24 Apr 2005 17:11:14
Patricia Bender
Mavs News: Houston game 1

[Cross posted to the Houston newsgroup in addition to the usual Mavs
newsgroup and RSBP]

Note that games 2-5 will also be broadcast on HDNET.

Game 1: Houston at Dallas (April 23)

The playoffs were finally here and Houston was in Dallas for game 1.
Dallas scored the first 5 points of the game, but Houston then scored the
next 4 points and both teams held small leads (none larger than 3) over
the next 5 minutes. The game was tied at 14-14 with 4:50 remaining and
Houston scored the next 10 points to go up 24-14 with 1:50 left as Dallas
shot 0-4 FG and 0-2 FT during the run. Houston led 26-16 after 1.
Houston shot 10-20 FG and 6-6 FT and Dallas shot 6-19 FG and 3-6 FT.
Houston out-rebounded Dallas 15-7 in the quarter. Tracy McGrady opened
the 2nd quarter with a 3-pointer and Houston led in double-digits the
entire quarter. A 3-pointer by David Wesley followed by another
3-pointer by McGrady gave Houston their largest lead at 39-20 with 8:40
to go. A 3-pointer and 2 free throws by Jason Terry pulled Dallas within
37-48 with 1:55 left, but Dallas would get no closer in the quarter.
Houston led 52-40 at the half. McGrady had 11 points in the 2nd quarter.
Another combination of a 3-pointer and 2 free throws by Terry pulled
Dallas within 49-59 with 7:10 to go, but Houston scored the next 6 points
to go up 65-49 with 5:40 left. Houston got into the penalty with 4:30
left and Dallas used that to their advantage as part of an 11-2 run to
pull within 60-67 with 2:10 remaining. Houston led 70-63 after 3. Dallas
shot 12-14 FT in the 3rd while Houston shot just 1-2 FT. Jerry Stackhouse
was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and he hit all 3 free throws to pull
Dallas within 71-75 with 9:15 to go. But Mike James then got consecutive
buckets, Stackhouse got a layup, James hit a jumper, and Jon Barry drained
a 3-pointer to put Houston up 84-73 with 5:50 left. Houston got into the
penalty with 4 minutes remaining and that again started a parade for
Dallas to the free throw line. A 3-point play by McGrady gave Houston
their largest lead of the quarter at 92-78 with 3 minutes to go. Dallas
then scored the next 6 points to pull within 84-92 with 2 minutes left.
Yao Ming hit 1-2 FT with 1:50 left. Dallas missed on 3 attempts, but got
the rebound all 3 times and Yao committed his 6th foul with 1:10 remaining
and sent Dirk Nowitzki to the line. Nowitzki hit both free throws to make
it a 7 point game. But Dallas' defense again faltered and Dikembe Mutombo
got a layup and was fouled and he hit the extra free throw to seal the
win. 2 free throws by James capped the scoring. Houston won 98-86.

It was an ugly performance by Dallas and a great one by Houston. Dallas'
offense struggled throughout and their defense was very lacking as they
simply could not handle Houston's screen-and-roll and pick-and-pop with
Tracy McGrady as McGrady would either hit the shot (sometimes a tough
shot) or find the open man as the Mavs would usually would send the
screener's defender to double McGrady coming off the screen and the rest
of the defense would sag down, leaving out-side shooters open. It was
simply a very poor outing by Dallas and, unfortunately, it came in the
playoffs and cost Dallas homecourt advantage. As for Dallas' offense, in
the 4th quarter Dallas shot a miserable 4-21 FG (including 8 straight
missed in the last 2 minutes of the game) - it was only thanks to repeated
trips to the free throw line the game wasn't a blowout as Dallas shot
14-16 FT in the quarter. Houston shot 10-17 FG and 6-7 FT in the 4th.
Dallas set team record playoff lows with fewest field goals made and
attempted (tied the attempted record) in only shooting 24-68 FG (35.3%
FG). Dallas shot 5-13 behind the arc. Dallas also did not help
themselves by missing 9 free throws, though they did get to the line much
more than Houston did. Dallas shot 33-42 FT. Houston shot 47.4% (37-78)
FG including 6-16 3-pointers and shot 18-20 FT (not missing a free throw
until late in the 3rd quarter). Dallas did overcome their 1st quarter
rebounding woes and out-rebounded Houston 44-39 including 19-11 offensive.
Dallas only had 12 assists and Houston was slightly better with 15
assists. Houston leads the series 1-0. Game 2 is Monday.

