With some scoring records by the Dallas Mavericks and a couple key injuries to the Sacramento Kings, this Western Conference semifinal has taken a dramatic turn.
The Mavericks regained the confidence lacking in a lopsided Game 1 loss by making 11 straight shots in the first quarter of Game 2, then going on a 30-7 run in the second quarter en route to a 132-110 victory on Thursday night.
Dallas set an NBA playoff record with 83 first-half points, tied the record for 3-pointers in a half with 11 and came within one of the first-quarter scoring record with 44. The most impressive feat was making 77 percent of its first-quarter shots, a figure hard to hit alone in a gym.
Dirk Nowitzki made his first seven and Nick Van Exel started 8-of-9. Van Exel made three straight 3-pointers during a 30-7 run in the second quarter and finished with 36 points, his most ever in a playoff game, in only 30 minutes.
"It was amazing," said Nowitzki, who had 24 points. "We were on such a roll."
Also Thursday night, Detroit beat Philadelphia 104-97 in overtime to take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series.
The Kings already were well on their way to defeat when they suffered two more losses -- injuries to All-Star forward Chris Webber and guard Bobby Jackson, winner of the NBA's Sixth Man award. There's not much time to heal, either, with Game 3 tonight and Game 4 tomorrow night.
Webber, who had 31 points, had to be carried to the locker room by four teammates after hurting his left knee late in the third quarter. He later limped back to the bench on his own.
"I just twisted it," he said. He'll undergo an MRI exam to make sure.
Jackson fractured his right cheekbone in a fourth-quarter collision. His status wasn't immediately available.
Sacramento led Game 1 by as much as 28 before winning by 11. It was the Kings' eighth win over the Mavs in 10 tries, and the fifth straight time they'd won in Dallas.
It left a gloomy mood around the Mavericks.
Even though they'd won a franchise-record 60 games this season and played great Sunday in Game 7 of the first round against Portland, there was more emphasis on the three straight losses to the Trail Blazers and the poor start against the Kings.
Then, during Wednesday's off day, Van Exel shook things up.
He told teammates to ignore everything the Kings were doing right and clean up what they were doing wrong. Just make shots, he said repeatedly, and everything will be fine.
It wasn't happening at first. Dallas trailed 20-10 when coach Don Nelson called timeout with 8:19 left. A fan behind midcourt even held up a sign that read, "Wake Up."
Then came the big spurt. Starting with a tip-in by Adrian Griffin at 7:05, Dallas went more than six minutes without missing and came away leading 42-40, invigorating the crowd of 20,491.
At 44-40 after one period, the teams tied the combined playoff scoring record of 84 points and the Mavs were shooting 77 percent.
The Kings shot 55 percent and scored their most points in 21 quarters this postseason, yet still trailed by four.
"We couldn't keep up with them," Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic said. "It was unbelievable. There were just so many points. Still, it's one game. Every good team responds. They really jumped on us, like we did Tuesday night."
Pistons 104, 76ers 97, OT
At Auburn Hills, Mich., rookie Tayshaun Prince scored seven straight points for Detroit at the end of regulation and the start of overtime to help the Pistons take a 2-0 lead.