Sunday, May 04, 2008

NBA Playoffs Ring of Fire

new orleans hornets cheerleaders dancers
The Hornets with a hot Round 2 performance

Two of the Round 2 series got started with the Orlando Magic traveling to Detroit to take on the Pistons, and the Hornets and Spurs facing off. These games featured two dominant NBA big men, in Tim Duncan and new kid on the block Dwight Howard. Also featured were two of the best backcourts in the NBA: The Pistons' Billups/Hamilton and the Spurs' Ginobli/Parker. And let's not forget one of the top MVP candidates, the New Orleans Hornets impressive guard, Chris Paul.

It's very obvious the Pistons and Spurs are two of the more balanced and fundamental teams in the playoffs, which is also why they are among the most recent champions competing. For the Detroit - Orlando series, "Hack-a-Howard" or "Injure Howard" seems to be an effective strategy. The big man is a powerful force down low, but if the Pistons have him shooting free throws rather than dunking, Orlando tends to be in trouble. Howard was dismal at the free throw line, and his teammates made costly turnovers in the second half of the game. It had been just a 1 point game at halftime, but Detroit exposed Orlando's mistakes in the 2nd half to jump out to a large double digit lead. Detroit just has that killer instinct along with sharphooters and great D. Dwight Howard might not be enough to overcome the Pistons in the series as he was icing his hurt hand down in the 4th, while Detroit ran away with the game 91-72. Rip had 17 and Chauncey had 19 to lead the way.

Earlier in the night, TNT analyst Kenny Smith agreed with Charles Barkley that San Antonio has the best backcourt in the NBA with Parker & Ginobli. The Spurs, like the Pistons, play some of the best fundamental basketball around. They knock down shots, defend, rebound and do what it takes to get wins. However, the Hornets' young star guard got the best of them. In their opening game against the Hornets, the "Ring of Fire" caused a delay of the 2nd quarter. The Ring is used for the Hornet mascot Hugo to jump through and dunk, however the fire on it wouldn't go out as normal, so it had to be extinguished. The floor had to be attended to in order to clean up the slippery hardwood, which may have cooled the hot Spurs down as both teams waited. When it was over, New Orleans took a sweet 1-0 lead over the world champs with a 101-82 victory. The Hornets were lead by Chris Paul with 17 points and 13 assists. There were a few scuffles and skirmishes indicating that this series might become heated as it goes on, even if the "Ring of Fire" won't be used by Hugo the Hornet anytime soon..

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