Around the Rim: Spurs take a pounding and a 2-0 lead


1. Suns set in second half
No lead is safe for Phoenix. For the second consecutive game, the Spurs erased an early double-digit deficit and went on to upset the Suns. On Tuesday, Tony Parker tallied 32 points and Manu Ginobili added 29, chipping away a 14-point Phoenix lead before grabbing a 2-0 series lead by winning 102-96. The Suns owned a nine-point advantage after the first quarter and a seven-point lead at halftime, but they could only produce 35 points (11 in the third quarter) over the final 24 minutes. The Spurs didn’t need another 40-point outing out of their MVP with Parker and Ginobili firing on all cylinders, but Tim Duncan still produced, scoring 18 points to go with 17 rebounds and three blocks. The Suns are probably feeling pretty low after losing the pair of heartbreakers, but the reality is the Spurs simply did what they were supposed to which is win at home. Sure, Phoenix would like to have stolen homecourt advantage early on, but as long as they win in the desert then they’ll still have a shot at the series. However, the Suns can not allow San Antonio to grab Game 3 and put a strangle hold on the series. You can expect Phoenix to improve on its home floor which is bad news for SA. Amare Stoudemire was superb again in Game 2, scoring from everywhere on the floor to the tune of 33 points while Shaquille O’Neal chipped in 19 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. Steve Nash also had a double-double with 23 points and 10 assists.

2. Chris Paul ball

For the Mavericks, it was another playoff game and another tough pill to swallow. The disappointments continue to mount for Dallas after they fell into a two-game hole when Chris Paul and his Hornets set a new tem single-game record for total points in a playoff contest, whooping the Mavs 127-103 on Tuesday. Paul might stand just six feet tall, but he is overshadowing everyone else in this series. After posting 35 points and 10 assists in Game 1, Paul somehow upped his effort and dropped 32 and a franchise playoff-record 17 assists in the second game, becoming the first player to ever record 30 points, 10 assists and three steals in consecutive postseason games, which just happen to be the first two playoff games of his career. New Orleans as a team set playoff records with 39 points in the first quarter, 67 points in the first half and most treys made by a team with 10. The series now shifts to Big D where the Mavericks need some serious home cooking to get back into things. In Game 2, all five Hornets scored at least 10 points with Paul, David West (27 pts) and Peja Stojakovic (22 pts) all scoring at least 20 points.

3. Mr. 20-20
Dwight Howard loves the numbers two and zero. The youngster posted his second 20-point, 20-rebound game in as many playoff games, becoming the first player since Kevin Garnett in 2004 to pull off the feat. Of course, the most important reason he likes the digits is because with a slim 104-103 win over Toronto last night Orlando took a 2-0 lead in the series. The Raptors would not die on Tuesday, led by Chris Bosh they had an opportunity to steal one on the road, but Bosh missed a last-second jumper that could have won the game. Bosh dominated the game for his team, leading Toronto in all major statistics with 29 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block. But this series has belonged to Howard who will now take his show on the road where the Raptors are a much more impressive team, owning a 25-16 record in Toronto.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Chris Paul vs. Dallas 39 min, 32 pts (FG: 10-16, 3FG: 0-2, FT: 12-14), 5 reb, 17 ast, 3 stl

Buzzer Beater: Kevin Garnett ran away defensive player of the year honors, a feat he hopes to repeat when it comes time to hand out the MVP hardware. Garnett finished with 90 of 124 first-place votes and finished with a total of 493 points, beating out Denver’s Marcus Camby by a full 315 points. The Rockets Shane Battier finished with the bronze, totaling 11 first-place votes and 175 points overall. The Celtics were the second best defensive team in the league, holding opponents to just 90.3 points per game and a NBA-best 41.9 percent shooting from the field. And there’s no doubt Garnett is the driving force behind the dedication to D. Along with 18.8 points, Garnett averaged 9.2 rebounds (7.3 defensive), 1.4 steals and 1.2 blocks per game.

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