LAS CRUCES, N.M. (ESPN.com news services) -- The Dallas Mavericks and Sacramento Kings didn't take their preseason game lightly on Tuesday, with players getting into a shoving match.
In the second quarter Kings center Brad Miller got tangled with the Mavs' Devin Harris going for a rebound and shoved the guard to the ground. Dallas forward Josh Howard rushed from the other end of the court and delivered a hard forearm to Miller's neck. Coaches and players intervened and Howard was pulled away from the fray.
Howard was ejected from the game, which Dallas won 101-99 on a
Jason Terry 3-pointer with four seconds left.
Howard also received a flagrant foul two, which does not carry an automatic suspension, but the fifth-year pro could theoretically miss the opener on Oct. 31 at Cleveland. The NBA will review the incident.
"I was protecting my teammate -- that's about as simple as you can put it," Howard said, according to The Dallas Morning News. "It was a dirty play, and it wasn't even Devin [who was at fault]."
Mavericks coach Avery Johnson does not think Howard will receive a suspension.
"We'll see what happens," he said, according to the paper. "We're a team that tries not to back down. You got to hold your ground out there."
Sacramento led for much of the night, but the Mavericks were 9-of-17 from the field in the fourth quarter and got 11 points from forward Dirk Nowitzki to pull out the win. Nowitzki led the Mavericks (2-2) with 23 points and Terry added 15. Jerry Stackhouse finished with 17 points and Harris had 11.
The game featured the return of former New Mexico State men's coach Reggie Theus, who went 41-23 during his two years in Las Cruces and led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament this past March before signing on with the Kings.
Sacramento took a 99-98 lead with 11 seconds left on two free throws by John Salmons after three lead changes and six ties in the final quarter.
"We did some good things tonight," Terry said. "We're still trying to get the kinks out and get some new people involved in what we are doing. But we made some strides tonight."
Dallas outrebounded Sacramento 44-29 and was 31-of-37 from the free-throw line. Sacramento missed 14-of-42 from the line.
"We did some good things and we can build on those," Theus said. "We were the worst rebounding team in the NBA last year and got beat tonight. We also need to hit our free throws. This was a good game for us. We got people some needed work and they responded."
Sacramento led 25-18 after the first quarter and 46-44 at halftime. The Kings shot 55 percent in the first quarter and got 11 points from Martin and 10 from Bibby to lead the way in the opening 24 minutes.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.