Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 2)

Series starts 12/6

Game 1: Tuesday, December 6th
Game 2: Monday, December 26th

Mavericks 84

(13-5, 7-3 away)

Pacers 75

(10-7, 5-3 home)

Coverage: FSSW

7:00 PM ET, December 6, 2005

Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

1 2 3 4 T
DAL 22 24 20 1884
IND 16 24 15 2075

Top Performers

Dal: D. Nowitzki 31 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Blk

Ind: J. O'Neal 25 Pts, 13 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

Dirk's 31 and 11 help Dallas repel Pacers

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Give the Dallas defense some credit.

The Mavericks contested every shot, dived for every loose ball and turned back every Indiana challenge, pulling away in the closing minutes for an 84-75 victory Tuesday night.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 31 points and 11 rebounds, while the defense produced season lows by the Pacers, both in scoring and a miserable 34 percent shooting from the field. Both of those were also lows for any Dallas opponent this season.

"Our defense starts with our coach working us at it every day," said the Mavericks' Adrian Griffin, who had a team-high three steals. "I think you separate yourself from the rest of the league on the defensive side of the ball. That's what we were striving for."

The Pacers, playing their first game at home after a five-game trip out west, cut a 14-point Dallas lead to 75-71 with under 4 minutes remaining.

But Griffin, Nowitzki and Marquis Daniels hit consecutive baskets for the Mavericks, and after a basket by Indiana's Ron Artest, Nowitzki put the game out of reach with a 3-pointer with 58 seconds remaining. Sarunas Jasikevicius finished the scoring for the Pacers with a pair of free throws.

"We never get enough credit for our defense," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "We've got to do it more consistently."

The Mavericks had 33 defensive rebounds, including all 11 by Nowitzki. Devin Harris added 15 points and Keith Van Horn had 11 for Dallas. Jermaine O'Neal led Indiana with 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Artest added 15 points and five steals.

The Pacers, appearing tired from their longest road trip of the season, missed 11 of their first 14 shots and were constantly beaten to the boards and loose balls.

"I don't believe in excuses," Indiana coach Rick Carlisle said. "Performance is shared by everybody, including the coaches. Inconsistency has been a nemesis for us."

Nowitzki had 17 points in the first half, including four in an 8-2 run that put the Mavericks in control midway through the first quarter. The Pacers, who never led and managed only one tie, went more than 6 minutes without a field goal and trailed by eight before the first basket by O'Neal, who missed his first five attempts.

"We had a lot of guys who struggled, and Dallas was a large part of that," Carlisle said. "They're a top team, they really are. ... We didn't have enough answers."

Indiana cut the lead to five points early in the second period, but a fast-break basket and free throw by Harris and two more free throws by Van Horn pushed the Mavericks' lead to 33-23.

A late flurry kept Indiana close, but Artest missed two free throws with less than a second left in the half to keep the Dallas lead at 46-40 at the break. The Pacers' cold shooting continued in the third quarter, when they missed their first seven shots. Three quick baskets by Nowitzki helped give the Mavericks a 54-42 lead.

Dallas took its biggest lead at 71-57 on a 3-pointer by Darrell Armstrong early in the fourth quarter.

Game notes

The Pacers missed their last 11 3-point attempts. They also missed 12 free throws, five by Artest. ... Mavericks owner Mark Cuban sat at the end of the Dallas bench, shouting at the Pacers and the officials throughout the game. Across the court was Stephen Hilbert, founder and former chairman of Conseco Inc., for which Conseco Fieldhouse is named. ... Jason Terry, the second-leading scorer for Dallas, did not play because of a strained right hamstring from Monday night's 102-94 victory over Chicago. ... Rookie Danny Granger made his first start for Indiana and had career highs with nine points and seven rebounds. ... Dallas had lost three straight games at Indiana. ... The Mavericks are 11-1 this season when leading after three quarters and 7-0 when Nowitzki has scored at least 30 points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 84 75
FGM-FGA 32-69 (.464) 23-67 (.343)
3PM-3PA 2-7 (.286) 2-14 (.143)
FTM-FTA 18-22 (.818) 27-39 (.692)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-41 11-38
Assists 14 10
Turnovers 19 19
Steals 8 11
Blocks 4 7
Fast Break Points 7 8
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (0/0) 20 (1/0)
Largest Lead 14 0

Top Performers

Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
Points: 31
Reb: 11
Ast: 2
Stl: 0
Blk: 3
Jermaine O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 25
Reb: 13
Ast: 2
Stl: 1
Blk: 3