He and Jason Terry turned into quite a duo against the Memphis
Nowitzki had 31 points and Terry scored 23, and they sparked the
two key runs that pushed the Mavericks to a 97-87 victory Thursday
as Dallas won its franchise-record 13th straight home game.
"I felt I had to make a couple of more shots if we were going
to win," Nowitzki said. "Josh has been carrying us, and the whole
team had to pick it up. I got some good looks and made some
Howard, the leading scorer in six of the previous 10 games,
sprained his right ankle late in the first quarter when his feet
got tangled with teammate Keith Van Horn on defense. He returned to
play most of the second quarter, but not after having X-rays taken
Nowitzki and Terry made sure the Mavericks (43-11) would be OK.
After Dallas trailed by as many as 19 points in the second
quarter, Nowitzki and Terry combined for all but one basket in a
21-2 run spanning halftime. The Mavs never trailed again after
Terry's 15-footer early in the third quarter made it 59-58.
"(Memphis) had that look in their eyes like it was going to be
their night," Terry said. "But we started to feed off the crowd,
and the momentum started to shift. ... I was just playing the game
as it came to me. I was just hitting some shots."
Howard was diagnosed with a mild sprain after X-rays were
negative, and was listed day-to-day. The Mavericks play at home
Saturday against Toronto.
The Mavericks (43-11), with the best record in the Western
Conference, haven't lost at home since Dec. 30 against Golden State
and have won 17 of 18 overall.
Memphis had won four straight since a season-worst five-game
losing streak that started the month.
Terry and Nowitzki started the game-turning run by producing the
last seven points of the first half -- in a span of 34 seconds. The
Mavericks, down 50-31 with 4:32 left, cut it to 56-47 by the break.
"They didn't hear much from me at halftime," coach Avery
Johnson said. "No throwing chairs, VCRs or Gatorade bottles. I
didn't get in anybody's face."
Maybe he already felt the momentum changing.
Nowitzki had an assist on Terry's 15-foot jumper, then Terry had
a backcourt steal and made a 3-pointer from the left corner.
Nowitzki then had a steal and converted that with a running layup
after taking a pass back from Terry to the end the half.
DeSagana Diop made the first basket for Dallas after halftime --
the only basket not made by Terry or Nowitzki in the spurt that
ended with the Mavericks' only All-Star hitting a short turnaround
with 7 minutes left.
"They just wanted it more," Bobby Jackson said. "We did all
the right things in the first 12 minutes, and did all the wrong
things from then on out."
Memphis got even at 70-all on Jackson's 3-pointer with 3:19 left
in the third quarter. Nowitzki then missed, but Jerry Stackhouse
made a 12-foot fadeaway and the Mavericks stayed in front.
Paul Gasol and Jackson had 18 points each for Memphis, which
shot 61 percent (23-of-38) before halftime. The Grizzlies were
11-of-40 shooting and scored just 31 points after that.
"We had open shots and we didn't make the shots that we made in
the first half," coach Mike Fratello said. "They got in
transition and we had some turnovers. ... They had numbers in
transition and got some layups."
The Grizzlies closed to 83-82 on a 10-foot jumper by Shane
Battier with 7:21 left. Terry responded with a breakaway layup that
started a game-ending 14-5 spurt that included six straight points
Stackhouse added 12 points for Dallas, and Erick Dampier had 10
rebounds. Nowitzki also had six rebounds, four assists and four
blocked shots in his first 30-point game in 16 games.
Chucky Atkins made his first five shots, including consecutive
3-pointers that ignited an 23-7 run that pushed Memphis to an early
But Atkins failed to score the rest of the way, missing his last
Nowitzki made a shot before the end of the first quarter, but it
was still the first time in 18 home games that the Mavericks
trailed after 12 minutes.
In the third quarter, Dallas scored on 18 of its 22
possessions, including one when it finally scored on Nowitzki's
19-footer, the fifth shot on that trip. ... The Grizzlies scored
just 11 points in the fourth quarter on 4-of-20 shooting.