DALLAS, May 23 (UPI) -- The Dallas Mavericks can keep home-court advantage in the NBA Western Conference finals Friday night against San Antonio if they can keep their cool.
On Wednesday night, the Mavericks were whistled for five technical fouls. They hope to be a bit more focused when the series shifts to Dallas for Game Three on Friday night.
"We lost our composure a little," said Dallas All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki. "In the first half, we complained about every call. We have to just calm down and let our game speak for itself."
The Spurs made their first 24 free throws in opening a big early lead, then held on for a 119-106 victory in Game Two.
Tim Duncan had 32 points, 15 rebounds, and three blocks, and reserve forward Malik Rose scored a playoff career-high 25 points for the Spurs, who suffered a stunning loss in Game One. In that contest, they blew an 18-point lead, partially because they could not match Dallas at the free throw line.
Wednesday, the Spurs, one of the worst free throw shooting teams in the league, uncharacteristically made 26-of-28 free throws in the first half, setting a team playoff record for points in an opening half, and sprinting to a 69-44 lead.
While the Spurs were sinking free throws, the Mavericks were sinking. Nowitzki earned a seat on the bench with three fouls in the first seven minutes, picking up a technical foul along the way.
Late in the first quarter, Dallas Coach Don Nelson was ejected by referee Joey Crawford, who tossed him after he came to mid-court and refused to return to the bench.
"Everyone knows around the league you don't mess with Joey Crawford," Rose noted.
As they did in Game One, the Mavericks came storming back, led by Michael Finley, Nowitzki, and Nick Van Exel. They closed to 103-94 midway through the final period, creating another nervous atmosphere at the SBC Center.
Then, Duncan answered the call of a superstar.
In the next three-plus minutes, he made a pair of baskets, rebounded a missed three-pointer by Van Exel, blocked a shot by Nowitzki that led to a layup by teammate Tony Parker, and found teammate Manu Ginobili for a three-pointer that sealed it at 109-97 with 2:32 remaining.
Van Exel had a huge series in the conference semifinals against Sacramento, but is shooting just 8-for-28 in the first two games against the Spurs.
The New Jersey Nets are on the verge of a sweep of Detroit in the Eastern Conference finals.
Jason Kidd scored a playoff career-high 34 points Thursday night, sparking an up-tempo attack that lifted the Nets to a 97-85 victory over the Pistons and a commanding 3-0 series lead.
New Jersey, which has won a franchise-record nine straight postseason contests, can complete its second straight sweep with a win at home Saturday. Detroit has lost 15 of its last 17 playoff road games.
The NBA Finals start June 4 in the city of the West champion.