Dallas wins series 4-3 (Game 2 of 7)

Dallas wins series 4-3

Game 1: Saturday, April 23rd
Game 2: Monday, April 25th
Game 3: Thursday, April 28th
Game 4: Saturday, April 30th
Game 5: Monday, May 2nd
Game 6: Thursday, May 5th
Game 7: Saturday, May 7th

Rockets 113

(51-31, 25-16 away)

Mavericks 111

(58-24, 29-12 home)

8:30 PM ET, April 25, 2005

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
HOU 34 26 24 29113
DAL 30 26 32 23111

Top Performers

Hou: T. McGrady 28 Pts, 8 Reb, 10 Ast, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

Dal: D. Nowitzki 26 Pts, 2 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Rockets get 33 from Yao, game-winner from McGrady

DALLAS (AP) -- Tracy McGrady had a secret. The only people who knew what he was going to do in the closing seconds of a tie game were his coach and his big man.

Pulling off a plan arranged during a previous timeout, McGrady surprised the rest of his Houston Rockets teammates, and all of the Dallas Mavericks, by not stopping the clock and going straight up the court with 10.4 seconds left. With Yao Ming doing his part by setting a screen near the 3-point arc, all McGrady had to do was bury his shot -- which, of course, he did.

McGrady's basket, a 2-pointer, and a miss by Michael Finley at the buzzer gave Houston a thrilling 113-111 victory over Dallas on Monday night and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

By winning both road games, the Rockets can advance by winning the next two games in Houston, starting Thursday night. But McGrady isn't looking ahead, remembering how his Orlando team blew leads of 2-0 and 3-1 in the first round against Detroit two years ago.

"It's a new series for us. We're definitely in the driver's seat," McGrady said. "We've got to stay grounded. We haven't done anything yet."

Actually, McGrady and Yao have done something -- they've established themselves as the Western Conference's new dynamic duo, filling the void created by the breakup of Shaq and Kobe.

The preseason hype and hope surrounding their union became a reality with this game, as Yao scored 33 points -- making 13 of 14 shots, with his only miss arguably a turnover -- and McGrady scoring 28.

A McGrady drive-and-dish for a Yao dunk put Houston up 111-109 with 1:06 left. Then Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki tied it by faking McGrady several times and nailing a jumper from around the free throw line with 10.4 seconds left.

During a time out with 26.4 seconds left, Van Gundy asked McGrady whether they should call time to set up a last shot. He said he'd rather spot up behind a Yao screen, then told only Yao what he was going to do.

"They tried to trap me in the backcourt, but I got away from them pretty easily," McGrady said. "I just got the ball up the court. Yao set a great screen. I realized I was by myself when I came off. ... Let me be honest. I don't even know if there was someone else. I was so zoned out. I don't know, I don't care."

Given one last chance to salvage a split at home, Dallas failed when Finley missed a jumper. Mavs coach Avery Johnson said Nowitzki was the first option, but he was double-teamed.

"He had a good shot at the free throw line," Johnson said. "It just didn't go in."

As bad of a hole as this is, Dallas has been in worse When the Mavs returned to the playoffs after a decade-long absence in 2001, they trailed Utah 2-0 in a best-of-five series before advancing. This group goes to Houston knowing it can win on the road, having won a franchise-best 29 road games.

"It's possible," Finley said. "It's happened before. It's not like we have to win the lottery."

The Rockets, however, will be carrying a nine-game winning streak, while the Mavs will be reeling from their first consecutive losses under Johnson. They came into the playoffs 16-2 in his first five weeks since replacing Don Nelson and now have that many losses in three days.

The first concern for Dallas is getting Nowitzki going. He was 4-of-17 -- and 9-of-36 for the series -- when he made a 16-footer in transition with 7:09 left. He scored again on the next trip and put Dallas head 107-106 with 2:32 left on a hook over Yao. Still, he finished 8-of-21 for 26 points. He had just two rebounds and committed three turnovers.

"Every time I come off a screen, they're running somebody at me," Nowitzki said. "I still haven't found my rhythm from the floor."

Five other Mavs scored in double figures, with Josh Howard putting up 17, Jason Terry 15 and Erick Dampier 14. Keith Van Horn came off the bench to score 13, going 5-for-6.

With Yao scoring his most points since getting 40 against Toronto on Dec. 20, and McGrady making 10 of 19 shots, the Rockets didn't need much else. They got 16 from Jon Barry, including three straight 3s early in the second quarter, and 14 from Bob Sura, including the 3-pointer that put Houston up 109-107.

It was only fitting that this game came down to the last shot considering how the teams fought on every possession. Someone wrote "Energy, Effort, Excitement" on a wipe board in Dallas' locker room before the game, and both teams embodied it throughout, much to the delight of 20,884 fans, the largest crowd in Mavs history.

Players were scrambling for loose balls and hurrying to help on defense. There were several collisions, one leaving Barry's nose bloodied, another sending Houston's Ryan Bowen to the locker room to check his ankle. And that was just in the first half.

The Rockets led the entire first half, by as much as eight, but the Mavericks gained control early in the second half -- for the first time since 12-10 in Game 1 -- and were ahead most of the last two quarters.

Game notes

When Mavs tied at 51 late in second quarter, the crowd became so loud that officials had trouble hearing Houston call timeout. ... With 38.9 seconds left before halftime and Dallas throwing the ball in near the Rockets' bench, Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy was on the wrong side of inbounder Michael Finley. When officials told him to move, he smirked and saluted. ... Mavs owner Mark Cuban posted on his blog Sunday the team's playoff record since 2002 based on who officiated each game. They came in 0-6 in games worked by Monday night's crew chief, Dan Crawford. They had at least one win for all other refs who worked at least three games. Dallas came in 1-3 under both of the other officials, Greg Willard and Mark Wunderlich.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 113 111
FGM-FGA 40-73 (.548) 41-82 (.500)
3PM-3PA 9-18 (.500) 10-15 (.667)
FTM-FTA 24-27 (.889) 19-26 (.731)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-29 14-41
Assists 22 18
Turnovers 12 14
Steals 12 6
Blocks 7 4
Fast Break Points 8 4
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 22 (0/1)
Largest Lead 8 8

Top Performers

Tracy McGrady McGrady
Points: 28
Reb: 8
Ast: 10
Stl: 3
Blk: 3
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 26
Reb: 2
Ast: 3
Stl: 2
Blk: 1