Pressure on Lakers in Game 2 vs. Mavericks
When a Phil Jackson-coached team wins the first game of a playoff series, it always wins the series. When it doesn’t, well, then things can get interesting. And that’s where we are with the Lakers after they were stunned 96-94 at home in Monday’s Game 1 against the Dallas Mavericks despite leading by 16 at one point in the third quarter. The Lakers know they can’t go back to Dallas down 0-2 and they are 7-point favorites tonight on WagerWeb.com.
Of course the Lakers also lost Game 1 last round against New Orleans at home and rallied to take that series. But only once has a team rallied to win an NBA championship after losing its series opener in each of the first two rounds of the playoffs. And unlike the Lakers, Rudy Tomjanovich’s resilient 1994-95 Houston Rockets lost their series openers on the road.
Kobe Bryant had a good game overall in Game 1 for the Lakers but came up empty on three straight possessions — including a pretty good look at that potential game winner — in Game 1′s final 20 seconds. Bryant scored 21 of his 36 points in the second half, but he couldn’t close out the Mavs. His bad pass was stolen by Jason Terry with 20 seconds left, and he fumbled a handoff from Pau Gasol with 4 seconds to play before missing that catch-and-shoot 3-pointer.
Dirk Nowitzki, on the other hand, hit the winning free throws and had four total points in the final 40 seconds. He finished with 28 points and 14 rebounds.
Game 2 has not been kind to the Mavs on the road in recent playoff series. They are 0-3 since 2008 in Game 2 situations on the road and 1-4 overall.. Peja Stojakovic has continued a solid run with his shooting, nailing better than 44 percent from 3-point range in seven playoff games.
The Lakers are 2-16 all time in series when they have started in an 0-2 hole. When splitting the first two games, they have won 29 of 41 series. Kobe’s 36 points Monday marked his 81st playoff game with 30 points or more. He trails only Michael Jordan (109) on that list. … The Lakers shot just 38 percent in the second half Monday. Take away Bryant’s 9-of-17 shooting in that half, and the rest of the Lakers were 7-of-25 or 28 percent. The Lakers’ usually strong bench was outscored, 40-25, in Game 1, including 17-8 in the second half.
Mavericks look to end Blazers’ season in Game 6
If the Dallas Mavericks want to get any rest ahead of a likely Western Conference semifinals matchup with the two-time NBA champion Lakers, they need to end their series against the Trail Blazers in Portland tonight. And the Blazers are 4-point favorites on WagerWeb.com. The second-round series between the winner of the Mavericks-Blazers series and the Lakers-Hornets series will begin Monday and Game 7 of this series would be Saturday – so no rest for the winner. L.A. also plays tonight but should be able to finish off New Orleans.
Dallas shouldn’t even be in this Game 6. And they wouldn’t be had the Mavericks protected a 23-point lead in the final 13:16 and a 10-point lead in the final 3:33 of Game 4. Monday’s Game 5 win would have eliminated the Trail Blazers and the Mavs would have become the first team in either conference to advance in the playoffs. Tyson Chandler was the difference in Game 5 with 14 points and 20 rebounds. The Mavericks crashed the offensive glass in Game 5, grabbing 41.7 percent of their missed shots, their second-most dominant performance all season. Portland’s Brandon Roy went from scoring 24 points in Game 4 to just five in 26 minutes of Game 5. In the Blazers’ three losses in this series he is averaging 2.3 points on 20 percent shooting. In the two wins it’s 20 ppg on better than 65 percent shooting.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle called Game 5 a must-win, a nod to Dallas being 0-4 in Portland this season and to the club having lost eight straight playoff road games. Portland has never won a playoff series after falling behind 3-2. Also, Portland has been ousted in Game 6 of the first round the past two years. The Blazers haven’t won a playoff series of any kind since 2000. Of the previous 157 series tied at 2, the Game 5 winner has come out on top 83 percent of the time.