No question that Tracy McGrady was the star. He had a game high 34 points
in playing all but the last 1:16 of the 3rd quarter. He shot 14-27 F, 3-7
3-pointers, and 3-3 FT and had 5 rebounds and a game high 6 assists. A
number of his shots were ones to make you go "Wow". Mike James gave the
Rockets a nice boost off the bench with a playoff career high 16 points.
Yao Ming was surprisingly a non-factor in the game. He was in foul
trouble much of the game and only played 20 minutes. He had 11 points and
8 rebounds including 4 offensive before fouling out late in the 4th
quarter. Dikembe Mutombo played when Yao was out and he had 8 points and
8 rebounds in 27 minutes. Ryan Bowen started and collected fouls almost
as fast as Yao as he tried to defend Dirk Nowitzki (who was having his own
problems). Bowen had 4 points and 3 rebounds before fouling out with 2
minutes left in the game. David Wesley had a quiet 9 points on 4-6 FG and
4 rebounds and 3 assists. Bob Sura had 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals
in 24 minutes. Jon Barry had 8 points and 4 rebounds in 28 minutes. It
was basically an 8-man rotation as Scott Padgett only played a minute and
3 others did not play.

Only one Mav had a decent game: Josh Howard. Howard gave his effort and
energy, though his defense was as ineffective against McGrady as was
everyone else's, and he had a double-double. Howard had 17 points
including 9-10 FT and 10 rebounds including 5 offensive before fouling out
with less than a minute left in the game. Dirk Nowitzki had an absolute
miserable outing as his shots were simply not falling (including open
looks) and he was not aggressive in going after the rebounds in the 1st
half (only 1). Thanks to the free throw line, he managed to finish with
21 points, but it was not a pretty 21. He shot a mere 5-19 FG (including
1-10 FG in the 2nd half) and 11-13 FT. He did finish with 7 rebounds, but
also had 6 turnovers. Michael Finley also had a poor outing with just 5
points on 2-8 FG. He did grab 6 rebounds, though. Jason Terry had 17
points including 4-6 FG and 6 rebounds including 3 offensive, but only had
3 assists and had 4 turnovers. Erick Dampier had 7 points, 7 rebounds,
and 3 blocks in 25 minutes. Jerry Stackhouse's game resembled Nowitzki's,
but not to the extreme. Stackhouse had 14 points on a poor 4-13 FG and
5-7 FT and 3 rebounds in 31 minutes. Keith Van Horn had 5 points
including 2-7 FG and 5 rebounds in 15 minutes. Devin Harris played 7
minutes and his only stats were 1 assist and 1 turnovers. The combined 4
assists and 5 turnovers was not enough for what Dallas needed from the
point guards. Shawn Bradley played 3 minutes in the 1st half and got 2
fouls and 1 block and did not play in the 2nd half.

Quotes [note: Van Gundy's, McGrady's, Johnson's, Nowitzki's, and Howard's
quotes are transcribed by me from their press conferences]
Jeff Van Gundy: "I mean, winning is better than losing, so we're humble
enough to know we've got a lot of work ahead of us. But certainly we were
happy with the results today."

Van Gundy on Bowen: "Whenever you are defending someone of Nowitzki's
stature, Ryan's going to try his hardest. And we also know that Nowitzki
missed some shots he normally would make too. So, again, we're not going
to pound our chest like we have some answer for this guy. We have no
answers. We're just going to try our hardest."

Van Gundy on James: "Mike has an ability to create his shot when the shot
clock is winding down. He made a couple, one in front of their bench I
thought was a big play to sort of stem the tide - I think it put us up 6,
if I'm not mistaken."

Van Gundy on composure and fouls: "Well, I'm not sure we were fouling, but
we'll go with that. You know, we thought that keeping them off the free
throw line was a big factor and we didn't do a real good job of that today.
So we're going to try to do that better. But our guys made some big plays
and fought hard and [I'm] proud of them and, again, know that we have a lot
of work ahead of us."

Van Gundy on the 1st quarter: "Coming into any series, but particularly a
series where you're at a speed deficit, you have to be ready for the speed
and the intensity of a team as good as the Mavericks. And I thought in
that way we acquited ourselves pretty well. I thought our readiness was
good. We're not as quick as they are, but I thought we were trying to move
our feet and get back in transition. So, I thought the readiness - I mean
they were ready too - but I thought we got off to a good start and having a
cushion on the road is important."

