Nowitzki, Mavs top Spurs
The Spurs did a good job of slowing Nowitzki in the first round last year, usually by swarming him with two and sometimes three defenders. They went with only one most of this game and paid the price.
Nowitzki shot over guys his size and went to the basket when covered by someone smaller. He took 12 free throws and made them all, adding to a streak of 74 straight made free throws during the regular season.
“We’re going to need him to keep delivering big-time for us,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
Caron Butler scored 22 points and Brendan Haywood added 10 in their playoff debut for Dallas. Both were part of a major trade in February that turned a good Mavericks team into a much better one. They came into the playoffs having won eight of 10 and five straight.
Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker all looked in prime playoff form—but didn’t get much help.
Duncan had 27 points and eight rebounds, Ginobili scored 26 and Parker had 18 points and four assists. George Hill started at point guard, but was scoreless with two turnovers in 18 minutes.
A change at point guard might be one move San Antonio makes for Game 2 Wednesday night in Dallas. Don’t be surprised if the Spurs also pull out last year’s defensive game plan by daring someone other than Nowitzki to beat them.
Jason Kidd had 13 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Mavericks.
Dallas won last year’s playoff series in five games, and won the season series 3-1.
n Lakers 87, Thunder 79—Pau Gasol scored 19 points, Andrew Bynum added 13 and the Los Angeles Lakers used their two 7-footers to dominate inside against Oklahoma City in Los Angeles.
Kobe Bryant added 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting after missing four of the final five regular season games to rest his swollen right knee and broken right index finger.
Kevin Durant led the Thunder with 24 points—under the 30.1 average of the NBA’s youngest-ever scoring champion. Russell Westbrook added 23.
Bynum returned from a 13-game absence because of a strained right Achilles’ tendon.
n Magic 98, Bobcats 89— Jameer Nelson scored 24 of his 32 points in the first half, and host Orlando nearly blew a 22-point lead before beating Charlotte in Game 1.
Rashard Lewis added 19 points, and Dwight Howard had nine blocks but was limited offensively and in foul trouble for most of the second half.
Gerald Wallace had 25 points, and Stephen Jackson played through a hyperextended left knee to finish with 18 points in the Bobcats’ first playoff game in franchise history.
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Orlando.
Charlotte swarmed and slapped Howard on every opportunity near the rim to frustrate the Magic’s All-Star center. Howard had five points and seven rebounds, and was 1 for 6 on free throws.