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NBA playoff roundup

Parker lifts Spurs; Paul paces Hornets

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Associated Press / April 23, 2008

Another big comeback by the San Antonio Spurs. Now the Phoenix Suns will need one.

Tony Parker scored 32 points to lead the Spurs to a 102-96 victory in Game 2 last night after the visiting Suns gave away another double-digit first-half lead.

The Spurs needed a few amazing shots and the benefit of foul trouble for Phoenix in Game 1 to win in two overtimes. Last night, the Spurs were behind by 14 points in the first half before outscoring Phoenix, 27-11, in the third quarter.

The Spurs still had to withstand a fourth-quarter surge that got the Suns within 5 points with 14 seconds to play, but the defending champions now head to Arizona for Friday's Game 3 with a 2-0 lead and home-court advantage intact.

Amare Stoudemire led the Suns with 33 points but struggled after halftime, when he shot 2 of 11 from the field.

The Spurs went ahead by 17 points in the fourth quarter after taking control in the third. But Steve Nash (23 points, 10 assists) led a 10-0 run to bring Phoenix within 96-91 with 2:44 left on the clock. Shaquille O'Neal had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Suns.

Tim Duncan, who finished with 18 points and 17 rebounds, had a monster dunk with 1:47 to play and Parker followed with a basket to put San Antonio back ahead, 101-93.

Hornets 127, Mavericks 103 - Chris Paul had 32 points and a franchise playoff-record 17 assists, leading host New Orleans to a 2-0 lead over Dallas.

The record was 15 assists, set by Muggsy Bogues in 1993.

"Sitting there watching Chris really develop into the best point guard in this league, it's amazing to watch how he's really risen his game to another level," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "But that's what great players do. He's definitely one of the best on this league right now."

David West scored 27 points and Peja Stojakovic 22 for New Orleans, which took a double-digit lead in the second quarter, led by as many as 25 in the third, and never looked back.

Tyson Chandler had his second double-double of the series with 10 points and 11 rebounds, despite playing with foul trouble. Morris Peterson added 12 points and reserve guard Jannero Pargo had 10 for New Orleans, which was 10 of 18 on 3-pointers, with Stojakovic hitting 5 of 7.

"They were going to try some gimmick stuff," West said of the Mavs' strategy against Paul. "It was key that we had the confidence with the ball out of his hands for us to make plays. Peja hit shots, Mo was able to hit some shots. It really disrupted what they were trying to do."

The series now moves to Dallas, where the Hornets have not won since January 1998. But that streak will end if the Mavericks don't figure out how to slow down Paul and a supporting cast that has been playing with enormous confidence since the Hornets stormed back from a 12-point hole to win the series opener.

"We'll take a look at some things, but we've got to have a better effort," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "We've got to go home and get some home cooking. They protected their home court; we have a chance to go home and do the same thing. Like I've been saying all along, they are a No. 2 seed that deserves to be No. 2 and we've got to play much better."

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 27 points but spent most of the night looking frustrated, yelling at no one in particular after he threw one pass out of bounds.

The Mavs hoped Jason Kidd would be a bigger factor in this game, but he finished with only 7 points and eight assists.

Magic 104, Raptors 103 - Two playoff games, two 20-point, 20-rebound outings for Dwight Howard. This time there was no question he was the difference maker.

Orlando's 3-point touch evaporated, but Howard's 29 points and 20 rebounds powered the Magic past visiting Toronto for a 2-0 lead.

Howard is the first player in nearly 40 years to record consecutive playoff games with at least 20 points and 20 rebounds. The last was the San Francisco Warriors' Nate Thurmond in the 1968-69 playoffs, a player the 22-year-old Magic star sheepishly admitted he'd never heard of.

"It was tough to come back and try to play the same way I played the first game, said Howard, who had 25 points and 22 rebounds Sunday.

"But one of the things [coach Stan Van Gundy] has put in my head, and [Magic assistant Patrick Ewing], is just trying to play as dominant as I could on both ends of the floor. Since the last game, the only thing on my mind, when I go to sleep, when I wake up, at the gym with the guys, is to dominate."

Chris Bosh had 29 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto, but he missed a 19-footer with 1.9 seconds left that could have won the game. Jason Kapono scored 20 points, Jose Calderon had 18, and Carlos Delfino added 16 for the Raptors.

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