Nets, Magic win road NBA playoff openers
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — D’Angelo Russell flashed some postseason magic, playing like the All-Star leader Brooklyn needed with 26 points, and Caris LeVert scored 23 to lead the Nets to an impressive 111-102 win Saturday over the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The sixth-seeded Nets turned Philly in the city of 20,000 boos — and that’s just counting the ones echoing throughout the Wells Fargo Center — as they smoked a Sixers team that resembled one straight out of the early Process era.
Jimmy Butler scored 36 points and saved the Sixers, widely considered a favorite to at least reach the East semis, from losing by 25. Joel Embiid slogged his way through 24 forgettable minutes on his bum left knee. Ben Simmons was a postseason dud against Russell, his high school teammate.
Russell, LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie gave the Sixers fits off the dribble, buried open looks from 3-point range, and suddenly a team that got hot late just to make the playoffs has the upper-hand on the road over a 51-win team stocked with stars.
MAGIC 104, RAPTORS 101
TORONTO (AP) — D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, and Orlando beat Toronto in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
Kawhi Leonard got a final shot for Toronto, but missed the rim with his 3-pointer from the top.
Aaron Gordon had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Evan Fournier scored 16 points and Jonathan Isaac had 11 as the No. 7-seeded Magic became the latest team to beat Toronto in the opening game of a playoff series. The Raptors are 2-14 in playoff openers.
WARRIORS 121, CLIPPERS 104
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry scored 38 points and made eight 3-pointers to give him the most in postseason history, and top-seeded Golden State began its quest for a three-peat by running away from frustrated Los Angeles in their playoff opener on a night tempers flared.
Kevin Durant and Patrick Beverley were ejected with 4:41 to go, just 19 seconds after they received double-technicals when Durant stripped Beverley and the Clippers guard fell into the scorer’s table. They both became enraged again and official Ed Malloy immediately sent them both to the locker room. Durant high-fived fans as he exited and the home crowd went into chants of “Beat L.A.!”
Curry shot 8 for 12 from deep to pass Ray Allen (385) for career postseason 3s with 386, had a postseason career-high 15 rebounds, seven assists and the 31st 30-point postseason performance of his career.
AP SOURCE: LUKE WALTON REACHES AGREEMENT TO BE KINGS COACH
Luke Walton will become coach of the Sacramento Kings, securing another NBA head coaching job just a day after parting ways with the Los Angeles Lakers following three losing seasons.
The 39-year-old Walton was dismissed by the Lakers on Friday after Los Angeles went 37-45. His move to the Kings was confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday by a person who spoke on condition of anonymity because it hadn’t been finalized. A formal announcement from the Kings is expected in the next couple of days.
Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac fired Dave Joerger on Thursday after the coach helped develop the young Kings into playoff contenders.
before ultimately falling short in the franchise’s 13th straight losing season.
Also Thursday, the Kings extended Divac’s contract through the 2022-23 season — and Walton’s deal is expected to run those same four years.
Sacramento features several talented young players acquired by Divac: guards De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield, forward Marvin Bagley III and center Willie Cauley-Stein. The Kings finished 39-43, nine games out of a playoff spot after being tied for the Western Conference’s eighth seed heading into the final game before the All-Star break.
Sacramento had its most wins since going 44-38 in 2005-06 during coach Rick Adelman’s final season. That ended a run of eight straight playoff berths and Sacramento hasn’t been back to the postseason since for the NBA’s longest active drought.
Walton, a former Lakers forward, went 98-148 after getting his first permanent head coaching job with the 16-time NBA champions. The former Golden State top assistant never led the Lakers to the playoffs, not even after the arrival of LeBron James last summer.
He certainly has coached some of the game’s biggest stars and egos.
Many considered him the unofficial Coach of the Year for his guidance of the then-champion Warriors at the start of the 2015-16 season in place of an ailing Steve Kerr. Golden State began with a record 24-0 start and Walton was 39-4 overall before Kerr returned to the bench following complications from a pair of back surgeries.
Walton’s departure came three days after the Lakers finished with a loss Tuesday to the Trail Blazers and the abrupt resignation of team president Magic Johnson.
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