PLAYOFFS, GS Wins series 4-2
42-40, 12-29 Away
67-15, 36-5 Home

Mavericks finally solve Warriors, pull even in series

DALLAS -- Tired of hearing about everything they did wrong in the playoff opener, the Dallas Mavericks sure did a lot right in Game 2.

Jason Terry scored 28 points, Dirk Nowitzki had 23 and Josh Howard led a 15-2 run in the third quarter that sent the Mavericks to a 112-99 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday night, evening their first-round series.

Dallas had lost six straight to Golden State dating to last season. The Mavericks' search for a skid-buster included a new, smaller starting lineup in Game 1, but that only resulted in a 12-point loss.

So coach Avery Johnson went back to the formula that won 67 games in the regular season and saw his club back in synch from the start. The center tandem of Erick Dampier and DeSagana Diop proved they can hold their own against Golden State's little guys, and sixth man Jerry Stackhouse bounced back from a scoreless opener to put up 17 points.

"Everybody talked about the X's and O's and the decision Avery made to go smaller, but it really wasn't that," Stackhouse said. "It was just the fact we didn't compete. I thought we came out and really competed tonight for 48 minutes and the game went in our favor."

Then again, it was easier with the Warriors' two best players getting ejected.

Baron Davis was tossed with 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter and Stephen Jackson was lost with 4:34 left in the game. Golden State already was trailing when the technical fouls started piling up.

"We're not good enough to lose a player to an ejection, much less two," Warriors coach Don Nelson said. "It hurt us when we lost Baron. I thought we had a shot at the time. It wasn't to be."

The series shifts to Oakland for Game 3 on Friday night, and there's little doubt the emotions will remain high.

The Warriors certainly won't be unhinged by this loss, just their second in the last 12 games. Nelson won't allow it. He's kept his club loose, telling everyone they were lucky to win the opener and that there was a better chance of him being hit by lightning than of his team winning Game 2. His task now will be harnessing Jackson and Davis' emotions.

Johnson expected Dallas to bounce back strong. The Mavericks have lost consecutive games only once since starting the season 0-4, and last year they recovered from two Game 1 losses to win Game 2 both times. They went on to win both series, too.

Still, this victory was a bit of a relief to the Mavs because it ended a five-game postseason losing streak that started in last year's NBA finals and it should quiet talk of Nellie and the Warriors having their number.

"We needed to turn it up," said Howard, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds. "They were aggressive at the start of the last game and we didn't respond. This time, we turned it around."

Dallas was finishing off its game-changing stretch when things started getting out of control.

The bad blood started when Terry dribbled into Jackson, drawing a foul, then kept going into Davis. Words were exchanged and there was some shoving, but officials broke it up by giving those three players technical fouls.

Davis got another tech, and an automatic ejection, for arguing about a foul with 0.2 seconds left in the third quarter. He was smiling and clapping at the time, which he said was to keep his teammates' spirits up.

"I wasn't trying to show up the refs," he said. "I was trying to keep my emotions in check. Emotion is what got us to the playoffs. We have to channel that emotion into playing better defense."

The game was turning into a rout when Jackson got his second technical. Whatever he said to get tossed wasn't nearly as bad as his reaction afterward. He wouldn't stop screaming at officials as he headed to the locker room, with teammate Matt Barnes trying to cover Jackson's mouth with his arms, then with a towel.

Jackson, who declined to comment, led the Warriors with 30 points, his most ever in a playoff game. He also had eight turnovers. Davis had 13 points, two assists and one rebound; he had 33 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in Golden State's victory in the opener.

"I feel we're in good position," Davis said. "They're supposed to beat us by 20. There's no pressure on us. Tonight we were just out of fire."

Golden State opened the game strong, going on an 11-0 run in the opening minutes. The Warriors were up 23-16 soon after, but all their points had come from Jackson and Monta Ellis. That duo was a combined 9-of-10; everyone else was 0-for-8.

Ellis had 13 points in the first quarter but didn't score again until the final minute of the third quarter. He finished with 20 points. Jason Richardson had 14 with 10 rebounds.

Howard filled his stat sheet with five steals and two blocks. Nowitzki was 7-of-15 with seven rebounds.

"It was a physical game and emotional," Nowitzki said. "I think they got us in the first game and took us out of our game. I said after Game 1 we need to execute a lot better. We made a couple of adjustments that worked. Now they'll make adjustments going home and we'll go from there."

Game notes
Golden State had 24 turnovers and only nine assists. ... The Mavs were quick to clean up some problems they had in the opener. By the middle of the second quarter, they already had topped their Game 1 totals for fast-break points and bench points. ... Davis had two fouls in the first 3:13, but didn't get another until there was 5:05 left in the third quarter. ... NBA general managers voted Nowitzki the league MVP -- in a survey, not an actual ballot. They don't get a vote for the real award.