In the end, perhaps it was nothing but the breeze scratching at the door, as the Mavs won in impressive fashion, 101-89.
THE TOP STORY: Where do we start? Do we go back to Game 1's hero, Jason Kidd, 18 points, 7-of-11 from the floor and 3-of-6 behind the arc, to go with eight assists, four rebounds and a steal?
Do we turn to Dirk Nowitzki, who once again morphed into The UberMan in the fourth quarter, where he scored 14 of his 33 points?
Do we focus on what became a non-story, the cream-cheese-stuffed-into-the-whistle officiating of Danny Crawford?
How about the display Peja Stojakovic put on, hitting 5-of-10 on his three-point attempts on his way to 21 points?
Or, do we shift our gaze to the fact that Dallas committed zero turnovers in the second half, while forcing the Blazers into nine?
Rick, say your piece:
In case it isn't clear, there were a lot of things that went right for the Mavericks. This was a physical game closely contested well into the fourth quarter, and just as they refused to do in G2, Dallas did not wilt … rather, they "imposed our will'' upon the Blazers, as Jason Terry so eloquently phrased it.
THE UBERMAN … WELL, HE'S THE UBERMAN:
Dirk battled all night. He was physical with defenders who sought to be physical with him. He scratched his way to open looks, including multiple attacks to the rim … only for too long, his shot wasn't falling.
He was 3-of-10 from the floor in the first half, and 5-of-15 after three quarters … of course, he was also 9-of-9 from the free-throw line after three.
With a one-point game heading into the fourth, Dirk's stage was soon to arrive.
"Look, he's a great player, and he's been aggressive, and we're obviously looking for him," coach Rick Carlisle said. "When he gets the ball, he's going to make something happen."
We like to let him talk, too.
In the fourth, Dirk's aggression began to pay off as he hit 4-of-7 shots, adding 6-of-8 from the line, to score 14 points in the quarter by aggressively attacking the Portland defenders. The struggles of the first three periods slid from his shoulders, and the baskets began to fall … as did the Blazers.
The Mavericks outscored Portland 28-17 in the deciding frame.
Dirk finished with a game-high 33 points to go with seven rebounds, four assists, one steal and one block (one we don't think Lamarcus Aldridge saw coming).
"(Dirk's) an unbelievable player," Peja Stojakovic said. "He puts in so much work on the off days and how much he's committed to this team, to the organization, and he's doing a great job for us and in every way he's a leader on this team, and hopefully he'll continue to carry us."
In our every-day dealings covering the Mavs, we see the work ethic, we see Dirk's personality rubbing off, we see his form of leadership. It is encouraging and enriching to see the effort pay off in W's.
Of course, with Peja playing as well as he did, the need to carry is lessened considerably for Dirk.
WELCOME TO THE 2011 PLAYOFFS: Peja Stojakovic had a quiet six points in G1, but made sure Portland is aware of his presence in G2. When the Dallas offense was searching for any points they could find, there was Peja stepping into a three and reminding the Blazers that Jason Kidd isn't the only player they may want to stick with at the arc.
"I really try to approach the game like every other by being aggressive and playing with Dirk, J-Kidd an Jet on the floor, they draw so much attention on the floor that we can move the ball around and get good opportunities," Peja said.
Peja finished with 21 points by hitting 8-of-13 shots, including 5-of-10 from three and grabbed five rebounds … and, he wasn't a liability on defense.
Playing almost the entire fourth quarter, not being pulled until there were 28 seconds to play and the game was securely in hand, Peja was most often matched up with Gerald Wallace, who entered the period with 17 points.
In just over eight minutes, Wallace managed only one point and one rebound … meanwhile, Peja hit a pair of deadly three-point shots that helped put the game away.
And the Mavs' scouting dept. wins again. And Nate has some 'splain' to do ... we think without any $35,000 Trailbitching ...
WHEN I GET OLD, CAN I BE … JASON KIDD: What can you say about what Jason Kidd has accomplished in the first two games of this series? He's been special. He's been everything Mavs fans could ask for. He's been a Hall of Famer who's playing like a … Hall of Famer.
After scoring 24 points in G1, Kidd once again found the Blazers defenders willing to grant him space at the perimeter … and in the lane?!
On multiple occasions, Kidd almost walked into the paint … that remained open before him as defenders sunk back to close passing lanes, fearing his eyes more than his layups. In these moments, he appeared to inch into the next step, as if not believing what was taking place before him.
While these moments may have been slightly comical in their appearance, nothing about Kidd's game left a smile on the Blazers' faces.
He may have not scored in the fourth period, but that was only because he wasn't asked to. Kidd would end with 18 points, including scoring the first nine points for Dallas to open the second half.
It wasn't déjà vu; it was simply Kidd sinking open threes when the Portland defense left them to him, and picking apart the defense when they decided not to.
What was Portland's Kidd-centric response to what he did in G1? It was no response at all.
