The ease with which the Denver Nuggets pulled away from the New Orleans Hornets during the second half of last night's 113-84 playoff victory certainly bodes well for the Nugs in the series -- although game two, scheduled for Wednesday night, remains key. Still, Hornets star Chris Paul remains dangerous, in part because officials seem willing to reward him for his tendency to flop, as opposed to giving him dirty looks as he lies on the hardwood figuratively begging for their sympathy.
Paul's acting abilities were on particularly prominent display during the early part of the third quarter, when the contest's outcome was still in doubt. First, he took a tumble running down the court -- and while Nuggets broadcaster Scott Hastings thought the tripping call made against Dahntay Jones was legit, it sure as hell didn't look that way on replay. Moments later, Paul went up for a jumpshot and was struck near the wrist -- after which he fell flat on his back as if he'd been hit in the gut by a battering ram.
In the latter incident, Paul would have probably gotten the call even if he'd remained upright, which only made his flopping that much more annoying to Denver fans and the on-court Nuggets, who seemed on the verge of losing their composure before pulling themselves together. Let's hope the next set of refs refuse to blow their whistles if Paul pulls similar shenanigans. It'd serve him right to have a foul or two ignored because of his ludicrous collapses. He's too good a player to have to rely on exercises from the Manu Ginobili School of Drama -- which is why the Nuggets would be wise to stay out of any scene in which he's playing the lead.