Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 3/26

Game 1: Saturday, March 26th
Game 2: Sunday, April 3rd

Cavaliers 86

(35-32, 10-23 away)

Mavericks 117

(46-23, 24-12 home)

2:30 PM ET, March 26, 2005

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
CLE 29 21 16 2086
DAL 29 37 23 28117

Top Performers

Cle: D. Gooden 16 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Dal: M. Finley 26 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Dallas 4-1 under Avery Johnson full time

DALLAS (AP) -- Michael Finley just couldn't miss from long range for the Dallas Mavericks, no matter how much Cleveland tried to stop him.

"I put two hands up, blew on his face," LeBron James said. "But he was in a groove. When a guy's shooting like that, there's not much you can do."

Except stand back and admire.

Finley scored 26 points, making all eight of his 3-pointers, and the Mavericks beat Cleveland 117-86 Saturday night for their largest margin of victory this season.

"We had a hand in Finley's face, and he still made them," Cleveland coach Brendan Malone said.

Finley is finding out he can still be a shooter and a scorer in the defensive-oriented system of new Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.

A week earlier in Johnson's debut, Finley was 1-for-10 shooting and then had a 2-for-11 game Wednesday night against Golden State. But when going 4-for-10 in his last game, he made 3-of-4 3-pointers -- missing the last one in a loss at Sacramento.

"I'm fine. A lot of people make a big deal out of my offensive game, and it deserves that," Finley said. "As I go, sometimes the team goes. The team needs me to be offensively aggressive. I take it upon myself to do that, and tonight was one of those times."

Finley was just 1-of-6 inside the arc, but already had his fifth 3-pointer midway through the second quarter when he scored to put the Mavs up 51-38. That was part of a 22-9 spurt that broke the last tie.

In the first quarter before the game got out of hand, James had the ball at the top of the key and stared at Finley defending him. The preps-to-pro prodigy in his second season looked at Finley again, then swished a shot to get the Cavs to 20-17.

Finley responded with a 3-pointer on the next shot. That drew a glance of admiration from James they went back down the court.

Finley didn't play the last 8 minutes with the game out of reach and finished two short of the team record for 3-pointers. George McCloud had 10 in December 1995, and has four of the other five games in which a Dallas player had eight 3-pointers -- Nowitzki had the other.

"He had it going," guard Jason Terry said. "He caught the ball in rhythm and didn't hesitate."

As a team, the Mavericks hit a season-high 14-of-18 3-pointers.

Johnson certainly inherited a team with better overall talent than Malone did. The likely playoff teams met for the first time this season, within a week after both changed coaches.

Keith Van Horn added 23 points and Terry had 14 as six Mavericks reached double figures. While Dirk Nowitzki had an offnight shooting (3-for-12 for 11 points), he had 14 rebounds and blocked five shots.

The Mavs are 4-1 since Johnson was promoted from assistant to replace Don Nelson after the second-winningest coach in NBA history resigned. Dallas was 9-4 in other games that Johnson coached before that this season when Nelson was absent.

Malone is 1-2 since Paul Silas was fired Monday. The win was in Malone's debut at home before the two road losses to extend Cleveland's road losing streak to 11 since Jan. 22 at Golden State.

James had 19 points and six assists in 36 minutes. Drew Gooden had 16 points, Anderson Varejao 14 and Zydrunas Illgauskas 13.

Just three minutes into the game, James rolled his left ankle, falling to the floor and grimacing in pain after stepping on Shawn Bradley after a missed shot. He went to the bench, but was back in the game the next timeout.

"It's a little sore, but I have two days (before playing Monday at New Orleans)," James said. "Our chances of winning are very slim with me off the court, so I tried to play through it."

Van Horn put Dallas ahead to stay when he hit a floater in the opening minute of the second quarter to start the game-turning run. Terry made a 3-pointer for a 66-50 halftime lead, and the Cavaliers never got closer than 15 after that.

James' short runner tied the game at 29 at the end of the first quarter. But the Mavericks are used to not having the lead at that point.

The Mavericks have outscored their opponents in the first quarter just once the last 16 games. And this was just the second time in that stretch they were tied after the first 12 minutes.

Game notes

The Mavs record for consecutive 3-pointers is 10 by Brad Davis in 1988. ... Dallas plays eight of its last 13 games on the road, including the next four. ... Cleveland has lost 11 of 15 overall but is still sixth in the Eastern Conference. ... Devin Harris had 12 points for Dallas on 5-of-7 shooting, and Josh Howard had 11 points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 117
FGM-FGA 32-76 (.421) 44-80 (.550)
3PM-3PA 3-5 (.600) 14-18 (.778)
FTM-FTA 19-24 (.792) 15-20 (.750)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 9-43
Assists 19 26
Turnovers 15 13
Steals 6 7
Blocks 9 12
Fast Break Points 8 22
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (1/0) 20 (0/0)
Largest Lead 3 35

Top Performers

Drew Gooden Gooden
Points: 16
Reb: 8
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Michael Finley Finley
Points: 26
Reb: 5
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1