Van Exel sinks 3, dooming Malone's 1,400th game


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks played well enough at
the beginning and the end against the Utah Jazz that it didn't matter so much what happened in the middle.

Nick Van Exel hit a 3-pointer with 13.1 seconds left as the
Mavericks beat the Jazz 92-90 Monday night despite squandering a
16-point lead in the game, which included two flagrant fouls, two
technicals and lots of contact inside that wasn't called.

"What a physical game. Holy cow,'' Mavericks coach Don Nelson
said. "I don't think there would be any players left to play the
game if they were all this rough. Just an unbelievable game.''

The Mavericks spoiled Karl Malone's 1,400th career game and
avoided falling to 0-2 against the Jazz this season. It could have
just as easily been the Jazz celebrating.

Utah's Matt Harpring, who missed Saturday's game with sore ribs,
returned to the lineup and scored 20 points -- but he missed a
baseline jumper that would have forced overtime.

"Having Matt Harpring take that shot, I can live with it
because he's going to make it 70 percent of the time,'' said Utah's
Scott Padgett, who passed the ball to Harpring on the final play. "It shouldn't have come to that.''

Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points and Steve Nash had 20 points and
six assists for the Mavericks, who have won four straight.

Malone finished with 18 points and Padgett scored 13 for the
Jazz, who outrebounded the Mavericks 46-31.

Van Exel finished with 12 points, including the final three
after Andrei Kirilenko gave Utah a 90-89 lead on a layup with 29.9
seconds left.

"I just happened to be the last guy over there,'' Van Exel
said. "I thought it would be a little long, but someone was with
me tonight.''

The Jazz had taken the lead with a frenzied possession, getting
three offensive rebounds before Kirilenko converted on the layup.
But the Mavericks had plenty of time and found a wide-open Van
Exel, who calmly hit the shot from the right corner to win it.

"You saw our advantage at the end of the game,'' Nowitzki said.
"We kept passing the ball around and they kept running at guys.
Nick was wide open and he made it.''

Michael Finley finished with 17 points for Dallas, which was
12-for-29 from 3-point range.

Tony Massenburg scored 11 and Kirilenko added 10 for the Jazz.

After the game, Dallas assistant Del Harris charged onto the
court and yelled at the officials. His outburst prompted Jazz vice
president of basketball operations Kevin O'Connor to yell from the

"Are you going to let an assistant come out and do that?''
O'Connor shouted.

Harris wouldn't comment after the game.

The Jazz fell to 2-2 during coach Jerry Sloan's suspension for
shoving an official.

"We made some defensive errors down the stretch and Van Exel
got a 3 on us,'' said Jazz assistant Phil Johnson, who is filling
in for Sloan. "One of the things we didn't want to do was give up
a 3 the last possession of the game. We overran some of our
defensive help and didn't get back to their shooter.''

It didn't look good for the Jazz early as Dallas scored the
first 10 points of the game and held a 20-4 lead at one point. But
Utah steadily came back and finally took the lead by closing the
third quarter with a 16-7 run.

Utah's Calbert Cheaney made a steal and hit Harpring for a dunk
that got the Jazz to 59-55 with about seven minutes left in the
third. Harpring cut it to 61-58 with a 3-pointer, then Kirilenko's
layup got the Jazz to 61-60.

Raef LaFrentz hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to four, but
Kirilenko made a basket, then stole the ball at midcourt from
Antoine Rigaudeau and took it in for a dunk. The crowd of 19,130
was already on its feet roaring by the time Kirilenko reached the
basket for the game's first tie.

Massenburg gave the Jazz their first lead on a free throw that
put Utah up 67-66 with 29.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

Game notes
Malone is the fourth NBA player to reach the 1,400-game
milestone. Only Jazz teammate John Stockton (1,470), Kareem
Abdul-Jabar (1,560) and Robert Parish (1,611) have played in more.
... Malone was called for a technical near the end of the first
half for pushing Van Exel. ... Massenburg and Dallas' Walt Williams
were called for flagrant fouls.