They didn't have a picture of Kidd... (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The unexpected star of the first quarter? Jason Kidd, the 38 year old point guard. Even more unexpected was the manner in which he was scoring. This season, it appeared Kidd's three-ball fell off a bit, but apparently his few days off really came in handy. He led the team with 8 points, three assists and three rebounds in the first period. In contrast, Dirk Nowitzki went just 3-7 for six points. Brendan Haywood showed up to play as well, grabbing offensive rebounds and pressuring the Blazers inside.
LaMarcus Aldridge was still able to score 11 points, but Gerald Wallace was held scoreless, which was definitely a positive considering how well he normally plays against the Mavericks. Dallas had a few too many turnovers in the fist quarter, committing four of them for eight Portland points. The Blazers shot 56%, while the Mavericks shot a respectable 45%. All in all, it was a well-played quarter with the Blazers finishing it up by one.
The second quarter saw a renewed effort from the Mavericks on both ends of the floor. They were able to outscore Portland 26-15, and held Wallace to another scoreless period. Jason Kidd continued to be accurate from long (well, with his one basket), but Dirk still couldn't find his shot. He went 4-12 in the first half, with just two points scored in the second quarter. It was nice to see Dallas pulling down rebounds on both ends of the floor, especially since it looked as though Portland's advantage would be their inside game.
Dallas came out way too slow to start the second half. Portland put together a 6-0 run before Rick Carlisle was forced to take a timeout. The only Mavericks' points, as you might have guessed, came from the fresh legs of one Jason Kidd, who kept finding the three-point line open for business. Apparently someone showed that man the fountain of youth, because he couldn't be stopped. Dirk was still struggling hard, but shooters keep shooting, and he found the bottom of the net once or twice.
The lead kept growing to 10, and then getting sliced down to four. The Mavericks managed to get Portland into a bit of foul trouble, but didn't take advantage of that enough. The only player who drove to the basket and made it to the line was Jose Barea, because Rudy Fernandez couldn't stay in front of him.
In the first two minutes of the final period, Dirk took his FIRST free throws of the game. He made them both, thank goodness. Unfortunately, Jason Terry committed a turnover and then the Mavericks fouled on the other end, leading to a Portland three-point play for their first lead since the second quarter. The Mavs could not buy a basket in the period, and the Blazers looked like the veteran team, outscoring them 20-14.
After nearly 11 minutes without a made field goal for the Mavericks, the wonder that is Jason Kidd bailed them out yet again with a mid-range jumper. A pair of free throws from Dirk brought the game back to a tie at 72-all with just over four minutes left to play. Then, the most improbable of all things happened...an ice cold Dirk Nowitzki hit a three, and then drove to the basket on the next play to draw a foul. His made free throws gave the Mavericks a two-point lead to cap an 11-2 run, and the Blazers would never recover. All 12 of Dirk's free throws came in the final quarter, and he finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds.
Jason Kidd hit six threes in this game- which is his career playoff record. He ended the game with 24 points, two steals, four assists and five rebounds. The Mavericks were able to maintain their composure as the game came down to the wire, and with a few trips to the line, they finished it out with a hard-fought victory.
It is obvious that these two teams match up well against each other, and this series is going to be incredibly fun to watch. The next game is Tuesday night in Dallas, at 8:30pm CT. Be sure to visit us often here on MMB... we're going to keep throwing playoff coverage at you like it's our job!