No. 7 San Antonio Spurs 102 at No. 2 Dallas Mavericks 88
Entering Game 2 of their opening round series with the San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks not only hoped to take a 2-0 advantage, they also tried to hold serve on the American Airlines Center floor before the series migrates south.
The Spurs had something else in mind. After suffering a 100-94 loss on Sunday, San Antonio returned the favor, downing the Mavericks 102-88 on Dallas' home floor and stealing the momentum of what figures to be yet another epic series between the two rivals.
"When you are down 0-1, you come out and play a desperate game, which (the Spurs) did," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
"We didn't play well tonight and they did," point guard Jason Kidd said. "They were better from the tip."
The second go-round didn't start so well for the hometown squad. Beginning the game by missing on their first seven shots, the Mavericks quickly found themselves in a 9-0 hole.
"We started out and blew three coverages on the first three plays of the game and those are mental mistakes," Carlisle said.
"We knew we had our hands full from the get-go," forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
Then things got interesting for both teams, as both Nowitzki and his counterpart Tim Duncan picked up two quick fouls in the opening quarter. Without No. 41, the Mavs attempted to rally, closing to within 24-20 at the end of one. Neither team set the nets on fire in the first quarter, as Dallas hit just 6-of-22 from the field while San Antonio connected on 9-of-24 at the other end.
"They scored, Dirk had two fouls and we were digging ourselves out of a hole from there going forward," the coach continued. "In the playoffs, you have to be very precise. You are going to make mistakes, but to start the game was a really tough situation for us."
Behind Spurs guard Tony Parker, the visitors continued to keep a slight edge on the scoreboard in the early stage of the second stanza. But a renewed commitment to attacking the rim proved beneficial for the Mavericks, along with Nowitzki's reemergence on the court after the early foul trouble. Though Nowitzki's consecutive free throw streak came to an end at 88, the Mavs did climb to within one thanks to Jason Terry's assassin-like sharpshooting. That's when Richard Jefferson and Manu Ginobili gave the Spurs some breathing room with an array of athletic moves, sinking Dallas back into a double-digit ditch. With a 34-26 scoring advantage in the period, the Spurs took a 58-46 lead into the halftime intermission.
"They came out and set the tempo tonight. They were aggressive early, and that's what got them out to a good start," Terry said.
Terry led the Mavericks at the half with his 13 points off the bench. Jefferson's 17 first-half points on 7-of-9 shooting not only led all scorers at the midway point, it also helped the Spurs out-shot the Mavs, 52 percent to 37 percent.
"Jefferson is a hell of a player. He has had some big games against a lot of teams, including us, this year. I am not shocked, he is very capable," Carlisle said.
As Nowitzki struggled through an off-shooting night while facing multiple defenders, the Dallas offense continued to look Terry's way in the third quarter. But not even last season's Sixth Man of the Year was enough to combat the Spurs' balanced attack. With an inside-outside assault, the Spurs led by as much as 20 in the quarter. That is until a 12-2 Dallas run trimmed it to an 82-72 margin in San Antonio's favor headed into the final period.
"We never were going to give up and there was plenty of ball game left," Terry said of the late run to end the quarter.
The spurt to end the third woke up both Nowitzki and Caron Butler. The duo then tried to become the Spurs' worst nightmare in the fourth. Butler's penetration and Nowitzki's sweet stroke from the outside quickly cut the deficit to single digits, as Terry continued his hot shooting from the perimeter to help dwindled the disadvantage to as little as five .
"We were right there in the fourth quarter. We had the crowd involved. We just couldn't make the plays to win it...We just got cold there at the wrong time," Nowitzki said.
Meanwhile, Duncan's timely scoring and tough rebounding inside helped the Spurs recollect themselves. Duncan and Nowitzki then exchanged baskets, one trying to even the series, the other trying to will his team to a commanding lead. Nowitzki's effort was all for not, as Ginobili put the game out of reach with a driving score in the final minutes to put the Spurs ahead 12. The game was never in doubt the remainder of the way.
"We just have to look at this game, see what we did wrong and go from there," Kidd said.
Kidd will be the first to tell you that the Mavs' inability to rebound tops the list of what they did wrong in Game 2.
"We didn't rebound the ball well, and we gave up second opportunities," the veteran lead guard said.
Thanks to a 51-42 rebounding edge, the Spurs racked up 23 second-chance points compared to Dallas' nine second-effort points. According to Carlisle, that summarizes the night.
"To me, the stat that sticks out to me the most is rebounding, 51-42," the coach said. "The second-chance points, 23-9. That is a huge discrepancy. And look, when the ball is in the air, it is anybody's ball, and they came up with all of those plays. They got the loose balls and they were more opportunistic."
Which all equaled into a losing equation for Dallas, voiding out Terry's game-high 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting. Nowitzki battled through his early deficiencies to score 24 points, hitting nine of 24 shots. Butler finished with 17 points.
Duncan followed up his 27-point perfomance in Game 1 with 25 points and 17 rebounds. Ginobili (23), Jefferson (19) and Parker made it four Spurs to score in double figures.
Behind their four potent scorers, the Spurs finished the game out-shooting Dallas, 48 percent to 37 percent. San Antonio also swished in 8-of-15 from behind the three-point arch, while the Mavericks nailed seven of their 19 shots from deep. A 40-30 advantage in points in the paint also helped the visiting team's cause.
Now, the Mavericks look to get back on track as the series travels to San Antonio. Dallas is hoping the experience of owning the league's most road wins during the regular season helps now, with the stakes much higher.
"They're not going to give us anything. We're going to have to battle and take it...The good thing is we won big road games all season long," Nowitzki said.
First, the Mavs venture on the road on Friday night. Game 3 will air nationally on ESPN and locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at 8:30 p.m. CT.
"We wanted to win this one and it didn't happen. And now we've got to put all of our energy and our focus into Game 3," Terry said.
Game 4 will then air nationally on TNT and locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at 6 p.m. CT Sunday evening.
Then the series swings back up to Dallas for Game 5, which will air locally on KTXA and KTXA HD at a time not yet announced. Reserve your tickets by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
"This is a tough series. These are two teams that are very good and you have to play your best," Carlisle concluded.
Note: The Mavs-Spurs First Round series schedule is as follows:
Game 2 – Wed April 21 San Antonio at Dallas 8:30PM TXA21/ TNT
Game 3 – Fri April 23 Dallas at San Antonio 8:30PM TXA21/ ESPN
Game 4 – Sun April 25 Dallas at San Antonio 6:00PM TXA21/ TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 27 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TXA21/ TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 29 Dallas at San Antonio TBD TXA21/ TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 1 San Antonio at Dallas TBD TXA21/ TNT
Mavs.com has introduces a new, interactive webcast entitled "Technical Foul," hosted by Mavs television broadcasters Mark Followill and Bob Ortegel. The second live-streamed broadcast will be Monday, April 26 at 12:30 p.m. CT, recapping Game 1 and previewing Game 2 of the series. Earl K. Sneed will also talk with fans and answer questions via a live chat during the show. Tune in for exclusive Mavs talk with the people that know the team the best.