The Thunder got a huge win over Dallas in Game 1, 99-98, winning on Kevin Durant’s soft jumper with 1.5 seconds left in the game. But here’s how crazy were the first weekend of the NBA playoffs. That wasn’t even the most impressive 99-98 game. Ranking the eight winners, in terms of impressiveness of performance:
1. LA Clippers: Down 27 points in the third quarter — and down 24 with nine minutes left — the Clippers stormed back and won it, 99-98. Chris Paul’s two foul shots with 23 seconds left put the Clips ahead for good, then Rudy Gay missed a shot at the buzzer for Memphis. One confession: I fell asleep on the Clips. Me and most of America.
2. Orlando: Left for dead during the Dark Shadows season of Dwight Howard, the Magic went to Indianapolis and stunned the Pacers 81-77. Howard is out with a back injury. Stan Van Gundy is dead coaching walking. Indiana has the better roster. But Van Gundy is a coaching fiend.
3. Lakers: LA was at home against Denver, but the Lakers were without Metta World Chaos, serving his notable suspension. And the Lakers won easy, 103-88. That’s got to be discouraging for the Nuggets, the NBA’s highest-scoring team.
4. Miami: Blowout city. The Heat routed the Knickerbockers 100-67. No one wants to play the Heat.
5. Atlanta: Solid win for the Hawks, 83-74 over the Celtics, in a game marred by Rajon Rondo’s ejection after a dubious call late. This is going to be a good series, but it will be tougher if Boston plays game or two without Rondo, who bumped referee Marc Davis. But you never can be too excited about a team that doesn’t know who its best player is (Josh Smith).
6. San Antonio: The Spurs beat Utah 106-91 in workmanlike fashion. That’s exactly what a No. 1 seed should do in a playoff opener.
7. Oklahoma City: It’s great that Durant’s shot saved the Thunder, after Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka kept the Thunder breathing while Durant shoot poorly. But it doesn’t bode well that OKC had to struggle so much against a weary Mav team.
8. Chicago: Hard to imagine a worse victory. The Bulls lost MVP Derrick Rose to a torn ACL in his knee. Chicago beat Philly 103-91 and will go on to win the series. Might even sweep the Sixers. But now Chicago has no chance to knock off the Heat.