Inside Report: No. 6 Blazers (0-2) vs. No. 3 Mavericks (2-0) — Game 2 recap
Inside Report: No. 6 Blazers (0-2) vs. No. 3 Mavericks (2-0) — Game 2 preview
Earl K. Sneed recaps the action from Game 2 of the Mavericks' opening-round playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, after forwards Dirk Nowitzki and Peja Stojakovic led the team to a 2-0 series lead before it shifts to the Rose Garden.
DALLAS — After watching the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs and No. 2-seeded Los Angeles Lakers both lose their home-court advantages with Game 1 losses in their respective first-round playoff series, the Dallas Mavericks took the court for Game 2 of their best-of-seven showdown with the Portland Trail Blazers hoping not to suffer the same fate.
And after last season’s playoff run ended in six games — including three straight losses to the Spurs after taking the initial game in that opening-round series —, the Mavs were well aware that they could very easily find themselves in an unfavorable split with the series shifting to Portland for Games 3 and 4 in the Rose Garden, an arena where the Dallas team fell twice during the regular season.
But the Mavericks would break the trend Tuesday night, taking a 2-0 series lead with a dominant second half sparked by leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki and sharpshooter Peja Stojakovic en route to a 101-89 win.
“We had to play two tough-minded games to beat this team twice and both games were extremely difficult,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the win. “We had to battle back from six down with five minutes to go the other night and tonight it was back and forth all night.”
The Mavs would stumble coming out the gate, falling behind while Blazers big man LaMarcus Aldridge went back to work after a 27-point night in Game 1. Portland’s attack would take a hit when Blazers guard Wesley Matthews and Mavericks sixth man Jason Terry collided going for a loose ball, sending Matthews to the locker room with a forehead contusion. Still, despite Stojakovic’s assault from 3-point range and a 10-2 run that got Dallas back into the game, big quarters by Aldridge and forward Gerald Wallace led to the Mavericks trailing 24-22 after one period of play.
Stojakovic continued to carry the Mavericks’ offense early in the second quarter, but he was equaled by the Blazers’ Nicolas Batum at the other end. Then the Mavs turned to Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd and Nowitzki as they did in Game 1, with the two 10-time All-Stars briefly putting their team in front, but only to see Matthews back on the court and leading the Blazers along with Aldridge to a small edge. But even with emotions high after a technical foul call on Mavericks center Tyson Chandler for arguing with officials, Dallas headed to the break trailing by just two, 52-50.
Looking to match Aldridge’s 16 first-half points, Nowitzki led the Mavs with 14 points despite shooting just 3-of-10 through two quarters. Meanwhile, the Blazers outshot the Mavs at the midway point, 51.3 percent to 45.0 percent.
As he did in Game 1, Kidd caught fire in the third quarter, scoring from long range and with drives to the basket.
“I don’t know how many shots [Kidd] hit exactly coming out of halftime, but he hit the first three or four. Again, with our team, we need different guys to step up at different times, and finding that person or having the guys on the floor find that person is key. Stojakovic found openings tonight, and Kidd was really important to us at the beginning of the third quarter. We’re down 2 points, and it just was a very difficult game in the first half and the beginnings of the third quarter have been really tough for us,” Carlisle explained.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki moved past Boston Celtics great Bill Russell for 25th on he NBA’s all-time playoffs scoring list. The two future Hall of Famers would continue to fire away, although Nowitzki continued to struggle finding the bottom of the net with regularity. However, the Dallas defense locked in, stifling the rugged Blazers in the halfcourt. Then Stojakovic picked back up where he left off in the second quarter, draining perimeter jumpers to keep the Blazers at bay. But not to be denied was the visiting squad, storming back into the game behind Wallace’s do-it-all play before entering the fourth down just one, 73-72.
Again the Mavs tried to pull away early in the final stanza, with Nowitzki and Stojakovic providing the firepower while reserve guard J.J Barea’s penetration and hard-nosed defense added a spark off the bench. The trio continued to carry the Mavs’ offense, while a stingy Dallas defense disrupted the Blazers’ attack.
The game then rest in Nowitzki’s hands and the former MVP took over matters down the stretch, scoring with an array of moves to put the Mavs up 10, 94-84, with 2:50 remaining. The Mavs never looked back.
