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Friday, April 23, 2010

Spurs get motivated, even series with Mavs

DALLAS (AP) Tony Parker saw the crowd gathered around Richard Jefferson and couldn't resist teasing him.

"Man, one big game," Parker said, smiling. "Look at all this."

Jefferson took it in stride. After all, he was probably glad Parker didn't woof or bark.

Knowing he was among the guys Spurs coach Gregg Popovich thought "played like dogs" in the opener, Jefferson bounced back by scoring 17 of his 19 points in the first half to help San Antonio beat the Dallas Mavericks 102-88 in Game 2 on Wednesday night. The win ties their first-round series at a game apiece, with the next two games in the Alamo City.

"You could see it in his eyes that he was motivated," Parker said. "Nobody likes to play bad and he knew he didn't have a good first game. Knowing his mentality, we knew he was going to come back."

Jefferson matched the measly four points he had in Game 1 before some fans were even settled into their seats. He was 7-of-9 by halftime, and was at his best during a 12-1 run late in the second quarter that broke the game open for good. He got it started with a fadeaway jumper and a finger roll, then added a reverse layup after the Mavericks somehow lost track of him.

"My teammates were looking for me, coming off the pick-and-roll and throwing it back to me," Jefferson said. "That's pretty much my game. After I struggled the last game, I think there was a concerted effort to get me involved."

Tim Duncan was San Antonio's second-half star, scoring 17 of his 25 points then, often just in time to douse Dallas rallies. He also had 17 rebounds.

"We went to Tim just about every other time down the stretch," Popovich said. "He came through by scoring and rebounding at the other end."

Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki went from hardly missing in Game 1 to hardly making. The Spurs didn't even smother him; merely knowing they were creeping his way threw Nowitzki out of whack. He missed six of his first seven shots, and even missed a free throw after having made 88 in a row.

"If they give me those same looks on Friday, I'll take them," said Nowitzki, who finished with 24 points, down from 36 in the opener.

The Mavericks played their best only after they seemed to have buried themselves — down 16-5 early, they got within one by the end of the quarter; down 80-60 late in the third quarter they scored 12 straight points; back down 13 early in the fourth, they clawed within five. However, they never led and have now given away home-court advantage.

Magic 92, Bobcats 77

In Orlando, Vince Carter finished with 19 points, Dwight Howard scored 15 and the Magic took a 2-0 series lead with a victory over Charlotte.

Orlando's star duo was less than stellar but took over when it counted most. They combined for 21 second-half points to help the Magic build a 20-point lead and hold on late.

Stephen Jackson showed no effects from his hyperextended left knee to score 27 points, and Gerald Wallace had 15 points for the Bobcats. But their 21 turnovers are a big reason why they're heading home still searching for the franchise's first playoff win.

Brooks honored

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks was recognized Wednesday as the NBA's Coach of the Year after engineering the league's best turnaround.

The Thunder won 27 more games this season than they did a year ago, winning 50 and losing 32 and earning the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with the NBA's youngest roster.

The improvement came without a significant free agent signing. Instead, the team is primarily the same group of players as last season plus rookies James Harden, Serge Ibaka and Eric Maynor.

Brooks and the Thunder now face another daunting turnaround: an 0-2 deficit in their best-of-seven series against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers.

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