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Marc Stein: Rating the first playoff weekend

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Best Leading Man: Rose One more triple for Billups in Sunday's extremely-physical-for-a-rout smashing of the Hornets -- which would have matched Ray Allen, Vince Carter and Nuggets vice president of player personnel Rex Chapman for the single-game playoff record of nine 3s -- and we might have been forced to revise this selection. Or maybe not. Lead guards were the weekend rage, and Billups, appropriately, couldn't have done much more as a tone-setter for his desperate hometown team. It doesn't matter that Billups and Paul don't actually match up on every possession. The mere presence of the game's consensus No. 1 point guard in Denver's infamous altitude -- along with the low-hanging clouds stemming from the Nuggets' inability to win a first-round series since Billups was a junior at Denver's George Washington High School in 1994 -- combined to make Chauncey's 8-for-9 shooting on 3-pointers in a 113-84 rout one of his most memorable eruptions. We already knew, though, that the 2004 NBA Finals MVP could do this. Or something close to this. We had no idea what Rose was capable of in his first playoff game. We never expected to hear Magic Johnson -- who managed a comparatively paltry 13 points and 16 assists in his postseason debut for the Lakers -- gushing on the ABC set in response to Rose's 36 points and 11 dimes in a two-point OT win in Boston: "Michael Jordan couldn't do it, Magic Johnson couldn't do it, Larry Bird didn't do it."

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