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Davis' play carries Warriors to first playoff win since '92

DALLAS -- Don Nelson figures the Dallas Mavericks will
eventually figure out how to stop his Golden State Warriors. Until
they do, he's going to savor every moment.

Baron Davis scored 19 of his 33 points in the third quarter,
carrying Nellie's small-ball lineup to a 97-85 victory over the
Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night in Game 1 of their Western
Conference series.

"It was really a super win for our team," Nelson said. "It
was something that was unexpected, and that makes it that much
better."

Well, it wasn't a total stunner, at least not as much as a No. 8
seed beating a No. 1 seed normally is. After all, this was Golden
State's sixth straight win over Dallas and the fourth in a row
since Nelson ended a decade-long tenure with the Mavs to rejoin the
Warriors.

Nellie did his best coaching in recent weeks, squeezing out a
9-1 finish to make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years. His
task now is to stretch the streak as long as possible, although
he's the first to say it probably won't end with a ticker-tape
parade through the Bay Area.

"We don't expect to be world champs at the end of the
playoffs," Nelson said. "But every time we play in a
high-intensity game like these are going to be, we gain experience.
I'm really happy about that."

Davis nearly had a triple-double with 14 rebounds and eight
assists. His leadership throughout showed why the Warriors went
16-5 down the stretch after he returned from an injury.

"We knew if we could keep it close we could have a chance," he
said. "This win gives us a lot of confidence, but this team has
been to the championship and one loss is not going to affect
them."

Dirk Nowitzki has struggled against the Warriors in the three games he's played against them this season (he didn't play in the Mavs' April 17 loss to Golden State).

Date

FG-FGA

3 PT FG/FGA

Points

Result

April 22

4-16

0-2

14

Loss

March 12

3-11

0-1

13

Loss

Nov. 6

7-10

1-1

26

Loss

Stephen Jackson added 23 points and Jason Richardson scored 13,
helping Golden State pick up its first playoff win since April 25,
1992, and its first playoff road win since May 8, 1991.

The Mavericks made the NBA finals last year and are expecting to
get back again, especially after winning 67 games in the regular
season. But all that earned them for the playoffs was home-court
advantage, and they've now squandered it. Game 2 is in Dallas on
Wednesday night.

"Obviously the pressure is on us all the way," said Mavs star
Dirk Nowitzki, who was 4-of-16 for 14 points with 12 rebounds.
"Nobody expects them to win. Shooting 35 percent on our home court
won't get it done. We've got to get better shots and go from
there."

Nelson coached the Warriors the last time they were in the
playoffs, but he's more beloved in Dallas for orchestrating the
Mavericks' rise from the bottom of the league to the top. He
brought in Nowitzki and left behind coach Avery Johnson as his
successor.

Perhaps trying to be too much like Nellie, Johnson started a
small-ball lineup, even though he'd insisted for days that his
centers would be key figures this series.

"I laughed when they said they would play a big center,"
Nelson said.

The 7-foot Nowitzki was supposed to make it work, but he failed
to take advantage of his size against a Golden State starting
lineup featuring no one taller than 6-foot-9. He settled for
outside shots early and was often frustrated by double- and
triple-teams, with Nelson knowing better than anyone how much
small, quick guys tend to bother the big German.

Nowitzki wasn't the only one who struggled. Josh Howard was
8-of-21 for 21 points with 13 rebounds. Dallas got only four points
off the bench, all from center DeSagana Diop. Jerry Stackhouse was
0-for-6 with five turnovers.

"It was one of those games you just want to forget,"
Stackhouse said. "We thought we'd handle things better than we
did."

Dallas' biggest flaw was being unable to contain Davis.

Devean George and Greg Buckner, acquired last summer
specifically to provide strong perimeter defense in the playoffs,
did a decent job early. Then nobody could stop Davis in the third,
when he went 6-of-8, hitting all three of his 3-point tries. He
scored four more points in the quarter than his team did in the
second.

"Once I got in a rhythm I just stayed locked in," Davis said.
"I can't even remember the last time I had a quarter like that."

The Warriors struggled early, which was to be expected for a
bunch of playoff novices. Yet the Mavericks, who'd only lost five
home games all season (one to Golden State), struggled from the
start, too. They missed their last eight shots in the first quarter
and their last 10 in the second quarter.

Dallas' best run came in the third quarter, going from down four
to up four -- with Nowitzki on the bench.

Golden State led by four going into the fourth quarter and never
gave up the lead. Dallas got within 78-76, but an 11-3 run helped
the Warriors pull away.

The Mavericks' difficulties were symbolized by Golden State's
Jason Richardson taking down Devin Harris hard from behind without
drawing a foul. With Harris on the ground, Matt Barnes made a
3-pointer in front of the Dallas bench for a 92-81 lead with about
2 minutes left.

Barnes added 10 and Al Harrington had seven points and 10
rebounds.

Harris scored 19 points, Jason Terry had 17 and George scored
10.

Game notes
Davis had 11 rebounds by halftime. ... A new playoff
wrinkle: Thunderstix with blue-glowing tips, making for a neat
effect when the house lights went down before tipoff. ... Befitting
the cat-and-mouse game between coaching staffs, both waited as long
as possible to submit their lineups.