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Saturday, June 4, 2011
Mavs seek control of turnovers, rebounds

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- More than once Dirk Nowitzki said the Dallas Mavericks got "lucky" in Game 2, stealing off with a 95-93 victory after trailing 88-73 with seven minutes to play.

It's hard to argue, at least from the standpoint that the Mavs committed 20 turnovers that the Miami Heat turned into 31 points -- or one-third of their total output -- and lived to tell about it.

"We can't turn the ball over against this team. They have two of the most athletic players I've ever seen," said Nowitzki, who had five turnovers, mostly passes picked off. "We talked about it in the flow of the game that we just can't turn the ball over. Every time we mishandle the ball, it's an automatic layup against this team. Sometimes it just happens. They're so good. They have quick hands. They cover a lot of ground. And so turnovers unfortunately are a part of the game."

The Mavs had six turnovers in the fourth quarter, but five came in the first 4:37 as the Heat cashed them in for a Dwyane Wade dunk, four Wade free throws, a Mario Chalmers layup and Wade's corner 3-pointer that put Miami up 88-73 with 7:41 to go.

From there, Dallas committed just one turnover and reeled off a 22-5 run for the epic comeback victory to tie the NBA Finals at 1-1.

"Down the stretch we did a good job, kept the ball in our playmakers' hands with Jet and Jason Kidd and did a good job of protecting the ball," Nowitzki said. "Like I said, we got lucky down the stretch. Hopefully, we can carry this momentum in Game 3."

The Mavs were not a bad turnover team during the regular season, ranking 17th in the league at 13.5 per game. Of some concern against the suffocating Heat defense is Jason Kidd's eight turnovers in the first two games. Overall in the playoffs, Dallas has actually reduced its burden by a full turnover at a time when defenses play tighter. The Mavs committed just 11 turnovers in Game 1, so Game 2's 20 could be viewed as an aberration.

What the Mavs hope is not an aberration is their dominant rebounding in Game 2 coming off a beating in the opener -- 46-36 overall and 16-6 on the offensive boards. Rebounding has been pounded into the Mavs by coach Rick Carlisle since the West finals when the Oklahoma City Thunder did a number on Dallas, especially on the offensive glass.

Nowitzki, who wasn't sure how the torn tendon the middle finger on his left hand would affect his rebounding, led the charge with 11 boards in Game 2. Shawn Marion and Kidd each grabbed eight and Tyson Chandler had seven as Dallas took control, 41-30.

Miami, which had several massive throw-down dunks on offensive rebounds, seemed like it had more than six. But that was it for eight second-chance points. Dallas had 15 which helped offset the 16-point turnover differential in the Heat's favor.