DALLAS (AP) -- Between Devin Harris swishing a 20-footer that was
supposed to be a pass and Jerry Stackhouse taking off for a
powerful dunk that showed how healthy his knee is, the Dallas
Mavericks moved to the top of the Western Conference with a
flourish Monday night.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and Harris added 12 of his 20 in
a first-quarter run that sent the Mavericks racing past the Indiana
Pacers 102-80 in a game that was never close in the second half.
The victory improved Dallas to 21-7, matching the San Antonio
Spurs for the best record in the West. The Mavericks earned this
one by simply outworking the Pacers -- grabbing 14 of the first 18
rebounds, taking 11 of the first 12 free throws and snatching seven
of the first eight steals.
"We seemed to have a lot of energy tonight," Dallas coach
Avery Johnson said. "I gave them [two days] off and they gave me
one back by responding with energy and concentration pretty much
throughout the whole game. It's pretty rare for us to play that
long of a stretch of good basketball."
The Mavericks have won 11 of 13, with both losses to the Lakers
in games when Kobe Bryant scored 43 and 62 points. And they've done
it without having the top of their expected rotation playing
together at all this season.
Stackhouse, playing only his second game, had 15 points in 19
minutes, but it came with Keith Van Horn out because of the flu and
Marquis Daniels missing his third straight with a neck problem.
Josh Howard, who had 12 points and 10 rebounds, hurt his lower back
and was examined by team doctors in the locker room afterward.
"It got to the point where I couldn't move," he said.
The Pacers lost their second straight and fell to 5-3 since
making Ron Artest inactive. They'll try to avoid an 0-3 road trip
Tuesday night in San Antonio. The starters will have plenty of
energy, as none played more than 35 minutes, with coach Rick
Carlisle emptying the bench with 6:43 left.
Indiana led 2-0, then never again. The Pacers were down only
nine at halftime, but a few minutes into the third quarter the
deficit hit 10 and kept growing, peaking at 29. They had 11
turnovers by halftime, four of them traveling, en route to their
second-biggest loss of the season.
"They played great and we didn't give them much of a game
tonight," Carlisle said. "Our margin for error is slim. We can't
have any slippage. Our rebounding was a disappointment. We've got
to do better."
The Mavericks finished with a 49-30 rebounding edge, despite a
season-low two from Nowitzki. Erick Dampier tied his season high
with 14 boards; he had 10 at halftime, more than he'd had in any of
his previous five games.
"We had chances early, but they hurt us on the offensive
boards," Croshere said. "They get out on the break and we feed
that when we turn the ball over like we did.' ... It's hard to get
anything out of a game like this. We've got a big character game
tomorrow in San Antonio."
The game was tied at 16 when Harris entered. He made 6-of-7
shots the rest of the quarter, leading a 15-7 run that included a
basket on what was meant to be an alley-oop pass to Stackhouse.
Harris sheepishly held up three fingers in hopes of it being ruled
a 3-pointer. He did his best to hide a grin, slightly shaking his
head as if saying he couldn't believe what had happened.
"It's happened before," Harris said. "I guess I'm not that
good of a lob passer."
Playing at home for the first time this season, Stackhouse
entered to a nice ovation midway through the first quarter. Late in
the third, he had a burst of eight of Dallas' 10 points, starting
with a jumper then driving through the defense and leaping over two
Pacers for a dunk that got most in the building on their feet.
He was headed to the rim again the next time down the court and
was taken down hard by Fred Jones. He made a steal on the other end
"Hopefully this is the start of something really good for me,"
This was Dallas' biggest margin of victory ever against
Indiana. ... The Pacers' worst loss this season was by 32 to
Charlotte on Nov. 16. ... Nowitzki didn't have a rebound until the
33rd of his 34 minutes. ... Stackhouse has a 360-piece tub of
bubble gum that he put in his locker when the season began. He'd
almost finished it before finally getting into the lineup ...
Indiana lists Artest as being inactive because of a "sore right