Nick Van Exel insisted that the Dallas Mavericks ignore the Sacramento Kings. Just make shots, he said repeatedly, and everything will be fine.
Sticking to those thoughts even after falling behind by 10 in the opening minutes, the Mavericks roared back in their second-round series with a record-setting offensive display Thursday night.
Dirk Nowitzki made five of Dallas’ 11 consecutive baskets in the first quarter, and Van Exel went eight of nine in the first half as the Mavericks set or tied several NBA playoff scoring records in a 132-110 victory, tying the series at one game apiece.
The loss may have been extra costly for Sacramento.
All-Star forward Chris Webber was taken to the locker room on a cart late in the third quarter after he injured his left knee while going for a lob pass. He limped back to the bench on his own early in the fourth but didn’t return to the game. The exact nature of Webber’s injury was uncertain. He’ll undergo an MRI exam today.
“I just twisted it,” said Webber, who led the Kings with 31 points in 29 minutes.
Also, backup guard Bobby Jackson, winner of the NBA’s Sixth Man award, broke his right cheekbone in a fourth-quarter collision.
His status for Game 3 is not known.
Van Exel scored a career playoff-high 36 points in 30 minutes, and he didn’t even get rolling until after the big run of consecutive shots. He sparked a 30-7 run in the second quarter with three successive three-point baskets.
His biggest contribution, though, was inspiring his teammates to keep believing in themselves after a lopsided loss in the opener made them 2-8 in their last 10 games against the Kings.
“I hope it had a lot to do with it,” Van Exel said.
“I thought we responded and played with a lot of heart and aggressiveness.”
Their streak of made baskets was a thing of beauty. It included four three-point baskets, three by Nowitzki -- one of which he turned into a four-point play. Nowitzki had 14 points during that run and finished with 24 in 30 minutes.
Michael Finley scored 24 and Steve Nash had 19 as Dallas became the first team since Houston in 1995 to top 130 points in a playoff game.
“Nick got our attention and we responded,” said surprise starter Adrian Griffin, who had eight of Dallas’ first 16 points and finished with 15.
The Mavericks set a first-half playoff scoring record with 83 points and were one shy of the first-quarter record with 44.
With 113 points through three quarters, they even had a shot at the playoff record of 157 set by Boston against New York in 1990. But they scored only seven points in the final 8:52.