DALLAS, April 24 (Ticker) --
"The Big Ticket" was no match for "The Big
playoff frustration continued as the Dallas
Mavericks got big games from Dirk Nowitzki
, Michael Finley
in a 122-110 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Mavericks opened a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Western
Conference first-round series. The best road team in the NBA
can send Garnett and the Timberwolves to their sixth straight
opening-round exit with a win on Sunday in Minnesota.
"It's reality and we've got to deal with it," Garnett said.
"We've got to go home and it's a must that we get these two,
starting with this one Sunday."
NBA TV highlights from
Nash's acrobatic layup:
Steve Nash had 10 assists, and was one of six Mavs to score at least 13 points.
One of the NBA's best all-around players, Garnett was the target
of some criticism -- most notably from Magic Johnson -- that
said he was a bit too unselfish and had to take charge with the
game on the line, which he did not do at the end of Game One.
"I don't come in and assess my own stuff," Garnett said. "After
a loss, I sit back and think about all the things that I didn't
do. I'm not really thinking about it from an individual
standpoint, I'm just thinking as a whole what we have to do."
Garnett appeared to take the critique to heart and had a huge
game with 31 points, 18 rebounds and four assists, all team
highs. He even got some help from teammates Wally Szczerbiak
and Chauncey Billups
, who scored 25 points apiece. And it still
wasn't enough to beat Dallas.
Nowitzki nearly matched Garnett with 31 points and 15 boards.
Finley scored 28 points and contributed eight boards. Nash
added 17 points and 10 assists. And it didn't stop there.
The high-powered Mavericks had six players in double figures.
Nick Van Exel
came off the bench to score 17 points, Raef
added 14 and 12 rebounds and defensive demon Eduardo
had 13 points.
"The thing that makes them difficult is not only do they have
the ability to shoot from the perimeter, but almost every one of
their guys has the ability to beat you off the dribble,"
Minnesota coach Flip Saunders said. "Whether it's Nash, whether
it's Van Exel, whether it's Finley, whether it's Nowitzki
matched up with a 4 (power forward), they've got four guys they
can put out on the floor that can create off the dribble.
"They put so much pressure on you to guard them on the
three-point line, but if you get too close, they beat you off
the dribble. They either get to the basket or they draw help and
hit one of their other shooters."
The Timberwolves shot better from the field, made eight more
free throws and held an edge in rebounding -- and still never
led in the second half, trailing by as many as 19 points. The
Mavs won by making 11-of-22 3-pointers and committing just six
"When you're going down the court at 100 miles per hour, this is
like Indy car racing," Garnett said. "Running up and down the
court, you don't have time to assess anything. They're so
damned unorthodox. Mike Finley took some ridiculous shots and
was hitting them."
"There are no distractions," Finley said. "The coaches give you
a lot of latitude out there on the court. That breeds
confidence and that makes our shots a little easier."
Every time Minnesota hung around, Finley created some space for
Dallas. The Mavs made their last six shots of the first
quarter, including a transition 3-pointer by Finley that beat
the buzzer and provided a 33-28 lead.
"Something's in the American Airlines Center air, I guess,"
Szczerbiak said. "Hopefully, they won't go down in our
While Szczerbiak was getting loose for 17 points in the first
half, the Wolves could not create any separation. At the end of
the second period, Finley made two free throws and a breakaway
dunk that gave the Mavs the lead for good at 63-59.
"We can't give them leak-outs," Szczerbiak said. "Mike Finley
got about five or six leak-out dunks. When you get those types
of plays, that gives you a lot of confidence. They're going to
only basket of the game pulled Minnesota within
67-66 early in the third quarter. Dallas responded with a 14-5
run in which all five starters scored. A 3-pointer by Finley
made it 82-71 with 5:32 to go, and he added a monstrous dunk
over 7-footer Rasho Nesterovic
on the next possession.
"I was trying to make the most of my opportunities," Finley
said. "I knew if I went in soft or not aggressive my shot would
get blocked. I just wanted to make something happen and get
the crowd and my teammates into the game. I wanted to be
aggressive both offfensively and defensively. I wanted my
teammates to see that I took this game seriously and I knew it
wouldn't be a cakewalk."
Minnesota trailed 97-86 entering the final period and got no
closer than 10 points. Nowitzki made three 3-pointers and Van
Exel two in a five-minute span.
"When we make our shots and when we run the ball, we can beat
anybody in this league," Nowitzki said.
The Wolves shot 51 percent (40-of-79) but just 3-of-8 from
3-point range. The Mavs shot 49 percent (46-of-94).