Thursday, April 09, 2009
Sports NewsMayfield's Mutterings: It's all over in Detroit

Mavs clinch playoff spot with 130-101 win

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[April 09, 2009]  DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks have clinched the final playoff spot in the Western Conference and taken a huge step to possibly avoiding the No. 8 seed -- and a first-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points, with a dozen in a row in one stretch, and the Mavericks beat Utah 130-101 Wednesday night to match the Jazz for seventh place with four games left. The season series is even.

Dallas and Utah are both 47-31 and within a game of sixth-place New Orleans, which lost at home to Phoenix. The Mavs' next two games are against the Hornets.

The Mavs got plenty of help from their subs, with Jason Terry scoring 21 points and J.J. Barea adding 18 points with a season-high nine assists. Erick Dampier had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Deron Williams scored 18 points to lead all five Utah starters in double figures, and also had 12 assists. Andrei Kirilenko had 17 points.

Since a 107-102 loss at 22-win Memphis on Friday night, the Mavericks have had their highest-scoring two-game stretch in more than five years. They won 140-116 Sunday against Phoenix, the team they eliminated from playoff contention by beating the Jazz.


The push for Dallas now is to avoid opening the playoffs in Los Angeles against Kobe Bryant and the dominating Lakers (62-16). Dallas is 0-3 this season against the Lakers.

The closest Utah got after halftime was 73-64 when Deron Williams, who is from nearby The Colony, made a free throw to convert a three-point play with 6:04 left.

Nowitzki then took over, starting his run of 12 consecutive points with two free throws and scoring 15 of the last 18 points in the third quarter for the Mavericks.

Jason Kidd had two of his 10 assists in the Nowitzki spurt. There was a near handoff in traffic that led to Nowitzki's 15-footer, then a couple of possessions later after Kidd moved into the lane with the help of a pick from Nowitzki, he kicked it back out to the 7-foot German for another long jumper.

Things were going so well for Nowitzki that his 3-pointer rattled off the rim, bounced high in the air and then fell through.

Josh Howard, who missed 12 of the previous 15 games with a sore left ankle for Dallas, sustained a cut near his left eye and a bloody nose when he was popped in the face attempting a shot with four minutes left in the first quarter.

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Howard didn't return until four minutes into the second quarter. He had to leave again early in the second half, but returned again. Howard finished with 13 points and a career-high seven steals.

The Jazz were coming off a victory in New Orleans, but have lost seven of their last nine road games. They play at San Antonio on Friday, then return home to play Golden State and the Clippers before finishing the regular season at the Lakers.

Notes: Dallas last scored more than 125 points in consecutive games on March 30 and April 1, 2004. ... Mavs owner Mark Cuban joked before the game about his recent Twitter exchange with Shaquille O'Neal, saying people "think that we're madly in love. We haven't even dated." As for the possibility of O'Neal playing for Dallas, Cuban indicated that wasn't likely, though he said he'd "never say never because this is such a crazy league." ... About 5,000 "Jet For Sixth Man of the Year" T-shirts were handed out and there were Jason Terry-related videos and stunts during timeouts in an effort to promote their top substitute for the voting that will done next week.

[Associated Press; By STEPHEN HAWKINS]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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