DALLAS Nick Van Exel insisted that the Dallas Mavericks ignore the Sacramento Kings. Just make shots, he said repeatedly, and everything will be fine.
Sticking to those thoughts even after falling behind by 10 in the opening minutes, the Mavericks roared back in their second-round series with a record-setting offensive display Thursday night.
Dirk Nowitzki made five of Dallas' 11 straight baskets in the first quarter, and Van Exel went 8-of-9 in the first half as the Mavs set or tied several NBA playoff scoring records in a 132-110 victory, tying their second-round matchup at one game apiece.
Van Exel scored a career playoff-high of 36 in 30 minutes, and he didn't even get rolling until after the big run of consecutive shots. He sparked a 30-7 run in the second quarter with three straight 3-pointers.
His biggest contribution, though, was inspiring his teammates to keep believing in themselves after a lopsided loss in the opener made them 2-8 in their last 10 games against the Kings.
I hope it had a lot to do with it,'' Van Exel said. I thought we responded and played with a lot of heart and aggressiveness.''
Their streak of made baskets was a thing of beauty. It included four 3-pointers, three by Nowitzki one of which he turned into a four-point play. Nowitzki had 14 points during that run and finished with 24 in 30 minutes.
Michael Finley also scored 24 and Steve Nash had 19 as Dallas became the first team since Houston in 1995 to top 130 points in a playoff game.
Nick got our attention and we responded,'' said surprise starter Adrian Griffin, who had eight of Dallas' first 16 points and finished with 15. That's the sign of a great leader, when you not only tell people what to do but then lead by example.''
The Mavs set a first-half playoff scoring record with 83 points and were one shy of the mark for the first quarter with 44. With 113 points through three quarters, they even had a shot at the playoff record of 157 set by Boston against New York in 1990. But they scored only seven in the final 8:52.
I think that's as well as we've played for three quarters,'' Dallas coach Don Nelson said. Boy, we really had it rolling.''
The loss may have been extra costly for Sacramento.
All-Star forward Chris Webber was carried to the locker room by four teammates late in the third quarter after he injured his left knee while going for a lob pass. He limped back to the bench on his own early in the fourth and didn't return. The exact nature of Webber's injury was uncertain. He'll undergo an MRI exam Friday.
I just twisted it,'' said Webber, who led the Kings with 31 points in 29 minutes.
Also, backup guard Bobby Jackson, winner of the NBA's Sixth Man award, fractured his right cheekbone in a fourth-quarter collision. His status for Game 3 is not yet known.
What seemed like it might be a short series after the Kings dominated the opener has taken an exciting twist heading into Games 3 and 4, which will be played Saturday and Sunday nights in Sacramento.
It's only one game. There's five more if we need them,'' Sacramento's Mike Bibby said.
Knowing that the winner of all five previous meetings this season had led after one period, Nelson called timeout with 8:19 left in the first and his team trailing 20-10. A fan behind midcourt even stood and held up a sign that read, Wake Up.''
Did they ever.
Starting with a tip-in by Griffin with 7:05 left, Dallas went more than six minutes without missing to go ahead 42-40, invigorating the crowd of 20,491. At 44-40 after one period, the teams tied the combined playoff scoring record of 84 points and the Mavs were shooting 77 percent.
The Kings had to be frustrated considering they shot 55 percent and scored their most points in 21 quarters this postseason yet still trailed by four.
We couldn't keep up with them,'' Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic said. It was unbelievable. There were just so many points. Still, it's one game. Every good team responds. They really jumped on us, like we did Tuesday night.''
In Game 2 against Philadelphia, that player was Tayshaun Prince again.
Prince, the seldom-used rookie who has thrived in the playoffs, scored seven straight points at the end of regulation and the start of overtime as Detroit defeated the 76ers 104-97 Thursday night to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.
''Of course I was surprised,'' Prince said. ''But this is a team that doesn't have a top star on it. Whenever a guy gets going, the coaches and the guy on the bench say, 'Let's get this guy the ball.' It's just a matter of who has the good feeling in the game, and in the overtime and just before overtime, that guy was me.''
Allen Iverson scored 31 points, but with a 92-90 lead and 15.1 seconds left in regulation he missed two free throws to give the Pistons a chance at an improbable win.
Detroit's Chauncey Billups missed the game with a sprained ankle after scoring 101 points in three games. He was replaced by Chucky Atkins, who had scored just 23 points in eight playoff games. Atkins matched that total while playing 44 minutes.
Prince, who scored 20 points in Game 7 against Orlando in the first round, made a difficult spinning 4-footer with 4.2 seconds left to force overtime. He scored the first five points in the extra session on a layup and a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired.
Atkins made a 3-pointer with 2:07 left to give Detroit, which set an NBA record by going 8-0 in overtime, a 100-93 lead.
Iverson said he was not surprised to see Prince and Atkins play so well.
''They don't just grab guys off the street and put them on NBA rosters,'' he said.
The series now moves to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 Saturday and Sunday.
It's safe to say Prince will not be spending as much time on the bench as he did during most of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.
The native of Compton, Calif., appeared in just 42 games after being the 23rd pick in the draft out of Kentucky. He averaged 3.3 points in 10 minutes a game.
Prince didn't play in the opening game of the playoffs against Orlando, scored two points in Games 2-3 and despite slowing down Tracy McGrady, didn't play in Game 4.
After Detroit coach Rick Carlisle was criticized for keeping Prince on the bench, he scored 15 points in Game 5 and 20 points in Game 7 as the Pistons became the seventh team in NBA history to win a series after trailing 3-1.
Prince played a career-high 39 minutes Thursday night.
''When you don't play much, there's a hungriness inside of you,'' Prince said. ''You want to bring something to the team.
''At first, it was just defense against Orlando. But now I've been able to help on the other end.''
Richard Hamilton scored 23 points, Cliff Robinson scored 14 of his 16 points in the first quarter, Jon Barry had 11 and Ben Wallace had 15 rebounds, seven points and two blocked shots.
Iverson wasn't a one-man team, either.
Kenny Thomas scored 15 points and grabbed a playoff-high 19 rebounds. Eric Snow, playing on an injured right foot, scored 14 points. Derrick Coleman and Aaron McKie each scored 12.
The Sixers came back from a 14-point deficit midway through the second quarter, and Iverson made two free throws with 1:40 left to give Philadelphia its first lead since the end of the third quarter. Snow's jumper on their next possession put Philadelphia ahead 92-89.
Hamilton made one of two free throws continuing Detroit's poor night at the line as the Pistons missed 14 of 35 attempts. But Iverson gave Detroit a chance, with each of his attempts hitting the rim and bouncing out.
The Pistons had no timeouts left, and the ball eventually got to Prince on the right wing. He backed in against McKie, avoided Snow's swipe at the ball and twisted his body around before releasing a soft floater that was all net as the crowd went crazy.
Snow airballed a long 3-pointer at the end of regulation as Philadelphia could not get the ball into Iverson's hands.
''I was yelling for Allen to shoot more,'' Philadelphia coach Larry Brown said.
Before Billups was signed as a free agent last summer, Atkins started 137 games over two seasons and averaged at least 12 points. Atkins averaged 11.3 points in 10 playoff games last season.
Atkins ran Detroit's offensive effectively in the first quarter, leading it to a 30-25 lead, and made several key baskets, including shots in the final seconds of the first and third quarters.
Notes: Robinson missed six shots after going 6-of-7 in the first quarter. ... Detroit missed eight of 10 foul shots in the first half. ... Atkins scored 22 points for his previous playoff-high in Game 5 of the second round last year against Boston.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.