Cavaliers take care of business in opener
CLEVELAND (AP) – LeBron James and Shaquille O’Neal have only one goal, and they moved one step closer to their objective Saturday.
James had 24 points and four blocks and a slimmed-down O’Neal, playing for the first time since Feb. 25, scored 12 points in 24 minutes to help top-seeded Cleveland beat Chicago 96-83 on Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series.
O’Neal looked remarkably sharp despite missing the Cavs’ final 23 regular-season games after tearing a thumb ligament.
Derrick Rose had 28 points and 10 assists for Chicago, which trimmed a 22-point deficit in the third quarter to seven in the fourth.
But James converted a three-point play with 2:29 left and Mo Williams followed with a 3-pointer to put Cleveland up 94-81.
Williams added 19 points and 10 assists, and Antawn Jamison had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Cleveland blocked 12 shots – 10 in the second half.
Game 2 is Monday night in Cleveland.
Celtics 85, Heat 76
BOSTON (AP) – Kevin Garnett had 15 points and nine rebounds and Boston played Miami-style defense to beat the Heat in the Eastern Conference series opener.
With 40 seconds left in the game, a scuffle near the Miami bench resulted in two technical fouls against Garnett, an automatic ejection, and one each to Boston’s Glen Davis and Miami’s Udonis Haslem and Quentin Richardson.
Trailing 44-41 at halftime, the Celtics held the Heat to 32 points in the second half. And with substitute guard Tony Allen shadowing Dwyane Wade, the Heat star scored 26 points after averaging 33.7 in three regular-season games against Boston.
Allen also scored a career playoff high 14 points, and Paul Pierce led Boston with 16. Richardson added 15 for Miami.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Boston.
Hawks 102, Bucks 92
ATLANTA (AP) – Joe Johnson scored 22 points, and Mike Bibby had 19 for Atlanta in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series.
Jamal Crawford added 17 points for Atlanta in the first postseason appearance in his 10-year career. Rookie Brandon Jennings led Milwaukee with 34 points.
The Hawks had mismatches all over the court, taking advantage of the gruesome injury that took out Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut late in the season.
The home team never trailed, building a 20-point lead in the first quarter and going to halftime with a 62-40 edge. The Bucks made a game of it, but Jennings didn’t have nearly enough help against the third-seeded Hawks.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Atlanta.
Nuggets 126, Jazz 113
DENVER (AP) – Carmelo Anthony scored a playoff career-high 42 points and J.R. Smith’s fourth-quarter flurry of 3-pointers helped Denver beat Utah in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoff series.
Anthony, whose previous playoff high was 41 points against Dallas in the second round last year, benefited from the absence of Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko, who re-injured his strained left calf in practice Thursday and won’t play in the series.
Although Carlos Boozer (rib) returned to Utah’s lineup and scored 19 points, the Jazz lost center Mehmet Okur, who aggravated his left Achilles’ tendon injury in the first half, and C.J. Miles also missed some time because of nausea after colliding with Chauncey Billups in the second half.
Game 2 is Monday night in Denver.