PLAYOFFS
DAL Wins series 4-3
60-22, 26-15 away
113
1234T
DAL26322629113
SA2216282591
63-19, 34-7 home
91

Howard, Harris spark Mavs past Spurs to even series

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- The last time Avery Johnson shook up the

Dallas Mavericks lineup, he sparked a 13-game winning streak.

The latest move by the NBA's coach of the year pulled the

Mavericks even with the San Antonio Spurs in the second round of

the playoffs.

Daily Dime

Despite the chants, this Game 2 mismatch was not about referee Steve Javie.

It was about Devin Harris and Josh Howard, and the difficulties they presented to the Spurs in the Mavs' 113-91 victory Tuesday night that evened their Western Conference semifinal series at 1-1.

To read more of Chris Sheridan's analysis in the Tuesday night Daily Dime, click here.

Johnson turned to Devin Harris to crank up the tempo and the

speedy point guard responded, sending the Mavericks zooming to a

21-point lead before halftime on their way to a 113-91 victory over

the defending champions on Tuesday night.

"He really got in the paint and attacked us very well," Spurs

star Tim Duncan said. "A lot of credit to [Avery] for making that

move."

The Spurs won the opener 87-85, with the Mavs making all sorts

of mistakes. Their lackadaisical offense bothered Johnson the most,

so he let Harris start, moving Jason Terry to shooting guard and

putting defensive-minded Adrian Griffin on the bench.

The result: Dallas went to the rim for seven of its first nine

baskets and was up by eight points before going on a 15-3 run. San

Antonio never got within 14 again and the Mavs finished with their

highest point total of the playoffs and eighth-best this entire

season.

"We played a game that was pretty much our style," Johnson

said. "A lot of that had to do with Devin being out there."

The Spurs fell apart on both ends of the court in the second

quarter. Besides giving up 32 points -- one less than Dallas scored

the entire second half of Game 1 -- San Antonio went the final 6:59

of the period without a basket, missing nine straight shots.

"We knew they were going to play aggressive," Spurs guard Tony

Parker said. "For whatever reason, we couldn't match it."

About the only good news for the Spurs is finally getting some

rest. With Game 3 not until Saturday night, San Antonio will be

able to recover from three games in five days. Coach Gregg Popovich

gave his players the day off Wednesday.

Josh Howard epitomized Dallas' take-it-to-the-rim approach and

led the team with 27 points. The Mavericks are now 20-0 when he

scores 20 points.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21, but took a lesser role in the offense.

Harris scored 20, while Jason Terry, who started at shooting guard,

had 11. Stackhouse scored 19.

"We're at our best when we're getting a lot of points in the

paint, getting drives to the basket," said Harris, who scored a

career-high 22 against San Antonio in November.

Duncan was 8-of-10 from the field and made 12 of 14 free throws

for 28 points. He had 16 in the first half, but half came from the

foul line, so it didn't seem as dominant as his 20 first-half

points in the opener. The Mavericks made things tougher on Duncan

by sending two and sometimes three defenders at him.

Parker, playing with a thick pad wrapped around his bruised left

thigh, had 15. Manu Ginobili was 1-for-5 in the brutal first half

and wound up with 13 points.

While nobody expected any routs in this conference

finals-caliber matchup, one would've seemed more likely in Game 1,

when the Spurs came in worn out and Dallas was well rested.

Instead, the Spurs won by two points and Johnson accused them of

smothering his team with "bear-hug defense."

He clarified it Monday, saying he meant his players turned

passive. He challenged them to come out as if they were playing on

a playground and a loss meant they'd have to wait an hour for

another try.

Now the Mavs get to spend the rest of the week savoring their

second win in seven tries in San Antonio and only their fourth win

in the last 11 games against the Spurs.

Well, Dallas fans can. Johnson won't let his players.

"We're not 20 points better than the Spurs," Johnson said.

"They're the champions, they're still the champions. One win by a

team in the Western Conference semifinals doesn't mean anything has

been taken away from them."

Harris and Howard went right at Duncan and the heart of San

Antonio's defense from the start on their way to a 26-point first

quarter. Early in the second, Dallas was on the right end of a

series of questionable calls and non-calls by the officials. The

Mavericks benefited more by how much it annoyed the Spurs and their

fans.

San Antonio guard Nick Van Exel got two technical fouls in a

short span, leading to his ejection with 7:30 left in the second

quarter. The ensuing free throw started the spurt that sent the

Mavericks into halftime leading 58-38.

The officials were booed loudly as they walked to the locker

room -- and even more loudly when they came back out.

While Popovich said the officiating "had nothing to do with

it," Duncan wasn't that politically correct.

"The whistle was going crazy left and right," he said of the

second quarter.

San Antonio's 38-point half matched the lowest Dallas has ever

allowed in a playoff game. It also happened against the Spurs in

Game 3 of the 2003 conference finals, a game San Antonio rallied to

win.

Not this time.

The Spurs got within 15 three times in the third quarter, then

14 on a 3-pointer by Brent Barry with 7:32 left. Popovich conceded

with 4:12 left, pulling Duncan, Parker and Ginobili.Game notes
The game was tense at first, with the first foul called 12

seconds in and both coaches getting technical fouls for arguing

before the game was four minutes old. ... After only eight assists

in the opener, Dallas had 12. ... Spurs C Nazr Mohammed, who's gone

from starter to seldom-used reserve, played 12 minutes. He played a

total of four the two previous games.