The Blazers simply must get more from Gerald Wallace. The Blazers forward is averaging 11.8 points and shooting 40 percent from the field in the series.
Mavericks still have shot at No. 2 seed but must beat Hornets
There is only one game in the NBA’s final night of the regular season on Wednesday night that has meaning for both teams and that’s when New Orleans visits Dallas, with the Mavericks opening as 11-point favorites on WagerWeb.com’s NBA odds.
The Mavericks will claim the No. 2 spot with a win here and a Los Angeles Lakers loss in Sacramento. And you might be thinking that there’s no chance that L.A. loses that one. But be aware that the Lakers don’t have injured center Andrew Bynum and that this is probably the Kings’ final game ever in Sacramento with the team set to move to Anaheim. So the players and the crowd will be jacked up.
The Mavericks could still finish anywhere between 2nd and 4th in the Western Conference. Here are the following scenarios:
*-No. 2 seed: To become the No. 2 seed, the Mavericks must win today and the Lakers must lose.
*-No. 3 seed: To become the No. 3 seed, the Mavericks either have to a) win today, have the Lakers win and have the Thunder lose (vs. the Bucks) or b) lose today and have the Thunder lose as well.
*-No. 4 seed: To become the No. 4 seed, the Mavericks must lose today and have both the Lakers and Thunder win.
Thus because there is so much on the line, expect all of Dallas’ starters to play. New Orleans also has something to play for: the No. 7 seed. The Hornets and Grizzlies are tied for that spot, with New Orleans holding the tiebreaker if both win or lose tonight. And Memphis rested all of its starters already once this week and is expected to tonight as well.
New Orleans leads the season series with Dallas 2-1. All three of the games have been decided by three points or fewer, with the most recent meeting ending in crazy fashion. The visiting Mavericks led 92-85 with a minute to play March 9, but New Orleans scored the final eight points — the last three coming after Jarrett Jack was fouled shooting a 3 — to seal a wild 93-92 victory. Jack was only in the game because Hornets star Chris Paul missed the game with an injury.
Thursday NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns
The final NBA game before the All-Star break features the Dallas Mavericks trying to become the fourth team in the NBA with 40 wins this season against a Phoenix team trying to stay close to the No. 8 spot and final playoff berth in the West. Dallas is a 1.5-point favorite on WagerWeb.com.
The Mavericks will try to join the San Antonio Spurs (46-9), Boston Celtics (40-14) and Miami Heat (41-15) as the only teams to go into the break with at least 40 wins. The Mavs, winners of 12 of 13, improved to a season-best 23-games over .500 with Wednesday’s 116-100 win over the Sacramento Kings for a record of 39-16. A win over Steve Nash and the Suns would give Dallas 21 wins against teams with winning records, a higher percentage than the Spurs, Celtics and Heat.
Wednesday’s win was a great sign for Dallas because lightning-quick French point guard (i.e. think Tony Parker) Roddy Beaubois made his season debut after breaking a leg in August. Beaubois had 13 points, six assists and three steals in 21 minutes against the Kings. With his return, Dallas got a taste of fielding a complete team — excluding Caron Butler — for the first time this season. It is deeper, more talented and now more dynamic in the backcourt than perhaps any team in the Dirk Nowitzki era. The Mavs had eight players score in double figures Wednesday in winning its 12 game in the past 13.
Phoenix, which is two games behind Utah for eighth in the West, enters off a 102-101 win over Utah on Tuesday. Channing Frye had a career-high 31 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. In the first quarter alone he was 7 of 7, five of them 3-pointers, for 19 points. Steve Nash had 20 points and 14 assists for Phoenix, winner of seven of its last nine. Nash remains one of the most efficient players in the league, averaging almost 17 points and better than 11 assists per game while shooting 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the arc.
The Mavericks don’t usually play well in Phoenix, losing losing 17 of their last 25 visits to the Valley of the Sun. They are an impressive 7-4 on the second night of back-to-back games, however.
