Billups Blows up in Playoff Opener for the Nuggets

Chauncey Billups Picture with Caremlo Anthony in Denver

Day 2 of the playoffs produced the Denver Nugget’s First playoff win in 8 straight playoff defeats in the past 2 seasons, Atlanta’s Surprisingly easy drubbing of the Heat, the LA Lakers predictable win over Utah and Philly beating the Magic in Orlando with 2 seconds on the clock.

The Stunner – Philadelphia 76ers (6) 100   Orlando Magic (3) 98

Philly were down by 14 when the fourth quarter began but Andre Iguodala led the Sixers to a 35-19 fourth and capped it off by scoring the winning jumper with 2.2 seconds left on the clock.

Philly hit 5 of 7 from 3-point range in the fourth in their first win over Orlando this season (They’ve lost 3 times during the regular season). Iguodala finished the game with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists on his way to vindicating himself after all the criticism he received after last year’s playoff performance vs the Pistons. He had Lou Williams coming off the bench to help him with 18 points.

The Magic couldn’t get their 3 point game going and couldn’t really get the bench involved. They shot only 5 for 18 from the three and got only 13 points from their bench. Howard played great with 31 points and 16 rebounds, but Hedo and Rashard Lewis combined for only 20 points, and that gave Philly enough breathing room to come back from their deficit and steal the home court advantage.

The Shockingly Easy win of The Night – Miami Heat (5) 64  Atlanta Hawks (4) 90

We talked about Josh Smith needing to deliver this post season, and he certainly delivered. 23 Points, 10 boards and 3 steals and one dunk after another. The Hawks led by 20 at half time and coasted the whole way through. It was Atlanta’s biggest playoff win since the Hawks moved to Atlanta. The Problem – Each time they won a game in playoff series by more than 20 points, they haven’t gone to the next round.

The Heat got a little from Wade who was busy fighting with the refs and little more from anyone else. Wade scored 19 in a weak performance for him and an abysmal performance from his teammates. If the Heat don’t want to get swept, they need at least one more player to step up alongside D-Wade. Atlanta can handle him if he’s alone.

The Most Predictable win of the Night – Utah Jazz (8) 100  LA Lakers (1) 113

The Lakers scored 62 points in the first half and then kinda put it on auto pilot for the second half. Phil Jackson maybe wasn’t too happy with it, but his players seemed to be enjoying themselves and the end result.

3 players scored more than twenty – Kobe Bryant with 24, Trevor Ariza with 21 and Pau Gasol with 20. Kobe passed Magic Johnson on the Lakers all time playoff scoring list and moved up to third, with Jerry West and Karim above him.

Despite the Jazz fighting back in the second half they didn’t get closer than 9 points. Boozer scored 27 with 9 rebounds while Deron Williams had 16 points with 17 dishes (playoff career high), but that was it. The Lakers just executed much better than them. The Lakers shot 55% from the field while the Jazz shot 39% from the field combined with only 3 for 13 from long range. You can’t win in on the road and in LA with these numbers.

THE Impressive Performance of the Night – New Orleans Hornets (7) 84   Denver Nuggets (2) 113

The Nuggets got their biggest playoff win since 1985 when they beat San Antonio 141-111 and are looking to make good use of their first home court advantage in a playoff series since 1988.

Chauncey Billups scored 36 points in his first playoff appearance with the Nuggets including 8 three pointers, one shy of the post season record. Billups hit two of those three pointers during a 21-0 run the Nuggets had in the second half which left the Hornets wandering what just blew by them.

Besides Chris Paul who had 21 points and 11 assists, the Hornets were bad. They lost the rebound battle (49-35), the percentage battle (50-37) and their bench got outscored 41-24. The Nuggets had ‘Melo on a weak night but J.R. Smith stepped up with 19 from the bench.

Now we have to wait and see if this was some kind of freak night in which everything goes well for Denver and bad for the Hornets or has Billups really turned Denver to a legitimate contender.

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