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Heat, Thunder Win NBA Playoff Openers as Home Teams Start 8-0

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Indiana Pacers Player Paul George
Paul George of the Indiana Pacers looks on during game one of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals between the Indiana Pacers and the Atlanta Hawks on April 21, 2013 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Photographer: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

April 22 (Bloomberg) -- The Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder opened their first-round National Basketball Association playoff series by winning by a combined 52 points, as home teams improved their postseason start to 8-0.

Miami, the defending NBA champion and top seed in the Eastern Conference, beat the Milwaukee Bucks 110-87 yesterday as LeBron James had 27 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Thunder, the No. 1 seed in the West, routed the Houston Rockets 120-91 behind 24 points from Kevin Durant and a 19-point, 10-assist, 8-rebound effort from Russell Westbrook.

“We just wanted to take care of our home court,” Durant said in a televised interview. “We didn’t do anything yet. We’ve just got to continue to get better.”

The San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers also had Game 1 playoff wins yesterday, with the Spurs beating the Los Angeles Lakers 91-79 and the Pacers topping the Atlanta Hawks 107-90. It’s the first time since the 2003-04 postseason that home teams won the opening game in all eight first-round series.

Oklahoma City, Indiana and San Antonio also host the second games in the best-of-seven series on April 24. There are two NBA games scheduled for today, with the Brooklyn Nets hosting the Chicago Bulls in the East and the Memphis Grizzlies visiting the Los Angeles Clippers in the West.

The Heat opened their playoff campaign by shooting 56 percent against the eighth-seeded Bucks. James hit 9-of-11 shots while finishing two assists shy of a triple-double.

Dwyane Wade added 16 points for Miami, which will host Game 2 tomorrow.

In Oklahoma City, the Thunder raced to a 13-2 lead in the opening minutes and cruised to the win over eighth-seeded Houston. Serge Ibaka added 17 points for Oklahoma City.

Spurs’ Win

In San Antonio, Tim Duncan had 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Spurs, seeded second in the West, jumped out to a 12-point first-quarter lead. The seventh-seeded Lakers never got closer than four points the rest of the way.

Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker each had 18 points for the Spurs, who improved to 36-6 at home this season.

Dwight Howard had 20 points and 15 rebounds to lead the Lakers, who made the playoffs by ending the regular-season with a five-game winning streak. Los Angeles is without five-time NBA champion Kobe Bryant, who suffered a ruptured left Achilles tendon on April 13.

In Indianapolis, Paul George led the Pacers with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists, helping Indiana rebound after losing five of seven games to end the regular season.

Triple-Double

George hit his first 17 free throws before missing his final foul shot and finished with Indiana’s first triple-double in the postseason since Mark Jackson on May 13, 1998.

George Hill added 18 points and Roy Hibbert had 16 points and eight rebounds for the third-seeded Pacers. Jeff Teague had 21 points for the sixth-seeded Hawks.

Two days ago, the New York Knicks rallied past the Boston Celtics 85-78 and the Nets routed the Bulls 106-89 in the Eastern Conference. In the West, the Denver Nuggets topped the Golden State Warriors 97-95 and the Clippers eased to a 112-91 victory over the Grizzlies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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