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NBA: Spurs cruise past Lakers, Thunder rout Rockets

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

San Antonio's star trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined for 53 points Sunday to lead the Spurs to a 91-79 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in their NBA playoff opener.

With Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon, the result was exactly what many expected in the first game of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series.

And it was just one of the lopsided results in the West on Sunday, followed by the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder's 120-91 triumph over the Houston Rockets.

Duncan posted the 139th playoff double-double of his career with 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Parker added 18 points and eight assists and also made three steals, while Ginobili, showing no sign of the hamstring strain that sidelined him late in the regular season, contributed 18 points.

Spurs point guard Parker noted that without Bryant, the Lakers were "a totally different team."

"It's not an excuse," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Bryant's absence. "I thought we had good shots, we've got to knock them down."

Recuperating from tendon surgery, Bryant still made his presence felt with a few pointers for his teammates on Twitter.

"Nothing worse than watching your brothers struggle and u can't do anything about it," he tweeted after the game ended.

"It's great to have that commentary," D'Antoni dead-panned, drawing a laugh when asked about Bryant's mid-game critiques on the social networking site.

Even with point guard Steve Nash back from an extended injury absence, the Lakers -- the last team to clinch a playoff berth -- clearly have a tough task ahead of them when the series resumes on Wednesday.

Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol did what they could. Howard scored 20 points with 15 rebounds and Gasol delivered 16 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.

Nash scored 16 points in 29 minutes on the floor, but the Lakers couldn't overcome 18 turnovers and lackluster 3-of-15 shooting from three-point range.

"We can't get discouraged that we lost the first game," Howard said. "We saw a couple of things that we could have done a lot better, and we'll do a better job in the second game."

In Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 24 points with six rebounds and four assists in the Thunder's rout of the Rockets.

Russell Westbrook delivered 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds while Serge Ibaka added 17 points and seven rebounds for the victors.

James Harden, traded by the Thunder to the Rockets prior to the season, connected on just 6-of-19 from the floor but led Houston with 20 points. He got little help from fellow starters Jeremy Lin, Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and Greg Smith, who combined for just 28 points for a Rockets team in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

After what coach Kevin McHale called a "nervy" start, Houston settled down, but never got their potent offense firing.

"We just didn't play well -- that was the bottom line," said McHale, whose team will try to bounce back in game two on Wednesday. "We had some good looks early and didn't make them, and then we started to press a little bit."

Durant said the Thunder, aiming to get back to the NBA finals after falling to Miami in last year's championship series, weren't trying to make a statement.

"We just wanted to take care of our home court," he said.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130422/nba-spurs-cruise-past-lakers-thunder-rout-rockets