The Dallas Mavericks proved that they are not “soft” once and for all, coming back from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter, to win game 1 96-94. Dirk Nowitzki proved that he is clutch, scoring 11 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, hitting big buckets in the closing minutes to lead the Mavs to the victory. This win was huge for Dallas!
For one thing, this win gives the Mavs home-court advantage for the rest of the series. Simply put, if they win all three games in Dallas, they will eliminate the Lakers. For another, the Mavs proved that their past means NOTHING. The Mavs had never won a playoff game in Los Angeles. They had never won Game 1 of the conference semifinals series, going 0-for-9 before last night. This team has mental toughness.
And no one better demonstrated this than Dirty. Not only was he clutch when the game was on the line, but he played tough defense, grabbed 14 boards, while snagging 2 steals, and adding in a block for good measure. The team did an excellent job of moving the basketball, getting everyone involved, as five players hit double-digits in points. Dirk led the team with 28, with starters Tyson Chandler and Shawn Marion had 11 and 10 points respectively.
Jason Terry led the bench with 15 points, while Peja Stoyakovic added 10. Terry’s lack of judgment overshadowed his scoring prowess as he foolishly fouled Lamar Odom with very little time left in the first half, allowing the Lakers to take a 53-44 point lead. Terry should have been paying attention to the Celtics game when Paul Pierce was tossed after collecting 2 technical fouls. The refs will allow more physical play, but only to a point. Lose your cool and cross that line and you are gone. There is no doubt that the Lakers will try to get under his skin the rest of the series.
As the Mavs rose to the occasion, the Lakers seemed to wilt. Pau Gasol had trouble handling the ball, leading to multiple turnovers and fouls in the closing minutes. Gasol finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. But when the game was on the line, he choked. Big-time. The Mavs were able to crank up the defense, applying the pressure that made the Lakers crack.
They also were able to continue Andrew Bynum. Bynum was a pretty much a non-factor throughout the game, finishing with only 8 points and 5 rebounds. While the Mavs did win, no one was really celebrating following the game. The team did not play their best basketball. They did commit 11 turnovers and had 17 personal fouls. And they also let the Lakers build a 16 point lead in the third quarter. They cannot continue to play like that if they plan on winning this series.
Other interesting news from this game: Roddy Beaubois was inactive for the game. No doubt about it, the Roddy experiment is on hold until next season. DeShawn Stevenson will most likely continue to get the start and play 10-15 minutes. His job is to play some defense and give Jason Terry rest.
Also, we had a Corey Brewer sighting last night. Brewer hit half of his shots from the field, scoring 5 points in 8 minutes. Not a bad night. Hopefully it earned him more time in Game 2 as the Mavs need to play better defense against Kobe Bryant. Brewer has the size to challenge Bryant and make him take difficult shots while giving Terry a rest. Jason Kidd played Bryant tough down the stretch and you could see Bryant getting frustrated.
By contrast, the Mavs seem to be gaining confidence with every game. Having already gotten a win, will the Mavs be content to head back to Dallas with a split? Or will they show the killer instinct that champions must have and try to put the Lakers in a desperate situation?