Billups expected to play when Nuggets host Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks’ 10-game winning streak, their second run of at least 10 games this season (only San Antonio has also accomplished that) is in major jeopardy on Thursday night when the Mavs visit Denver. And in fact the Nuggets are 3-point favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Dallas played on Wednesday night against the Kings and got 15 fourth-quarter points for J.J. Barea to beat the Kings 102-100. Barea’s strong play made up for Dirk Nowitzki’s tough night caused by a sprained right wrist. Dirk had his right (shooting) wrist wrapped in tape, was often flexing it or rubbing it and shot just 4-of-14 for 10 points. The Mavericks now are 26-1 when scoring 100 points or more.
As mentioned, it’s the second winning streak of 10 or more games this season for the Mavs. They won 12 in a row bridging November and December. This is only the second season in franchise history that they’ve had multiple double-digit winning streaks. They had three 10-plus streaks in 2006-07, topped by a 17-gamer, when they went 67-15.
The Nuggets also played on Wednesday night, losing at Golden State 116-114. Denver had a chance to tie or win the game on the final possession but didn’t even get the ball in Carmelo Anthony’s hands. Melo finished with 29 points. Nene had 17 points for a Nuggets team playing without starting point guard Chauncey Billups.
Billups (knee) is, however, expected to play tonight against the Mavericks, according to Nuggets coach George Karl.
“I think in the back-to-back situation he’s going to play (tonight),” Karl said. “If he played (Wednesday night) he didn’t think he could probably play (tonight). So he just wanted to take the extra day.”
Billups has missed six games this season. He hurt the knee Monday during the Nuggets’ game against Houston until he watched the game film. He left in the first half and didn’t return.
The Mavericks already have one win at Denver this season, having clipped the Nuggets, 102-101, at Pepsi Center in early November. The Nuggets won the rematch in Dallas three days later, 103-92. The Mavericks have won two of their last three in Denver. This will complete the Mavs’ 11th set of back-to-back games. They are 7-3 on the second night so far.
Dirk Nowitzki out for Mavericks against Thunder
The Dallas Mavericks will go for a season sweep of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night without superstar Dirk Nowitzki for the sixth straight game. Bet on the game with WagerWeb.com’s NBA odds.
Nowitzki was ruled out Thursday afternoon and will thus sit again for the sixth game (Dallas is 2-3 without him, including 2-3 against the spread). Dirk sprained his right knee on Dec. 27 in Oklahoma City. The most games Nowitzki has missed in a regular season for Dallas was six during the 2001-02 campaign.
“He’s getting gradually better, but he’s not ready to play yet,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after
The Mavs have won two in a row, beating a bad Cleveland team and a shorthanded Portland team in the past few games. The Thunder present a much more difficult challenge with NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant and the team seeking revenge for two home losses to Dallas. Shawn Marion is expected to continue to start at power forward with DeShawn Stevenson starting at small forward and Jason Terry at shooting guard. Of course Dallas is also without small forward Caron Butler, who was ruled out for the season this week. Butler had 21 points in the last meeting with OKC, carrying the team offensively when Nowitzki left with that injury.
Oklahoma City is looking to avoid a season-high third straight loss following a 101-74 defeat at San Antonio on Saturday and a 110-105 loss at Memphis on Tuesday. The Thunder are 10-2 when Durant scores at least 30, but one of those losses came when he had 32 in a 111-103 defeat to Dallas on Nov. 24. Both of Oklahoma City’s losses to the Mavs this season came at home, but they won their last visit to Dallas after losing nine straight there. James Harden has blossomed of late, scoring in double figures in 12 consecutive games and averaging 14.8 points and shooting 54.5 percent in that stretch. Durant He averaged 30 points in the first two meetings (his 27.9 average is the best in the NBA).
