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Mavericks extend home win streak to 12 games

DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki had a tough time scoring against the Los Angeles Clippers, except for a minute in the fourth quarter.

But that minute-long outburst by Nowitzki and his game-saving defensive play with 6.9 seconds left were enough to push the Dallas Mavericks to a 93-91 victory Tuesday night. They matched a franchise record with their 12th straight win at home.

"I tried to stay aggressive. That's what the team wants me to do," said Nowitzki, who finished with 17 points on 7-for-18 shooting. "I tried to make things happen during that stretch."

Nowitzki, the only All-Star from the team with the best record in the Western Conference, was still below his season low of 14 points when he missed a shot with 7½ minutes left. Shaun Livingston then made a short runner and the Clippers, down by as many as 15 points in the second half, closed to 86-84.

"We had a good plan against a great player," Elton Brand said. "We did a good job against him."

But Nowitzki drove for a layup with 7:03 left. After stealing a pass by Sam Cassell, Nowitzki made a 16-footer. Then Nowitzki rebounded a miss by Brand and hit a 14-foot turnaround jumper to make it 92-84 with 6 minutes left.

The Mavericks (42-11) missed their last nine shots after that, three by Nowitzki. But Nowitzki stopped Cassell with 6.9 seconds left. Officially, Nowitzki was credited with his only block, though he wasn't sure and Cassell insisted he just had a bad shot -- a jumper from 22 feet that was well short of the rim.

"I don't think he tipped it. I just shot it short," Cassell said. "I shot it short over a 7-foot guy."

However it happened, the Mavericks held on to win for the 16th time in 17 games. Los Angeles lost its fourth straight game.

After Cassell's last shot, Dallas missed three free throws before Jerry Stackhouse made one. The Clippers still had 1.2 seconds left after a timeout, but couldn't get the ball to Brand for a final shot.

"We were fortunate to win for several reasons," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.

"We had a good chance to win," Brand said. "We don't take any positives from this, even though we came close against a good team."

Josh Howard led the Mavericks with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, and Adrian Griffin had 13 points. Nowitzki had 10 rebounds.

Brand led the Clippers with 20 points, Cuttino Mobley had 18 and Cassell 17. Chris Kaman had 15 points and 13 rebounds.

After Nowitzki made three straight field goals, the Clippers scored the next seven points, capped by Vladimir Radmanovic's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:35 left that made it 92-91. Nowitzki and Griffin then missed shots, but Nowitzki rebounded a miss by Brand before missing another shot of his own with 16 seconds left.

The Mavericks missed a chance for an easy ending.

Dallas used an 11-0 run midway through the third period to take a 73-58 lead. Los Angeles responded, scoring nine straight points over the next 2½ minutes to close within 73-67. Dallas held an 81-73 lead after the third quarter.

Game notes
The Mavericks' last home loss was 111-109 to Golden State on Dec. 30. Their only other 12-game winning streak at home was at the start of the 2002-03 season. ... Dallas plays its next three at home. ... Johnson is 58-13 overall as the Mavs' coach,
30-4 at home. ... Four-time All-Star forward Vin Baker was inactive for his first game with the Clippers. Baker was signed Monday, but hasn't played since 2004-05 for Houston. "His body looks good, but
he hasn't been playing," coach Mike Dunleavy said. "I can't imagine he's in great shape." ... Dallas is 16-0 when Howard scores at least 20 points.