Unlike in Game 1 of this playoff series against San Antonio, this time the Dallas Mavericks handled their business and finished the good vibes they had throughout Wednesday’s game.
This time, after building a comfortable lead against the Spurs, the Mavs kept attacking and kept stacking more points on top of points.
In the end, the Mavs merrily hopped off the AT&T Center court with a lopsided 113-92 victory in Game 2 of this best-of-seven series.
The series shifts to American Airlines Center for two games tied at 1-1.
Game 3 will be at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in Dallas, and Game 4 is at 8:30 p.m. Monday.
The series will return to San Antonio for Game 5 at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The 21-point victory ties for the third-worst home playoff loss in Spurs history. The second-worst home loss by the Spurs in the playoffs was also to the Mavs, 113-91 in Game 2 of the 2006 Western Conference semifinals.
Going into Game 2, the Mavs were kicking themselves after they blew a 10-point lead with less than eight minutes remaining in Game 1, which the Spurs won 90-85.
The Mavs vowed not to relinquish such a lead again, and they held true to their promise.
Dallas led 56-51 at the half, 88-75 after three quarters and stretched their lead to as much as 24 points en route to snapping a 10-game losing streak to the Spurs.
It was as thorough a beating as the Mavs have put on their I-35 rivals.
“We had that persistence that you need to have, and you need to have it because you’re going to get hit with some things that are going to challenge your emotional strength,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Coming into the series I told the guys that I think that our ability to have emotional strength when things got tough — and when things were going good — was a real key.
“Because in the playoffs it’s so emotional, and when there’s so much going on that when you win it feels like you’re never going to lose, and when you lose sometimes it feels like you’re never going to win. You’ve got to avoid getting into those sorts of highs and lows and just keep playing, and tonight we did a terrific job of it and the challenge going home is going to be to continue it.”
The Mavs met the challenge Wednesday because Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki shook off poor Game 1 performances, because Shawn Marion stepped up, because Jose Calderon fought off worries of possibly being replaced in the starting lineup, and because their defense stood tall and turned 24 Spurs turnovers into 33 points.
Ellis finished with 21 points, Marion scored 20, Devin Harris tallied 18, Nowitzki popped in 16 and Calderon scored all 12 of his points during a key rally in the third period by the Mavs.
“He’s played in a lot of big games, he’s played in a lot of hostile environments,” Carlisle said of Calderon, who scored seven straight points during one third-quarter stretch. “He knows what this is all about.
“My message to him has been, ‘Hey you stay aggressive and keep doing what you do. That’s what we need you to do.’ ”
The Mavs also received key contributions from Samuel Dalembert (four points, seven rebounds) and DeJuan Blair (eight points, even rebounds). Blair, who turned 25 on Tuesday, played his first four seasons with the Spurs, battled mightily on the backboards.
“It feels great, but it’s nothing to celebrate,” Calderon said. “We have to keep doing the same thing.
“If we work and if we keep playing as a team we will be able to get another one in the third game.”
Meanwhile, in Game 2, the Mavs just kept coming up with a critical basket, or a key rebound. Or they kept forcing the Spurs into turnovers, which kept the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed off-balance.
“This is kind of when you’re playing a No. 1 seed you’ve got to dig as deep as you can,” Carlisle said. “They’re going to come up with things up their sleeves for Game 3 and we’re going to have to counter and be ready.”