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 Nowtizki leads Mavericks over hurting Clippers

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PostSubject: Nowtizki leads Mavericks over hurting Clippers   Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:01 pm

DALLAS(AP) Dirk Nowitzki made the game-saving plays on both ends of the court for the Dallas Mavericks.That
was the easy part for the star forward. Just don't ask the frustrated
Nowitzki to explain how the Mavericks even got into the position that
his blocked shot and go-ahead jumper were needed in the final minute
against the short-handed and hurting Los Angeles Clippers."Terrible.
We had a good lead and we let up,'' Nowitzki said. "They got whatever
they wanted offensively. We couldn't get any stops.''Until Nowitzki, who had 34 points, blocked a shot and then scored with 37 seconds remaining in a 107-102 victory Tuesday night.Dallas
got started with its highest-scoring quarter of the season and had an
18-point lead before halftime against the Clippers, who had only eight
players in uniform because of numerous lingering injuries and a
suspension."This was a feisty Clippers team,'' Josh Howard said.More
than an hour before the game, coach Rick Carlisle was trying to
convince reporters - and certainly his own players - that it would not
be an easy game.And the Mavericks made sure it wasn't against Los Angeles, whose NBA-worst losing streak is now at eight games.Dallas
needed a game-ending 11-1 run to avoid being upset at home, finally
going ahead to stay on Nowitzki's high-arching 11-footer after he had
blocked rookie Eric Gordon's driving layup attempt at the other end.Gordon,
who scored 32 points, had a turnover on the next possession when the
ball was knocked from his hands by Jason Kidd - though the rookie and
his coach both thought there was a foul on the play."I'm not
even going to comment on that,'' Gordon said diplomatically. "We just
lost, I'm not going to worry about it. ... We had them and we couldn't
close it out.''The Clippers have gone multiple games without the
injured Baron Davis (bruised tailbone), Zach Randolph (left knee), Mike
Taylor (right thumb) and Chris Kaman (left knee). Plus, Ricky Davis
served the second of his five-game NBA suspension for violating the
league's drug policy."I'm really proud of our guys, how hard
they played and what they did,'' coach Mike Dunleavy said. "A couple of
bounces didn't go our way, a couple of calls didn't go our way and the
Mavericks pulled one off.''Los Angeles, coming off a one-point
loss at home against Detroit two days earlier, led the Mavs for the
first time since the opening 2 minutes of the game when Mardy Collins
hit a 3-pointer to make it 95-93 with 6:38 left.Jose Barea then
made a 3-pointer to put Dallas back in front, but Al Thornton made
three consecutive baskets, two layups before his 24-foot jumper put the
Clippers up 101-95 with 2:39 left. That was Los Angeles' last field
goal."We stopped believing (in moral victories) a long time
ago,'' said Thornton, who finished with 25 points. "We just need to
learn how to close games out.''Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer, then Josh Howard scored before Nowitzki blocked Gordon's shot.Howard
had 22 points, while Brandon Bass had 13. Collins, who liked Gordon
played more than 45 minutes, had 17 points for Los Angeles.The
Mavs' highest-scoring quarter of the season had them up 37-22 when
Jason Terry and Howard hit consecutive 3-pointers at the end of the
first to cap a 15-2 spurt.Nowitzki scored 10 in an early 12-0 run that push the Mavericks in front to stay until late.Gordon
scored the final nine points for the Clippers in the first half,
including two free throws in the final second after being fouled on an
inbound play to get Los Angeles within 64-54 after being fouled on an
inbound play.Dallas threw the ball away on an inbound play with
0.8 seconds left. Devean George, put in for defense and making his only
appearance of the game, wrapped his arm around Gordon and was called
for a foul."The way the first half ended was really sort of a
microcosm of the game. Just very poor execution on our part,'' Carlisle
said. "The latter part of the second quarter was our undoing because we
gave them life. And then we were poor.''Notes: The Mavs, coming
off a 20-point loss at Memphis, have played 25 games without
back-to-back losses. Their only losing streak this season was five in a
row from Nov. 7-14. ... Gordon finished with his fifth consecutive
20-point game. He had his second consecutive career-high scoring night,
after 31 against Detroit.

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