why have the Lakers looked so strong defensively thus far? Kurt from Forum Blue & Gold sums it up in three words: Strong Side Zone: "Simply put, whatever side of the court the opponents have the ball on, the Lakers do two things: 1) They pressure the ball with that players' defender; 2) They try to float another defender (usually Gasol or Odom at the four) over to the side the ball is on (or strong side). The team essentially plays a sort of zone behind the man pressuring the ball (although it can look like the Lakers are playing a soft man-to-man, it is more a matchup zone)."