Van Gundy on when Dallas pulled within 4 points: "We were just struggling
right there. They did a good job. They had us out at the 3-point line and
it's hard to ever get a shot. Then on the other end, they were the
aggressors, taking it to the rim. I thought our guys did a good job just
hanging in there. So I was proud of them. They're a good group. We need
to be humble and learn from our mistakes tonight and try to play better in
the areas we need to shore up and we know that the adjustment cliche is
over done in this game and it is usually an adjustment of intensity and
urgency and will and we have to, because of their good advantage, we've got
to be the more willful, urgent team."

Van Gundy on points in the paint: "Well, every time they got there, we just
fouled them. We need to keep them off the free throw line. If they're at
the line that much, that's going to be problematic. I thought we were
trying not to foul. It's just that they're so quick and they're attacking
the basket. But that's a key going forward is trying to keep them off the
free throw line. I thought they hurt us. They had 19 offensive rebounds,
so they're quick to the ball. Josh Howard is like a human pogo stick. his
2nd jump, his 3rd jump is very, very quick."

Van Gundy on the curl play with McGrady: "Na, that's nothing to do with me.
[sarcasm the rest of the answer] I've developed him well, I think. What
does a coach get up here and say, 'My system is, yeah, that's my system.
McGrady, make great plays. Drive right, go up in the air, fire it on the
money cross court to Barry.' Yup, that's my system."

Van Gundy on McGrady's defense: "Like I was saying before to someone the
other day who asked, McGrady can be anything he wants defensively, anything
he wants. I know when we played them in a series when he was with Toronto
and I was with the Knicks and I think it was his 2nd year, he was an
absolute great defender. The ball wasn't coming to him as much then
because he was playing with Carter, and we had Sprewell and Houston and he
was guarding Houston. And I just remember he made it as hard on Houston as
anybody. So that was my reference point when we traded for him. The hard
part is playing that many minutes and then also trying to guard. I thought
he handled the minutes - you know, I got him some rest the 2nd half, about
1:16. And you know, he's going to be on Nowitzki, that's a hard matchup,
he's going to be on Howard, that's tough because he's a rebounder and a
cutter. So he's improved vastly defensively, but it's not us. It's his
intensity coming back to him this year because he was already a good
defender in Toronto."

Van Gundy on Mutombo: "Dikembe all year has played well. The difficulty
for us is trying to - when we put Dikembe in, they go small and downsize,
which we thought would be problematic for us, and it did cause us some
problems - Van Horn, Josh Howard going off the dribble. But one thing
Dikembe does is he does alter shots in the paint and he's a tremendous
offensive rebounder. So he's played as well as any reserve in the league
this year. Couldn't be happier with what he's done."

Van Gundy on James: "We're a team really that only Tracy is going to be
able to create a shot off the dribble late in the clock, but Mike has that
ability too. And if you look at Dallas, they have a whole roster that can
do that. It's important in the playoffs when pressure is elevated
defensively and, you know, you're going to get into the last 5 or 6 seconds
of the shot clock, more that you have enough guys that can get you dribble
penetration, some pullups. And Mike has done that. So he was, his bench
scoring was a factor tonight."

Van Gundy on McGrady: "I read a lot about MVP candidates and I read a lot
about All-NBA and I would put him up there with anyone that you talk about
as far as the year he has had and the impact he's had on our team. And I
want him to succeed because he really has put a lot into this year, into
analyzing himself and what he needs to do to go from being a great player
to being a great winner. I've been very, very proud of him all year."

Tracy McGrady on the tempo: "We just wanted to come out and hit those guys
first. That was the most important thing. We know those guys, it's a
different ballclub than we faced the last time. Those guys are more
physical. I think they're more defensive minded. And just coming into the
game, we wanted to hit them first and control the tempo."

McGrady on James: "It was key. He came into the game and gave us great
energy and knocked down some key shots for us. I think he came in and ran
the team well. he kept us under control, got us into our offensive, and
that's what we need from Mike coming off the bench. He comes in, gives us
a great spark, and he's also one of our scorers as well."

McGrady: "Any time you win the 1st game, and plus when you are on the road,
it's obviously a big win. It's tough playing on the road, starting off on
the road. But I think this year we've been a great road team and I think
we had confidence coming into this game and, you know, we showed it. We
came out right away and I don't think Dallas expected that. We were
prepared for those guys to hit us first, but we came out with great
intensity and got off on a great roll on the offensive end and stayed solid
on the defensive end as well."

