Friday, April 25, 2008

Mavs make it a series again

The playoffs finally began for the Mavericks. After a pair of non-postseason efforts, the first-round series with the Hornets became a series after the Mavs cleaned up 97-87 Friday night at American Airlines Center.

The two blowout losses in New Orleans were long forgotten in Game 3, as the Mavs reversed several troubling trends. The Hornets still lead two games to one, but the best-of-7 can’t be any closer after three games. The Mavs can square it up back on their homecourt Sunday.

“I’m waiting for the series to really get going,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said, “and hopefully keep improving for our guys.”

The Hornets have yet to taste victory inside of American Airlines Center, dropping to 0-12, and haven’t won in Dallas in a decade. The latest Mavs’ triumph followed a recipe that went missing in the Big Easy.

A lineup change elevating Jason Terry back into the starting five helped ignite the offense and defense. After a pair of performances best described as other-worldly, the budding legend of Chris Paul hit a speed bump. And Dirk Nowitzki kept right on trucking.

“The energy was great in the building for us,” said Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 32. “The fans got us hyped early.

“Our defense was a lot better. We were scrambling, going after loose balls and once we got the rebound, [Jason] Kidd was off to the races.”

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