Are the Blazers for real? Lakers try to even series


    THERE will be no sneaking up on anybody now as the hottest team in the NBA bubble figures to be in for a stern test Thursday (Friday in Manila) when the Portland Trail Blazers take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.

    The Blazers have been in playoff mode for some time, winning five of their last six regular-season games just to get the crack at the play-in game in order to advance to the first round, and then winning that, too, when they knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies 126-122 on Saturday.

    Orlando, meanwhile, seeks to concoct more magic while Milwaukee attempts to buck the trend of disappointing efforts by high seeds when the Eastern Conference clubs duel again in Game 2 of their best-of-seven playoff series Thursday (Friday in Manila) in the NBA bubble. Orlando stunned the Bucks 122-110 in the opener Tuesday.

    The Houston Rockets didn’t see a 3-pointer they didn’t like in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round playoff series against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The Rockets launched 52 shots from behind the arc in their 123-108 win Tuesday near Orlando, and aren’t exactly looking to change it up much going into Thursday’s (Friday in Manila) Game 2.

    Jimmy Butler got help— lots of it— as the Miami Heat defeated the Indiana Pacers in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series 113-101. And when they meet in Game 2 on Thursday afternoon (Friday in Manila), Pacers star T.J. Warren can only hope he gets some support, too.