McGrady on the curl play: "Well, that play right there is so effective
because it's tough, when those guys pin down on me you're either going to
let me go one-on-one or you're going to help and that's going to leave
somebody open on the weak side. I don't think they knew how to defend
that. I'm pretty sure they're going to make some adjustments in coming
into game 2 and try to stop that. And it was key for us. It was working
and we [were] just drilling it all night.

McGrady on his teammates: "Those guys know that I sometimes make crazy
shots. That's just the confidence I have in myself and I think that by
these guys playing with me and seeing a full year, they realize those [are]
shots that I can make on a daily basis. So they have confidence in what
ever shot I pull up and take because I'm just that confident. I've been
out of the playoffs 4 years. And more so now that I'm more confident and I
believe this is my time. So I'm just more focused than ever and I got my
team feeling the same way."

McGrady on defending Nowitzki: "What we did was we started Ryan Bowen, and
I think that was a surprise to them. He's a guy that gives a lot energy,
very energetic, and is a solid defender for us. He started off on him. He
did a great job on him, just making everything tough for him. And then
when I switched on to him, I just tried to keep him out of the post and
just try to stay on my feet because Dirk does a lot of pump faking and
trying to get you off balanced to get off his shot. That's what I was
doing. It was a great team defense. It's tough to stop the guy one-on-one
because he's a great player. So I just have to give credit to our
teammates because they really backed us up."

McGrady on a carry-over affect: "It does. I gives us confidence. We
believe. And believed before suiting up for this game. But I think that
we realize this is a winnable series for us. It's not going to be easy.
We know these guys are going to come out more focused in game 2, they're
going to hit us. It's up to us to keep our poise and stay under control
and hit them back."

McGrady on if it was as well as he has played: "I think I've played like
this over the past 3 or 4 years. I think I just have guys around me that
compliment me, takes some of that pressure off of me. When you're winning
ballgames everything is good, you get all the praise, and that's what is
going on now. Before, I really didn't have the supporting cast. I wasn't
able to make my teammates obviously better to get to that next level. But
it's just now that I have the guys around me that truly believe in me and I
believe in them. Those guys know their roles. And we're just going out
and competing. It also helps to have a great coach in Jeff Van Gundy,
who's made me into a complete player and made the game a lot easier for
myself. That's just how it is. In the past, I don't think I had that
supporting cast that really helped me elevate and get to that next level."

McGrady on if he asked to defend Nowitzki: "I did. Yeah, I did. I want it
too bad and whatever it's going to take to stop him and to stop Dallas,
that's what I was willing to do. Coach asked me how many minutes [I'd]
think I could go defending Dirk and I told him I'd go 40+, whatever he
needs. But it helps to have a guy like Ryan Bowen that's really energetic
and that's going to lay it all out on the line on the defensive end, that's
going to sacrifice. And that's what he does. And, you know, he's a great
teammate and it's great to have him come in and kind of frustrate Dirk a
little bit, and then he gets tired and then I move on him, and just make
things difficult for him. But like I said, I said it before, he's great.
He's great. He's going to make some tough shots regardless of what type of
defense you put on him. but it's just up to our team to help us out when
we [go] one-on-one on him."

McGrady on Bowen: "He didn't seem nervous. He did a great job. I couldn't
tell that he was nervous. The guy came in and gave us great, great energy.
He used all his fouls, which is okay. But that's what it's going to take.
We have guys on this team that sacrifices and know their roles and that is
definitely the most important thing."

Mike James: "Our bench is going to be very important throughout the whole
playoffs. Everyone is going to key on Tracy, everyone is going to key on
Yao, and we expect big things from them every night. What's going to
change the game probably is the guys coming in. We just have to continue
to stay focused and just go out there and try to fight."

James: "I just want to take some pressure off Tracy and help take some
pressure off Yao. I know that [McGrady is] our major scorer. But, then
when everyone starts keying in on him, other guys have got to step up and
make shots, and I was just fortunate enough to make some shots tonight."

James: "If the pass is there, I'll make it. If the shot is there, I'll
shoot it, and there's always a 50-50 chance whether or not it's going to
go in."

James: "This is us. We didn't feel like we played that well. If you don't
know us, we're just going to come out and play hard, play defense and play
aggressive for 48 minutes. That's what we do. That's what we did."

James: "Getting that 1st game is always big. But we know Dallas is a very
good team and they are going to come out ready for game 2. And we just
have to keep our composure and when they hit us, just be prepared for a

James on Bowen: "Ryan is huge for us. I think he's going to be key for us
throughout these playoffs, because he plays so hard and he does a lot of
things that don't get in the stat books. I just think that if he continues
to play that well, he's going to definitely be key for us."

