Thursday , May , 12 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Nowitzki and Finley lead Big D to Big W

Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki’s basket with 6.8 seconds
remaining lifted the Dallas Mavericks to a 108-106 victory over Phoenix in
Game 2 of their Western Conference semifinal series at America West Arena.

Michael Finley finished with a game-high 31 points, hitting 5-of-6 from three-
point range, as the Mavericks knotted the best-of-seven series at a game
apiece with Game 3 slated for Friday in Texas.

Finley finished 12-of-18 from the field, while Nowitzki added 23 points and 12
rebounds. Erick Dampier contributed playoff career-highs of 15 points and 12
boards in the win.

Amare Stoudemire, who had 40 points and 16 rebounds in Game 1, led the Suns
again with 30 points and 16 rebounds. Shawn Marion added 23 points and 15
boards and Steve Nash had 23 with 13 assists in the loss.

With time winding down and the game tied, Nowitzki pumped faked from three-
point range, moved inside and buried a fade-away, turn-around jumper from
eight feet away to give the Mavericks a two-point lead.

“We got the ball in Dirk’s hands,” said Dallas head coach Avery Johnson. “We
like it when we get it in his hands at the end. He gives us a good chance to
win the game.”

The Suns had one final chance after Nowitzki’s basket, but Quentin Richardson
missed from three-point range at the buzzer.

“The main thing was to make Nash take a bad shot,” said Johnson regarding the
final defensive stand. “He got the ball to Richardson and we got out to
contest him.”

The Suns led by two after three quarters, but a three-pointer by Finley early
in the final stanza gave Dallas an 87-84 lead. Two free throws by Stoudemire
and a three-pointer by Richardson put Phoenix back on top.

With the game tied at 96-96, Finley and Dampier each had a field goal to give
Dallas a four-point lead. Marquis Daniels gave Dallas a six-point lead 104-98
with 2:50 left, but the Suns did not quit.

In the blink of an eye, the Suns were within two, 104-102. Nowitzki made two
free throws to increase the Dallas lead to four with 1:55 to go and the Suns
failed to score on their next two trips down the floor.

Dallas’ Jerry Stackhouse was called for an offensive foul and Stoudemire
scored to cut the Dallas lead to 106-104. Dallas’ Jason Terry turned the ball
over and Nash buried a jumper with 27.4 seconds left to tie the game.

“They were better all over the place,” said Phoenix head coach Mike D’Antoni.
“We are going to have to play better.”

Phoenix, which trailed, 54-46 at halftime, stormed out of the break and scored
seven quick points to pull within one after a pair of Stoudemire free throws
less than two minutes into the third quarter. A one-handed dunk by Stoudemire
off a feed from Nash gave the Suns a 57-56 lead.

The lead changed hands continuously until the Suns’ Jim Jackson forced the
Mavericks to turn the ball over on consecutive possessions and Marion finished
at the other end each time to give Phoenix a 78-72 lead with just over two
minutes left in the frame.

Finley, who had 12 third-quarter points, buried a pair of key three-pointers
to help Dallas pull within two, 82-80, heading into the fourth quarter.

The Suns found themselves in unfamiliar territory after a slam dunk by Dampier
gave Dallas a 34-20 lead with 28 seconds left in the first quarter. The
deficit was the largest faced by Phoenix this postseason after five relatively
easy wins.

Dampier, who was criticized by teammate Nowitzki following the loss in Game 1,
scored 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the field to lead the Mavericks to
a 34-22 lead after one quarter.

Dallas remained in front the remainder of the opening half and two free throws
by Finley with 4:48 left before intermission matched the Mavericks’ biggest
lead, 47-33.

Suns guard Joe Johnson was fouled hard by Stackhouse driving to the basket
late in the first half with the Mavericks ahead, 54-45. Johnson, who was cut
near the left eye, was on the floor for several minutes, and an intentional
foul was called. In order to stay in the game, Johnson had to shoot the free
throws. He did and made 1-of-2 to cut the Dallas lead to 54-46. The Suns
maintained possession, but Nash missed a jumper and Dallas took the eight-
point lead into the break.

Johnson, who had eight points, left the game after shooting the free throws
and it took six stitches to close the cut. He was taken to the hospital and
diagnosed with an orbital fracture. He will remain in the hospital overnight
and will not play Friday.