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Weekend NBA action brings playoff picture into greater focus

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In the third quarter, the turning point for the Pacers had to have been the monster block of a one-handed slam by Carmelo Anthony by Roy Hibbert, which in turn was converted by Lance Stephenson’s layup at the other end of the floor. The Knicks were never really the same after that. In fact, shortly afterward, the energized Pacers had two more coast-to-coast layups by Stephenson, a tip-in by David West and timely free-throws to secure the Pacers the lead again for good.

Turning the ball over 10 fewer times than they did the previous game was critical for Indiana, which as much as any other factor proved them to be tighter, faster, more aggressive and more opportunistic on the evening. When asked afterward how this Indiana playoff team was different from last year’s squad that lost in the early rounds to Miami, Roy Hibbert responded that the addition of David West was a key component – that he “changed the culture” of the team – in making them more focused, resolute and resilient throughout the year. This complemented Lance Stephenson’s inspired play, which prompted Pacers head coach Frank Vogel to say “It’s believable but it’s unbelievable. He’s got no playoff experience whatsoever but he has some of the best basketball instincts I’ve ever been around ... the kid’s got a lot of guts.” 

San Antonio takes first game in impressive fashion.

Much of the early analysis of the Memphis Grizzlies and San Antonio Spurs’ Western Conference Series centered on Memphis’ No. 1 NBA defense versus San Antonio’s veteran-fueled, pummeling offense. In Sunday night’s game at San Antonio’s AT&T Center, the Grizzlies’ typical grinding game wilted in the face of an overwhelming San Antonio offensive barrage – led by Tony Parker’s 20 points – as the Spurs won Game 1 decisively, 105-83.

Memphis wasn’t really in this game from the very start. The Spurs scored on their first seven possessions en route to a massive 17-point first quarter advantage, wherein the Grizzlies didn’t have a single rebound for over 6 minutes. Particularly disappointing was the Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph, who after scoring 28 points in powering the Grizzlies to their first-ever final in the previous series with the Golden State Warriors, scored only 2 points on 1-8 shooting in this contest.

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