James on his championship ring: "There are a lot of deserving guys here
that don't have one. I'm just trying to be one piece of the puzzle to help
us get there."

Ryan Bowen on defending Nowitzki: "We tried to make him make shots rather
than give him easy buckets. Switching, giving different looks, me guarding
him for a while, Tracy guarding him. The 2 of us together and just
everybody helping. When he was driving, guys were coming in. I think the
combination of those things helped tonight. A lot of times you get on him
too close and you give him some different angles and what not. He's the
type of player if he's rolling shooting the ball, you've got to get up on
him and make him put it on the ground and feel happy to get the fouls.
There's no one way to play him. You just have to give him different

Bowen on defending Nowitzki: "It's not like I was that good defensively.
It was a team thing. It's nice to know when you're pressuring him that
you've got Dikembe or Yao behind you, or if he's going to drive middle,
you've got Tracy there. To play him 1-on-1 is impossible."

Bowen on defending Nowitzki: "I just stayed in front of him, and that was
my biggest thing I tried to do. I know Tracy was doing the same thing."

Bowen on Nowitzki: "Everybody expects him to come back Monday and give an
unbelievable effort. We've got to look at things we did on both ends of
the court and see what we can improve for Monday."

Bowen on James: "Mike has been a spark plug since he's been here and
especially the last few games, he's played really well - hitting shots and
penetrating. We feel very comfortable with him out there and with the
ball, knowing he's going to make something happen, whether it's driving
and kicking or getting all the way to the hole."

Bowen: "I was nervous, I'll admit it. This was really my first time
playing in the playoffs. I was definitely anxious to get out there."

Bowen: "I was struggling out there the whole game. It just seemed like I
couldn't catch my wind, just being anxious and just being out there. But
hopefully that will change. Hopefully I can relax a little bit, though I
think it helps to have a little anxiousness and going out and playing."

Jon Barry on McGrady: "It's amazing a guy can raise his level from where
he was in the regular season because the guy had an unbelievable regular
season. But you can just see the focus in him. He's at peace. He's
happy to be here. He's confident in us. He's confident in this team."

Dikembe Mutombo on McGrady: "Tracy's been playing at such a high level the
last couple of months. We're just here to try to support him and give him
the chance to do the things that we need to do to win."

Mutombo on Dallas' comeback: "We were able to maintain our composure,
remain calm, don't panic, and do what we were able to do from the

Mutombo: "We stuck with the game plan. That was the key. Coach was
telling us, 'We know what they do, they know what we do. We're just going
to play our game.' We didn't need an adjustment even when they made that
run. We just kept running the same plays over and over."

David Wesley on Bowen: "The one thing about him is he plays with high
energy and sometimes when you play that way, it allows you to play through
your nervousness. But he played a great game. He's one of those guys that
does stuff that doesn't show up in the stat sheet, and we enjoyed having
him out there."

Avery Johnson: "You have to take your hat off to the Rockets. They played
a terrific game. They came out in the 1st quarter, set the tone for the
whole game. We were playing catchup pretty much the rest of the game.
Early in the game in the 1st half, they out-rebounded us, out-hustled us.
We looked like we were running in sand. And they present some matchup
problems for us and [we] tried a number of different lineups. Nothing
seemed to work tonight. So you've got to really take your hat off to them
with the way they played and the intensity and the sense of urgency that
they had throughout the game. We thought that we made a little run there
in the 3rd quarter, giving them 18 points there in the 3rd, we thought that
was big. But, again, the 4th quarter, they were big. McGrady, we couldn't
contain him. He caught the ball where he wanted to. He made big shots.
but I think in the 2nd half Mike James was the key for them. He really
showed his playoff and championship experience. And we didn't have another
gear to go to."

Johnson: "Obviously we feel this wasn't one of the best games we've played
over the last 3 or 4 weeks. I can't really remember a game where - maybe 1
game out of the last 15 to 20 games - where we wouldn't score and didn't
play good defense. We haven't had games where we've been poor offensively
and defensively, but you've got to give them credit. They played good,
tough, physical defense. They made it tough. We got to the line, but we
didn't make any field goals, we didn't make enough field goals."

