HOUSTON, Feb. 21 (Ticker) --
All-Star Dirk Nowitzki
scored 34 points
and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks thrashed the
Houston Rockets, 100-85, for their fifth consecutive victory, one night after topping the San Antonio Spurs.
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Nowitzki had 10 points in a 14-0 run as Dallas rallied for a
49-45 halftime lead, then capped a decisive 14-5 third-quarter
burst with a 3-pointer that gave the Mavericks a 64-55
scored 14 points and Nick Van Exel
added 13 off the
bench for Dallas, which swept the four-game season series with
Houston for the first time.
Dallas also continued to distance itself from the rest of the
Midwest Division, bumping its lead to 5 1/2 games over
second-place San Antonio.
scored 19 points and rookie Yao Ming
added 18 and
11 rebounds for the Rockets, who lost for the 11th time in the
last 15 games.
Yao's efforts were somewhat nullifed by Dallas' Shawn Bradley
who is the same height as the 7-6 rookie.
Bradley scored 12 points, grabbed seven boards and blocked six
"This is something for me to learn from. I don't get many
opportunities to play against someone as tall as me," said Yao
through an interpreter. "In the second half, I did OK, but in
the first half, I played pretty poorly."
Yao scored 15 in the second half.
"When Shawn Bradley plays like he did, we are a pretty good
team," Dallas coach Don Nelson said.
Bradley's offense got the Mavericks rolling in the second half.
With the score tied at 50-50, Bradley hit consecutive shots to
ignite a 14-5 burst.
"I understand that I have to do things the team needs me to do,"
Bradley said. "Everyone on this team knows his role."
With the Mavericks coming off Thursday's emotional 95-87 victory
over the Spurs, Nelson was afraid his team was poised for a
letdown. In the early going, it appeared his fears were
Houston got off to a quick start, shooting 60 percent (12-of-20)
from the field en route to a 30-23 lead after 12 minutes.
"I was really worried about how we would play all day long,"
Things turned in the second quarter, as the Rockets went cold
and Nowitzki heated up, shooting 5-of-7 from the field in the
"It's a good shooting building. I've always liked to come here
and play," said Nowitzki, who also had 34 in a 104-81 victory in
the Compaq Center on January 29. "There are always a lot of
fans. It was a lot of fun tonight."
Dallas trailed, 43-35, when Nowitzki's jumper with 4:10 left
ignited a late spurt. He added a layup, jumper and a transition
lay-in to tie it with 2:18 left in the half.
The Mavericks kept the pressure on in the third period. After
Francis' 16-footer at the 9:21 mark evened the score at 50-50,
Bradley sank a turnaround jumpr to give Dallas the lead for
"I liked a lot of the shots we had in the first quarter, we were
running and got some easy buckets," Rockets coach Rudy
Tomjanovich said. "But in the second half, we didn't get the
percentage inside like we normally do. Bradley had something to
do with that."
had 16 points and James Posey
11 for Houston,
which shot 28 percent over the last three quarters and finished
at 35 percent (30-of-85).
Dallas shot 49 percent (38-of-77), including 6-of-17 from