OAKLAND, Calif. - Jason Richardson sized up Dirk Nowitzki on the wing, promptly drove right past him, twisted his way into the lane, and flipped in a can-you-believe this shot over his head for a three-point play that sent the Golden State crowd into delirium.
That's what a 13-year wait can do.
Fueled by a playoff-starved crowd and 30 points from Richardson, the Warriors regained their composure and the series lead with a 109-91 victory Friday night in Game 3 of the first-round series.
The victory moved the Warriors, who outclassed the top-seeded Mavericks in all phases of the game, within two wins of becoming the first No. 8 seed ever to win a best-of-seven series in the NBA. Golden State leads, two games to one, heading into Game 4 today in Oakland.
"The pressure is going to be on us because we won 67 games in the regular season, and we said all season long that our goal is a championship," said Nowitzki, who had 20 points and 12 rebounds in another poor performance. "Everything else would be a disappointment."
The Mavericks, who won 25 more games than Golden State in the regular season, must win three of five games against a team to which they have lost 8 of 10 in order to avoid being perhaps the biggest upset victims in NBA history.
"We just love playing them," Richardson said. "We get up for them."
Two No. 8 seeds won best-of-five series in the first round. Denver beat Seattle in 1994, and New York topped Miami in 1999. This is the fifth year the first round has been best of seven.