It's hard to see these games going any differently, unless the Hornets core guys get in foul trouble. A trend early on the opening day: the better player beats the better players. LeBron and Paul were so dominant today that the better teams (Wizards, Mavs) couldn't do anything about it.
Hornets win, 104-92.
Stojakovic again with a game-sealing 3. Hornets, 101-86.
Paul again -- tough angle off glass. 33 points (15-for-23 from the floor), 10 assists, 4 steals, 1 turnover. I realize the Mavs had no idea what kind of first-round matchup they'd get two months ago, but they'd be much better off in this series with Devin Harris, whose quickness would give Paul more trouble than Kidd. JK has no chance.
Stojakovic swishes a 3-pointer. Hornets, 91-76.
Mavs currently 6-for-28 from the floor this half.
Paul no-look to West on the break. And 1. Nowitzki is looking for foul calls again. Hornets, 86-74.
Chandler with a rebound flush, Paul adds a free throw. Hornets up, 83-74, with 7:45 left.
File it away: New Orleans is so thin that it is absolutely vital that Chandler stays out of foul trouble. He's logging lots of floor time tonight. So far: 33 minutes, 1 foul.
Paul tosses an alley-oop to Chandler, then drops in a short shot of his own. Timeout Dallas, which now trails 80-74 with 9:22 to go.
Led by Paul's 15, Hornets (with zero turnovers) outscore Mavs 36-20 in the third quarter. Kidd's long two at the third quarter buzzer is reviewed and waved off. Hornets lead, 76-72, after 3.
Paul is more than making up for his lack of aggression in the first half. He is relentless here in the third quarter, putting major pressure on his defender every trip. Hornets, 72-68.
Paul splits two defenders on the break for a tough layup. Hornets lead, 70-68.
Wells knocks down a jumper. Tie game, 68-all.
Difference between Paul and Nash and someone like Kidd? On-ball defenders can go underneath every screen against Kidd because he isn't a threat to shoot even a wide-open jumper off the screen. There isn't even a need to switch on any screen-and-roll involving Kidd, who doesn't get many layups anymore either.
Paul gets a 2 in the lane, then explodes to the rim on the break for a layup and 1. Hornets within two, 65-63.
Chandler bodies up on Nowitzki, fouls him, pushes him to the floor, then picks up a technical. Dirk makes all three free throws. Mavs, 65-56.
Stojakovic is now 3-for-8 overall, including 2-for-6 on 3s. For his career, from the floor he's .458 regular season, .419 postseason; from 3, .405 regular season, .349 postseason. For a team that relies so heavily on its starters, Peja has to perform. He's playing soft.
Paul and West go back-to-back. Hornets within six, 54-48.
Stojakovic picks up his fourth foul 1:32 into the third. Not bright. Scott keeps him in the game.
Paul hits two buckets in a row. Hornets within eight, 52-44.
The Hornets open up the third quarter with an low-block isolation for Tyson Chandler, who has his shot rejected. Wonder if Bryon drew that up at halftime.
Kidd sets up Josh Howard for a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds to go in the half. Mavs lead, 52-40, at the break.
Paul has not been aggressive at all and he's completely giving Kidd and the Mavs a free pass so far in this one. No way the Hornets win this game or the series if Paul isn't balls-out for 48 minutes a night.
Dampier dunks off a touch pass from Stackhouse. Mavs back up 10, 40-30.
Bass hits a turnaround on the block. He's 22 years old. All things considered -- age, ability, potential, salary, etc. -- after Nowitzki, Bass is the Mavs' most-sought player on the their roster.
Stojakovic knocks down a 3, his first, and the Hornets are catching up with Paul on the bench, something nobody thought could happen. Hornets within 3, 30-27.
Brandon Bass just had a monster dunk off a drive into the middle, two hands above the white square on the board. Wow.
Mavs, 26-19, after one quarter.
Paul just traveled (no call) on his home-run catch-and-shoot just prior to the first-quarter buzzer. Apparently the league office released its referee quotas for the opening weekend: lots of charge calls, lots of 3-second calls, no traveling calls.
With an aggressive drive, Nowitzki has now taken it hard to the hoop more in 12 minutes than he did in all of last year's first-round series against the Warriors.
Terry on a run-out. Mavs lead, 24-13.
Dallas has numerous mismatches, numerous options (Kidd in the post vs. Paul, Nowitzki in the pinch-post vs. West, Howard cutting against anyone) here early. The Hornets, meanwhile, are very tentative on offense -- and they're not running. NO must get out, run and shove the ball down the Mavs' throats.
Nowitzki's got two buckets, nine points total early. Mavs, 12-11.
Stojakovic, meanwhile, who is notorious for his playoff choke jobs, tossed up air balls on his first two 3-point attempts.
Nowitzki is silky smooth on two pinch-post jumpers. He's nearly unstoppable from there.