Sunday , May , 08 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Mavs destroy Rockets in Game 7

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Jason Terry finished with 31 points and Josh
Howard posted 21 points and 11 rebounds, as the Dallas Mavericks clinched
their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Houston with an easy
116-76 victory over the Rockets in Game 7 at the AmericanAirlines Center.

The Mavericks became just the third team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven
series after losing the first two games at home. The others were the Los
Angeles Lakers in 1969 and the Rockets in 1994.

Dallas will now take on the top-seeded Phoenix Suns in the conference
semifinals. The series will start on Monday night in Phoenix.

Dirk Nowitzki had 14 points and 14 boards for the Mavericks, who improved to
3-1 all-time in Game 7s. The 40-point margin was also the largest Game 7
spread in NBA history.

“To drop two at home and then win three games in a row, drop another one and
then come back and have a performance like this,” said Mavericks head coach
Avery Johnson. “Defensively this was the performance we had been looking for
the whole series. It was right on time.”

Yao Ming recorded 33 points and 10 rebounds in the loss and Tracy McGrady
collected 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. However, the Rockets
dropped to 5-2 all-time in Game 7s and 7-1 when leading a series 2-0.

McGrady has still never won a playoff series in his career. The 25-year-old
had lost all of his previous postseason sets with Toronto and Orlando, but
this was his first playoff series with Houston.

“I’m 25 years old and I got many more years in this league and I will be back
next year,” said McGrady.

Dallas took a 59-44 cushion into the third quarter and kept adding to it in
the second half. McGrady’s layup made it a 69-53 game with 7:16
remaining, but the Mavericks responded with a 17-5 stretch to push the
advantage up to 28 points. Howard scored seven points in the run and
Nowitzki’s jumper made it 86-58 with 2:00 left.

The Mavericks held a 92-64 advantage after three quarters of action and kept
the pressure on in the fourth quarter. Jerry Stackhouse’s dunk gave Dallas a
102-71 edge and the Mavs cruised to the victory from there.

Dallas’ biggest lead of the contest was the final score.

“We cracked in every way,” said Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy. “Our
composure on the floor was really not befitting of the way we played and
conducted ourselves this year.”

The Mavericks, who never trailed in the game, jumped out to a 16-6 lead by the
midway point of the first quarter. Wesley and Terry each hit three-pointers in
the game-opening stretch and Dampier’s dunk capped it with 6:00 left.

Houston answered with eight straight points to make it a two-point game, but
the Mavericks would close the first period on a 16-6 run. Finley sparked the
stretch with back-to-back three pointers and Nowitzki hit a pair of free
throws to make it 32-20 with five seconds left.

Dallas used a 17-5 burst to open the second quarter and grabbed a 49-25
advantage. Terry scored 13 points in the run and capped it with a free throw
to make it a 24-point game.

The Mavs still held a 57-33 cushion with 3:16 left in the second quarter, but
Houston closed the period on an 11-2 explosion to get the deficit down to 15
points. McGrady had five points in the stretch and ended it with a three-point
play to make it 59-44 at the half.

Terry led all scorers with 21 points at halftime and McGrady paced the Rockets
with 19.