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DALLAS 83, CLEVELAND 81

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- DeSagana Diop and Austin Croshere each made a
free throw in the final 68 seconds and the Dallas Mavericks held
off the Cleveland Cavaliers 83-81 in a preseason game Wednesday
night.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points, Devin Harris added 14 and Jerry
Stackhouse had 12 for the Mavericks, who are 3-4 with one
exhibition game remaining at San Antonio on Friday night. The
Cavaliers finished the preseason 2-8, with LeBron James getting 13
points in 27½ minutes of playing time. He scored 6 points in about
4 minutes before looking more to pass than to shoot.

Drew Gooden had 10 points for Cleveland, which gave more playing
time to its bench than Dallas did.

Cleveland didn't score after Shannon Brown's 15-footer with 2
minutes remaining put the Cavaliers up 81-79. Harris' two free
throws with 1:23 remaining tied it, and Diop gave the Mavericks the
lead by hitting a free throw with 45 seconds to go. Croshere made
the back end of two free throws with 43 seconds to go, and Brown
then dribbled the ball out of bounds 14 seconds later.

Diop kept the Cavaliers from getting the ball back for a final
attempt to tie or win it by rebounding Harris' missed jumper with 5
seconds to play.

"It was a decent effort -- it's closer to the season and we're
trying to find a rhythm. We're still trying to work everybody in,"
Nowitzki said. "Overall I thought the effort was good. We're still
making a lot of mistakes defensively and we've got to work on. I
think we're going to be a work in progress."

James felt the Cavaliers played hard for a game that didn't
count.

"Even though it's the preseason, we've still got guys going out
there and going hard," James said. "We just don't go out there
and mess around, you can easily get hurt doing that. It's always
good to play against an elite team in the NBA."

Dallas coach Avery Johnson felt the same way about his team.

"I thought our guys' effort was good, and I told them that,"
he said.

The Cavaliers are trying to build a fan base in Pittsburgh, a
two-hour drive from Cleveland. Cavs games are regularly televised
locally, and the club has begun marketing in a region where the
University of Pittsburgh has built basketball interest by selling
out its home games for five seasons.

While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was prominent in
his center court seat and coach Jamie Dixon of Big East preseason
favorite Pitt sat a few rows behind the Cavs bench, the person
attracting the most attention in a half-filled Mellon Arena was
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban brought the Mavericks to his hometown for the first time
and seemed to be everywhere, shaking hands, signing autographs and
posing for pictures. He spent part of the first half behind the
microphone for the game telecast on the high-definition TV channel
he owns.

Cuban has tried twice previously to buy into the NHL's
Pittsburgh Penguins, and would like to invest in the Pirates but
has been rebuffed by ownership. He sent an email expressing his
interest in buying into the Penguins to Canadian businessman Jim
Balsillie, who is closing on his purchase of the team, but has
received no response.

Cuban, whose first job as a teenager was selling garbage bags
door to door in suburban Mount Lebanon, is popular in Pittsburgh,
where some fans view him as exactly the kind of hands-on owner the
Pirates need. He regularly visits the city and said recently he
will always be interested in buying into the Pirates.