SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 21 – SAN ANTONIO, Texas, April 21 – The reigning NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers and Western Conference top seeds San Antonio bounced back from disappointing playoff openers with game-two victories.
The Lakers, seeking a third straight NBA title, on Wednesday survived a quiet night by superstar Kobe Bryant to beat new Orleans 87-78, knotting their best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece.
Andrew Bynum had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Lamar Odom — winner this week of the NBA’s Sixth Man award as the league’s top reserve — scored 16 points for the Lakers.
Veteran Ron Artest added 15 points and Los Angeles did a better job of defending Hornets star Chris Paul — who still scored 20 points with nine assists.
Bryant scored just 11 points and teammate Pau Gasol had another disappointing night, contributing only eight points.
The series shifts to New Orleans for game three on Friday.
San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili, who missed game one with a sprained elbow, finished with 17 points as the Spurs beat Memphis 93-87 to level their series at 1-1.
In another Western Conference game, Kevin Durant scored 23 points, Russell Westbrook added 21 and the Oklahoma City Thunder defeated the Denver Nuggets 106-89 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Ginobili, who wore a protective brace on his right elbow to guard against re-injury, also had seven rebounds, four steals and four assists in just under 34 minutes of playing time.
"I haven t played in 10 days. It’s not that much, but when you come from 80 games, playing every other game, I was a little rusty," Ginobili said. "Hopefully by the next one, I’ll feel better."
Ginobili said he still wasn’t used to playing with the brace.
"It was uncomfortable," he said. "But I felt I did OK. I took some risk. I went for some steals and rebounds and it wasn’t that I played worried about getting hit or something."
Tim Duncan and Richard Jefferson scored 16 points apiece for San Antonio. Duncan also added 10 rebounds and France’s Tony Parker finished with seven assists and 12 rebounds.
Sam Young had a team-high 17 points for the Grizzlies, who posted their first franchise playoff win in game one. Young drained a three-pointer with 14 seconds left to make it 89-87 but that was as close as Memphis would get.
Marc Gasol had his second consecutive strong game for the Grizzlies, scoring 12 points and a grabbing a playoff team-record 17 rebounds.
Game three is on Saturday in Memphis.
While Durant led the way for Oklahoma City, the Thunder got solid contributions from everyone as they built a 26-point lead early in the second quarter against a Nuggets team that shot just 39 percent from the field for the contest.
"Everybody chipped in tonight," Durant said. "That’s what we’re going to need."
James Harden scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half as the Thunder took control.
The Thunder came out with plenty of spark as Westbrook and Durant nailed three pointers to begin the game.
Oklahoma City then built a 29-10 lead late in the opening quarter. The Thunder also scored 12 of the first 14 points in the second quarter with the help of two three-pointers by Harden.
Ty Lawson scored 20 points while Nene and Raymond Felton finished with 16 points each for Denver.
Denver’s frustration showed as coach George Karl and forward Kenyon Martin were both slapped with technical fouls.
"We gave them too many minutes, too many possessions of they were totally in control," Karl said. "They were energized, they were more physical, they were quicker, probably smarter. … The hole was just too big."
The series now shifts to Denver for game three.