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NOWITZKI READY FOR ANYTHING

Times wires

DALLAS - Over his 14 seasons in the NBA, Dirk Nowitzki says he has seen pretty much every defense possible.

Thunder coach Scott Brooks is tempted to try the ultimate gamble - the invisible defender.

That's right, nothing. Maybe just shouting, "Boo!" or "Don't miss!" whenever Nowitzki sets to shoot in Game 2 of the Western Conference final tonight.

Brooks surely was joking Wednesday when he suggested not guarding Nowitzki. Brooks wasn't laughing, though, because he was still awed and frustrated by what happened in the opener, when Nowitzki made 12 of 15 field goals and set a playoff record by hitting all 24 of his free throws on his way to 48 points, the most by anyone this postseason.

"There were nine shots that he made, no matter what you did, you couldn't have guarded him any better," Brooks said. "We put smalls (on him), we put medium-sized guys on him, we put big guys on him, we put everybody on him. We tried to take it out of his hands. The only thing we didn't do was not guard him.

"Maybe, if we want to do something different, we don't challenge him. We play a zone and let him go free."

Nowitzki's efficiency was phenomenal: 48 points on 15 shots, not attempting a 3-pointer.

He figures the Thunder will try something different in Game 2. Rather than trying to guess along, he said Wednesday, "Whatever comes, comes."

"I'm going to try to attack like I always do," he said. "We've got a lot of options out there. We have a deep bench. So I don't feel the pressure to force shots."

The Thunder has not lost consecutive games this postseason.

"That's one thing about this team, we're resilient, we bounce back," Thunder star Kevin Durant said. "Hopefully it's another case of that in Game 2."

bulls-heat: Dennis Rodman still sported numerous piercings and tattoos as he walked into the United Center. That much hadn't changed since he helped the Bulls win their final three championships in the late 1990s. What is different is this: Rodman, the seven-time rebounding champion and two-time defensive player of the year, is now 50. "It's incredible man, the fact that people still love you, still like what you're doing," Rodman said Wednesday before presenting the first ball for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final. His favorite player? A Bull who rebounds, plays defense and has a noticeable hairstyle - former Gator Joakim Noah. "I love Noah," Rodman said. "He's more like me, but a little taller."

pistons: Owner Karen Davidson says she'll retain part ownership of the franchise, its arena and Palace Sports & Entertainment after the sale to Beverly Hills, Calif., billionaire Tom Gores is complete.

timberwolves: President David Kahn says his comments about the NBA draft lottery were intended as a tongue-in-cheek resignation that fate gave Cleveland the first pick. After the Cavaliers beat out the Timberwolves for the top spot Tuesday, Kahn said with a smirk, "This league has a habit - and I am just going to say habit - of producing some pretty incredible story lines."

rafer alston to coach: Former Rockets guard Rafer Alston will coach at a Houston-area high school. Christian Life Center Academy in Humble hired Alston to be head basketball coach and athletic director. Alston, whose NBA career began in 1999 with Milwaukee, spent four seasons with the Rockets. He played for New Jersey and Miami during the 2009-10 season.

Conference finals

East

Bulls 1, Heat 1

Game 1: Bulls 103, Heat 82

Wednesday: Heat 85, Bulls 75

Sunday: at Miami, 8:30, TNT

Tuesday: at Miami, 8:30, TNT

May 26: at Chicago, 8:30, TNT

May 28: at Miami, 8:30, TNT*

May 30: at Chicago, 8:30, TNT*

West

Mavericks 1, Thunder 0

Tuesday: Mavericks 121, Thunder 112

Tonight: at Dallas, 9, ESPN

Saturday: at Oklahoma City, 9, ESPN

Monday: at Oklahoma City, 9, ESPN

May 25: at Dallas, 9, ESPN*

May 27: at Oklahoma City, 9, ESPN*

May 29: at Dallas, 9, ESPN*

*If necessary

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