Mavericks’ Nowitzki has strained knee, out Tuesday
The Dallas Mavericks avoided what would have been a devastating injury as an MRI on star Dirk Nowitzki’s knee revealed just a strain. Dirk will sit out Tuesday night’s game but could be back for Thursday’s clash with San Antonio. The Mavericks officially list him as day to day.
Nowitzki fell to the ground early in the second quarter of Monday night’ win over the Oklahoma City Thunder after being fouled by Serge Ibaka, who was defending a Nowitzki jump shot. Immediate X-rays showed no structural damage to Nowitzki’s knee, but the forward sat out the remainder of the game as the Mavs pulled away for the 103-93 victory.
Nowitzki said after the game that his knee had been bothering him for a couple weeks. Tuesday’s game will be Nowitzki’s first DNP of the season. He missed just two games over the last two seasons, and has played in 97 percent of the Mavericks’ regular season games since 1999.
The All-Star forward prides himself on his durability and has missed just 32 games to injury in his 13-season career, the third-lowest total among active players with at least 10 years of experience, behind Portland’s Andre Miller (six) and Mavs teammate Jason Terry (25).
Nowitzki remains hopeful of playing Thursday against the Spurs, but Dallas likely will be cautious with the injury, because it involves a knee as opposed to one of his ankles, after years of seeing Nowitzki recover from ankle injuries ahead of schedule. Nine ankle sprains of varying degrees since 2001-02 have sidelined Nowitzki for just 16 games.
Shawn Marion will start while Dirk is out. Last night Marion matched a season high in minutes with 32 with Nowitzki sidelined. Marion notched his second 20-point performance of the season and in doing so snapped a slump in which he was 4-of-14 for 14 points in the previous two games. He tied his season-high of 15 shot attempts, hitting that mark for a third time, and he made season-high 10 field goals for a second time.
The Raptors won’t have their best player tonight either as Andrea Bargnani (calf) is not with the Raptors and therefore will not play on Tuesday. Bargnani’s status for Friday’s game is up in the air, though coach Jay Triano doesn’t expect him to join the team during their road trip.
Thursday NBA: Mavericks at Nets looking for 11th straight win
There are a couple of main storylines for Thursday night’s Dallas at New Jersey game, with the Mavericks as 10.5-point favorites on WagerWeb.com.
The main plot is that Dallas goes for its 11th consecutive win. This is the ninth time in franchise history the Mavericks have won at least 10 straight. They had a 13-game streak last season. The Mavericks can tie the seventh-longest winning streak in franchise history with a win tonight.
Jason Terry has been a big reason for the surge. Terry went 10 consecutive games without scoring 20 points after going for 20 or more five times in the first nine games. He went six in a row with no more than 12 points. Now he’s on fire. For a second consecutive game, Terry hit the 20-point mark in Tuesday’s 105-100 win over the Golden State Warriors. He scored 23 on Saturday at Sacramento and has hit 15-of-26 shots in the two games.
Mavs center Tyson Chandler, who missed Tuesday’s game against Golden State with a stomach illness, is expected to return tonight. Caron Butler is coming off a 19-point game and has averaged 16.7 in his last six games. Shawn Marion has averaged more than seven rebounds per game in his last six, but has failed to score more than eight in any of the last three games.
The Nets simply don’t win in Dallas. The Nets have never won at American Airlines Center. Their last win in Dallas came at Reunion Arena in the 1999-2000 season. They’ve lost 10 straight in Dallas since.
New Jersey point guard Devin Harris is back from a minor knee problem and had 18 points and 13 assists Tuesday at Atlanta.
Tonight is also the return of former Mavericks coach Avery Johnson to Dallas. The Nets (6-16) already have more losses than Johnson did during his second full year with the Mavericks. They were 67-15 in 2006-07.
New Jersey has lost its last two by 40 points combined and Johnson promised a change to the starting lineup tonight. In three-plus seasons Johnson was 194-70 with the Mavericks. But they were bounced in the first round the last two years, including the 67-win campaign.