Nowitzki double-double powers hot Mavs past Hornets

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki grimaced as if he wanted to be
anywhere but a basketball court.

It wasn't only because he had missed eight of his first nine
shots, not to mention his first foul shot. When pressed about his
health after the game, a sniffling and coughing Nowitzki said he
had a sinus infection, but didn't want to use that as an excuse.

Then again, he didn't need one.

The Mavericks' leading scorer this season had 18 of his 20
points in the second half and grabbed 10 rebounds to help Dallas
win its third straight game, 90-79 over the New Orleans Hornets on
Saturday night.

"At halftime, I know that my team has confidence in me and they
want me to keep shooting when I'm open," Nowitzki said. "I never
make excuses. I have sinus infections all the time and I know how
to play through them."

Josh Howard scored 23 points, including a 3-pointer that helped
Dallas put the game away, while Devin Harris added 13 points and
Jason Terry 12 for the Mavericks.

It was the kind of balance New Orleans lacked with starters
David West (elbow) and Peja Stojakovic (back) continuing their
prolonged absences. And it helped Dallas control much of the first
half when Nowitzki was clanging shot-after-shot off the rim.

"We're a team that has a lot of options on offense and
obviously that's the way we got to the finals" last season,
Nowitzki said. "You can't be a one-man team if you go to the
finals. You have to spread it around and attack from a lot of
angles and that's what we did tonight."

Chris Paul had 30 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists for the
Hornets, who lost the second of two games in New Orleans this week
and for the ninth time in 11 games.

Paul's only help came from Rasual Butler, who had 19 points, and
reserve Marc Jackson, who finished with 13.

"The one thing (the Mavericks) were doing, being a veteran
team, is they were coming down and making sure every time they
would get a good shot and move the ball around, three or four
passes," Hornets coach Byron Scott said. "We were coming down --
one pass, shot. ... We had to get better shots. We had to move the
ball better and make harder cuts."

Nowitzki scored 13 points in the third quarter as he helped
Dallas pull away.

"We were still going to call his number," Dallas coach Avery
Johnson said.

After New Orleans took its only lead of the game at 42-40,
Nowitzki -- who came in averaging 24 points -- scored six straight
points on a jumper, an off-balance runner off of the glass and a
fast-break layup.

New Orleans kept hustling, and made on last run when Paul's 3
had the Hornets as close as 76-72 midway through the final period.

Harris seized the momentum back for Dallas with an acrobatic
driving scoop through a crowd, and then Howard followed with his
third 3 of the game to make it 81-72 with 2:50 to go.

"It was a big shot. I wasn't scared to take it," Howard said.

Dallas also benefited from strong rebounding, finishing with a
50-39 advantage in that category.

One night after a 93-79 victory over Philadelphia, Dallas raced
out to an 11-0 lead, and Howard's 10 quick points gave the Mavs a
26-16 advantage after one quarter.

"Josh is quietly maturing right before our very eyes," Johnson

The Hornets, who never recovered from a slow start in a loss to
San Antonio on Thursday, fought back this time. Butler's driving
scoop shot, 3-pointer and pair of mid-range jumpers fueled an 11-4
run that pulled New Orleans to 40-40 by halftime.

"We fought real hard. We were scrappy," said Hornets center
Tyson Chandler, who had six rebounds and one block. "We were in it
the entire game, but they just had more firepower than us and they
executed at the end."

Game notes
Jerry Stackhouse, who had missed four games with a strained
right groin, returned to the lineup and had three points in 18
minutes. ... New Orleans' last victory against Dallas was Nov. 17,
1999, about three years before the Hornets moved from Charlotte.
The Hornets have lost 19 straight to Dallas. ... Hornets coach
Byron Scott is 0-17 all-time against the Mavericks. ... Attendance
for the Hornets' third game in New Orleans this season was 16,331,
a little more than 1,600 short of a sellout. ... Dallas (17-7) has
won 17 of 20 games.