Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/3

Game 1: Wednesday, November 3rd
Game 2: Wednesday, February 2nd
Game 3: Monday, February 28th
Game 4: Monday, March 21st

Hornets 86

(15-51, 4-29 away)

Mavericks 103

(44-22, 23-12 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:30 PM ET, March 21, 2005

American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

1 2 3 4 T
NO 20 15 26 2586
DAL 20 36 27 20103

Top Performers

NO: J. Smith 27 Pts, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Dal: D. Nowitzki 25 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 2 Blk

Mavs take big lead in second quarter, coast to win

DALLAS (AP) -- In his first three days as head coach of the Dallas Mavericks, Avery Johnson's focus has been to install his own system, with an emphasis on defense.

Dirk Nowitzki had 25 points and eight rebounds, and Dallas held New Orleans to 39 percent shooting as the Mavericks beat the Hornets 103-86 on Monday night in Johnson's second game as an NBA head coach.

The Mavericks have won both games since Johnson took over permanently for Don Nelson on Saturday and have victories in five of their last six overall.

"Overall, this game wasn't necessarily about playing our opponent," said Johnson. "It was about improving our system. It was a good win for us."

Rookie Devin Harris had a season-high 17 points, Michael Finley added 16 points and Josh Howard had 15 for Dallas.

The Mavericks held an opponent to below 40 percent from the field for the 15th time this season. Dallas is unbeaten in those games as Nelson - and Johnson when he was an assistant coach - tried to convince what had been an offensive-minded team to pay more attention to the defensive side.

"We knew we could score the ball tonight, but we wanted to get stops on the other end," said Dallas' Marquis Daniels.

Harris, who got inconsistent minutes from Nelson, played 25 minutes on Monday night and went 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

"Definitely, if (Johnson) gives me an opportunity, I can make the most of it and get 20 minutes more often," Harris said.

Rookie J.R. Smith had a season-high 27 points and Jamaal Magliore added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Hornets, who have lost six of eight.

The game was tied at 20 after the first quarter. Dallas, which missed nine straight field goal attempts near the end of the first quarter, has trailed or been tied entering the second quarter in 12 of the last 13 games.

Then the Mavericks took control, opening the second quarter with a 32-7 run and built a 56-35 halftime lead. Dallas turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, forcing seven turnovers and holding New Orleans to 5-of-14 shooting from the field.

"I really liked our defense in the first half," Johnson said. "We did some really nice things defensively."

Dallas consistently beat New Orleans up the floor in the second quarter, holding an 8-1 edge in fast break points.

"We just didn't get back as much as we should," Smith said. "We came in at halftime and looked at the tape and every bucket they scored was pretty much off fast breaks."

The Mavericks increased their lead to as many as 28 in the third quarter and held a 83-61 edge heading into the final quarter.

Even with his team ahead by 23 late in the fourth, Johnson made it clear that sloppy defense won't be tolerated. During a timeout, Johnson screamed at Jason Terry and Darrell Armstrong for failing to carry out defensive assignments.

"(Johnson) does a great job of drawing attention to play-by-play," Terry said. "He lets everybody know where they stand."< ^Notes: @ The game was also important to Johnson because he's a native of New Orleans. ... Dallas C Erick Dampier is closer to returning from the injured list but is still at least a week away. Dampier, who missed his 16th consecutive game because of a stress fracture in his right foot, is running and shooting at practice, but Johnson said the Mavericks won't rush Dampier back. "We just don't want any setbacks," Johnson said. "We want to handle the situation delicately...try to get him some games before the end of the regular season.". ...The Hornets have lost 13 in a row to the Mavericks.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 86 103
FGM-FGA 26-66 (.394) 33-79 (.418)
3PM-3PA 5-12 (.417) 9-18 (.500)
FTM-FTA 29-41 (.707) 28-33 (.848)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-37 16-45
Assists 15 20
Turnovers 18 14
Steals 9 9
Blocks 3 7
Fast Break Points 13 12
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (3/0) 29 (1/0)
Largest Lead 2 28

Top Performers

New Orleans
J.R. Smith Smith
Points: 27
Reb: 1
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 25
Reb: 8
Ast: 2
Stl: 2
Blk: 2