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Dallas endures chippy competition

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- After blowing one big lead, the Dallas
Mavericks made sure their next one was never in jeopardy.

The Mavericks overcame being called for 34 fouls with strong
shooting and even stronger defense, winning their fifth straight
101-83 over the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.

Dallas scored the first eight points of the game and led by as
much as 15 in the first quarter, but Utah gradually came back and
took a few slim leads before the Mavericks finally shut down the
Jazz in the second half.

"I thought in the first half they really kept in the game by
getting to the foul line," said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 16 of
his 29 points in the second half to lead Dallas. "They really
attacked the offensive glass and I thought in the second half we
just took those things away. We tried to keep them in front of us
in the penetration. We tried to keep them off the line. Don't do
all those ticky-tack fouls. That really worked for us."

Josh Howard added 18 points and nine rebounds and Michael Finley
scored 24 for the Mavericks, who outscored Utah 26-14 in the fourth
quarter.

Dallas committed 13 more fouls than Utah in a chippy game that
included four technical fouls, two flagrants and several others
that could have been called for more than just a personal foul.

"We can be physical or we can back down," Dallas guard Jason
Terry said. "We chose to be physical and get to the free-throw
line."

Utah had its worst shooting night of the season, going 23-for-75
from the floor but stayed in it by making 36 of 39 free throws.

Raja Bell led Utah with 16 points and Howard Eisley and Andrei
Kirilenko each scored 12.

The week off for the All-Star break didn't help the Jazz, who
have lost five six.

"We got confused on what we were doing defensively a couple of
times as we came down the stretch," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said.
"We also got confused as to what we were trying to do
offensively."

The Jazz had nothing left down the stretch and could not stop
Nowitzki and the Mavericks, who had just four turnovers in the
second half after committing 12 in the first.

Tempers flared several times in the game and although there were
no fights, there were plenty of times it looked close to happening
as the fouls kept getting harder.

The frustration seemed to effect the Jazz, who were without
leading scorer and rebounder Carlos Boozer, who is out with a foot
injury.

"Utah always plays physical," Finley said. "They play with
that type of tenacity. That's what kind of player Coach Sloan was
when he was in the league and it's carried over to this team."

Referee Steve Javie warned both coaches late in the third
quarter to knock off the complaining after every call. Javie called
Sloan for a technical a few minutes later, after Mehmet Okur
knocked over Darrell Armstrong while running through a screen.
Sloan felt Armstrong wasn't set and let official Michael Smith know
it.

Finley made the technical free throw for Dallas' fifth straight
point and Armstrong made both his free throws to give the Mavericks
a 75-69 lead entering the final period.

Howard gave the Mavericks a 79-73 early in the fourth when he
hit a wide-open baseline jumper, starting a 7-0 run that Finley
capped with a 3-pointer and Dallas pulled away from there.

Game notes
Dallas opened the game with a 16-4 run. ... Utah's Jarron
Collins was called for a flagrant foul in the first quarter when
Nowitzki drove to the basket and received a straight-arm to the
chin. Nowitzki stayed on the floor for a few minutes, then got up
and hit both free throws. ... The Jazz placed point guard Raul
Lopez (knee) on the injured list Wednesday and replaced him with
Keith McLeod, who started against the Mavericks but had just five
points and two assists.