Hearing “M-V-P” chants, Nowitzki went on to put his team up by as much as 13, scoring 11 straight points in the process. The two teams then finished the game with all reserves on the floor inside the final minute.
Scoring 14 points in the final quarter, which was just shy of the 18 he scored in the fourth in Game 1, Nowitzki finished with a game-high 33 points on 9-of-22 shooting.
“Look, he’s a great player, and he’s been aggressive, and we’re obviously looking for him,” Carlisle said of Nowitzki’s night. “When he gets the ball, he’s going to make something happen. He’s either going to be aggressive to score, or if he gets double-teamed he will make the pass out. Balance is so important to our team, we had a really good balance before we really started going to him exclusively and I think that helped us.”
Off the bench, Stojakovic added 21 points, tying a postseason career-high after connecting on 5-of-10 from 3-point range.
“This is an intelligent group and [the Blazers] did a lot of switching on the pick-and-rolls, and Dirk was always getting a mismatch so they doubled on him and I was able to get open and was able to make those shots tonight,” Stojakovic said when summing up his night.
Kidd ended the night with 18 points and eight assists, while Terry made it four Mavericks in double figures with 10 points in a reserve role.
The Mavs’ bench also outscored Portland’s reserves, 39-11.
“We’re never sure which two to three guys may or may not get hot, but we need contributions from a lot of different guys on a nightly basis to be successful, and that’s what we got tonight,” Carlisle added.
Hitting 9-of-18 from the floor and grabbing 10 rebounds, Aldridge led five Blazers in double figures with 24 points, while Wallace and Andre Miller both produced 18 points.
Both teams snatched down 37 rebounds and shot just under 49 percent from the floor, making the Mavericks’ franchise record-tying six turnovers — none in the second half and the fewest ever in a playoff game — that much more vital.
The Mavericks will now try to do what they failed to do twice in the regular season, looking to take a 3-0 advantage in the series with a win in the Rose Garden on Thursday night. Game 3 of the series will tip off at 9:30 p.m CT, airing locally on TXA 21 and nationally on TNT.
“It’s a long series. It’s two games, we’ve done our job, now we’ve got to regroup and get on a plane [Wednesday] to Portland, where it’s gonna be tougher,” Carlisle concluded.
“We know this series is far from over. They’re a very, very good home team. Their energy is great, they make shots and the atmosphere in that building is great. So, they’re gonna come out swinging on Thursday,” Nowitzki added.
The first-round series between the two teams continues as follows:
Game 3 - Thurs. April 21 Dallas at Portland 9:30 p.m. CT TXA 21/TNT
Game 4 - Sat. April 23 Dallas at Portland 4:00 p.m. CT TXA 21/ TNT
Game 5 * Mon April 25 Portland at Dallas TBD TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 28 Dallas at Portland TBD TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat April 30 Portland at Dallas TBD TBD TNT
Single-game tickets for the first two Mavs home games of the First Round of the 2011 NBA Playoffs are now on sale. Fans that purchase single-game tickets will receive a commemorative 2011 Mavs Playoff ticket*, which will allow the fans to experience augmented reality, a new technology that will bring the ticket to life with animated Mavs players including Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Jason Terry. Game day and commemorative tickets will go live when the 2011 Playoffs begin.
Tickets will be available online at mavs.com, via phone (214-747-6287 or 1-800-4NBA-TIX) and the American Airlines Center® North Box Office**. Ticket prices start at $15 and up and there is an eight ticket limit per game. Tickets are also sold at all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Simon Mall in Garland and Shops at Willow Bend).
Fans that purchase single game tickets at the American Airlines Center® North Box Office will receive their commemorative ticket at that time. For those purchasing online or at a Ticketmaster outlet, commemorative tickets will be available to pick up at the American Airlines Center® North Box Office or on Playoff game nights at the Mavs ticket sales table on the main concourse near the North Box Office. Augmented Reality is available only on Android phones. For more information, go to http://www.nba.com/mavericks/ar/ar.html.
Individual game tickets are on sale now. Tickets can be purchased at the American Airlines Center box office, on Mavs.com or by calling 214-747-MAVS (6287). Get in on the action and be there for all the thrills!
Fans can visit Mavs.com or call 214.747.MAVS for more information and a complete listing of regular-season home games.