DALLAS, April 26 (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki
is giving fellow All-Star
forward Pau Gasol a lesson in playoff basketball.
Nowitzki ignored early foul trouble and scored 31 points for the
second straight game as the Dallas Mavericks rolled to a 94-79
victory over the sloppy Memphis Grizzlies and opened a 2-0 lead
in their Western Conference first-round series.
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scored 17 points for the fourth-seeded Mavericks,
who were 11 wins better than the fifth-seeded Grizzlies during
the season and have looked every bit of it through the first two
An MVP candidate and a playoff-tested veteran, Nowitzki has
thoroughly outplayed Gasol, who has struggled while allowing the
Grizzlies to fall to 0-10 all-time in the postseason. In each
of the first two games, he has disappeared for long stretches.
"He came out firing and had like 10 or 12 points in the first
quarter," Nowitzki said. "After that, we did a decent job on
him. We got the ball out of his hands some. We met him early
and tried to be physical with him. Really that's the only way
you can play him. He's still young."
"We did a great job on Pau," Howard said. "I think he only
scored four points in the second half, and I give all of the
credit to Gana (center DeSagana Diop
) and Damp (Erick Dampier
and even D.J. (third-string center D.J. Mbenga
) when he came in.
You've got to send him the opposite way of where he likes to
go. Our big guys have paid attention to the scouting report and
they are really doing their job."
With 3:11 left in the first quarter, Nowitzki took a seat with
his second foul. The Grizzlies quickly took advantage, opening
a 36-32 lead early in the second quarter.
Nowitzki returned at the 10:25 mark scored the game's next nine
points in a 2:07 span to give Dallas the lead for good and
thoroughly discourage Memphis, which fell apart for the rest of
"I wanted to come out really, really aggressive, obviously,
offensively," Nowitzki said. "I made my first couple of shots
and felt great. I got two calls there and it kind of took me
out of the game a little bit. But once I came back, guys were
looking for me. I got open a couple of times. It just felt
In the second quarter, Memphis managed 12 points while
committing 10 turnovers. By contrast, Nowitzki scored 13 points,
including a 3-pointer and free throw that helped push the lead
to 57-43 at halftime.
"The turnovers cause you to lose control of the game," Gasol
said. "It was frustrating. We were turning the ball over and
giving them the ball back without making them work for it. It
was really an intense game for a while, and we had a very good
chance to be right there. We lost it for a few minutes and we
really paid for it.
"Overall we played some great defense," Nowitzki said. "Once we
do that we will always be in a position to win a game."
A 3-pointer by Jason Terry
gave Dallas a 64-45 lead with 9:11
left in the third quarter. The Mavericks led by at least 13
"We have a lot of athletes that are great in the open court with
and Josh and (Terry is) so fast and,
obviously, Devin (Harris)
," Nowitzki said. "Once we rebound and
we push the ball it's good."
After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Gasol went more
than 30 minutes without a basket. The
rest of the Grizzlies managed just 25 points in the
middle two quarters and trailed, 76-56, entering the final
Gasol finished with 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting, adding seven
rebounds and five assists. He could have used some help as he
led the Grizzlies in all three categories.
"They started doubling and we kind of stopped running plays for
the post-ups," Gasol said. "We kind of got lost a little bit.
Especially in the second quarter, we got out of our game for a
few minutes and that really cost us."
Nowitzki made 9-of-19 shots and 12-of-14 free throws. Terry
added 16 points and nine assists for the Mavericks, who made
28-of-36 from the line.
scored 12 points and Eddie Jones
added 11 for the
Grizzlies, who committed 20 turnovers.
"We're not going to win any games if we turn the ball over like
that," Jackson said. "We've been taking care of the ball all
season but now we're just, for some reason, turning the ball
over a little bit too much right now."
"We'll take 20 turnovers anyway we can get them," Mavericks
coach Avery Johnson
said. "Whether they are forced are
unforced, we're not going to be choosy in that situation. The
more we get turnovers like that, we'll have a chance to get some
The series shifts to Memphis for Game 3 and Game 4 on
Saturday and Monday. Dallas won three road playoff games a year
"We have to come out hard in Game 3, really establish
ourselves at home and get a win there," Gasol said. "The whole
scenario changes then, but we've got to do it. We've got to
make it happen. I'm really excited about that, going back home
with our fans and getting this monkey, that is really getting
heavy, off of our back."
"In this league, you can never relax," Nowitzki said. "I was
part of a playoff series one year against Portland. We were up
3-0 and we relaxed a little bit in that fourth game, they found
their rhytm a little bit and the next thing you know, we found
ourselves in a seventh game. So you've always got to keep the
pressure up in the playoffs."