Monday night two NBA Conference Semi-Final series opening contests were played and as it turns out the lower seeded team would win each game. The first upset was the Atlanta Hawks defeating the number one seed Chicago Bulls 103-95. The second game featured the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center. Mavericks All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki racked up a double-double with 28 points while Jason Terry came off the bench with 15 points and Dallas squeezed by the Lakers in the closing seconds of the contest winning the game 96-94. Kobe Bryant scored a game high 36 points while Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom each recorded a double-double and each player put up 15 points in the loss.
The Mavericks would hold the advantage at the end of the first as Shawn Marion connected on a mid-range shot with 58 seconds to play and Dallas had a 25-23 lead heading into the next period. The Lakers and the Mavericks were close for most of the second but Los Angeles pulled ahead down the stretch at the charity stripe. As the opponents left the floor when the game reached the half the Lakers were on top 53-44.
Dallas pulled to within two points of Los Angeles in the third as Tyson Chandler split a pair at the line making it a 66-64 affair with 4:03 in the period. But Los Angeles would soon pull ahead and led 77-71 at the end of the quarter. The contest tightened up significantly in the final 12 minutes of play with the Lakers holding the lead for most of the fourth but with the Mavericks breathing down their necks. Nowitzki would put Dallas on top 95-94 with 19 seconds left in the game after draining two shots at the line. Los Angeles would not get a shot to sink for the duration of the game and the Mavericks got the win.
Nowitzki scored 28 points, 14 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block. Terry came off of the pine with 15 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds a block and a steal while Chandler had 11 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks and an assist. Shawn Marion and Peja Stojakovic each chipped in 10 points in the victory.
Bryant knocked down a game high 36 points, 5 rebounds a block and a steal for the night. Gasol scored 15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 block while Odom also had 15 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. Dallas takes a 1-0 lead in the best of seven series with game two at the Staples Center on Wednesday.