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Dirk Nowitzki missed from several of his usual spots as Dallas blew a lead in the fourth quarter of its playoff-opening loss to San Antonio. The Mavericks star even flubbed a glorified layup, the most surprising of all the misses when Dallas went without a meaningful basket for the final 8 minutes of the 90-85 loss to the Spurs. Now Nowitzki has to bounce back from one of the worst playoff games of his 16-year career when the Mavericks play at San Antonio in Game 2 on Wednesday night. It's hard to imagine Dallas knocking off the team with the NBA's best record as long as Nowitzki has 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting.
For all the problems he had facing the Clippers' smothering trap defense in Game 2 of their playoff series, Warriors guard Stephen Curry hopes to see more of it. So, too, do the rest of his Golden State teammates. The Warriors committed 26 turnovers and spent most of the game trying to dig out of a double-digit hole that just kept getting deeper. Yet almost to a man, the Warriors believe the problems they had against the trap were mostly self-inflicted.
Flip Saunders is a former coach himself, so he knows how coveted a head coaching job in the NBA can be. The Timberwolves' president of basketball operations may also soon find out how difficult filling an opening can be as well. Saunders started the search for a new coach in earnest on Tuesday, one day after Rick Adelman announced his retirement. It's a move that has been expected for some time, and Saunders has no doubt been kicking around possibilities.
Composed and confident for someone with such a hazy future, David Griffin is going about his job as if he'll have it forever - or at least for the next few years. Griffin, who took over as the Cavs' interim general manager in February when Chris Grant was fired, said Tuesday he isn't worrying about whether he'll have the interim tag removed from his title by owner Dan Gilbert. ''I'm moving forward,'' he said, ''because it's what I do.'' Griffin insists his only focus is on improving the disappointing Cavs, who missed the NBA playoffs for the fourth straight season. During a 25-minute news conference, Griffin adeptly handled a variety of topics including his future and that of coach Mike Brown, plus the on-court relationship between All-Star guard Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
The Golden State Warriors agreed to terms Tuesday to buy 12 acres of land in San Francisco's Mission Bay neighborhood to build a new arena. The Warriors are buying the land from salesforce.com. The team was originally hoping to build a new arena on San Francisco's waterfront but those plans faced opposition from critics concerned about traffic, environmental issues and blocked views of the Bay Bridge. ''We believe Mission Bay is a perfect fit,'' owner Joe Lacob said.
Tyrone Corbin oversaw Utah's transition from Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams to a youth movement, one he won't get to see to fruition. The Jazz are in the market for a new coach after deciding not to offer Corbin a new contract Monday. The Jazz went 43-39 the next season and dumped a number of veterans. This year, they went 25-57, the worst season by the Jazz since 1979-80, when Utah was 24-58 following the franchise's relocation from New Orleans.
After getting knocked down in their playoff opener, Blake Griffin and the Clippers answered with a dominant performance in shutting down the Warriors as soon as the game began. ''When you play more aggressive you stay out of foul trouble.'' Chris Paul added 12 points and 10 assists for the Clippers, who started the game on a 14-4 run and kept on going, maintaining a sizeable double-digit lead through the final three quarters. All the foul trouble that plagued Griffin and Paul in the Clippers' four-point loss in Game 1 belonged to the Warriors this time. Stephen Curry scored 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter, when the Warriors never got closer than 25 points, while he played with four fouls.
Nothing rattled the Memphis Grizzlies. The Grizzlies remained steady and took care of business in the extra period. Zach Randolph scored 25 points to help Memphis defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder 111-105 in overtime on Monday night and tie their first-round playoff series at one game apiece. ''We've got to weather the storm by staying together and not getting down.'' Mike Conley added 19 points and 12 assists for the Grizzlies, who executed their game plan perfectly and put themselves in position to take control of the series in Game 3 Thursday night in Memphis.
The Utah Jazz front office is searching for a new coach after declining to offer Tyrone Corbin a new contract. Corbin ends his stint with the Jazz with a 112-146 record. He became the head coach on Feb. 10, 2011, following the resignation of Jerry Sloan, whom he had played three seasons for and for whom he was a longtime assistant. Corbin guided the team to a winning record in two of his three full seasons and a playoff appearance in 2012 despite the departure of star point guard Deron Williams shortly after his promotion.
There were some emotional moments and some funny stories as Joakim Noah accepted the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award on Monday, like this one. The Chicago Bulls' center recalled a grueling workout with coach Tom Thibodeau. Indiana's Roy Hibbert (166 points, eight first-place votes) and the Los Angeles Clippers' DeAndre Jordan (121 points, eight first-place votes) came in second and third, respectively. He told coach Tom Thibodeau: ''Without your system, this wouldn't be possible.'' The only other Bulls player to win the award was Michael Jordan in 1988.
The Chicago Bulls' resolve is being tested once again. They trail the Washington Wizards 1-0 in their first-round playoff series after blowing a 13-point lead in the opener and will try to pull even on Tuesday. ''You look at how they played down the stretch, you know how good they are,'' Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. Despite losing Derrick Rose to another season-ending knee injury and trading Luol Deng, no team in the Eastern Conference won more games after New Year's Eve than Chicago.
It's a tense moment on the court and Tim Duncan is focused, watching one opponent out of the corner of his eye as he sizes up another. There is always some mischief behind the steely gaze of the San Antonio Spurs' veteran forward. ''I know he is very quiet and doesn't talk a lot to the media, but with us it's a great relationship.'' After averaging 21.9 points and 12 rebounds in 15 previous postseasons, Duncan had 27 points and seven rebounds in 38 minutes during San Antonio's 90-85 victory over Dallas in the opener of their first-round series.
Indiana's next game is the most important of the season. If the top-seeded Pacers can't protect their home court Tuesday night, they'll be down 2-0 heading to Atlanta - where they have only won twice since December 2006. The Pacers have been in a late-season swoon, with a perception that they're soft. Since March 1, the Pacers are 12-14 and the league's stingiest defense has been nothing short of ordinary, numbers that have increased the speculation about everything from psychological problems and team chemistry to what players are doing outside basketball.
Mike Woodson had the Knicks on top of their division and in the second round of the playoffs, destinations that had become unreachable and practically unimaginable in New York. Phil Jackson fired Woodson and the entire coaching staff on Monday, making his first big move since becoming team president in March and saying in a statement that ''the time has come for change throughout the franchise.'' The dismissal comes shortly after the Knicks completed a 37-45 season that began with their belief they were a serious contender. It was a stunningly swift fall for Woodson, whose .580 winning percentage with the Knicks ranks behind only Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy, and who finished third in the NBA's Coach of the Year voting after going 54-28 last season. He and the staff were informed of the decision Monday morning by Jackson, the man the Knicks originally wanted to replace Woodson as coach but preferred to run the team's front office.
Less than 24 hours after Manu Ginobili helped deliver a Game 1 victory over Dallas in the Western Conference playoffs, he helped deliver something even better. Ginobili's wife, Marianela, had the couple's third child on Monday morning. Baby boy Luca came via planned C-section, and Ginobili was able to attend the birth in the morning and get to practice that afternoon. Ginobili joked that the NBA set its playoff schedule around Luca's birth.
As his 23rd season as an NBA coach entered the home stretch, Rick Adelman looked tired. So when he finally decided to step away, announcing his retirement from the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday, he did so with mixed feelings about the pressure-cooker life he is leaving behind and the one that awaits him. ''It becomes your life, your family's life, an everyday routine,'' Adelman said of the NBA. We're looking forward to that.'' Adelman and the Timberwolves had a mutual option in place in the four-year contract he signed in 2011.