DALLAS - Dirk Nowitzki showed no rust from a long layoff, making 10 of his first 11 shots and an NBA playoff-record 24 straight free throws on the way to 48 points, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a 121-112 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.
Nowitzki shot 12 of 15 from the floor.
Jason Terry scored 24 points and J.J. Barea added 21 points as the Mavericks picked up where they left off in a sweep of the Lakers nine days before. They broke open a tight game with a 13-0 run late in the second quarter and never trailed again.
The Thunder - fresh off a seven-game series against Memphis that included a total of four overtimes - led by nine early in the second quarter, then went 6 minutes, 28 seconds between baskets. They missed 10 shots during that drought and were down by 11 when it ended.
Kevin Durant followed his 39 points in Game 7 of the previous round by scoring 40, one shy of his most ever in a playoff game.
DEERFIELD, Ill. - There wasn't much else LeBron James could do other than shrug it all off and vow to perform better in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Game 1 certainly didn't go well for the Miami.
With James and Dwyane Wade struggling, and the Heat getting beaten badly on the boards, Chris Bosh's 30 points weren't enough to bail out the Heat in the opener. The top-seeded Chicago Bulls won, 103-82, and now have a chance to grab a commanding lead when the series resumes Wednesday night at the United Center.
"We've been able to bounce back this year no matter if it's been the regular season or the postseason," James said. "Learn from mistakes in the previous game and then move on. We've done that. We're looking forward to the challenge, we're excited about tomorrow's opportunity to be here and try to steal home court."
SECAUCUS, N.J. - The NBA's lead negotiator in contract talks with the players has a sense the sides are understanding each other and the "throttle is down" on reaching a new collective bargaining agreement.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver disclosed Tuesday that the two sides have agreed to hold two days of extensive meetings in early June.
Speaking beside commissioner David Stern before the draft lottery, Silver said it would be "irrational" for the league and union not to reach an agreement before the current deal expires at the end of June.
Silver said the sides met Friday in New York, where he spoke with Gary Hall, the lead attorney at the players' association. Hall died unexpectedly on Sunday at age 67.
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana Pacers president Larry Bird said interim coach Frank Vogel, Mike Brown, and Rick Adelman are among candidates he wants to talk to about filling the head coaching position.