Johnson on Nowitzki: "I thought Dirk made some strong moves. He made some
strong moves. He tried to take it to the basket strong. And that's all
you can ask for. And some of his shots just didn't fall. I don't know
when the last time when we've seen a game like that. I'll just try to do a
better job of getting him the ball in some of his favorite spots on the
court and hopefully we'll have better production. But we didn't lose this
game because anything Dirk did."

Johnson on points and what to work on: "We'll watch film, guys. We'll
watch film, we'll get back to the drawing board. If this was a 1-game
series, then we would go home. But because this is a best of 7, we're
going to show up tomorrow like we always do, put on our hard hats. We'll
break down the film, try to make some adjustments. Hopefully we'll come
out and have a better game 2. Nobody ever said this was going to be a
sweep for anybody, I doubt it very seriously. We'll comeback, have a good
practice tomorrow and take a look at somethings and try to come back and
play like we've been playing. But again, you've got to give them some

Johnson on Finley and Stackhouse guard McGrady early: "Well, again, we were
just trying to maybe save Josh a little bit, maybe in the 4th quarter. But
we don't think anybody did a good job on him. That's just the way it is.
He had a huge night and he showed why he is a superstar. He hit some big
shots, even when we were on him with 2 guys."

Johnson on continuing to go inside: "Well, that's part of our game. I
won't give away what our strategy is for the next game - I don't even know
yet until we watch the film. But I know going inside has been a big part
of kind of why we've kind of evolved into a different kind of team. And we
went inside and it paid off for us. We took the basket strong, I mean we
took the ball to the basket really strong. But it's a physical game,
physical game. And I thought the referees did an awesome job tonight with
the way they officiated the game. I mean it's a physical game out there.
We didn't back down, they didn't back down. And that's the way it is. But
I'm glad some of my guys that hadn't been in the playoffs got a taste of
it so now they can understand that I've been telling them the truth about 5
or 6 things."

Johnson on Dallas' intensity: "Not for 48 minutes, but we'll have it the
next game."

Johnson on his conversation with ref Joey Crawford at the end of the game:
"Joey, when I won a championship years ago, he refereed that final game and
I was just telling him how much I appreciated it. [question: In all
seriousness?] No, that's what it is. I have a - all of the officials do a
good job in our league. It's a tough game. The officials had no impact on
why the Mavericks lost this game tonight. The Rockets had impact. They
played tough defense and their best player scored 37 points or whatever, 34
points, and Mike James came off the bench and sparked them during the
stretch where they couldn't score. That's why we lost the game."

Johnson on Bowen: "Well, I played with him for half a season in Denver, so
I know he's a capable defender. He started. That was something that we
talked about. Maybe they'll start Bowen. Maybe they'll go with
Weatherspoon and try to bang Dirk up a little bit. Maybe they'll start
Padgett. You know, we were prepared for all of those situations."

Dirk Nowitzki: "I thought we didn't really expect for them to play the
small lineup pretty much the whole game. They put McGrady at the 4 a lot
of the time and that forces smalls out there. I just didn't make them pay
enough. They had a small lineup; if a 3 is guarding me, I got to be able
to work the post a little bit more than I did. Obviously, they had a good
game plan. They shoot the ball well and they won the game."

Nowitzki: "Offensively we never really got it going. I just, I think I was
too tense out there. I was forcing a lot of stuff. I really didn't let
the game come to me. I didn't make my teammates better at all. I turned
it over 6 times. So obviously for myself, it was bad timing to have one of
my worst games of the season. But, you know, I got to recover from it.
Watch some film tomorrow. As a team, we're not going to win again in the
playoffs shooting 35%, that's obvious. We got to find ways to attack their
defense better than what we did. We got to give them credit. They're a
good defensive team. They got Yao in there, they got Dikembe in there,
they got 2 big guys always in there clogging up the middle. So obviously
we got to talk about some stuff tomorrow - how we're going to attack them
and we'll see what happens."

Nowitzki on losing homecourt: "Obviously it's a tough loss for us. We were
on a high these past couple of weeks. We played really well, especially at
home too. But the good thing is, it's the best of 7-series. There are a
lot more games to play. Obviously that's not the way we wanted to start
the series off. But it happened and we got to recover on Monday."

Nowitzki on if Houston's 1st half run was Houston's defense or Dallas'
offense: "Like I said, we weren't really executing great offensively. But
saying all that, you always got to give the defense credit. If they find
ways to stop us, even if we're not shooting the ball well, you have to give
them credit. I thought it was a little bit of both. I certainly wasn't
finding my stroke out there, and it wasn't helping the cause. I pray I'll
be better on Monday."

