Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points to lead Dallas to a 93-81 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday, handing the Mavericks a 2-0 lead over the NBA champions in their Western Conference second-round series.
Shawn Marion added 14 points and Jason Kidd scored 10 for the Mavericks, who delivered a solid defensive performance and got another strong shooting night from Nowitzki.
“We came to compete and we came to make something happen here,” Marion said.
“We made our presence felt on both ends of the floor tonight,” he said. “We did a good job of handling their pressure and just going out there and doing what we’ve been doing all postseason, just playing good defense and just playing our style of play.”
The victory puts the Mavericks in the driving seat against the two-time defending champions Lakers.
Only three NBA teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series after dropping the first two games at home and the Lakers will have their work cut out when the Mavericks host Game 3 today and Game 4 on Sunday.
“It’s a challenge, that’s for sure,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Kobe Bryant scored 23 points for the Lakers, who had not lost the first two games of a post-season series since the 2008 NBA finals. That also marked their last playoff series defeat.
The Mavericks held the advantage for much of the game and pulled away with a late 9-0 scoring run.
J.J. Barea was key in the burst, which included a shot straight over Andrew Bynum. Barea finished with 12 points and four assists.
Even Bryant, famous for his late-game heroics, could not find an answer. He was scoreless in the fourth quarter until he hit two free throws with less than four minutes to play.
Bynum had 18 points and 13 rebounds for Los Angeles. Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 rebounds, but the Lakers failed to gain control of the contest.
The Lakers were woeful from three-point range. They finished 2-for-20 from beyond the arc and didn’t make a three-pointer until Bryant drained one with 2:43 remaining.
Ron Artest made another, shortly before he was ejected with 24.4 seconds left for throwing an arm at Barea’s head.
Jackson said there was a “good chance” Artest would be suspended by the league for the next game after the move, which the coach said was “uncalled for.”
Lakers fans vented their frustration by jeering at their own players, with Gasol the focus of their anger.
“It’s tough out there,” Jackson said. “Missed open shots. Missed a layup that was blocked at the rim because he didn’t dunk. There’s some things that obviously didn’t look good out there for Pau.”
BULLS VS HAWKS
Derrick Rose lived up to his new Most Valuable Player status on Wednesday, scoring 25 points to help Chicago bounce back with an 86-73 victory over Atlanta in Game 2 of their NBA Eastern Conference playoff series.
Joakim Noah added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulls, who were shocked in Game 1 on their home floor, but looked more like the team that led the league with 62 regular-season victories.
They led by as many as 14 points and after the Hawks fought to trim the deficit to six the Bulls ended the contest on a 9-2 scoring run.
The best-of-seven second-round series is now tied 1-1 as it shifts to Atlanta for Games 3 and 4 today and Sunday.
Rose’s night began with NBA commissioner David Stern presenting him with the MVP trophy.