LIMPING EARLY: Limping from the gate, Dallas hit only one of their first seven shots, and fell behind 17-9 with three minutes to play in the opening quarter, but things began to shift when Jason Kidd converted his first three-point basket of the night, sparking the Mavs to a 10-2 run that tied the game at 19.
Dallas would end the first quarter, and the first half, down two … though Brendan Haywood did have a chance to tie the game with a pair of free throws in the final second. He would miss both, including his first attempts that found backboard … but not rim.
Dirk Nowitzki was 3-of-10, but had converted 8-of-8 free throws, for 14 points total. Peja Stojakovic was 4-of-6, including 2-of-4 behind the arc, for 10 points. And, despite shooting only 45 percent, compared to 51.3 percent for Portland, the Mavs trailed by only two.
Things weren't ideal, but they could have been much worse … and they had managed to take another strong punch from this Portland team, only to keep their footing and leave themselves in good position to make a second-half push … and they would.
*"It was a total team effort tonight," Jason Terry said.
JET'S 10 AND 10: Terry finished with 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but didn't play as poorly as these stats may suggest. For the most part, he was solid on defense, and never stepped on the flow of the game … instead, playing within himself and the construct of the team.
When others were hot, Terry didn't force-feed his own attempts at their expense … and honestly, there was no need for him to. There may come a time when Terry must find his points, but tonight was not that time.
One play of note came with Jason Terry and Wesley Matthews banged heads in the first quarter. Matthews lay on the court motionless for several moments before slowly sitting up and then walking off the court and back to the locker room under his own power.
Jet is good at banging heads. He's scored an adequate 10 points in each game. Dallas thinks he's due to bust out. In fact, we're told that in Game 3, the Mavs are already gameplanning to get him jump-started early.
JJBENCH: In the fourth quarter, when the Blazers refused to relent, seeming to answer every Mavs push with a shove of their own, JJ Barea had one of the most significant stretches of the game.
By piercing the outer skin of the defense, Barea both finished at the rim and created spaced for his teammates. His stats may not reflect a dominant game, but his contribution in the fourth was vital to the final outcome.
"We weren't just settling for jump shots, but getting to the basket and knocking down free throws," Jason Terry said.
Barea was one of those refusing to accept perimeter options, but he wasn't alone.
Barea finished with six points, all of which came in the fourth, and four assists.
Dallas' bench scored 39. Portland's bench managed 11 ... and none in the second half.
B-ROY'S ONE GOOD GAME ...: Is coming. But it hasn't arrived yet.
Our prediction going into the series was the Brandon Roy would have at least one explosive game. That his knees, or rust, would keep him from doing it night after night, but ... there was an explosion in there.
Tuesday? It was more of an implosion as he told the Oregonian that he had to tell himself "You better not cry!'' while being pushed to the end of the Portland bench and recording just eight minures of time with no points.
Roy went on to suggest he's being disrespected, the sort of talk that always comes from teams down 0-2 ... and usually leads to them going down further.
NUMBERS GAME: Teams that go up 2-0 in series end up winning 94 percent of the time.
QUOTEBOARD: "If we continue to play defense like we did in the second half, we have a very good chance to win every game." - Peja.
MAVSELLANEOUS: Marcus Camby, we are not impressed with your center-shooting-a-3 goggles. Do you not understand that we WANT you to shoot 3's ... Dirk scooted past Bill Russell on the all-time playoff scoring list. Think about that for a second ... Dallas did not commit a turnover in the second half, and their six for the game tied a franchise-low for the playoffs … With his 14th point of the game, Dirk moved past Bill Russell into the 25th spot on the all-time playoff scoring list. Next up, Patrick Ewing … Peja now has as many 20-point games in the playoffs as he did the regular season. One … Portland did not score a single point from their bench in the second half … Corey Brewer made his career playoff debut when he played just over three minutes in the second quarter. This would be all he would play … Roddy Beaubois was again inactive … After scoring 16 points in the first half, and looking near unstoppable, Aldridge added only eight more in the second half … For those wondering, Danny Crawford ending up being a non-issue an a non-factor in the outcome of the game. That's good news, and the way it should be … Jason Kidd is only six points from matching his entire scoring output in a six-game series last season. He has scored 42 points in the first two games -- his best two-game scoring output of the year, and accomplished with what was apparently an upset stomach in the second half here. Of course, if the Blazers don't hurry up and guard him, they're the ones who will have upset tummies. All summer. ... Portland's managed just 81 in Game 1 and 89 in Game 2. This is what they call "playoff defense'' and the Mavs are playing it.
THE FINAL WORD: "We know that (Portland) are a very good team." Dirk said. "So, we wanted to hold home court here and go up there with a 2-0 lead, but this series is far from over."
Dallas has done what it needed and maintained their home-court advantage … but be leery of the parade planned after the second game in a series. Dirk is correct when he says this is "far from over," and no one should know that more than Mavs fans.
This was an impressive win, and one that should be celebrated, but let us remember there remains work to be done.