Mavericks 101, Blazers 89: My Top 10 Observer-ations
10. When the Mavs play with emotion and efficiency, they are tough to beat. Last night the intensity was there courtesy of Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler and the spunky J.J. Barea. And so was the execution, to the tune of a franchise-record low six turnovers -- including an almost unfathomable 0 in the second half.
9. Not sure if the Mavs were trying to organize a "white out," a "blue hue" or a what-the-what with their fans. But whatever, it worked. The crowd was multi-colored, but also an enthusiastic, refreshing factor in Game 2. Bravo.
8. I know Brendan Heywood at times reminds us of Erick Dampier with his iffy hands, apathetic demeanor and free-throw shooting that looks like a slice-skulled driver off the tee. But the dude made one of the biggest plays of the night when he set a terrific screen for Peja Stojakovic. The result was an open 3-pointer in the corner that pushed Dallas' fourth-quarter lead to 88-80.
7. Up 1-0 on the Spurs last year the Mavs played flat and fell behind 9-0 in Game 2. Last night a similarly lethargic start dug a 17-9 hole. Thankfully Dallas woke up before it was too late.
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6. Despite battling an upset stomach that had him gulping water and spitting most of it back into cups on the bench, Jason Kidd was again fantastic. He started the second half with a personal 9-0 run, including a 3-pointer, lefty layup and 17-foot bank-shot from the wing. And, again, it wasn't just his shooting. It was his full-court energy. In honor of the old man, I say everyone over 38 should get a week off.
5. Maybe now you believe me: Dirk Nowitzki is money in the fourth quarter. With the game in doubt, Dirk scored consecutive baskets on the low block and netted Dallas' last 11 points to seal the deal. In two games he has 61 points, more than half of them (32) in the fourth quarter.
4. With the game on the line my TV's on Channel 21 for some Mark Followill, but I got a big kick out of the ridiculousness of TNT. And that's not even counting post-game studio analyst Kenny Smith referring to Barea as "Barrerra." No, this hilarity came from the forgettable announcing team of Matt Devlin, Kevin McHale and Marty Snider. Devlin continually referred to LaMarcus Aldridge's hometown as "seh-GO-vull" instead of "SEE-go-vill," and sideline reporter Snider actually pronounced the first name of Dirk's German dad -- Jorg -- as "hor-HAY." No, dude, pretty sure he ain't Spanish. Try "Yorg." And just when I was about to give McHale credit for correctly pronouncing it "no-WIT-skee," he late in the game switched to "no-VIT-skee." For the millionth time, Dirk pronounces it with a "w." Good enough for me.
3. The Mavs boast a player who finished second in Sixth Man of the Year (Terry), a player who finished third in Defensive Player of the Year (Chandler) and one of the NBA's all-time most productive playoff performers (Nowitzki). Oh, and they have the NBA's best road record (55-27) over the last two years, including 28-13 this season. Add it all up, and there's no way Dallas should lose this series now. Please, hide the plans and the confetti and don't tell Laura Miller I just wrote that.
2. The Mavs are up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since the 2006 NBA Finals. Don't. Say. A. Word. Let us enjoy this, if only until Thursday night's Game 3 in Portland.
1. Mavs' coach Rick Carlisle says his team must find a No. 2 scorer "by committee." Ultimately I think that's a weakness, but in this series so far it's been a major asset. After 38-year-old Kidd scored 24 in Game 1, last night it was the 33-year-old Stojakovic with a surprising 21. While we debated whether Terry or Shawn Marion would play Robin to Dirk's Batman, old-timers Kidd and Peja turned back the clock with a combined 11 3-pointers in the first two games. Kidd and Peja are a combined 71 years old and have scored 69 points through two games. If you think we're surprised, imagine how Blazers' coach Nate McMillan must feel.
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