Dallas 116, Golden State 114

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OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA (TICKER) —The Golden State Warriors may have closed the gap with the Dallas Mavericks, but Michael Finley and Eduardo Najera kept it open for now.

Finley made several big shots down the stretch and Najera hit a fadeaway jumper with three seconds remaining as the Mavericks posted a 116-114 triumph over the improving Golden State Warriors.

With their 15-game winning streak in the series in jeopardy and already without Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks faced a tough obstacle in this one. Finley scored 21 points and keyed Dallas’ late charge, but it was Najera’s big basket that kept the winning streak alive.

After Steve Nash inbounded to a wide-open Raef LaFrentz, Najera cut to the basket, where he hit the game-winner over Adonal Foyle and ended Dallas’ two-game losing streak.

“Obviously it was huge win for us, but I just happened to be there,” Najera said. “I knew time was running out, so I took a chance. It was not really a play, it was just playing ball. What we were running broke down and the ball happened to be in my hands and I just took the shot.”

“We had a play drawn up, but they doubled me to get the ball out of my hands,” said Nash, who drew a charge on Gilbert Arenas with under a minute remaining and the game still deadlocked at 114-114. “I tried to keep the two guys at bay long enough. But we got it out of the double and the two guys flipped it around to each other and Eddie made a great shot.”

The win was secured when after a timeout, Arenas, who scored 23 of his 29 points in the second half, missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“I just feel for the team,” Golden State coach Eric Musselman said. “This group plays so hard. Dallas has the best record in the NBA and it was a game we could have won. Everybody in our organization should be extremely proud of the effort and the growth this team is making. We’ll bounce back. We have all year.”

The Warriors took their final lead at 106-104 when Bob Sura sank two foul shots at the 5:04 mark. But Finley went to work, hitting a jumper and a hook shot on successive possessions for a 108-106 lead with 3:50 remaining.

Before Najera hit his game-winner, a pair of jumpers by Nick Van Exel and another one by Finley snapped three ties in the final 3 1/2 minutes.

In one of their more competitive games against Dallas, the Warriors (31-34) couldn’t take advantage of an ankle injury to Nowitzki late in the first half and fell 3 1/2 games behind Houston and Phoenix for the final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Despite their latest loss in the series, Mavs coach Don Nelson, who coached here from 1988-1995, knows how much improvement the Warriors have demonstrated.

“Congratulations to the Warriors,” he said. “I love their team and the way they play the game. He (Musselman) has done a great job here and I commend him for that. We were very lucky to win this game.”

Finley began to make big shots late in the third as Dallas took an 89-84 advantage into the fourth quarter. But he missed a long 3-pointer to start the fourth and the Warriors ran off eight straight points to take a 94-91 advantage less than two minutes into the period.

Boykins, the 5-5 guard who has led a handful of fourth-quarter comebacks this season, had a jumper and a 3-pointer. But those were his only points as the Warriors were unable to stretch their lead above four points and missed eight of their final 13 shots.

Dallas made 11 of its final 18 shots and maintained its 2 1/2-game lead over San Antonio in the Central Division and its 3 1/2-game edge over Sacramento in the Western Conference.

“This was a game we really needed and I know they did too,” Nelson said. “It was a heck of a basketball game and I feel very lucky to get out of here with a win. It was a back-to-back for us and we were a little tired.”

“We can’t take too many more, but we still got a little way to go,” Golden State forward Antawn Jamison said. “The good thing about it is we have a game tommorow and we have a good opportunity to rebound and get back on track.”

Coming off Tuesday’s 15-point win over the Suns, the Warriors came out strong and took a 51-40 lead with 4 1/2 remaining after a 3-pointer by rookie Mike Dunleavy Jr. But the Mavs chipped away, cut the deficit to 59-53 at halftime and built it to seven three times in the third before Golden State nearly won the game in the fourth.

Overall, seven players reached double figures for the Mavs, who shot 49.5 percent (47-of-95), including 38.5 percent (10-of-26) from beyond the arc.

Before landing on Jason Richardson’s foot, Nowitzki was on pace for his 13th straight game with 20-plus points, finishing with 18 in 19 minutes.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Dallas
S. Nash S. Nash
6-16,  17 Pts
2 Rebs, 12 Assists
 Golden State
G. Arenas G. Arenas
12-24,  29 Pts
4 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists