Mavs play defense but still lose; Pacers, Nets roll

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Sam Cassell, Rasheed Wallace and rookie Dwyane Wade hope the home dominance continues in the NBA playoffs. Three series resume Wednesday, including the West matchup between the top-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets. On Sunday, the Timberwolves won a series opener for the first time in franchise history, riding a playoff career-high 40 points by Cassell to a 106-92 victory. In the East, the third-seeded Detroit Pistons and fourth-seeded Miami Heat will try to take 2-0 leads. The Pistons are coming off Sunday's 108-82 thrashing of the sixth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks and the Heat edged the fifth-seeded New Orleans Hornets, 81-79, on a basket by Wade with 1.3 seconds left. An 11-year veteran, Cassell developed a reputation early in his career as a clutch playoff performer as he helped the Houston Rockets win consecutive championships in 1994-95. The talkative point guard is in his first season with Minnesota, which has lost in the first round seven straight years. Minnesota superstar Kevin Garnett, one of the NBA's best players, has taken a lot of heat for his inability to win in the playoffs, but clearly has a better chance with Cassell on his side. While the Wolves are in the playoffs for the eighth straight year, the eighth-seeded Nuggets are in the postseason for the first time since 1995. Eight of their 12 players were playing in their first playoff game, and the inexperience showed. Carmelo Anthony, the runner-up for the Rookie of the Year Award, scored 19 points but made just 6-of-17 shots, including 0-of-5 from 3-point range. He picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and never found a rhythm, fouling out in the final minute. Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace and Tayshaun Prince each recorded double-doubles in the series-opening win for Detroit. The Bucks led the Eastern Conference in scoring at 98 points per game, but they no longer have T.J. Ford, their quicksilver rookie point guard who will miss the playoffs with a bruised spinal cord. With former Piston Damon Jones and Brevin Knight at the point, Milwaukee committed 25 turnovers. "We can't worry about who we don't have," said Bucks coach Terry Porter. "We have to go into these games with the guys we have." The Pistons also showed why they are the best defensive team in the NBA, holding All-Star guard Michael Redd to 11 points on 4-of-10 shooting. Prince and Hamilton both covered Redd, leaving him little room to shoot. Keith Van Horn, Milwaukee's second-best shooter, made just 3-of-11 shots. Meanwhile, the Bucks could not handle Detroit's inside game. Ben Wallace had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Rasheed Wallace had 17 and 10 and Prince went for 14 and 11. Wade's first career playoff game couldn't have ended any sweeter. His pull-up eight-footer after blowing past Baron Davis gave Miami the victory in the series opener. A 6-4 combo guard, Wade averaged 16.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.5 assists this season, becoming just the seventh rookie since 1990 with averages of 15 points, four rebounds and four assists. Showing no jitters in his first postseason game, Wade collected 21 points, five rebounds and five assists. Davis scored 17 points and Jamaal Magloire and David Wesley added 14 each for the Hornets, who swept the Heat in the best-of-five first round in 2001 but never have won a best-of-seven series. "Everybody's taking it personal and we're going to come back with a vengeance," said Magloire, who also grabbed 11 rebounds. The defending Eastern Conference champion New Jersey Nets beat the seventh-seeded New York Knicks by an average margin of 21 points in the first two games at the Continental Airlines Arena. The series resumes Thursday in New York. The top-seeded Indiana Pacers won their first two games at home over the Boston Celtics by an average margin of 14.5 points. That Eastern Conference series resumes Friday in Boston. The defending champion San Antonio Spurs, second-seeded Los Angeles Lakers and fourth-seeded Sacramento Kings protected their home court in the first two games of their respective series. The Spurs beat the sixth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies by an average margin of 20.5 points in the first two games. The Grizzlies will host Game Three on Thursday. After edging the Houston Rockets, 72-71, in the series opener, the Lakers posted a 98-84 victory in Game Two. The Rockets host Game Three on Friday. Chris Webber had a triple-double and Mike Bibby and Brad Miller made big shots in the final 90 seconds for the Kings in an 83-79 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday. Dallas and Sacramento finished 1-2 in the NBA in scoring this season as the only teams to average better than 100 points per game. The Kings won Sunday's opener, 116-105, in an up-tempo game typical of these clubs. Game Three is Saturday in Dallas.

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