Nowitzki on a team playing small on him for so long: "Actually, it's been a
long while. Usually over the last couple of months, I was aggressive on
the low block and I wasn't really letting other teams getting away with
putting a small on me. Obviously, like I said, we got to figure out
something that they got to keep 2 big guys in the game at the same time
'cause offensively, with that lineup they have out there, with just 1 big
guy, they really can spread the floor. They've a lot of shooters out there
and what ever you do, they made us pay. So obviously you got to give their
coaching staff credit. They had a good game plan for it and they won the

Nowitzki on how to get confidence back: "We all played basketball for so
many years and there are always going to be nights where everything falls a
little short and seems like you can't make the easiest layups. So like I
said earlier, it's a bad, bad timing to have one of those games. But we're
all old enough, we've all been around for long enough. Obviously I don't
think we're going to have 2 games like that in a row. So I'm looking
forward to Monday."

Nowitzki on yelling between him and Terry late in the 4th quarter: "Well, I
can't really remember. Obviously we're all a little frustrated out there.
I think he wanted us to double-team or something, I can't really recall it.
But, I don't know, obviously as a team we got to stick together. We can't
let one loss get in our heads. We got to be better than that and execute
on Monday."

Nowitzki on getting playoff experience for the playoff rookies: "You know,
I thought the guys that haven't been in the playoffs actually weren't that
bad. I think Jason had a good game. Damp was in there battling for as
long as he was in there. I don't know what to say. I mean, I got to play
better. It's about me."

Michael Finley: "If this was the NCAA Tournament, you'd see a grown man
crying right now."

Finley on Nowitzki: "He just missed shots. Dirk is an All-Star, an All
NBA-type player. He had the looks that he probably wanted, he just missed
those shots. But, knowing Dirk, he'll make those shots come the next
couple of games."

Jerry Stackhouse: "Once we go back and look at the tape we're going to be
kind of disappointed in a lot of the things we talked about we just didn't
execute defensively. I think we'll be better offensively, but we've just
got to lock into what they are trying to do."

Stackhouse on Houston's bench: "Yeah they are all pretty much the same.
They start Sura, but sometimes he's the one with the lesser minutes. Those
guys that come in are really interchangeable and they came in and got open
shots. We were trying to control Tracy in the pick-n-roll and when we did
that you pick your poison. Either he's going to pass some shots off the
pick-n-roll or you're playing 2-on-1 on the weak side and tonight those
guys on the weak side hurt us."

Stackhouse: "They were shooting the ball great and we weren't really into a
good flow. We settled for a lot of jump shots in the 1st half as opposed
to the 2nd half where we put our head down and tried to get to the basket.
A lot of times we had success with that and sometimes we didn't. We drove
hard and got some contact and didn't get the call, but you expect that in
the playoffs. You just have got to continue to drive."

Jason Terry on Nowitzki: "It's not on Dirk at all. Shooters shoot. He's
going to continue to shoot the ball and we know he's going to make shots.
That's what he does. He's going to make shots - more than he misses - so
we're not concerned about that."

Terry on McGrady: "He's very aggressive. You look at the history of
McGrady ... he's probably averaging about 30 points in game 1 since he's
been in the playoffs. We knew he'd come out aggressive."

Terry on his 1st playoff game: "It's good to get the 1st one out the way.
I had a little bit of jitters, but that's all behind me now."

Terry on he and Harris: "We didn't get in the lane and attack like we're
supposed to. We got to be stronger with the ball. They are playing
physical. But we have to make plays and be better at protecting the ball.
I know the General is going to have some film ready for us."

Erick Dampier on McGrady: "We tried a couple of different things on him
tonight. We defended the pick-and-roll the way we defended it the whole
season. He's a good player. He hit a lot of tough shots."

Keith Van Horn: "Well I think we're upset we didn't get some calls down at
the end. When you lose you have a tendency of getting on officials a
little more than when you win. We will get those calls. We just have to
stick with it."

Josh Howard: "Their whole team stepped up collectively and they beat us
tonight. And we got to go into the drawing board right now."

Howard on adjustments for the next game: "Just going to have to deal with
the pick-and-roll. They hurt us a lot on that. I just think we're going
to have to work on it."

Howard on Houston controlling the game: "That pick-and-roll. They did an
excellent job of executing it. TMac, strong on a big man and was able to
get a basket weakside where it was 2-on-1, and their role players knocked
down big shots."

