Mavericks 113, Hornets 104

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NEW ORLEANS (AP)—Dirk Nowitzki’s scoring had been down lately. Not anymore.

After a first half in which he showed little sign of breakout game, Nowitzki scored 20 of his 28 points during the final two periods, leading the Mavericks to a 113-104 victory over the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night.

“I haven’t really been stroking the ball well and I started off with a couple great looks and they weren’t going down either,” said Nowitzki, who averaged about 14 points in his previous three games, about seven points below his average.

“I told myself, ‘Just stay aggressive,’ and if I’m open this team needs me to shoot the ball,” he said. “I usually shoot a good percentage. I just need to stay confident, try to be aggressive, try to get some rebounds.”

Nowitzki grabbed 11 rebounds as Dallas won for the 11th time in 13 games and extended the Hornets’ losing streak to four games.

Michael Finley scored 22 and banked in a 3-pointer from 33 feet that all but put the game away, putting Dallas ahead 101-92 with 2:44 left.

“It kind of made what may have been a sticky last couple minutes a win going away,” said Steve Nash, who added 18 points and 12 assists for the Mavericks.

Darrell Armstrong led New Orleans with 27 points. He hit five 3-pointers, including two early in the fourth quarter to keep New Orleans in the game. One day after being selected to his first All-Star game, Jamaal Magloire had 23 points and 12 rebounds. Jamal Mashburn scored 19 but shot 4-of-17 in the first three quarters.

Dallas reserve Antawn Jamison’s ability to get open inside frustrated the Hornets in the final period. He scored four inside baskets in the quarter as part of his 17 points.

“Our guys do a great job of finding openings and they’re tremendous passers,” Jamison said. “When you’ve got a guy like Steve Nash penetrating, you’ve really got to pay attention to him. You can’t just stick with me and let him do what he’s capable of doing.”

Nowitzki began to change the game in the third quarter, when he shot 4-of-6 and had 10 points. His swish on a 16-foot jumper after faking Lynch into the air gave Dallas a 79-72 lead in the final minute of the period.

The Hornets opened the half with a three-point lead but lost it quickly by starting 2-for-7 while Dallas went 9-of-11 and used an 18-9 run to take the lead for good.

“They’re a tough team, and when you’ve got a team like that that’s so good offensively, you’ve just got to almost play a perfect game,” said Hornets forward P.J. Brown, who had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Armstrong’s eight points in the third quarter helped keep it close, and his two free throws cut the Hornets’ deficit to 79-74. But Jamison responded with a tip-in just before time expired to put Dallas ahead 81-74.

“We felt like we played good tonight. We just had that bad spurt in the third. And if we didn’t have that bad spurt, we could just as easily be here talking about a win,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong made his first four shots, three of them 3-pointers, and the Hornets shot better than 50 percent for much of the first half in taking a lead as large as nine points early on.

After starting 2-of-10 from the floor, Dallas settled down, briefly taking a lead before a pair of 3-pointers and a one-handed putback jam by Steve Smithhelped the Hornets go into halftime with a 51-48 lead.

Notes

Hornets G Baron Davis sat out his third straight game and sixth game out of eight with a sore left ankle, which he sprained on Jan. 19 at Minnesota. “When they get healthy, they’ll be as good as anybody in the East,” Dallas coach Don Nelson said. … Dallas held a 43-36 rebounding edge. The Hornets have outrebounded their opponents only four times in their last 19 games. … New Orleans is 1-4 since Mashburn returned from minor right knee surgery. …Dallas improved to 10-14 on the road.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Dallas
D. Nowitzki D. Nowitzki
10-19,  28 Pts
11 Rebs, 4 Assists
 New Orleans
D. Armstrong D. Armstrong
8-15,  27 Pts
4 Rebs, 11 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists