Monday, May 9, 2011
Peja Stojakovic aiding Mavs' 3-for-all
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- Mavericks president Donnie Nelson's motto is you can never have too many shooters, so he went out and signed Peja Stojakovic, who had barely played because of a knee injury, and frankly no one knew if he could.
"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."