Tuesday's NBA playoff slate featured four games, starting in Atlanta, where the Hawks grabbed a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with a convincing 96-86 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Elsewhere in the East, the Celtics -- despite playing without Kevin Garnett, who was suspended for Game 2 -- routed the offensively-challenged Miami Heat, 106-77, to grab a two- game advantage in their series.
In the Western Conference, Phoenix routed Portland, 119-90, to even its series at a game apiece after becoming the only top-4 seed to lose its opening game at home. The Lakers took a 2-0 series lead by holding off the Thunder, 95-92, in a game where Oklahoma City had a pair of chances in the final seconds to draw even or go ahead.
Wednesday's NBA playoff docket features a duo of Game 2s, one from each conference. The defending Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic will look to grab a 2-0 series lead against the Charlotte Bobcats, while the Dallas Mavericks will try to do the same against the San Antonio Spurs in their Western Conference series.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard was named the 2009-10 NBA Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, taking the award for a second consecutive season. Howard, 24, received 576 points, including 110 first-place votes, to become the first player to win it two seasons in a row since Ben Wallace in 2005 and '06. Atlanta's Josh Smith was second with 136 points, while Charlotte's Gerald Wallace was third (113). Howard ranked first in the NBA in blocks (2.78) and rebounds (13.2) per game, and anchored a Magic defense that was first in the league in opponent field goal percentage (.438) and fourth in points per game allowed (95.26).
Utah Jazz forward Andre Kirilenko started Platelet Rich Plasma treatment on Monday. Kirilenko missed 15 of the Jazz's final 17 regular-season games due to a nagging calf injury and flew to Los Angeles to start rehab. He is expected to start light workouts on Thursday and move to swimming exercises this weekend. The Russian veteran averaged 11.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.43 steals and 1.22 blocks in 58 games this season, and could possibly return for the second round of the playoffs if the Jazz advance past the Denver Nuggets.
The Portland Trail Blazers, in the midst of a first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns, signed forward/center Marcus Camby to a two-year contract extension on Tuesday. Portland traded for Camby in February after centers Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla went down for the season with injuries. Camby has since averaged 7.0 points, 11.1 rebounds, 1.13 steals and 2.04 blocks in 23 games with the Blazers, helping them go 17-6 down the stretch to grab the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference.
Jeff Bower, who stepped in as interim head coach of the Hornets following the firing of Byron Scott in November, will relinquish that role and instead focus on his duties as the team's general manager. Bower has been with the Hornets since 1995, starting as a scout and working his way to general manager in 2001. He then moved to the bench as an assistant coach for the 2003-04 season before returning to the GM role at the start of the 2005-06 season.