DALLAS — The Portland Trail Blazers must feel like they are in an NBA time warp. First they got beaten by Jason Kidd, now Kidd and Peja Stojakovic.
Even the Dallas Mavericks are feeling the retro mood. They’re up 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 2006.
Stojakovic tied his career playoff best with five 3-pointers and had 21 points, and Kidd continued his surprising scoring surge with 18 points, powering the Mavericks to a 101-89 victory on Tuesday night in Game 2 of their first-round series.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 33 points, but was practically a complementary player. He was at his best after the 30-something, former All-Stars built the lead, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter — including the team’s final 11 — to help the Mavericks keep the Trail Blazers from ever making a serious push. He scored 18 in the fourth quarter of Game 1.
“We’re never sure which two or three guys we’re going to get hot, but we need contributions from a lot of different guys to be successful and that’s what we got tonight,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
Portland had a lot of things go right, from LaMarcus Aldridge scoring 24 to Gerald Wallace and Wesley Matthews regaining their scoring touch after struggling in the opener. But the Trail Blazers got only 11 points from their bench, none in the second half. And while they were limiting Nowitzki to 5 of 15 shooting through three quarters, former All-Stars Kidd and Stojakovic were lighting them up.
The third-seeded Mavs can snicker about doing something the higher-seeded Spurs and Lakers couldn’t: win the first two games on their home court. Now the Western Conference’s best road team this season will head to Portland for Game 3 on Thursday night, and Game 4 on Saturday.
“We’ve been doing that second-scorer-by committee [all season],” Nowitzki said. “Our bigs did a good job of battling Aldridge all game, and we’ve got to do more of the same on Thursday.”
Dallas fans know not to start thinking “sweep” just yet. They made that mistake midway through the ’06 NBA Finals, only to see their team lose that series in six games. Nowitzki warned “this series is far from over,” which could also be a nod to Portland having won both matchups on its home court this season.
“I think we’ll go home and have our crowd behind us,” Aldridge said. “Hopefully that will bring us more energy and we’ll play better.”
Before this game, Portland coach Nate McMillan said, “We’ve got to be the aggressors,” and his team was in the first half, trailing for a mere 36 seconds. But their lead at the break was only 52-50, and the second half proved to be a completely different story.
Kidd hit a go-ahead 3-pointer on Dallas’ first possession and the Mavs wouldn’t trail again. Kidd followed with a jumper just inside the arc, a layup and a bank shot — nine straight points that were part of an 18-5 spurt since the final minute of the first half.
“He had his confidence and he was looking for [his shot],” McMillan said.
Dallas did little wrong the rest of the way. The Mavs held Aldridge to eight points in the second half and spread around their scoring. They also protected the ball, going without a turnover the final 28:42. They tied a franchise playoff-best with just six turnovers.
Portland went from scoring 28 points in the second quarter to scoring 37 in the second half. Fourth quarters have especially been a problem for the Trail Blazers.
“Every time we had a chance, we’d turn the ball over or make a big mistake and they ended up closing out the game,” Aldridge said.
Dallas signed Stojakovic in January after he was waived by Toronto. He’d hardly played because of injuries, but the Mavericks envisioned him as another scorer coming off the bench in the playoffs. It took all of two games for that gamble to pay off.
He scored 10 points in the first half, most during a flurry that kept things close in the second quarter. After Nowitzki missed three straight open jumpers in the third quarter, Stojakovic came in and still had his touch. He hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter that brought the crowd to their feet.
“I was able to make a couple of shots and that gave me confidence,” Stojakovic said. “With Dirk, J-Kidd and[Jason Terry] on the floor, they draw so much attention that we can move the ball around and get good opportunities.”
Kidd scored 24 points in the opener, hitting six 3-pointers. McMillan wanted his team to wear down the 38-year-old point guard, covering him more tightly on the perimeter and even making it tough for him to bring the ball up the court, but it didn’t work. He made 3 of 6 behind the arc this game.
Wallace and Andre Miller each scored 18 points for Portland. Matthews added 13. But Nicolas Batum’s 10 points and a free throw by Rudy Fernandez were all the points by reserves. Brandon Roy played 8 minutes and missed the only shot he took. The five backups who got into the game were a combined 4 for 11.
Officiating was all the buzz pregame, from McMillan seeking more calls to justify his $35,000 fine for critical comments he made after Game 1, to Dallas discovering its playoff nemesis Dan Crawford was working the game. The Mavs had lost 17 of the last 18 times he’d worked one of its playoff games. It turned out not to matter too much, not with the way the old-timers were scoring.
This was the seventh time Stojakovic has made five 3s in a playoff game, the first since 2008. … Dallas is now 3-18 in playoff games called by Crawford. … Portland fell to 2-15 in its last 17 road playoff games. … The Blazers have lost consecutive games for the first time since March 11-12.