Updated: May 3, 2011, 8:17 AM ET

1. Mavericks Rise Where They Usually Sink

Adande By J.A. Adande
ESPN.com
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LOS ANGELES -- This was so … so un-Mavericklike.

Dallas overcoming a 16-point deficit to win a road playoff game? In Staples Center, where they had lost 18 of their 22 games to the Lakers? Coming up with big defensive plays? Dirk Nowitzki outdoing Kobe Bryant? Mark Cuban declining to go on a tirade about the officiating after the Lakers shot almost twice as many free throws as his squad, and instead walking away from a group of reporters with a gigantic grin on his face?

Let me check the jerseys and the equipment bags. Yep, Dallas. And this box score I'm holding is a final. That's 96 points for the Mavericks and 94 points for the Lakers. That's a 1-0 series lead for Dallas. This is happening.

"This is not the same old Mavs," said Tyson Chandler, whose presence can help explain that. "In the past, you beat 'em up and then they give up and you get aggressive and you back down. This is a different team, different squad, different look. Hopefully we get a different outcome."

They've already advanced to the second round, a rare feat for them recently. And they've already done something that not even the good ol' Mavs, back in the Mark Aguirre, Rolando Blackman, Derek Harper days managed -- winning a playoff game in Los Angeles.

The Lakers didn't give; the Mavericks took. They took home-court advantage in this series. They took away the near-lock that comes from a Phil Jackson-coached team winning the first game of a playoff. They took away any notion that the Lakers had an easy path to the Western Conference finals.

"This team can beat us," Bryant said. "It's clear."

They just did. In stunning fashion.

The Mavericks were reeling in the third quarter, the Lakers jumping out to a 60-44 lead that was aided and abetted by a meltdown that seemed very much same-old-Mavs, when they turned a Lakers possession in the backcourt with less than a second remaining in the half into four Lakers points. Jason Terry fouled Lamar Odom as Odom tried a desperation heave, and as Odom made the third of his three free throws Nowitzki tangled with Ron Artest and threw an elbow, drawing a technical foul and a free throw for Bryant.

Two 3-pointers and some good defense by Corey Brewer in a little over two minutes helped bring them back, and it was a single-digit deficit for the final quarter and a half.

"That shows a lot of heart on their part to be able to do that," Jackson said.

I'm not sure which qualifies as the more stunning development: Jackson praising another team's heart or the fact the team being referenced was the Mavericks.

They're the team whose playoff history includes a blown 2-0 series lead in the 2006 Finals against the Heat, a precedent-setting first-round loss to the Warriors as a No. 1 seed in 2007 and a blown 23-point lead in the second half in Portland as recently as April 23.

Perhaps none of that past mattered as much as their most recent game. On April 28, the Mavs had a here-they-go-again moment, after the Trail Blazers cut their 11-point lead to one in the fourth quarter, before averting a total collapse and closing out the series in Portland. Maybe we'll look back at that one as the turning point. You can't call the Mavericks losers right now. Their three-game winning streak is the longest one going in these playoffs.

"You can always learn from your experience," Jason Kidd said. "This is a different team. Maybe a little bit older … and maybe wiser. The big thing is we all get along and we all push for each other to have success."

In the first-ever playoff game between Nowitzki and Bryant, the advantage went to Nowitzki, who had 28 points and 14 rebounds. Dirk made a physics-defying jumper in the lane heading right to left, jumping off his right leg to halt his forward momentum while Odom continued off toward the sideline, squaring his body to the basket and launching the shot. He made both free throws to give the Mavericks the lead after Pau Gasol (a questionable defensive assignment by Jackson, after Odom had guarded Nowitzki as well as possible in the fourth quarter) reached across and fouled him on an inbounds pass with 19.5 seconds left in the game.

Bryant scored 36 points, but it took him 29 shots to get there. And he didn't have an assist. He also never got a chance to answer Nowitzki with a shot. First he slid through a double-team, only to have his path to the basket deterred by Chandler. Just another sign of change in Big D.

"Years prior, Kobe probably would have had a dunk or a layup," Terry said.

Instead, Bryant tried to pass out to Derek Fisher, but Terry intercepted it. That led to Nowitzki's free throws.

And Gasol was unable to pass to Bryant on the Lakers' next possession, as Bryant ran toward him, tangled with Kidd and stumbled, while Gasol lost control of the ball.

Bryant did get one chance for glory after Kidd scored Dallas' final point on a free throw with 3.1 seconds left. Bryant came off a screen, caught an inbounds pass and fired a 3-pointer looking for the win, conjuring up all kinds of memories for the Mavericks.

"I grew up in L.A., and I've seen this too many times," said Chandler who went to Dominguez High School in Compton.

"I've seen a lot of his game-winners up close in person when I was with Phoenix," Kidd said.

You mean like this? That was so long ago that Kidd still had hair. And it was dyed blond for that series ("It didn't distract him," Kidd lamented.)

That was also back when Kobe still made those shots, the ones that built his clutch reputation. The recent trend is for him to miss, and when his 3-pointer Monday night hit the far side of the rim it made five consecutive missed shots to win or tie a playoff game in the final 24 seconds for Bryant, dating back to 2009.

The Mavericks won Game 1. And a few things we thought we knew about the NBA were lost.


Dimes past: April 20 | 21 | 22| 23 | 24 | 25 | 26 | 27 | 28 | 29 | 30 | May 1 | 2

2. Oft-Dismissed Hawks Plot Winning Flight Plan

By Michael Wallace
ESPN.com

NAME
Teague

CHICAGO -- Before we get to why it happened -- breaking down details of just how the Atlanta Hawks dumped the league's No. 1 overall playoff seed into a 1-0 series deficit with Monday's victory over the Chicago Bulls -- you must understand how it was even possible.

You must comprehend the depths of the defiance that's fueling the Hawks in these playoffs.

You must appreciate what motivated Atlanta to turn a Chicago coronation -- with Tom Thibodeau presented with his NBA Coach of the Year award before Game 1 -- into a Windy City near-catastrophe.

You must get to the bottom of why Derrick Rose will proudly receive his well-deserved MVP trophy Tuesday as he smiles through that bitter taste still lingering from Monday night.

To do all those things, you must get to know Jeff Teague, who set the tone for the Hawks' 103-95 victory an hour before the game even started at the United Center. And you must take Joe Johnson at his word that he's found new life in these playoffs as a closer.

Standing shirtless in front of his locker before taking on the biggest assignment of his two-year NBA career, Teague recalled the last time he faced the daunting task of matching up with Rose.

It was the summer between his high school junior and senior seasons, in a final-four game of a high-profile AAU tournament in Las Vegas. Rose shared the backcourt with Eric Gordon.

Teague was playing alongside, uh, well …

"No one nearly as good as them," Teague remembered Monday as he took over the starting job in place of injured veteran Kirk Hinrich.

Before that tournament, Teague had solid scholarship offers from Indiana, Dayton, Southern Illinois and a few other lower-level to mid-major Division I basketball programs. After that tournament, he was ACC material and would end up attending Wake Forest.

"That game, that tournament, really is what put me on the map," Teague said, admitting that Rose probably wouldn't even remember facing him that day in Vegas. "I guess I made a name for myself."

Read the rest of Michael Wallace's story »

3. Daily Dime Live

Zach Harper, TrueHoop Network bloggers and fans gave their in-game opinions on all topics throughout Monday's slate of NBA playoff talk in Daily Dime Live.

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