Howard on turnovers: "Nervous energy, maybe. I think guys were just
nervous. I know this is our 1st playoff game as a team collectively and
guys were just maybe nervous."

Howard: "It was was probably just not a good shooting night. We just came
from Memphis the other day where we shot lights out. So I mean, I just
think it's once again nerves and guys just not knowing what to expect. A
lot of guys on our team this year haven't been in the playoffs. So it's
pretty much like a brand new team."

Howard on game 2: "Work on all our mistakes on that screen-and-roll. Just
playing a whole lot better."

Howard on if they need to double-team McGrady: "Going to find out tomorrow.
That's all I can say right know. I mean, it's going to be a team thing
when we win, though."

Howard on losing homecourt: "It stings real bad. Like I said, we don't
want to go down there being 0-2, that's one thing we don't want to do. I
know General's [Johnson] going to have us in practice tomorrow, letting us
know what we did wrong and got to correct."

Howard on the team's road record helping: "I would say so. That's the
first thing Avery said when we came into the locker room was we're a great
road team. We are. We're one of the best in the league and we're going to
have to take that record down there and prove it."

Howard on if it was a wake-up call: "Yeah I would say so. To be honest, no
one knew what to expect coming in with this hot Houston team. We hadn't
played them in awhile and they came out on fire. We just have to be ready
next game."

Shawn Bradley: "Obviously this was a game we wanted to win. We wanted to
come out and have a better outing than what we had tonight, but I think
it's going to hurt tomorrow when we sit back and watch the film and see all
the mistakes that we made. I think that's probably what's going to hurt
the most tomorrow we when evaluate it in a film session. It's a good thing
that it's not 1-and-done and that's what a series is all about. We just
need to regroup and get a good practice in tomorrow and come back and be
ready on Monday."

Bradley: "We maybe weren't as focused as we needed to be. We talked about
the kind of coverages that we wanted to make, but we just didn't do them
like we had been. It's time to regroup and we're still very confident."

Game 1: Houston Rockets 98, Dallas Mavericks 86 at Dallas (April 23)

1st 2nd 3rd 4th - Final 2FG 3FG FG% FT%
Houston 26 26 18 28 - 98 .500 .375 .474 .900
Dallas 16 24 23 23 - 86 .345 .385 .353 .786

Halftime: Houston 52-40
3rd Q: Houston 70-63
Technicals: Houston defensive 3 seconds 2:49 4th
Refs: Joey Crawford, James Capers, Ken Mauer
Attendance: 20,768 (sellout)

Houston Rockets REB
David Wesley 36 4-6 1-1 0-0 9 1-4 3 2 3 0 0
Bob Sura 24 3-6 0-1 2-2 8 0-6 1 1 3 3 0
Tracy McGrady 47 14-27 3-7 3-3 34 1-5 6 4 2 2 0
Ryan Bowen 31 2-7 0-0 0-0 4 2-3 0 0 6 2 0
Yao Ming 20 3-8 0-0 5-6 11 4-8 0 2 6 0 1
Jon Barry 28 3-7 2-4 0-0 8 0-4 1 0 1 2 0
Dikembe Mutombo 27 1-3 0-0 6-7 8 3-8 1 0 4 0 0
Mike James 26 7-13 0-2 2-2 16 0-1 2 1 2 1 0
Scott Padgett 1 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0-0 1 0 0 0 0
Totals 48 37-78 6-16 18-20 98 11-39 15 12 27 10 1

Dallas Mavericks REB
Jason Terry 42 4-6 3-5 6-6 17 3-6 3 4 2 1 1
Michael Finley 32 2-8 1-2 0-0 5 1-6 2 1 2 1 0
Josh Howard 43 4-9 0-0 9-10 17 5-10 1 1 6 1 0
Dirk Nowitzki 42 5-19 0-2 11-13 21 1-7 3 6 2 0 1
Erick Dampier 25 3-6 0-0 1-4 7 5-7 0 0 2 1 3
Jerry Stackhouse 31 4-13 1-2 5-7 14 2-3 1 0 2 0 1
Keith Van_Horn 15 2-7 0-2 1-2 5 2-5 1 0 1 0 0
Devin Harris 7 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0 1 1 1 0 0
Shawn Bradley 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0 0 0 2 0 1
Totals 48 24-68 5-13 33-42 86 19-44 12 13 20 4 7

Go Mavs!

Patricia Bender pbender@eskimo.com
For NBA stuff: http://www.dfw.net/~patricia/index.html
For Mavs stuff: http://www.dfw.net/~patricia/mavs.html