Mavericks 105, Knicks 90
The Mavericks limited the Knicks to two baskets over the final 5:22, closing with an 18-6 run.
“We wish we could play defense like that all the time,” Mavericks rookie Josh Howard said. “It shows what we can do when we have our mind set on (defense).”
Howard had 17 points and eight rebounds, and led the defensive effort with four steals and three blocked shots as the Mavericks won for the 13th time in their last 16 games heading into the All-Star break.
Nowitzki’s three-point play with 5 minutes remaining sparked a decisive 17-4 spurt capped by Finley’s 18-foot jumper with 35.6 seconds left for a 104-88 lead.
“We stubbed our toe last night and didn’t want it to continue,” Finley said.
Stephon Marbury’s 24 points and 11 assists, Keith Van Horn’s 20 points and nine rebounds, and Shandon Anderson’s 19 points paced the Knicks in the matchup between the league’s top two all-time coaching victory leaders.
New York’s Lenny Wilkens has 1,301 wins; Dallas’ Don Nelson is next with 1,129.
Marbury, who went 10-for-22 from the field, was coming off a season-high 42-point game on Sunday in New York’s 110-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Marbury had 38 points in the only other meeting between the teams this season on Jan. 12 at Madison Square Garden, a 127-121 Dallas victory in overtime.
“It was our defensive goal, to keep him in check,” Finley said. “He was coming off a big night and he always gives us trouble so we wanted to make his shots tough. We stepped it up.”
The Knicks have one more game before the All-Star break, Wednesday night at New Orleans.
Down the stretch the Knicks got no closer than 87-84 with 5:22 left on Marbury’s layup, and their season-long winning streak ended.
“When you start winning, you get used to it,” Anderson said. “This loss definitely hurts. But we don’t have time for pity. We have a big game tomorrow that we want to win. We want to go into the break on a win.”
Dallas closed the third quarter with an 8-2 run capped by Antawn Jamison’s 18-footer for a 76-69 lead.
The Knicks were in front after the first quarter, 27-21, but the Mavericks came back to take a 49-44 lead at halftime.
Finley had 14 first-half points for the Mavericks and Howard added 13, hitting all six shots from the field.
Van Horn kept the Knicks close with 18 in the first half.
C Kurt Thomas of the Knicks was ejected with 6:07 left in the second quarter after a brief shoving match and exchange of words with Howard. Howard said he was head-butted by Thomas, a Dallas native and former Maverick who starred for nearby TCU. “I think if we had Kurt, it’s a close game all the way,” Wilkens said. “We needed him on the court and if he is on the floor, who knows, I think it goes down to the wire.” … Walker had his team-high 22nd double-double and tied a career high with four blocked shots. … Howard tied his season high for points, steals and blocks. … New York’s five-gamewinning streak was its longest since five in a row from March 11-20, 2001.