Playoffs roundup: Hornets hold off Nuggets in Game 3

Hornets hold off Nuggets in Game 3 (Nuggets up 2-1)
Nuggets 93 at Hornets 95

In a relieved New Orleans locker room, Chris Paul and James Posey chatted about all the hard fouls, all the flying bodies that more than anything defined the Hornets’ first win of this postseason. “This is the fun part of the playoffs, all the contact, all the flagrant fouls,” Paul said. “You never want anyone to get hurt, but after it’s all said and done, you smile about it because that’s the nature of the sport.” Playing a grueling 46 minutes and shaking off a hard foul committed against him, Paul had 32 points and 12 assists, helping New Orleans hold on for a 95-93 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday in Game 3 of their first-round series.

Howard lifts Mavericks past Spurs for 3-1 lead
Spurs 90 at Mavericks 99

Tony Parker was exhausted, having done everything the San Antonio Spurs wanted him to by aggressively taking the ball to the basket. When Parker wasn’t scoring, Tim Duncan was while bouncing back from the worst playoff game in his long career. That still wasn’t enough to save the Spurs from the brink of an unusual early playoff elimination against the Dallas Mavericks. Josh Howard scored 28 points, seven in an early second-half spurt that put Dallas ahead to stay in a 99-90 victory Saturday.

Wade carries Heat past Hawks in Game 3 for a 2-1 lead
Hawks 78 at Heat 107

Dwyane Wade swished a 3-pointer, then turned and shook his hand like it was burning. Yep, Wade and the Miami Heat are that hot right now. Wade finished with 29 points and eight assists, Jermaine O’Neal added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat extended Atlanta’s decade-plus road playoff drought, beating the Hawks 107-78 Saturday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round matchup. It was over early: Atlanta missed 17 of its first 19 shots, and a 25-6 Heat run to end the first half pushed the lead to 50-29.

Kobe scores 38 as Lakers pound Jazz for a 3-1 lead
Lakers 108 at Jazz 94

It took Kobe Bryant only a few minutes to end his shooting slump. Bryant scored Los Angeles’ first 11 points and once his teammates joined in, the Lakers overwhelmed the Jazz 108-94 on Saturday night and moved within one game of advancing to the second round. “It was important for me to come out and be a little more assertive,” said Bryant, who scored 38 two nights after one of his worst shooting games in years. Bryant went 16-for-24, erasing any memories of his 5-for-24 night Thursday in the Lakers’ only loss of the series.