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Ballin': Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Portland All Got Eliminated

Atlanta 84, Orlando 81: Jameer Nelson was wrong. Remember when he thought he’d see Derrick Rose in the 2nd round? Oops. JJ Redick missed a 3-pointer that would have sent the game to overtime, and then Jason Richardson had a 3-point attempt blocked at the buzzer, and the Magic can officially start worrying about Dwight Howard’s departure.

Talk about regression: The Magic went to the Finals in 2009, were knocked out in the conference finals by Boston in 2010, and have now been jettisoned in the first round (They had homecourt advantage in those last two series). Last year, the Magic slaughtered the Hawks in an embarrassing 4-game sweep. This year, Orlando couldn’t make 3-pointers and couldn’t stop Joe Johnson (23 points) or Jamal Crawford (19 points). Dwight Howard scored 25 points and collected 15 rebounds, but his supporting cast only shot 5-for-19 from deep.

Dallas 103, Portland 96: I tuned in early and the Blazers’ had surged to a 19-7 lead. I thought, ‘sweet, we’ll see a game 7!’ But the Mavericks took over in the 2nd quarter, outscoring the Blazers 33-16 and taking a commanding lead. Dirk (33 points) was crucial to the takeover; maybe Chris Johnson shouldn’t have made him angry. Tyson Chandler did a tremendous job making LaMarcus Aldridge work for his 24 points (on 25 shots). Portland rallied in the 4th quarter, and drew within one on a Gerald Wallace (32 points) steal and layup. But Jason Terry (22 points) hit a couple clutch 4th quarter shots and the Mavericks advanced.

LA Lakers 98, New Orleans 80: Didn’t see a second, but apparently missed nothing. The Lakers’ three big men – Gasol, Bynum and Odom – finally dominated inside (48 points, 28 rebounds) and Kobe added 24 points and Chris Paul can start bitching again about wanting out of New Orleans. Paul was mostly bottled up (10 points, 11 assists), and because his teammates did nothing, the Hornets had no chance. The Lakers advance to play the Mavericks, a team they haven’t faced in the postseason since 1988.

[Josh Smith video via The Score]

 

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