Road teams thrive on opening day of NBA playoffs
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Road teams dominated on the opening day of the NBA playoffs Saturday, with Atlanta pulling off the biggest upset with victory at Eastern Conference top seed Indiana.
The Pacers had been expected to be too strong for a Hawks team that had lost its previous eight playoff games, but Jeff Teague led Atlanta to an important victory.
Golden State won away in a tight game against the Los Angeles Clippers, whose chances were hurt by having Blake Griffin and Chris Paul in foul trouble.
Brooklyn won by seven points at Toronto but the margin could have been far wider had the Nets not been so off-target with their 3-point shooting.
The only home-court winner of the day was Oklahoma City, with Kevin Durant guiding the Thunder to a comfortable win over Memphis.
Atlanta’s Teague scored a playoff career-high 28 points and Paul Millsap added in the Hawks’ surprise win.
Indiana, which spent the whole season working to get home-court advantage in the playoffs, wasted no time in giving it right back with a dismal third quarter.
Atlanta opened the third quarter on an 8-0 run, breaking a 50-50 tie, then pulled away when Teague scored nine points in a 14-0 run that made it 74-58 with 4:08 left in the quarter.
Indiana couldn’t get closer than eight the rest of the way despite 24 points and 10 rebounds from Paul George.
Golden State also produced a strong third quarter in the 109-105 win at the Clippers.
Klay Thompson scored 22 points and David Lee added 20 for the Warriors, who trailed by 11 points early but capitalized in the third as Griffin and Paul were benched due to accumulating foul numbers.
Paul led the Clippers with 28 points and J.J. Redick added 22 points in 30 minutes for Los Angeles but Griffin finished with 16 points after fouling out with 48 seconds left and the scores tied.
Foul trouble plagued both teams, but losing Griffin and Paul for stretches cost the Clippers at both ends. For the Warriors, Andre Iguodala fouled out with 3:04 left in the game and Lee played with four fouls.
Brooklyn’s Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each scored 24 points as the Nets won 94-87 at Toronto, while Paul Pierce scored nine of his 15 points in the final quarter to guide the visitors to victory.
The Nets won despite making 4 of 24 3-pointers.
Kyle Lowry scored 22 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 18 rebounds for the Raptors.
Valanciunas is the second Raptors player to have a double-double in his postseason debut. Tracy McGrady did it in 2000. Valanciunas also set a Raptors record for playoff rebounds, surpassing Keon Clark’s 16 in 2002.
Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant scored 13 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter to help the Thunder down Memphis 100-86.
Russell Westbrook had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Serge Ibaka added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Thunder, who nearly squandered a 25-point lead but recovered from a dismal third quarter to make 10 of 16 shots in the fourth.
Zach Randolph led Memphis with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but made just seven of 21 shots and got into foul trouble in the second half.