Dallas wins series 4-0 (Game 1 of 4)

Dallas wins series 4-0

Game 1: Sunday, April 23rd
Game 2: Wednesday, April 26th
Game 3: Saturday, April 29th
Game 4: Monday, May 1st

Grizzlies 93

(49-33, 19-22 away)

Mavericks 103

(60-22, 34-7 home)

8:30 PM ET, April 23, 2006

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
MEM 22 29 27 1593
DAL 28 32 23 20103

Top Performers

Memphis: P. Gasol 24 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

Dallas: D. Nowitzki 31 Pts, 11 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Dirk scores 31 as Mavs open playoffs with win

DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki had all week to think back on the terrible way the Mavericks started the playoffs last year. Minutes into this postseason, it was clear he wasn't going to let that happen to Dallas again.

Nowitzki scored 19 points during a surge that produced 60 by halftime against the NBA's stingiest defense, then the Mavericks got key baskets from a variety of players the rest of the way to beat the Memphis Grizzlies 103-93 in the opener of their first-round series Sunday night.

"We wanted to come out a lot more aggressive and we did," Nowitzki said. "It's good to get the first one out of the way, even though it wasn't a great game."

A 1-0 lead might not seem like much for a team that won 60 regular-season games, but it's a big relief for Dallas, which started the playoffs last year with two home losses. Although the Mavs recovered to beat the Houston Rockets in seven games, they don't want to work that hard with the San Antonio Spurs likely looming in the second round.

"We learned from last year," Nowitzki said.

The MVP candidate opened this game with a strong drive to the basket, drawing a foul. He made his first jumper soon after and had 13 points after one quarter.

Nowitzki finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds. He made 13 of 15 free throws, missing only his first and last attempts.

"The first couple of possessions I wanted to get ball in my hands and feel good about myself," said Nowitzki, adding that he feared being rusty after sitting out the season finale. "I wanted to find my rhythm real quick and was able to knock a few shots down to get my confidence up."

As good as Nowitzki was, Dallas' energy and depth went a long way, too.

Backup center Erick Dampier exemplified both. A huge disappointment last season after signing a $73 million contract, he provided 12 points, 12 rebounds and plays like a crowd-thrilling dunk off a loose ball just before halftime and an offensive rebound that turned into a three-point play early in the fourth quarter.

"I can give that type of effort every night. I know I'm capable of it," said Dampier, who was memorably chastised on the court by Nowitzki during the playoffs last year. "I've got to put it all together."

Memphis hung on as long it could considering its star player, Pau Gasol, missed all five shots he took in the first half, apparently limited by a foot injury that's nagged him the last week. Then he swished a jumper at the start of the third quarter and scored 13 in the period, helping the Grizzlies get within 75-74.

But Marquis Daniels, another Dallas reserve, answered immediately with a powerful baseline dunk, sparking a rally that culminated in him taking a steal all the way for a finger-roll layup that made it 96-82. On Memphis' next possession, Jake Tsakalidis committed a foul and got a technical for complaining.

The frustration was understandable -- the Grizzlies are now 0-9 in their postseason history, extending what already was the wrong kind of league record. After being swept by San Antonio and Phoenix the past two years, they were hoping that coming into the playoffs on an 8-1 roll would change their luck.

"We have to be concerned a little bit, but at the same time we have to do a better job overall in playing with a little bit more hustle," said Gasol, who finished with 24 points.

The Grizzlies get another chance in Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Dallas was able to spread its scoring beyond Nowitzki. Jason Terry had 20 points and its next three high scorers all came off the bench: Jerry Stackhouse with 14, Daniels with 13 and Dampier.

Josh Howard, who is playing with a sore back, scored eight in 18 minutes. Devin Harris didn't score but played more than 11 minutes after missing nearly all of the last five weeks with a quadriceps problem. Daniels had a sore hamstring.

"For us to be injured and trying to get some guys back, I guess we've got to be pleased with the results," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said.

Last year, Johnson had been on the job only about a month when the playoffs began and made the rookie mistake of overworking his players before the opener. They were left so flat they lost twice at home to Houston, but rallied to become only the third team in playoff history to win a seven-game series after that kind of start.

Johnson was more careful this time, and the strong start was his reward. The Mavs' fresh legs and hungry attitude showed in a 24-6 rebounding edge at halftime that included 12 offensive rebounds.

"We've got to play better defensively and get more opportunities on the offensive end," Memphis coach Mike Fratello said.

Eddie Jones scored 16 points for the Grizzlies, with nine coming in a row during the first quarter. Tsakalidis and Bobby Jackson scored 11.

Game notes

Memphis allowed a league-low 88.5 points per game this season. ... Mavs C DeSagana Diop said he was so nervous before his first playoff game that he got only about 20 minutes sleep during his normal two-hour pregame nap. ... Dallas fans showed a good memory by booing Jackson when he entered the game. Jackson was part of Sacramento teams that gave the Mavs fits in previous postseasons.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 93 103
FGM-FGA 33-62 (.532) 34-74 (.459)
3PM-3PA 6-14 (.429) 5-13 (.385)
FTM-FTA 21-29 (.724) 30-35 (.857)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 7-29 15-40
Assists 16 17
Turnovers 19 14
Steals 8 12
Blocks 4 3
Fast Break Points 12 17
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 31 (1/0) 27 (0/0)
Largest Lead 1 18

Top Performers

Pau Gasol Gasol
Points: 24
Reb: 7
Ast: 4
Stl: 1
Blk: 2
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 31
Reb: 11
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 0