NBA Playoffs Round 2: Winners and Losers from Monday Night
The Chicago Bulls pulled off the first impassioned upset on Monday night, while the San Antonio Spurs rallied to secure the second one.
The biggest winner of the second batch of Round 2 openers was Chicago. With the help of some clutch shooting down the stretch, the Bulls knocked off the top-seeded Miami Heat with a 93-86 Game 1 victory.
The Golden State Warriors looked primed to do the same, holding a convincing 16-point lead with under four minutes to play, but the veteran Spurs rallied back to steal a 129-127 double-overtime win away from the underdogs.
It was a night for the guards, as Nate Robinson and Manu Ginobili walked away heroes even though one of their nights started dreadfully.
There were some hard-luck losers on Monday, but the winners walk away up early in their respective series.
Winner: Nate Robinson
Derrick Rose has returned—reincarnated as Nate Robinson.
Robinson had a game-high 27 points on 8-of-16 shooting and added nine assists in the Bulls' Game 1 upset against the Miami Heat to open the second-round matchup.
With the game tied at 86 with 1:18 remaining, it was Robinson's 19-foot jumper that gave the Bulls the lead for good. After a Dwyane Wade missed three-pointer, Robinson drove the lane and finished with a finger roll to advance the lead to 90-86 with 45 seconds remaining.
Robinson continues to deliver in the place of the injured Kirk Hinrich after averaging 17 points on 50.5 percent shooting in Round 1.
On Monday, the ultimate underdog led the biggest underdog of the second round.
Loser: Heat Players Besides James and Wade
LeBron James and Dwyane Wade can't do it all. In the Game 1 loss, the two superstar scorers were the only players to score in double digits for the Heat.
James and Wade combined to shoot 15-of-33. The rest of the Heat shot 16-of-45:
Outside of the seven assists from Mario Chalmers, teammates of James and Wade only tallied two assists.
Chris Bosh, who scored nine points, struggled with his a matchup against one of the league's top defenders in Joakim Noah.
Winner Turned Loser: Stephen Curry
Stephen Curry, welcome back to the national stage.
The first-round magic of the Golden State Warriors' dynamic shooter returned in San Antonio for Round 2 against the Spurs.
Curry's hopes of a second-round Game 1 upset went up in smoke late, but that doesn't wipe away what the fourth-year guard accomplished Monday. Curry scored 44 points in the Game 1 loss, hitting six of 14 three-pointers and shooting 51.4 percent from the field.
He's been the darling of the postseason, gaining national recognition for his deep shooting. But the point guard, making a name for himself as more than just a gunner, also delivered 11 assists.
The third quarter is when Curry has been truly unreal this postseason. On Monday, he scored 22 of his points in the third quarter, hitting 4-of-6 three-pointers and going 9-of-12 from the field.
Loser Turned Winner: Spurs' Veteran Backcourt
Manu Ginobili isn't ready to pass the torch just yet.
The Spurs' veteran guard was just 4-of-19 before he hit a three-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to give the Spurs the 129-127 double-overtime victory.
Ginobili was set to be the goat for San Antonio before his moment of redemption. He found himself wide open off an inbound play with 3.4 seconds remaining when he hit the game-winner.
Similarly, Tony Parker also came on late. Parker was just 4-of-14 (28.6 percent) for 12 points through the game's first three quarters. However, he shot 7-of-12 through the fourth quarter and both overtimes to finish with 28 points.
Winner: Bulls Starters
The injuries have been mounting for the Chicago Bulls, as they were without Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich along with Derrick Rose.
Without much depth, Chicago's re-worked starting lineup all played big minutes with the exception of Carlos Boozer. Small forward Jimmy Butler played all 48 minutes, Marco Belinelli logged 46, Nate Robinson was in for 40 and Joakim Noah managed 39 playing through plantar fasciitis.
The pressure was on Chicago's starters, and they answered. Collectively, they outscored Heat starters 77-56.
Loser: Warriors' Fourth-Quarter Effort
The Golden State Warriors watched their huge lead evaporate in the final minutes of their game on Monday. The Warriors led by 16 points with under four minutes remaining in the game, but the Spurs stormed back to force the game into overtime before eventually winning in two overtimes.
San Antonio cut the lead to one point in the game's final minute, but Jarrett Jack's 14-foot step-back jumper gave the Warriors a 106-103 lead with 29 seconds remaining.
That's when Danny Green struck, connecting on a game-tying three-pointer with 20 seconds remaining that capped an 18-2 Spurs run, and Curry missed a bad look with one second left as the game went to overtime.
As a team, the Warriors shot just 25 percent in the fourth quarter.
Winner: LeBron James' Pre-Game MVP
LeBron James hoisted what he hopes is just one of two major trophies this postseason on Monday. The four-time regular season MVP received a well-deserved ovation from his home Miami Heat crowd before the Heat's Game 1 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
James shot a career-high 56.5 percent in the regular season and averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game.
He nearly matched those numbers against the Bulls, dropping in 24 points on 47.1 percent shooting, eight rebounds and seven assists in Game 1.
Of course, the numbers that netted him yet another Maurice Podoloff Trophy won't be enough to satisfy LeBron. Only a second trophy—of the championship variety—will do that.
Loser: Dwyane Wade’s Three-Point Shot
Dwyane Wade picked a bad time to launch his first three-pointer of the postseason.
With the Heat trailing by a basket, 88-86 with 1:11 remaining in Game 1, Wade attempted an off-the-dribble three-pointer from the center of the floor that missed and sent Miami scrambling.
The shot, which came after a soft move off a LeBron James screen, was Wade’s attempt at being the hero rather than giving his team the best opportunity to tie or take the lead.
Wade shot just 25.8 percent from three-point range this season. He didn't attempt a single shot from behind the arc in his three games against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Winner: Spurs' Rust
Rust is rarely a winner, but it ended up being just that for the San Antonio Spurs.
Both the Spurs and the Miami Heat rested for more than a week before Monday's second-round openers—and the rust showed. The Heat trailed the Chicago Bulls 21-15 after the first quarter while the Spurs fell behind 28-25 in the first frame to the Golden State Warriors.
Miami shot just 26.3 percent in the opening quarter and was 1-of-7 (14.3 percent) from three-point range. San Antonio opened the initial six minutes of the first quarter shooting just 3-of-13 (23 percent).
For the Spurs, though, the rust was mainly on the defensive end. The Warriors shot 57.1 percent in the first quarter.
However, any rust that remained was shook off in the fourth quarter of the comeback win.