Dallas wins series 4-3 (Game 1 of 7)

Dallas wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 19th
Trail Blazers86Final
Game 2: Wednesday, April 23rd
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Game 3: Friday, April 25th
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Game 4: Sunday, April 27th
Trail Blazers98
Game 5: Wednesday, April 30th
Trail Blazers103Final
Game 6: Friday, May 2nd
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Game 7: Sunday, May 4th
Trail Blazers95Final

Trail Blazers 86

(50-32, 23-18 away)

    7:00 PM ET, April 19, 2003

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    POR 21 31 12 2286
    DAL 23 19 28 2696

    Top Performers

    Por: R. Wallace 26 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 46 Pts, 10 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Nowitzki pours in career-high 46 points

    DALLAS (AP) -- Layups, jumpers, 3-pointers; Dirk Nowitzki was hitting them all.

    Dirk Nowitzki

    Dirk Nowitzki is a big fan of Lucky Luke the cowboy and his horse, Jolly Jumper.

    Yet the Dallas Mavericks still trailed by 13.

    Nowitzki never lost his touch, however, and when his teammates found theirs the Mavericks pulled away from the Portland Trail Blazers for a 96-86 victory Saturday night in the opener of their first-round series.

    Nowitzki scored a career-best 46 points, the most ever by a Maverick in the playoffs and four shy of the overall team record. He made his first six shots and had 23 in each half. He also had 10 rebounds.

    Most importantly, he scored 10 during a 15-1 spurt in the third quarter that changed the entire game. The key hoop was a 3-pointer while falling down that put Dallas ahead for good and drew a roar from a crowd of 20,336 -- the largest in team history.

    "I was trying to be aggressive, that was my major thing -- to get to the basket and the free throw line,'' said Nowitzki, who finished 16-of-27, going 4-of-5 on 3-pointers and making 10 of 11 free throws. "We have a lot of weapons out there. Tonight, I was just the one with the hot hand.''

    Michael Finley, just getting over a hamstring problem, went from missing his first six shots to making his next five to finish with 13 points and seven rebounds. He closed the third quarter with a buzzer-beating jumper then opened the fourth with a 3-pointer that put the Mavericks up by nine.

    "We knew Mike would be there,'' Nowitzki said. "He hit some shots that really lifted us.''

    Steve Nash, the third member of the Big Three that led Dallas to a franchise-record 60 wins, had 10 points and nine assists -- five in the first quarter and four in the fourth.

    But afterward, the talk was all about Nowitzki.

    "I told him at the end of regulation that he will eventually be one of the best all-around players to ever play the game,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "He will eventually be able to do the things that Larry Bird did. That's my vision of him.''

    "I've never seen him play that well,'' Finley said. "He was MVP status. He did all the things we needed him to do.''

    Portland's collapse began when Rasheed Wallace went to the locker room with an ankle injury with 7:23 left in the third.

    He was gone less than four minutes, but the Blazers were never the same again as their playoff losing streak hit eight. They haven't won a postseason game since Game 6 of the 2000 conference finals.

    They'll try again in Game 2 Wednesday night.

    "We had a great opportunity to put that team on their heels, and we didn't,'' said Portland's Scottie Pippen, who had five points, five rebounds, four assists and a team-worst four turnovers in 32 minutes. He also wore a sleeve over his left leg to protect a recent knee injury.

    "We allowed them to do some things that we disallowed in the first half. The most frustrating part is we allowed Dirk too many points. We have to take him out of the game and make somebody else beat us.''

    Wallace finished with a team-best 26 points and seven rebounds. He shot 11-of-22 and made three of the Blazers' five 3-pointers.

    Reserve Damon Stoudamire had 16 points and Bonzi Wells had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

    "We are not going to get dejected over one loss,'' Stoudamire said. "It is a best-of-seven series. You still have to win four games. We know we have things to work on, and we have time to work on them.''

    The Mavericks led by nine in the opening minutes, then fell into their usual bugaboos of poor defense, poor rebounding and an overreliance on outside shooting.

    Portland gained control with its tenacious, multifaceted style. From the starters to the reserves, everyone was contributing -- the bench ended up with 39 points -- and the Blazers began pulling away, much like they did in a 17-point win three weeks ago which ended with them laughing at the Mavericks.

    Then the Mavericks, who said this week they were motivated by that lack of respect, held Portland to 12 points in the third quarter. That matched the least they've ever allowed a playoff opponent.

    Portland lost its aim after halftime, going from 22-of-40 in the first half to 15-of-42 in the second half.

    Game notes

    Dallas' previous playoff best was 43 by Rolando Blackman, now an assistant coach. ... Portland is in the playoffs for the 21st straight year, one shy of the NBA record. The Blazers were ousted by the eventual champion the last four years. ... Commissioner David Stern made his first visit to Dallas this season. ... Portland won both previous playoff series against Dallas, going 3-0 in 1990 and 4-1 in 1985.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 86 96
    FGM-FGA 35-82 (.427) 34-73 (.466)
    3PM-3PA 5-18 (.278) 8-18 (.444)
    FTM-FTA 11-21 (.524) 20-24 (.833)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 17-48 7-40
    Assists 17 18
    Turnovers 12 10
    Steals 8 3
    Blocks 1 9
    Fast Break Points 4 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (2/0) 16 (2/0)

    Top Performers

    Rasheed Wallace Wallace
    Points: 26
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 46
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1