Second quarter puts Heat away early
Big Run, Big Win
By John Schuhmann
DALLAS, June 11 -- After an ugly Game 1, we were supposed to get a higher quality, smoother looking Game 2. Well, it sure didn't start out that way as the two teams combined to shoot 11-35 (.314) in the first quarter. Each team went through its own scoring drought and the Mavs held an 18-17 lead entering the second.
The Heat made five of their first seven shots of the second quarter to take their largest lead of the game at 28-23 with 8:27 to go in the period.
Then the game changed.
The Mavs scored the next 13 points, with Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard scoring 11 of the 13, to take control. Still, the lead was just seven when Jerry Stackhouse entered the game and it was a six-point game with a minute and a half to go in the period.
After an Erick Dampier offensive rebound, Stackhouse hit a three to extend the lead to nine. On the next possession, he recorded only the seventh four-point play in Finals history to make it 13. The next time down the floor, he beat the shot clock buzzer with another three and the Mavs took a 16-point lead into the break.
"It really got the crowd going and really got the team amped up," Devin Harris said.
For the Heat, it was a different story.
"That sent us into the locker room obviously not in a very good state of mind," Pat Riley said.
Taking Away the Diesel
After Game 1, Pat Riley realized one of his mistakes was not getting the ball to Shaquille O'Neal more often.
"He didn't get it enough," Riley said on Friday. O'Neal took 11 shots and made nine trips to the line in Game 1. Dallas doubled him often and forced him to pass it out quite a bit though.
"From what I watched on film, he touched it a lot," Avery Johnson noted before Game 2. Still, a lot of people expected Sunday to be different, but it was much of the same. The only time O'Neal got a shot off in the first half was when the Mavs fronted him and the Heat went over the top of the defense. Otherwise, Dallas double-teamed the big man every time he touched the ball, forcing him to kick it back out.
"We're trying to have our guys on him as soon as we can and just scramble and make things happen on the defensive end," Dirk Nowitzki said after the game. "I thought we had great energy."
"If you watched the game, you know we were really trying to double team him quite a bit, even before he got the ball," Avery Johnson said.
While many think Shaq will turn things around in Game 3, don't expect the Dallas defense to make it easy.
A Quiet 26 and 16
In the long wait for Game 2, much was made of Dirk Nowitzki's off-night in Game 1. Nowitzki shot just 4-of-14 from the field for 16 points on Thursday and had a difficult time finding space as Udonis Haslem stayed in his grill all night.
Things were different in Game 2, but Nowitzki didn't exactly make a lot of noise with his 26 points on 8-of-16 from the field. He never caught fire or put together a flurry of points. He scored six in the first quarter, six in the second, four in the third and 10 in the fourth. Six of the 10 in the fourth came at the foul line.
Still, 26 points is 26 points and when you throw in 16 rebounds, it's a big night and a nice recovery from Game 1.
"Dirk, boy, he came back tonight," Johnson said. "He got to the free throw line a little bit more. We tried to move him around a little bit."
Johnson went to Dirk in the low post on the first two plays of the game. He then ran two plays for Josh Howard, who also struggled in Game 1. The intention was clear. Let's get these guys going early.
It worked, as Nowitzki was the leading scorer in the game and Howard added 15 points on 6-of-12 from the field.
Next Stop, South Beach
They're two wins away from a championship, but the Mavs aren't looking that far ahead.
"We just have focus on that first quarter [of Game 3]," Harris said. "We really have to concentrate on the task at hand and just keep doing what's been successful and not get away from the system."
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