Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Thursday, April 22, 2010
Spurs x-factor Jefferson comes through

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- For one day at least, San Antonio Spurs forward Richard Jefferson won't have to hear about how much of a dog he is.

The veteran forward came through in Game 2 with a 19-point performance, pouring in 17 in the first half and 13 in the Spurs' 34-point second quarter that opened up a 58-46 halftime lead.

Jefferson had an awful Game 1 with four points in 32 minutes. Afterward, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich lashed some of his players, saying too many played like dogs. Most felt that description was aimed at Jefferson, who has struggled through his first season in San Antonio.

But, in Dallas on Wednesday night, he played a leading role in evening the first-round, best-of-7 series at 1-1 as it shifts to San Antonio.

"The difference in the game," Mavs guard Jason Terry said. "Hats off to Richard. He came out and played well. It will be our job to focus a little more in on him and not allow him to get off."

Jefferson, who also had seven rebounds to give him 14 in the two games, drilled the Mavs in a variety of ways. He hit a step-back jumper over Caron Butler, just as Butler had done to him in Game 1. A massive Tim Duncan screen on Dirk Nowitzki opened the baseline for Jefferson as he swooped under the basket for a reverse layup. He also made his only 3-point attempt of the second quarter, which he finished 6-of-7 from the field.

"We needed Richard like that," Spurs guard Manu Ginobili, who was brilliant with 23 points, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range, four assists and five rebounds. "He was so aggressive attacking the rim, getting fouls and sinking some important shots, so he was great."