DALLAS (AP) -- Raja Bell was the unlikely hero for the Dallas
Mavericks, who usually depend on their big three.
Dallas took a 3-2 series lead heading into Thursday's Game 6 at
"That's what we needed,'' said Mavericks forward Raef LaFrentz.
"We can't just rely on three or four guys to carry us. Raja was
huge, and really helped us.''
Bell provided a big boost for the suddenly re-energized
Mavericks with four baskets and nine of his 13 points in the third
quarter. That was one more basket than Sacramento managed while
being outscored 29-10 in the period.
"Bell was our best player in Game 4, and that is not saying a
whole lot, but he was really the only player that did well in that
game,'' said Mavericks coach Don Nelson. "He played well again
tonight. He was being active and rebounding. He is physically able
to do some things that our players can't do.''
Plus, Bell is much more rested than the Mavericks' superstars.
Bell made only his second start this postseason, filling in for
the injured Adrian Griffin. He had scored 16 points, matching the
team high, in Dallas' 99-83 loss in Game 4 on Sunday.
"It's fun to contribute,'' Bell said. "Other guys on our team
command double-teams. They're so unselfish. It's a credit to them.
Early, I passed up on a few open looks. I made a concerted effort
in the second half to let it fly.''
Nash, held to just six points in the Game 4 loss, scored 25
points. He was just 5-of-12 from the field, but hit 15 of 16 free
throws. All five starters, plus Nick Van Exel, scored in double
figures for Dallas.
"Tonight was an absolute perfect picture of a team
performance,'' Nash said. "It's a lot of fun when we play like
Dirk Nowitzki has 16 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high nine
assists, falling just short of the first triple-double in Dallas
And after playing three games in four nights, the teams are
going right back to Sacramento.
The Mavericks are one win away from reaching the Western
Conference finals for only the second time. Last year, Dallas was
eliminated in five games by Sacramento in the second round.
If a seventh game is necessary, it will be Saturday night in
Bell's 3-pointer with 8:20 left in the third period broke a
65-65 tie and put the Mavericks ahead to stay. That also started a
15-4 run he ended with a putback layup that made it 80-69 with 1:59
"They have so many guys who can attack you,'' said Kings coach
Rick Adelman. "It's like a wind tunnel when they come at you. They
were coming at us in waves.''
The Kings were just 3-for-25 in the third quarter, when their 10
points were the fewest ever by a Dallas opponent in a postseason
quarter. Bell was 4-of-5 in the period.
"I thought we were in control, but at halftime, everything went
out the window,'' Adelman said.
After trailing by as many as 15 points in a lethargic first
half, the Mavericks opened the second half with an 11-2 run, tying
the score on Bell's 21-foot jumper.
"They came out aggressive, hit some big shots and that put us
on our heels,' said Doug Christie, who led Sacramento with 21
points. "We were a little rattled. They got very active on the
boards, they got all of the loose balls and made all of the hustle
LaFrentz's basket gave the Mavericks their first lead at 65-63.
Peja Stojakovic hit two free throws to tie the game for the third --
and last -- time.
Stojakovic had 19 for Sacramento, which is without star forward
Chris Webber (knee injury).
Sacramento never got closer than 11 points in the fourth quarter.
Playing their third game without leading scorer Webber, who got
hurt in Game 2, the Kings led 61-54 at halftime. Dallas missed 13
of its first 17 shots.
But while Dallas was struggling, Sacramento's big men were
getting in foul trouble. Vlade Divac had two fouls in the first
quarter, and his primary replacement, Keon Clark, had three. Both finished with five points and five fouls.
With Divac and Clark spending so many minutes out of the game,
LaFrentz had five blocks. Finley and Nowitzki had three each,
giving the Mavs a postseason franchise high of 11.
Van Exel finished with 18 points and Finley had 16.
Jackson, playing with a fractured cheek bone, had 14 points for
the Kings, who shot just 36 percent (33-for-92).
Nowitzki, Finley, Nash and Van Exel recovered from their
Game 4 breakdown, when they combined for just 38 points on 16-of-55
shooting. They scored 65 Tuesday night, going 23-of-60. That's
still way below their combined 103 points in Game 2 and 116 in Game
3, the other Dallas wins in the series. ... Utah scored just 12
points in a quarter of a postseason game against the Mavericks on
May 3, 2001. ... The crowd of 20,566 was the largest in American
Airlines Center history.