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NBA Playoffs: Dirk Nowitzki is better than you as Mavs take 2-0 lead

Apr 20, 2011, 1:51 AM EST

Portland Trail Blazers v Dallas Mavericks - Game Two

Some playoff series are emotionally exhausting because of the extreme highs and lows. Then there’s Mavericks-Blazers, which is like a sixteen hour day of manual labor. You’re going to want to pass out about six times, you’re going to get injured, and you’re going to be pumped when you make progress.

The Blazers are bloodied. The Mavericks are pumped.

Dallas is up 2-0 after a 101-89 win.

Another game of runs. A 12-5 opener from the Blazers, an 11-4 streak from the Mavs. A 7-0 run by the Blazers, a 14-5 rush by Dallas, and a 9-2 close from the Mavericks to put it away. Every time one team gets a hold, the other team responds, until the 4th quarter rolls around.

Then it’s Dirk Nowitzki time.

Nowitzki has 32 points in two fourth quarters of this series. And after another terrible shooting night for three frames, Nowitzki took over in the final quadrant this game. The elbow turnaround fadeaway? Check. The baseline spin and lift? Yup. And a very special “recover the lost drive under the basket, go straight up and drop it in over LaMarcus Aldridge” splash. That’ll be all, Blazers. Back to Rip City and the drawing board.

The Blazers did get a fair amount of things go right for them in this game, especially early. Crash Wallace got off the snide, scoring 18 points and adding 7 rebounds and 6 assists. Wallace got out in transition a lot early to capitalize on Mavericks’ turnovers. Then things dried up in the second half. Why? The Mavs stopped turning the ball over. And I don’t mean that  in terms of “oh, they Mavericks were sloppy early and then got a little better.” No.

The Mavericks went 27 minutes, stretching from the 2nd quarter through the end of the game, without a turnover. That’s ridiculous. That’s impressive. And that’s something that will absolutely choke you out if you’re a team trying to push the tempo. The Blazers tried to get out and run, but instead when the Mavericks stopped turning the ball over were worked back into a grind again. It sounds weird for such a good defensive team in Portland to need transition opportunities, especially considering the long-time identity of the Mavericks for the past ten years as a high octane, fast pace offense. But that’s the reality, as the Mavericks’ newfound defensive intensity and accuracy in limited sets make their game more conducive to slowing it down in the half-court set.

Jason Kidd went off, again, scoring 18 points on 7-11 shooting, including 3-6 from the arc. If Kidd keeps shooting like that, what are the Blazers going to do? Andre Miller has had trouble with him. Wesley Matthews had trouble with him. The Blazers need a guard to check Jason Kidd, which they probably didn’t figure coming in. Surprise!

But the Blazers had success in some areas. LaMarcus Aldridge remains a capable counter to Nowitzki offensively. Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews shot well. But the bench really failed. Brandon Roy was held scoreless in eight minutes, which is just kind of sad and let’s all not look at it because I don’t want to cry for the poor guy. If you want one weird outlier? Peja Stojakovic scored 21 points and shot 5-10 from the arc. If Peja is giving them anything, that’s an issue for Portland, especially when Rudy Fernandez is only scoring 1 point.

So the struggle heads to Portland in front of the usually raucous crowd. Dallas will need to overcome the emotional boost if they want to close this thing out in short order. But given how much the Mavericks have had go right in the first two games and how close the series has been through two games? Don’t count on it.

It’s a long working day. Sun’s just getting started.

  1. nyjetsecody - Apr 20, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    i love watching andre miller shoot a three

  2. davidly - Apr 20, 2011 at 4:40 AM

    Yeah, but can Dirk sit at home in his bathrobe and talk trash about my game?

  3. hnirobert3 - Apr 20, 2011 at 7:34 AM

    I wonder if Dirk’s dad will be the new Ray Allen’s Mom.

  4. wjm20155 - Apr 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    It would be nice if Mr. Moore would have at least mentioned the final score in his blog. Where do you writers get your education?

  5. delius1967 - Apr 20, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    I don’t know why Peja scoring should be a surprise. The guy has been a great shooter throughout his career; in fact it’s the only thing he’s ever been. Dallas picked him up so they could still generate offense with their stars on the bench, and it’s working.

    Portland simply doesn’t have the scorers to keep up with Dallas, or the defenders to stop all of them. Never understood why this series was the one that got tagged by everyone as an upset.

  6. fordman84 - Apr 20, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    Where are the “call the game fairly and Portland will win” cry babies now?

    • davidly - Apr 20, 2011 at 4:14 PM

      Be nice.

    • scottm97031 - Apr 20, 2011 at 6:21 PM

      nobody expected dallas to lose 2 games at home; but the fact that the referees didn’t have to step in and give dallas the game in game 2 has NOTHING to do with the piss poor job they did in allowing their favoritism of Dirk and Dallas to affect the outcome of game 1

    • hardscramble - Apr 23, 2011 at 2:17 AM

      I like that those comments got to you. :)

      Facts are facts. Dirk gets calls other players don’t. That’s not crying. It’s in large part due to the fact that his shot is so pure. If it looks ugly at all refs assume he got hacked. He gets to throw high elbows on offense without repercussions (or did you miss his shot to Wallace). No blazer gets that kind of leeway. It is what it is but it’s not crying. That’s the NBA plain and simple. It’s the same reason Kobe can get away saying almost anything to the refs short of a sexuality slur while other players can’t. Dirk gets the benefit of the doubt (mostly) because he earned it (and partly because he helps the NBA sell ads and jerseys but mostly because he earned their respect). I know the score as well as any NBA fan and i’d bet in your heart you know it too fordman. Call it crying if you can’t take it. Still, truth is truth.

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