DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki missed five free throws, the same
number he'd missed over his last 10 games combined. He'd even
flubbed a pair with 5:30 left and the game tied. Then Nowitzki was
called for charging, wiping out a go-ahead basket with 49.9 seconds
So what did the Dallas Mavericks do with the game on the line?
They went back to Nowitzki, of course.
Nowitzki rewarded the faith by avenging all his mistakes --
making a layup, drawing the foul and swishing the free throw -- with
17.9 seconds to go, lifting the Mavericks to a 95-93 victory over
the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
"Dirk is a special player," teammate Michael Finley said. "A
couple games a year you stand back and think how good it is that
he's your teammate. This is one of those games. He did what it
takes to win."
Nowitzki finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds, but he was
only 8-of-13 from the line. That's a stunning fit of the yips for
someone who came in having made 43 in a row.
"You miss one, then you miss two, then you start thinking about
it a little bit and the basket looks a little smaller," said
Nowitzki, whose streak hit 46, three shy of the team record. "I
knew I had been very good lately. Now all I can do is start over."
Nowitzki's back-to-back bricks in the closing minutes actually
spurred him on. He scored nine points the rest of the way and came
up with big plays on defense as the Mavs won their fifth straight
and 10th of 12.
Although the Nuggets lost for the ninth time in 10 road games,
they were in it until the end -- even after losing center Marcus
Camby to a sprained left ankle in the first quarter.
Martin would've covered Nowitzki on Dallas' next possession, but
coach Michael Cooper changed the defensive assignments because
Martin was poked in the eye on his basket. Martin pointed out what
happened but refused to discuss it.
"All that's going to happen is I'm going to get fined if I say
anything," he said.
After Nowitzki won his rematch with Elson, the Nuggets still had
two tries to win it.
First, Andre Miller passed up a layup to feed Rodney White back
near the foul line. He shot an air ball and Dallas' Jerry
Stackhouse got the rebound, then made one of two free throws with
4.1 seconds left.
Then Boykins, who scored an NBA-record 15 overtime points just
two games before, had a chance to force another overtime but missed
an open 18-footer at the buzzer.
"It's difficult because down the stretch we made mental
mistakes that hurt us," Boykins said.
Martin, who grew up in Dallas, led Denver with 19 points and 11
rebounds. Miller had 16 points and 10 assists and Carmelo Anthony,
who missed the previous game with a sprained right ankle, had 14
points and five rebounds in 37 minutes.
Elson had 10 points and seven rebounds and Boykins had 11 points
and six assists.
Finley scored 17, Jason Terry added 15 and five assists and
Stackhouse had 11 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.
After splitting two lopsided meetings this season, the game was
close throughout. Neither team led by more than eight and both
seemed lethargic at times, perhaps a reflection of the noon tipoff.
"We were a little sluggish early," said Dallas' Alan
Henderson, "but the clock still winds down the same way so you've
got to get through it."
Nowitzki was 79-of-84 from the line over his previous 10
games. ... Denver F Nene missed the fourth and final game of a
suspension for fighting. ... A skit during a second-quarter timeout
fizzled because of a wardrobe malfunction: an inflatable character
sprung a leak. ... Dallas F Josh Howard left in the first quarter
with back spasms and didn't return. ... X-rays on Camby's ankle