DALLAS, May 8 (Ticker) -- Nick Van Exel
was in a hurry to even things up.
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Van Exel led a second-quarter explosion and scored a playoff career-high 36 points as the Dallas Mavericks squared their
Western Conference semifinal series at one game each with a record-setting 132-110 victory over the Sacramento Kings.
Although the NBA's best offensive teams were expected to play a high-scoring series, no one could have anticipated this. The
teams tied a playoff record for points in a first quarter and Dallas broke the mark for points in a first half.
No one was better than Van Exel. He scored 26 points in Game 7 against Portland and was the most vociferous Maverick after their discouraging home loss to Sacramento in Game 1.
"We needed to believe in each other," Van Exel said. "I let them know that's how I felt and how we should approach these
games. When the time comes for me to step up and say things, I'll do it."
Van Exel scored 13 points in a 30-7 spurt that looked like a clinic in transition basketball. On consecutive possessions, he
drilled three three-pointers in 80 seconds.
"I've seen Nick do that early with Cincinnati (in college)," Dallas guard Michael Finley said. "I've seen him do that with the Lakers. I've even seen him do it with Denver. It wasn't a surprise for me. I know what he's capable of. I'm just glad to see him finally do it with the Mavericks."
The outburst turned a 44-40 lead after one quarter into a blowout. Van Exel's basket with 3:50 left capped it at 74-47
and had the American Airlines Center screaming for more.
"We kept running and stayed within a couple points and they just kept coming at us," Kings coach Rick Adelman said.
Steve Nash's layup with 18 seconds to go gave Dallas an 83-59 lead and broke the record for points in a half shared by the
1983 San Antonio Spurs and 1987 Los Angeles Lakers, both against Denver.
Van Exel made 14-of-19 shots overall and 5-of-8 three-pointers to lead a scorching shooting effort by the Mavs. They shot 51
percent (51-of-99), including a playoff club-record 17-of-32 from the arc.
"I can't remember playing that well," Van Exel said. "The most important thing for myself is to continue to be aggressive. If I'm making shots, it really helps the team out."
Finley and Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points apiece and Nash added 19 for third-seeded Dallas, which heads to Sacramento for Games 3 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday.
"We've just got to go in there and take care of business, play the way we are capable of playing and then we'll see how we fare in a series with a back-to-back game," said Finley, who made 5-of-12 three-pointers.
The third-seeded Kings may have lost more than a game. All-Star forward Chris Webber injured his left knee in the third quarter and had to be carted off the court. He returned to the bench and will have an MRI on Friday.
Sixth Man Award winner Bobby Jackson took a shot to the right eye in the fourth quarter and also did not return. He underwent X-rays on his orbital bone, which reportedly revealed a non-displaced fracture that may require a mask.
Webber scored 31 points and Peja Stojakovic added 24 for the Kings, who shot 47 percent (37-of-79) but could not keep up with
The game was a throwback to the 1970s and had everything except a red, white and blue ball. In the first half, defense appeared to be an afterthought as the frenetic pace resembled the old ABA, which once had a franchise in Dallas.
"We got on such a roll, making shots from all over the floor, and the fans were really into it. It was great," Nowitzki said.
"We weren't even there," Adelman said. "In the second quarter alone, we must have given them 15 uncontested shots. You can't do that."
Nelson switched his lineup, going to a smaller unit featuring defensive-minded Adrian Griffin and Eduardo Najera. The result
was the highest-scoring first quarter in NBA playoff history.
Nowitzki scored 18 points, including a rare four-point play that helped Dallas take a 44-40 lead. Stojakovic scored 17 points and Webber added 15 for Sacramento, which saw an early 20-10 margin obliterated.
Van Exel's flurry of three-pointers pushed the advantage to 67-47 with 5:08 to go, and the Mavs added seven consecutive points to
turn it into a rout.
"We weren't very good in transition defense and they were terrific," Adelman said. "They took it to us all night long."
The Kings got no closer than 18 points in the second half. With 2:58 left in the third quarter, Webber tried to elevate for a bad alley-oop pass and went down in pain. With 8:11 to play, Jackson ran face-first into Raef LaFrentz's shoulder.
In the final minute, Dallas' Walt Williams and Sacramento's Hedo Turkoglu both were ejected following a shoving match.
Griffin scored a playoff career-high 15 points.