Nba Playoffs 2005 - The Heat Is On

LOS ANGELES, April 21 - The next eight weeks will determine whether the NBA’s balance of power tilted to the East when giant centre Shaquille O’Neal left one US coast for another.
In O’Neal’s eight years in Los Angeles, the Lakers captured three NBA championships and reached the finals four times.
O’Neal’s Heat enter the 2005 NBA postseason as the number one seed in the East, while his former club missed the playoffs in Kobe Bryant’s first season as a solo superstar.
We have a team built to win a championship if we play the way we're capable of playing on both ends,'' Heat guard Damon Jones said. Everyone is unselfish. There is no individual agenda throughout this locker room. Everybody is trying to play their role to help this team win.’’
The playoffs begin Saturday when the Detroit Pistons open defence of their championship by hosting Philadelphia.
There are eight playoff openers scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.
One of the most intriguing matchups is an all-Texas affair between Houston and Dallas. Sacramento plays at Seattle and Indiana battles Boston in a Saturday night match.
On Sunday, it’s New Jersey at Miami and Washington at Chicago. Memphis is at Phoenix and Denver is at San Antonio.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 24 - Marcus Camby and the Denver Nuggets shut down Tim Duncan and San Antonio Sunday surprising the Spurs 93-87 in game one of their National Basketball Association Western Conference first-round playoff series.
Camby held two-time Most Valuable Player Duncan scoreless in the fourth quarter as the seventh-seeded Nuggets won a road playoff game for the first time in 11 years. In the process they beat the Spurs on a court where they had won 38 of 41 regular-season games.
Andre Miller scored 31 points as Denver stole home-court advantage from the second-seeded Spurs, who looked nothing like the favorite for the NBA championship.
Duncan missed 12 games late in the season due to a sprained ankle. He was not at full strength and wilted against Denver’s fleet of big men, most notably Camby, who had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks.
We felt confident,'' Camby said. Everyone thought that the Spurs would run through us and everyone is talking about the Spurs v the Suns in the conference finals. This team has a lot of heart and a lot of pride.’’
Second in the NBA in blocked shots, Camby helped harass Duncan into 7-of-22 shooting. Three of those misses came in the final minute, when the Spurs needed a basket from their superstar.
The Spurs scored just six points in the final 10min 20sec.
There were a lot of shots around the basket that I should have made,'' Duncan said. We were just missing our shots tonight. I felt like we had some great looks.’’
Manu Ginobili scored a playoff career-high 23 points and Duncan added 18 and 11 rebounds for San Antonio, which hosts game two on Wednesday.
There were no surprises in Phoenix, where All-Star point guard Steve Nash directed the Suns to a 114-103 victory over Memphis in the first game of their Western Conference series.
Nash handed out 13 assists and scored 11 points amid chants of MVP'' from the Phoenix faithful.Shawn Marion had 26 points, 13 rebounds and one frightening fall for the top-seeded Suns, who pressed as hard as they did in the regular season, when they led the NBA in scoring (110 points per game) and wins (62). The eighth-seeded Grizzlies found no way to slow the Suns down. Phoenix ran at every opportunity, scoring 25 fast-break points and sinking 15-of-32 three-pointers. They had five players in double figures, including reserve center Steven Hunter, who scored a playoff career-high 16 points. Quentin Richardson scored 22 points and Joe Johnson added 16 for the Suns, who host game two on Wednesday. In the East, three time NBA Finals MVP Shaquille O'Neal's Miami Heat lived up to their top seeding, defeating the New Jersey Nets 116-98 in their series opener. In a series featuring O'Neal, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, it was Dwyane Wade and Damon Jones who stole the spotlight. With O'Neal opening things up on the perimeter for Miami, Wade - an All-Star in just his second season - scored a playoff career-high 32 points, doing a majority of his damage against Kidd. He also handed out eight assists. Jones, a journeyman shooting guard, benefited from the double-teams on O'Neal. He scored a playoff career-high 30 points, making seven three-pointers. O'Neal was a game-time decision after missing five of the last eight regular-season games with a stomach ailment and bruised thigh. He had consecutive dunks to start the contest and collected 17 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes. I knew I wasn’t going to be the regular playoff diesel that America is used to,’’ said O’Neal, who averaged 36.3 points when he helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Nets in the 2002 Finals.
``I didn’t have that explosiveness, that firecracker explosiveness. If the team plays like this with a 40 percent Shaq, imagine what we’ll do as I improve.’’
In Chicago, the Bulls rallied for a 103-94 victory over Washington in their Eastern Conference opener.
The Bulls used their familiar formula of tough defense and timely offense from Ben Gordon, who scored in double digits in the fourth quarter 21 times during a spectacular rookie season.
The Bulls also got a huge effort from rookie Andres Nocioni, who had career highs of 25 points and 18 rebounds.
Gilbert Arenas, Washington’s All-Star guard who averaged better than 30 points in three games against Chicago this season, was held to nine and missed seven shots as he went scoreless in the fourth.
The Bulls, playing their first playoff game since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen led the Bulls to their sixth NBA title in eight years in 1998, trailed by five points entering the fourth quarter before a 10-2 surge that gave Chicago the lead for good.