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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mavericks breeze to 2-0 lead in Finals

DALLAS (AP) Even Mark Cuban's postgame celebration was a bit reserved. The Dallas Mavericks had a decisive two-game lead in the NBA finals -- and this easy victory almost felt too easy against the beaten, battered Miami Heat.

Over on the other bench, Shaquille O'Neal pulled the towel from his head and stalked away from the lowest point total of his playoff career. The three-time finals MVP never found it this hard to get his job done.

Jerry Stackhouse scored 19 points and Josh Howard had 15 -- and both converted four-point plays during the decisive runs in Dallas' 99-85 victory in Game 2 on Sunday night, sending the Mavericks to Miami with their sights on the franchise's first title.

Dirk Nowitzki's supporting cast made the biggest plays in this one-sided romp, but the German star shook off his Game 1 jitters to get 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Mavericks. With the game nearly out of reach in the third quarter, Dallas kept its celebrations calm and professional.

Led by Stackhouse, Howard and Jason Terry, who had 16 points, Dallas' offense was effortless and exciting.

But the Mavericks did something much more historic: They limited O'Neal to his worst postseason performance. In 190 career playoff games, Shaq finished with a single-digit point total just three times.

Shaq did not talk to reporters after the game, earning a $ 10,000 fine for himself and a $ 25,000 penalty for the Heat.

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