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 Nowitzki makes sure Mavs don't get swept

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PostSubject: Nowitzki makes sure Mavs don''t get swept   Nowitzki makes sure Mavs don't get swept Icon_minitimeWed May 13, 2009 4:48 pm

DALLAS(AP) Down by 14 and playing listlessly, the Dallas Mavericks sure looked ready to call it a season.Then Carmelo Anthony threw a jab, and everything changed.Dirk
Nowitzki and the Mavs awoke from their early-game slumber with rally
after rally, getting close or even tied yet unable to get ahead until
the former MVP made a tough, high-arching shot with 1:05 left. Having
worked so hard for the lead, they weren't about to give it back,
pulling out a 119-117 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night
to avoing being swept.Anthony scored a career playoff-best 41
points and snagged five steals. He was the one turning away most Dallas
rallies and made a 3-pointer with 3.1 seconds left that got Denver
within a point. Yet when Mavericks guard Jason Terry intentionally
missed a free throw with 1.1 ticks left, Anthony was out of answers. He
got the rebound, but couldn't stop the clock and didn't even have time
to try a 90-foot heave.The buzzer sounded and confetti fell as the teams left the court knowing they will meet again Wednesday night in Denver."It
was an unbelievable game,'' said Nowitzki, who scored 19 of his 44
points in the fourth quarter. "We were down the whole game, but were
able to come back and win and we've been doing that all season long.
... We've got to go back to Denver and let it all hang out again.''The
Mavs lost all four regular-season games against the Nuggets and the
first three of this series, but all along felt they were close. The
scoreboard showed it, too, as Denver's margin shrunk from 14 in the
opener to 12 then to one in Game 3, which also needed a mistaken
no-call and a 3-pointer by Anthony with a second left."We've
been fighting and fighting this whole series,'' said Mavs forward Josh
Howard, who had 21 points and 11 rebounds on two bad ankles. "The end
of Game 3 gave us a lot of willpower for this game.''It sure didn't look like it the first 13 minutes.Anthony
and the Nuggets were scoring at will and the Mavericks were doing
little to stop them. On one possession, Anthony turned, saw no one
between him and the basket and soared for a dunk so easy it could've
been preseason.But then Anthony and Dallas' Antoine Wright - the
combatants from the Game 3 finish - got their arms tangled. Once
untangled, Anthony's open hand smacked Wright in the shoulder.
Officials called Wright for a loose-ball foul, hit Anthony with a
technical and watched a video replay to make sure they were right.Nothing
was the same after that. The intensity ratcheted to Game 7 proportions,
with a total of seven technical fouls and two flagrants. It spilled
into the stands, too, with security guards removing Anthony's
girlfriend, LaLa Vazquez of MTV fame, for her safety and with extra
protection around the mother of Kenyon Martin, who had a brief exchange
with Mavs owner Mark Cuban after Game 3."They're allowed to be
fans, but when it gets personal, it goes over the top,'' said Denver's
Chauncey Billups, who had 24 points and seven assists.Added
Nuggets coach George Karl: "I would probably use an uglier word than
hostile, but I'm not going to do that right now. I don't think it was
very classy.''The postgame scene was a little calmer than after
Game 3, although it may also wind up getting reviewed by the league
office because Martin and Cuban clearly exchanged words.Alas,
Denver fans won't get their chance for revenge on Cuban. He's skipping
Game 5 to be at an awards ceremony in Las Vegas, keeping a promise he
made to his wife six months ago.Nuggets fans will have plenty to
scream about anyway. Their club is 5-0 at home this postseason and can
clinch their first trip to the conference finals since 1985."We're still in control,'' Anthony said. "We'll be ready.''Mavericks
coach Rick Carlisle wasn't surprised his team played so well because
that's been their pattern this season - bouncing back strong after
hitting rock bottom. He probably would've preferred they didn't get so
far behind so quickly at the start, but Nowitzki refused to let them
stay down for long."There are very few guys I have been around in this league that are as strong-willed as him,'' Carlisle said.Nowitzki,
who also is dealing with off-court troubles involving a girlfriend, was
14-of-25. He made 16 of 17 free throws and grabbed 13 rebounds."We
showed character and fought,'' said Dallas' Jason Kidd, who had 13
points, 10 rebounds and six assists. "The pressure is on them to win
the series. We don't have any pressure.''Notes: Denver's J.R.
Smith had 19 points, including two terrific baskets with the shot clock
about to expire in the fourth quarter. ... Nuggets backup center Chris
"Birdman'' Andersen missed the game with a stomach flu. ... Dallas has
still never been swept in a seven-game series.

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