PHOENIX, May 11 (Ticker) --
While his good friend and ex-teammate Steve Nash
has the hardware, Dirk Nowitzki
and the Dallas Mavericks
have home-court advantage.
Nowitzki finished a 23-point effort with a turnaround jumper in
the closing seconds, lifting the Dallas Mavericks to a 108-106
victory over the Phoenix Suns to tie their Western Conference
semifinal at a game apiece.
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Nash was awarded the NBA Most Valuable Player award before the
series and was a catalyst in the top-seeded Suns' 127-102 rout
in Game 1 Monday, embarrassing his former team in a vintage
He had an assist and a jumper on consecutive possessions in the
final minute to tie it at 106-106, but saw Nowitzki deliver the
final blow in this one and wrest home-court advantage from
Following Nash's jumper, Nowitzki drew swingman Quentin Richardson
and used his six-inch height advantage, backing the
Phoenix defender down before hitting a turnaround jumper with
6.8 seconds left.
"I looked at the clock, I wanted to go with about six or seven
seconds on the shot clock," Nowitzki said. "I was able to take
it baseline and spin him, that's my move. Fortunately, it went
in for us."
The Suns had a final chance and got the ball in the hands of
Nash, whose attempt at a pick-and-roll was defended well by the
7-foot Nowitzki. He reset and passed outside to Richardson, who
stepped outside the arc before missing an open look as the
"Steve didn't quite get into the lane (for the pick-and-roll);
they did a pretty good job and he passed it out to Q," Phoenix
coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "He got a pretty good look, it just
didn't go down."
"We ran a pick-and-roll and we were just going to try and attack
them," Nash said. "It had been successful for us the few
previous plays, but with six seconds it's difficult to predict
what's going to happen."
Richardson elected to go for the win after first passing up a
look at a shorter jumper.
"That was just me, you know I am going for every play," said
Richardson, who scored 12 points. "That is what I do and what I
know. I just didn't make it. I felt good. I thought it was
going in. If I had to do it all over again I would take the
Nowitzki, who called out Dallas center Erick Dampier
Monday's loss, had just four points in the fourth but they were
the final four his team needed.
After Nowitzki hit a pair of free throws to put the Mavericks on
top, 106-102, with 1:54 to go, Nash found Amaré Stoudemire
a dunk and later hit a shot over Nowitzki to tie it with 27
seconds left, setting up Nowitzki's game-winner.
"We got the ball in Dirk's hands and we like it in his hands at
the end of a game," Dallas coach Avery Johnson
said. "He made a
Game 3 is Friday in Dallas.
The Suns trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and
lost starting guard Joe Johnson
to a concussion with 19 seconds
to go before the break. Johnson was fouled by Jerry Stackhouse
on a dash to the hoop and fell on his face, suffering a minor
concussion and taking six stitches before heading to an area
His trip to the hospital revealed a displaced fracture of the
left orbital bone, and Johnson will miss at least one game after
"It's tough. Joe's been averaging a bunch of points, he's one
of our best defenders and he's obviously a terrific player,"
Nash said. "Obviously we missed him."
Perhaps motivated by its fallen teammate, Phoenix had a 13-2 run
to start the second half and take a 59-56 lead, its first since
the opening minutes.
"In the second half we started to play our game," said Suns
forward Shawn Marion
, who had 23 points and 15 rebounds. "If we
hit a shot there or made a stop there we would have won the
helped Dallas weather the storm with 12
third-quarter points and hit one of his five 3-pointers with 62
seconds to go in the period to pull the Mavericks within 80-78.
"I just had some good looks at the basket and I got into a nice
rhythm offensively," said Finley, who finished with 31 points on
12-of-18 shooting. "My teammates kept finding me and Phoenix
kept leaving me open. Those shots were going down and it kept
us in the game."
Neither team led by more than six points in the fourth and the
Suns never led after Mavericks guard Jason Terry
hit a jumper to
tie it at 96-96 with 4:43 left.
"We just came out a lot more aggressive and I think we had our
legs under us a lot better tonight," said Terry, who scored six
points during a 12-4 run that gave Dallas a 104-98 lead with
2:49 left. "Defensively, we were alert and aware, getting the
loose balls. That's what you have to do against this team."
Phoenix had shot nearly 51 percent over its first five playoff
games -- all wins -- but was held to a 41.6 percent mark
(37-of-89) in Game 2. The club's 106 points represents a
"You go back and analyze certain things and you look at certain
matchups that are not good for you," Avery Johnson said. "Main
thing is, we wanted to slow them down, and to give this team 24
points in the fourth quarter, we feel pretty good about that."
Dampier, who lashed back at Nowitzki after hearing of his
teammate's comments, scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting in the
first quarter to help Dallas take a 34-22 lead.
"I know I didn't play the way I can in Game 1, and I just want
to come out and do what I can to help this team win," Dampier
"I don't know if it was what I said, but he played great
tonight," Nowitzki said. "He was aggressive from the start. On
the glass, on defense, he made some big plays for us. When
he's active and attacks penetration and is a presence for us in
the middle, we're a different team."
Nash scored 23 points and had 13 assists and Stoudemire added 30
and 16 rebounds for Phoenix, which had won seven straight at
home dating to the regular season.
"I didn't think we were going to go four-four-four-four (series
sweeps), so that wasn't going to work," said D'Antoni, who was
presented with his NBA Coach of the Year award before the game.
"Sure we're disappointed, but I think we lost it."