The Portland Trail Blazers must feel like they are in an NBA time warp. First they got beaten by Jason Kidd, now Kidd and Peja Stojakovic.
Even the Dallas Mavericks are feeling the retro mood. They’re up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2006.
Stojakovic tied his career playoff best with five 3-pointers and had 21 points, and Kidd continued his surprising scoring surge with 18 points, powering the Mavericks to a 101-89 victory on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round series.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 33 points, but was practically a complementary player. He scored 14 points in the fourth quarter – including the team’s final 11 – to help the Mavericks keep the Trail Blazers from ever making a serious push.
Portland had a lot of things go right, from LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 24 to Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews regaining their scoring touch after struggling in the opener. But the Trail Blazers got only 11 points from their bench, none in the second half. And while they were limiting Nowitzki to 5 of 15 shooting through three quarters, former All-Stars Kidd and Stojakovic were lighting them up.
The third-seeded Mavs can snicker about doing something the higher-seeded Spurs and Lakers couldn’t: win the first two games on their home court. Now the Western Conference’s best road team this season will head to Portland for Game 3 on Thursday night, and Game 4 on Saturday.
Dallas fans know not to start thinking ”sweep” just yet. They made that mistake midway through the ’06 finals, only to see their team lose that series in six games.
Before this game, Portland coach Nate McMillan said, ”We’ve got to be the aggressors,” and his team was in the first half, trailing for a mere 36 seconds.
But the second half was a different story.
Kidd hit a go-ahead 3-pointer on Dallas’ first possession and the Mavs wouldn’t trail again. Kidd followed with a jumper just inside the arc, a layup and a bank shot – nine straight points that were part of an 18-5 spurt since the final minute of the first half.
Dallas did little wrong the rest of the way. The Mavs clamped down on Aldridge – he scored eight points in the second half – and spread around their scoring. They also protected the ball, going without a turnover the final 28:42. They tied a franchise playoff best with just six turnovers.
Officiating was a big issue pregame, from McMillan seeking more calls to justify his $35,000 fine for critical comments he made after Game 1, to Dallas discovering its playoff nemesis Dan Crawford was working the game. The Mavs had lost 17 of the last 18 times he’d worked one of their playoff games. It turned out not to matter too much, not with the way the old-timers were scoring.
Dallas signed Stojakovic in January after he was waived by Toronto. He’d hardly played because of injuries, but the Mavericks envisioned him as another scorer coming off the bench in the playoffs. It took all of two games for that gamble to pay off.
He scored 10 points in the first half, most during a flurry that kept things close in the second quarter. He replaced Nowitzki midway through the third quarter and kept it up. He hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter that brought the crowd to their feet, the first coming on a crosscourt pass by Nowitzki, the second putting Dallas up by eight points for the first time all game.
Kidd scored 24 points in the opener, hitting six 3-pointers. He made 3 of 6 behind the arc this game.
Notes: This was the seventh time Stojakovic has made five 3s in a playoff game, the first since 2008. … Dallas is now 3-18 in playoff games called by Crawford. … Portland fell to 2-15 in its last 17 road playoff games. … The Blazers have lost consecutive games for the first time since March 11-12. … In the first quarter, Matthews and Dallas’ Jason Terry bumped heads going for a loose ball. Matthews was down for a few minutes, then taken to the locker room for a checkup. He showed he was clear-headed by shouting back to the fan who taunted him by saying, ”Tweety-birds! Tweety-birds!” Matthews returned soon, diagnosed with only a bruised forehead.