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Dallas stops two-game skid

DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki wouldn't let a mildly sprained ankle
keep him off the court for long.

Nowitzki scored 26 points -- 16 in the second half after having
X-rays on his left ankle -- and the Mavericks beat the New Jersey
Nets 98-93 on Saturday night.

Dallas played the final 5 minutes of the second quarter without
Nowitzki, who landed awkwardly on his ankle while passing the ball.
X-rays were negative and Nowitzki started the second half.

"He can shoot the ball, we know that," said teammate Jerry
Stackhouse, who finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds. "He can
go out there on two broken ankles and still shoot the ball. We
wants to be out there. When we get in a little lull like we did
tonight, he's the guy we look to to make the big shot."

Nowitzki has been bothered by bone spurs in the ankle, but he
said wasn't hurting badly enough to miss the second half.

"I could feel right away it wasn't that bad," said Nowitzki.
"I came down a little awkward and walked it off. We took X-rays to
see what the bone spurs were doing in there and that they were
having fun. I got it re-taped, went back out there. It didn't feel
great but I've got a nice day off (Sunday)."

Nowitzki, who went 8-for-16 from the field and hit all 10 free
throws, hit his first two shots to begin the second half and had 10
in the third quarter as the Mavericks held a 62-59 entering the
final period.

New Jersey retook a 68-67 lead early in the final quarter on
Jason Kidd's basket before Dallas went on an 18-4 run that included
six free throws from Nowitzki.

Jason Terry completed the decisive run with consecutive
3-pointers, the second with 3:30 left to give the Mavericks an
85-71 advantage.

Kidd finished with 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for New
Jersey, the 61st career triple-double for the NBA's active leader.

Nowitzki, who had 12 rebounds, is two points short of 10,000 for
his six-year career. He's averaging 31.3 points in six games this
month.

Coach Don Nelson was relieved when Nowitzki, his top scorer and
rebounder, felt enough confidence in the ankle to come out for the
second half.

"I didn't know if I was going to have Dirk in the second
half," Nelson said. "I don't know that we could have won the game
had we not had him."

Michael Finley added 16 points to help the Mavericks snap a
two-game losing streak and beat the Nets for the 10th straight
time.

Dallas, which won for the sixth time in its last seven home
games, got 15 points from Terry, all in the second half.

The Mavericks were dragging after losing at San Antonio on
Friday night, but they still had enough down the stretch to beat
the Nets.

"It was a one-point game with six minutes and change to go,"
said Nets coach Lawrence Frank. "We had three quality looks that
didn't go down. We kept on fighting but it wasn't enough against
obviously a high-quality team."

Vince Carter had 29 points and Rodney Buford added 18 for the
Nets, who lost their fourth in a row and sixth in the last seven.
New Jersey is 3-8 since acquiring Carter from the Raptors.

"It's not getting frustrating yet," Carter said. "We need to
keep fighting. We played better in the fourth quarter. That's a
step in the right direction."

The Nets shot 41 percent for the game while Dallas converted
only 39 percent of its field goal tries.

Game notes
The Mavericks were without regulars Josh Howard (upper
respiratory infection) and Marquis Daniels (ankle). Howard, who's
lost eight pounds during his illness, missed his third straight
game. ... C Erick Dampier returned to the Dallas lineup after
missing Friday night's loss at San Antonio due to a right knee
contusion, finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds. ... The Nets
are 8-12 since Kidd returned to the lineup after recovering from
knee surgery. ... Kidd's 61 triple-doubles are fourth all-time.
Oscar Robertson is the career leader with 181.