Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 2)

Series starts 1/21

Game 1: Friday, January 21st
Mavericks105Final
Bobcats99
Game 2: Saturday, March 19th
Bobcats93Final
Mavericks104

Bobcats 93

(12-52, 2-31 away)

Mavericks 104

(43-22, 22-12 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, March 19, 2005

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
CHA 28 22 23 2093
DAL 26 35 18 25104

Top Performers

Charlotte: K. Bogans 27 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Dallas: D. Nowitzki 33 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Stl

Dallas prevails despite struggling on D

DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored plenty of points as usual. The four-time All-Star is also going to have to play consistent defense now that the Dallas Mavericks are Avery Johnson's team for good.

After Nowitzki scored 20 of his 33 points by halftime, he was benched for a possession just 20 seconds into the second half after not executing a defensive play to the satisfaction of Johnson.

"I had him yanked out of there because I wasn't pleased with his defense," Johnson said.

It was a tough first game for Johnson even though the Mavericks beat Charlotte 104-93 Saturday night.

Still, it was special for Johnson, the protege who took over the job when Don Nelson resigned earlier in the day. He planned to give the game ball to the man he replaced.

"We missed Nellie on the bench," Johnson said. "He probably would have won this game by 25, but since we have a young coach, I guess we couldn't get that done."

While the Mavericks outrebounded Charlotte 49-33, the Mavs struggled often on the defensive side that Johnson stresses so much. Nowitzki allowing a long jumper by 7-foot-1 Primoz Brezec was just one example of many times Johnson cringed courtside.

Nelson wasn't likely to put Nowitzki on the bench for something like that. Johnson did quickly.

"I didn't do my job on defense, I let my guy get the ball too deep. That's a message he sent to me and everybody," Nowitzki said. "I came back in and did a better job. We've all got to take that message."

Dallas just couldn't shake the expansion Bobcats, who have lost 10 straight games and are 2-31 on the road. Playing for the second straight night, Charlotte was still within four points after Keith Bogans hit a 3-pointer with 4:32 left to make it 92-88.

When the clock stopped soon after that play, Johnson was animated as he spoke to Jason Terry about a defensive breakdown.

Nelson, who is remaining a team consultant, was never far away. He watched much of his first game in the new role from an empty seat on press row.

The second-winningest coach in NBA history was recognized before the game, waving to the crowd from just behind the scorer's table at midcourt. He watched the first quarter from the nearby tunnel, seemingly trying to stay out of view before moving closer.

"Even if he's not in the building, even if he's home, you'll feel him hovering over the team," Johnson said. "He's going to be around. He's the happiest guy in Dallas right now. I'm glad it was done the way it was done."

Nelson finished with a career record of 1,190-880 over 27 seasons, including stints with Milwaukee, Golden State and the New York Knicks. He went 339-251 in eight seasons with Dallas, best in franchise history.

Johnson, who has also run practices since training camp and had some test runs as coach with Nelson serving as his assistant, is now 10-4.

"We should all be so fortunate to walk into a job the way he did," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "It should be a transition that's smooth since he's been coaching there all year."

Before taking over full-time, Johnson had two stints coaching in Nelson's place this season. His first came when Nelson had shoulder surgery, and the other when Nelson took time off recently to be with his wife after an operation.

Bogans finished with 27 points for Charlotte, while Brezec had 16 points and Emeka Okafor had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Terry added 18 points for the Mavs, while Marquis Daniels had 17. Michael Finley had just four points on 1-of-10 shooting, but had 10 rebounds, as did Shawn Bradley in just his sixth start this season.

The Mavericks finally went ahead to stay with an 11-1 run at the end of the third quarter that Daniels started with a slam dunk and ended with an acrobatic play.

After Bogans drove for a layup with 5:15 left in the third to put the Bobcats up 69-68, Daniels dunked to put Dallas in front. By time Daniels stole a pass and drove for a breakaway layup made with his back to the basket and hit the free throw, the Mavericks led 79-70.< ^Notes: Nowitzki was 12-of-20 shooting. ... For the 11th time in 12 games, the Mavs were outscored in the first quarter, this time blowing an 11-point lead. Charlotte had a 15-2 run to take a 28-26 lead after the first. ... Dallas made 15 of 21 shots in the second for a 61-50 halftime lead. ... The Mavs had a 32-9 rebounding margin at halftime.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
CHA
DAL
Points 93 104
FGM-FGA 32-77 (.416) 38-84 (.452)
3PM-3PA 7-15 (.467) 3-14 (.214)
FTM-FTA 22-28 (.786) 25-27 (.926)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-33 19-49
Assists 21 20
Turnovers 16 18
Steals 9 8
Blocks 7 7
Fast Break Points 9 20
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 29 (0/0)
Largest Lead 6 12

Top Performers

Charlotte
Dallas
Keith Bogans Bogans
Points: 27
Reb: 4
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 1
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 33
Reb: 6
Ast: 1
Stl: 2
Blk: 0