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 host Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series.
The sixth-seeded Nets turned Philadelphia into 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.
Russell, who scored 19 points in the second half, can safely scroll through his cell phone to see he’s trending.
Who knows what the Sixers used a phone for — benchwarmer Amir Johnson appeared to show Embiid a text when they sat on the bench and the Sixers down 16 in the fourth. Johnson slid the phone into his warmup pants pocket.
Magic 104, Raptors 101 — D.J. Augustin scored 25 points, including the tiebreaking 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left, and Orlando beat host 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 top Toronto in the opening game of a playoff.
Leonard scored 25 points, Pascal Siakam had 24, and Fred VanVleet had 14 for the second-seeded Raptors, who reclaimed the lead after trailing by 16 points in the second quarter, but couldn’t hold on down the stretch.
Toronto got 13 points apiece from Danny Green and Marc Gasol, but guard Kyle Lowry finished scoreless, missing all seven of his attempts.
Lowry did have eight assists and seven rebounds.
Leonard hit a tying 3 with 1:35 left, then put Toronto up, 101-99, with a jumper at 1:02. Augustin made a layup to tie it again with 44 seconds left, then connected from long range for the fourth time to win the game.
Augustin’s 3 was the seventh lead change of the final quarter and the 13th of the game.
Augustin made 9 of 13 attempts, going 4 of 5 from beyond the arc.
Leonard made all four of his attempts in the first and added a pair of free throws. He scored 11 points in the opening quarter as Toronto led, 30-25.
Leading 42-41 with 3:46 remaining in the second, Orlando got 10 points from Augustin in a 15-0 run that put the Magic up, 57-41, with 55 seconds left. Siakam stopped Toronto’s drought with a jump shot, and Gasol and Green added 3-pointers but the Raptors trailed, 57-49, at halftime.
Leonard scored 5 points as Toronto used a 12-2 spurt at the start of the third, reclaiming the lead on Gasol’s 3 at 8:19. Siakam scored 8 points in the third, while Leonard and Green each had 7, as the Raptors took a narrow 76-75 lead to the fourth.
Warriors 121, Clippers 104 — In Oakland, 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 visiting 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.
Curry shot 8 for 12 from deep to pass Ray Allen (385) for career postseason 3s with 386.
Curry had a postseason career-high 15 rebounds, 7 assists, and the 31st 30-point postseason performance of his career.
Montrezl Harrell scored 26 points and fellow reserve Lou Williams contributed 25 points and nine assists as Los Angeles returned to the playoffs after missing last season following six straight appearances.
Spurs 101, Nuggets 96 — DeMar DeRozan scored 18 points and Derrick White had a key steal in the closing seconds in San Antonio’s victory over host Denver in Game 1 of their playoff series.
White stole the ball at midcourt from Jamal Murray with 1.3 seconds left after LaMarcus Aldridge sank a pair of free throws following his key defensive rebound of Murray’s errant shot that would have given the Nuggets a 98-97 lead with seven seconds left.
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Denver, where the second-seeded Nuggets failed to parlay the NBA’s best home-court record (34-7) into a win against the seventh-seeded but much more seasoned Spurs.