Nowitzki, Harris Spoil Finley’s Return
Dallas 103, San Antonio 84
DALLAS, Nov. 5 (Ticker) -- On a night they welcomed back Michael Finley, the Dallas Mavericks got something special from one of the players being relied on to fill his shoes.
Reserve Devin Harris scored 20 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks pulled away from the San Antonio Spurs for a 103-84 victory in Finley's first game back in Dallas since signing with the Spurs this offseason.
"It was good to hear the fans cheer for me, even though tonight I was wearing a different jersey," Finley said. "It just goes to show that my hard work in the eight years I was here paid off to a certain extent."
Finley and All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki made a formidable scoring tandem for Dallas for five years.
"It was weird seeing him out there in that ugly black uniform," Nowitzki said. "The first time is the emotional one. After that, you see him more and more in that uniform and you kind of get used to it."
Nowitzki, who scored 34 points, gave Dallas the lead for good late in the first half and teamed with Harris to spark the Mavericks down the stretch.
"They always play me with a smaller player," Nowitzki said. "I was able to get away a little bit tonight and rise up for my jump shot."
Nowitzki used that jumper to score five points late in the third and Harris took over from there, scoring 12 points in the critical 23-3 run that spanned the third and fourth quarters.
"We wanted to get some easy buckets in transition," Harris said. "We tried to push it in transition and I got some easy layups early in the fourth quarter, and I continued to get good looks at the basket."
After Brent Barry's basket got San Antonio within 62-60 in the third quarter, Dallas forward Keith Van Horn had a dunk to start the surge.
Harris scored the first three points of the fourth and later had three straight layups in less than a minute. A second-year guard whose playing time was reduced last season, Harris shot 8-of-8 and made one 3-pointer.
"They were switching on the pick-and-roll so we always had the option to penetrate on their big guys," he said.
"(Harris) was awesome," Nowitzki said. "We want him to be aggressive out there, especially when they switch a lot of big guys off the dribble. He used his size and athleticism in a great way."
Josh Howard chipped in 17 points, 12 rebounds and four steals for the Mavericks, who have won seven straight home openers.
"They both had great games," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said of Harris and Howard. "Josh killed us on the boards. You've got to give them credit."
Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 24 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Tim Duncan added 18, but just one in the final period, when San Antonio was outscored, 32-20.