Game 6 of the Mavericks’ first round series with Portland was their first playoff road win since 2009. It might have opened the flood gates. Dallas pulled out a second straight Monday night, winning Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals in LA 96-94 behind 28 points and 14 rebounds from Dirk Nowitzki.
Nowitzki caused the Lakers matchup problems all night, and his two free throws with 20 seconds remaining put the Mavs ahead for good in their first Game 1 victory in four tries against the Lakers. He had help from a bench that outscored their Lakers counterparts 40-25.
Despite the good vibes, the Mavericks trailed 92-87 with just over three minutes remaining. Their defense, keyed by Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd’s on-the-ball defense of Kobe Bryant, held the Lakers to just two points the rest of the way.
Game 2 is Wednesday night in LA. The Lakers will look to rebound in a second straight series after dropping the first at home.