After scoring only 11 points in a Game 4 loss, Nowitzki rebounded with a franchise record 50 points in leading the Mavs to a crucial 117-101 Game 5 victory. Nowitzki also pulled down 13 rebounds and scored when it mattered most, netting 15 points during the fourth quarter.
2 of 10Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
No free-agent-to-be did more to boost his stock than Wells, who averaged 23 points and 12 rebounds in a first-round series against San Antonio. His Game 4 masterpiece, in which he poured in 25 points and hauled in 17 rebounds in a 102-84 win, helped the Kings tie the series against the defending champions.
3 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
Although this game will be remembered for Tim Thomas' season-saving three-pointer with six seconds left in regulation, Bryant's 50-point outburst put him atop the list for the highest single-game scoring in these playoffs. Despite scoring all 13 of the Lakers' points in overtime, Bryant couldn't lead his team to a series-clinching victory.
4 of 10John Biever/SI
Welcome to the playoffs, LeBron. In one of the most highly anticipated postseason debuts in NBA history, James showed why he is the future of the NBA by putting up a triple double and giving his Cavs a 97-86 victory.
5 of 10David E. Klutho/SI
LeBron James' baseline layup with a second left in overtime gave the Cavs the game and the series lead, but don't blame Arenas for the Wizards' failures. The Arizona graduate played every minute, scoring 44 points, including six three-pointers, in the 121-120 loss.
6 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
The Clippers may have enjoyed a week off after defeating Denver in the first round, but Brand showed no signs of rust in a 130-123 series-opening loss to the Suns.
7 of 10Al Tielemans/SI
The Cavs may have taken the series with this game, but nobody can knock Butler's effort. Despite being a mere 6-foot-7, Butler snagged 20 rebounds in a 114-113 loss.
8 of 10AP
Johnson, a former backup to Jason Kidd in New Jersey, almost single-handedly beat the Nets with his scoring outburst. But it wasn't enough, as the Nets won 96-90 to close out the series. ''It would be great if it was in a winning performance," Johnson said after the game. "I've never shot that much in my life, and I've never scored that much in my life. I had it going.''
9 of 10John W. McDonough/SI
In a rematch of last year's Western Conference semifinals, Nash torched his old team as the Suns took the series opener from the Mavs 121-118. No assist was bigger than Nash's pass to Boris Diaw, who hit a turnaround jumper with less than a second remaining to clinch the victory.
10 of 10Greg Nelson/SI
It wasn't the result Duncan wanted, as his Spurs were sent packing after a 119-111 overtime loss, but he came to play. ''This is the best series I've ever played,'' Duncan said after the game. ''Both teams gave it their all.''
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