Peja Stojakovic aiding Mavs' 3-for-all
"Peja has worked his butt off," Nelson said. "To come from the injury that he did, no one knew if he had it anymore. It's the all-American success story, only [by a] Serbian."
The Mavs know they can't expect Stojakovic to score 20 points a game, but he's done it twice now in the playoffs, while emerging as the Mavs' third-leading scorer (10.8 ppg). His 21 points helped to get a key win in Game 2 against the Portland Trail Blazers for a 2-0 lead and he matched that in Sunday's Game 4 to sweep out the Los Angeles Lakers in a blowout.
Stojakovic dropped all six of his 3-point attempts for 21 points in the rout, which would have been the big story if not for Jason Terry knocking down 9-of-10 from 3-point range for 32 points.
It leads to the overriding story of the Mavs' potent 3-point shooting. During the regular season they ranked 12th in the league in 3-point field-goal percentage (36.5 percent). Not bad, but not great either considering three of the top eight all-time 3-point shooters are on the roster. In the postseason, only the Boston Celtics, with Ray Allen, the league's all-time 3-point leader, are sinking them with more accuracy (48.7 percent).
After making 20-of-32 in Sunday's Game 4, the Mavs are hitting 41.9 percent of their shots from downtown.
"The 3-point shot is a big part of the game now," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's been a big part of the success that we've been able to have."
Each of the Mavs' 3-point shooters has raised his percentage in the playoffs. Dirk Nowitzki hasn't taken the most 3s, but he's hitting them at a team-high 60 percent (12-of-20). Terry is at 50 percent (22-of-44). Stojakovic is shooting it at 46.2 percent (24-of-52). Jason Kidd has slipped recently, but is still at a respectable 35.5 percent (22-of-62).
Consider these crazy numbers: Kidd made a career playoff-high six 3s in Game 1 against Portland; Stojakovic tied his career playoff-high with five 3s in Game 2 against Portland and set a new high with six against L.A.; Terry made five in Game 3 against Portland and a career playoff-best nine against L.A.; Nowitzki made four in Game 3 against L.A., one shy of his career playoff best.
Against the Lakers, the Mavs shot 46.2 percent (49-of-106) from 3-point range. Stojakovic said much credit goes to Nowitzki.
"He drew so much attention that every time he was touching the ball they [were on him]," Stojakovic said. "So it was on us to move the ball and create open shots."
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