4-26-07 -- The Dallas Mavericks finally discovered that beating the Golden State Warriors isn't as hard as they had made it look.
And it's even easier when Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson lose their cool.
Jason Terry scored 28 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 23 and Josh Howard led a 15-2 run in the third quarter that sent the Mavericks to a 112-99 victory over the Warriors in Game 2 on Wednesday night, evening their first-round series.
"We needed to turn it up," said Howard, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds. "They were aggressive at the start of the last game and we didn't respond. This time, we turned it around."
Dallas had lost six straight to Golden State dating to last season. The Mavericks' search for a skid-buster included a new starting lineup in Game 1, but that only resulted in a 12-point loss.
So coach Avery Johnson went back to the formula that won 67 games in the regular season and saw his club back in synch from the start.
"It was a physical game and emotional," Nowitzki said. "I think they got us in the first game and took us out of our game. I said after Game 1 we need to execute a lot better. We made a couple of adjustments that worked. Now they'll make adjustments going home and we'll go from there."
The Warriors hung tough in this one. Then when the game started slipping away, they made things worse on themselves.
Dallas already had surged ahead when Terry dribbled into Jackson, drawing a foul, then kept going into Davis. Words were exchanged and there was some shoving, but officials broke it up by giving those three players technical fouls.
Davis got another tech, and an automatic ejection, for arguing about a foul with 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter. He was smiling and clapping at the time, although coach Don Nelson was warning him to cool it.
"We're not good enough to lose a player to an ejection, much less two," Nelson said. "It hurt us when we lost Baron. I thought we had a shot at the time. It wasn't to be."
Davis insisted he was clapping to keep his teammates' spirits up.
"I felt bad," he said. "I apologized to the coaches and my teammates."
The game was turning into a rout when Jackson got his second technical with 4:34 to play. Whatever he said to get tossed wasn't nearly as bad as his reaction afterward. He wouldn't stop screaming at officials as he headed to the locker room, with teammate Matt Barnes trying to cover Jackson's mouth with his arms, then with a towel.
The series shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Friday night, and there's little doubt the emotions will remain high.
Jackson led the Warriors with 30 points, his most ever in a playoff game, but also had eight turnovers. Davis had 13 points, two assists and one rebound; he had 33 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in Golden State's victory in the opener.
The Warriors certainly won't be unhinged by this loss, just their second in the last 12 games. Nelson won't allow it. He's kept his club loose, telling everyone they were lucky to win the opener and that there was a better chance of him being hit by lightning than of his team winning Game 2. His task now will be harnessing Jackson and Davis' emotions.
Johnson expected Dallas to bounce back strong. The Mavericks have lost consecutive games only once since starting the season 0-4, and last year they recovered from two Game 1 losses to win Game 2 both times. They went on to win both series, too.
Still, this victory was a bit of a relief to the Mavs because it ended a five-game postseason losing streak that started in last year's NBA finals and it should quiet talk of Nellie and the Warriors having their number.
Golden State opened the game strong, going on an 11-0 run in the opening minutes. The Warriors were up 23-16 soon after, but all their points had come from Jackson and Monta Ellis. That duo was a combined 9-of-10; everyone else was 0-for-8.
The Mavericks finally made their move midway through the second quarter and the playoff-novice Warriors seemed ready to crack. Right after Dallas went ahead, Golden State committed a rare inbounds violation, giving the ball back to the Mavs. Terry turned it into a three-point play that got the crowd going bonkers, prompting Nelson to call a timeout.
The Warriors regained the lead at the start of the second half, but couldn't keep it.
Ellis had 13 points in the first quarter but didn't score again until the final minute of the third quarter. He finished with 20 points. Jason Richardson had 14 with 10 rebounds.
Howard filled his stat sheet with five steals and two blocks. Nowitzki was 7-of-15 with seven rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse, who was scoreless in the opener, had 17 points, although 11 came from the foul line.
Dampier started but played only 14 minutes. Backup DeSagana Diop played 27 minutes. Still, it was a lot more than the 18 combined minutes they had in the opener -- and one of them was on the court for the first 19 minutes of this game.