Mavs now have 2-0 lead in best-of-seven series

Mavs now have 2-0 lead in best-of-seven series

Peja Stojakovic entered the American Airlines Center with high intensity Tuesday night, but few would have predicted Stojakovic’s career night from beyond the arc in a 101-89 Dallas Mavericks win over the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. The Mavs now have a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

While Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd both finished Game 2 in double-digit scoring figures, Stojakovic, a 13-year veteran and former All-star, went 5-for-10 from the 3-point range, his playoff career-high, and amassed 21 points.

“Who knew Stojakovic was going to knock down shots like he did?” Mavericks guard Jason Terry said. “Coach said ‘in preseason be ready, you never know when your number is going to be called.’ Tonight [Stojakovic’s] number was called and he answered the bill.”

It came as no surprise that the dynamic duo of Nowitzki and Kidd played stellar games. Nowitzki finished with 33 points and seven rebounds while Kidd scored 18 points and dished out eight assists. Nowitzki achieved his 38th career playoff game with 30-plus points, but he credited Kidd for his competence on the hardwood.

“Kidd is a warrior and is always ready to play,” Nowitzki said. “He really is the motor of this team.”

While Stojakovic’s career shooting night proved he can still provide elite scoring performances on any given night, the forward said the team’s defense was the essential catalyst to the Mavs’ offensive outburst.

“I think our defense was more important and our focus that gave us a good offensive flow,” Stojakovic said. “That’s how we were able to get good shots offensively.”

Dallas broke the 100-point plateau in Game 2 after failing to crack 90 points in Game 1.

Dallas signed Stojakovic in late January to fill a roster hole after Mavericks’ swingman Caron Butler went down with a regular season-ending knee injury. Stojakovic started the season with New Orleans and was dealt to Toronto for Mavericks’ fourth-string center Alexis Ajinca, a second round draft pick and cash considerations.

“[Stojakovic] had a phenomenal game, shooting well and keeping the ball in front of him, staying aggressive,” Nowitzki said.

The 6-foot-10 Serbian did much of his work against Dallas during his tenure with the Sacramento Kings, who were common playoff contenders with the Mavericks in the last decade.

Blazers head coach Nate McMillan was not content with his team’s stability. McMillan said his guys knew what to expect in Game 2.

“We know this is a good three-point shooting team,” McMillan said. “We are going to have to make some adjustments with that particular set.”

Stojakovic is in his 11th postseason appearance and is averaging 8.6 points per game with Dallas this season. Stojakovic moved into fourth place on the all-time three-point field goals made list with 1,720 career 3-pointers in a 106-102 victory over Houston in February. Stojakovic has had 32 games in his career in which he’s made six-plus 3-pointers. Only Boston’s Ray Allen (45) has had more.

“He was incredible tonight,” Mavs center Tyson Chandler said. “That’s one thing he’ll be able to do his entire career is knock down threes. As long as he has his legs, he’s moving around well and we can get him open looks, he’s going to make them.”

NBA Playoff Round 1: No. 3 Dallas Mavericks (57-25) vs. No. 6 Portland Trail Blazers (48-34)

Mavericks lead series 2-0

Game 3

Dallas at Portland

When: 9:30 p.m. Thursday


Game 4

Dallas at Portland

When: 4 p.m. Saturday


Game 5

Dallas vs. Portland (if necessary)

When: Monday at TBD

Game 6

Dallas at Portland (if necessary)

When: April 28 at TBD

Game 7

Dallas vs. Portland (if necessary)

When: April 30 at TBD