Quick Start Paces Streaking Mavericks
Dallas 104, Philadelphia 92
DALLAS, Feb. 27 (Ticker) -- For a change, Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks got off to a quick start, then held on at the finish.
Nowitzki fueled a blistering start and shook off a sprained ankle to collect 32 points and 13 rebounds as the Mavericks notched their 15th straight home win, a 104-92 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
In their last two games, Dallas fell into second-half holes of 19 points vs. Memphis and 24 points vs. Toronto before storming back to win both games. Coach Avery Johnson was not happy with the early deficits and made it a point of emphasis.
The players clearly got the message as the Mavericks raced to leads of 10-0 in 79 seconds and 26-8 in 6 1/2 minutes. Nowitzki was the catalyst as he sank a pair of 3-pointers and four free throws before thundering down the lane for a dunk that capped the surge.
"It was definitely something we wanted to do," Johnson said. "The guys came out with a lot of energy, getting to loose balls and offensive rebounds and that's how we want to play."
"It is a tough way to start the game when you put yourself in a hole against a team like the Mavericks," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "The pressure bothered us a little."
Dallas held a 37-20 lead after one period, making 10-of-20 shots and 13-of-13 free throws while outrebounding Philadelphia, 19-4. Nowitzki scored 17 points.
"We wanted to start fast, and that dunk by Marquis Daniels kind of set the tone for us to be aggressive on both ends of the floor," Nowitzki said. "DeSagana Diop was all over the floor with the offensive rebounds and keeping balls alive and the rest of us just kind of fed off that."
Early in the third quarter, Nowitzki suffered a sprained left ankle and went to the locker room. Despite playing without their All-Star and Josh Howard (ankle), Devin Harris (hip) and Keith Van Horn (flu), the Mavericks widened a 10-point halftime lead to 64-47 on a 3-pointer by Terry.
Ironically, Nowitzki also was injured in the first meeting between the clubs. He strained his back and missed the second half of a 112-97 loss at Philadelphia on November 9.
Terry made a 3-pointer and jumper to close the third quarter and give Dallas an 84-69 lead. With his ankle retaped, Nowitzki returned in the final period.
"We had our chance to get back in the game in the third quarter when Dirk went down but Jet (Terry) and Marquis picked up their games and we didn't," Sixers guard Allen Iverson said.
The 76ers finally pulled within single digits at 95-87 with 3:46 to go on a runner by Iverson, who scored 29 points. His jumper made it 96-89 before Nowitzki scored inside off a beautiful feed from Daniels.
"Dirk came back after he rolled his ankle and gave us a lift when we needed it," Johnson said.
A 3-pointer by Kyle Korver cut the deficit to 98-92 with 1:48 remaining before Terry worked the pick-and-roll and found Erick Dampier for a dunk with 1:29 left.
The Mavericks shot 46 percent (36-of-79), including 9-of-17 from the arc, and held a 45-28 advantage on the glass. They improved to 13-0 at home vs. the Eastern Conference.
Korver and Chris Webber scored 19 points apiece for Philadelphia, which shot 50 percent (33-of-66). For the third straight game, the Sixers played without NBA blocks leader Samuel Dalembert (ankle).
Daniels started for Howard and played 37 minutes at three positions. Darrell Armstrong had six points and five rebounds in 25 minutes off the bench in place of Harris.
"Take your hat off to Marquis tonight," Terry said. "He had no idea that he was going to play that many minutes and he had a great game."
"It just shows our depth and how guys stay ready," Daniels said. "Hopefully those guys will be ready by Thursday when we go down to San Antonio to face the Spurs."