DALLAS, May 13 (Ticker) --
With an uncharacteristic defensive effort, the Mavericks shut
down the Sacramento Kings in the third quarter and rode a near
triple-double by Dirk Nowitzki
to a 112-93 victory in the
pivotal fifth game of the Western Conference semifinals.
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Dunk of the Night:
"It was one of our best defensive games in the second half,"
Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "I thought we really knuckled
Nowitzki had 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists for Dallas,
which grabbed a 3-2 series lead and can advance to the
conference finals for the first time since 1988 with a win on
Thursday at Sacramento.
"We really wanted to get the win tonight because we knew we
couldn't go back to Sacramento one down," Nowitzki said. "We
were rotating, we were contesting their jumpers -- it was a great
Dallas, which led the NBA in scoring during the regular season,
had its customary offensive outburst as it eclipsed 110 points
for the fourth time in the series and had six players in double
But for once, the go-go Mavericks seemed more interested in
stops. In the third quarter, they limited the Kings to a
franchise playoff-record 10 points on just 3-of-25 shooting and
did not allow a basket for the final six minutes of the period.
"In the second half, we took it upon ourselves to make more of
an effort defensively and as a team go out there and be more
aggressive on the defensive end," Dallas guard Michael Finley
said. "When we did that, we were able to get into the open
court and able to get easy transition baskets, which in turn
pretty much turned the game around."
The charge was fueled by Raja Bell
, one of the few Mavericks
considered a defensive player. Bell also contributed on offense
with seven of his 13 points in the period, which ended with
Dallas holding an 83-71 lead.
"Bell was our best player in Game 4 (a 99-83 loss)," Nelson
said. "That is not saying a whole lot, but he was really the
only player that did well in that game. I thought he played
well again tonight. He was being active and rebounding. He is
physically able to do some things that our other players can't
"I think our whole team played great in the third," Bell said.
"I, personally, just felt like I didn't do my job in the first
half and I really wanted to come out and do the job defensively
and rebounding-wise in the second half. It just so happened
that I got some open looks, some throw-in kicks and I was able
to knock them down. But I was more focused on picking up the
energy, playing defense and rebounding."
scored 25 points and Nick Van Exel
added 18 for the
third-seeded Mavs, who overcame a 15-point second-quarter
deficit. They limited the Kings -- the highest-scoring and
best-shooting team in the postseason -- to less than 36 percent
(33-of-92) overall and set a club playoff record with 11 blocks.
"We stayed in front of them, we didn't let them penetrate and
kick and get that game going," Nowitzki said. "We have to run
back on defense and take away the easy breakaways."
totaled 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists
for the second-seeded Kings, who had virtually no inside
presence in the second half.
The Kings missed injured All-Star forward Chris Webber
more than many thought they would. When center Vlade Divac
sat out most of the third quarter with foul trouble, the offense bogged down and resorted
to firing jumpers.
"It's tough because our strategy is to push the ball, but when
we don't have it, we want to throw the ball into Vlade and go
inside-out," Christie said. "To have him being so talented and
with a nice hook shot, jump shot, (the ability to) pass the
ball, to not have him on the floor takes a lot of options away."
Sacramento held a 61-54 halftime lead that quickly dissipated
after Divac took a seat with his fourth foul in the first minute
of the third quarter. A three-pointer by Bell gave Dallas the lead
for good at 68-65 with 8:19 left.
"When we don't have anybody inside we sometimes turn into a jump
shooting team," Kings coach Rick Adelman said. "We're kind of
like them (Mavs) -- when they're going in, we look pretty good,
but when they're not, it starts to unwind."
A dunk by Scot Pollard
at the 6:20 mark was the last basket of the quarter for the Kings, who missed their last 10 shots. Bell
had a jumper and layup around a three-pointer by Van Exel to push
the lead to 80-69 with 1:59 to go.
Divac returned at the outset of the final period with Sacramento
trailing, 83-71. Van Exel had a layup and 3-pointer to push
the margin to 90-74 before Divac picked up his fifth foul with
9:29 to play.
Sacramento got no closer than 12 points thereafter. Bell's
flying two-handed dunk added an exclamation point, giving Dallas
its largest lead and closing the scoring.
"It felt great. I've been waiting for that one all year," Bell
Michael Finley scored 16 points and Raef LaFrentz
added 14 for
Dallas, which shot 44 percent (38-of-86) and held a 58-53
advantage on the boards. LaFrentz had five blocks and Nowitzki
and Finley had three each.
scored 19 points for the Kings. Divac and
reserve forward Keon Clark
each had just five points and five
Stojakovic scored nine points in the first quarter as Sacramento
grabbed a 33-24 lead. A 3-pointer by Christie made it 44-29
midway through the second period before Nash led a rally.