Mavericks 101, Clippers 88

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash made quite an offensive tandem for the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday night.

Nowitzki had 34 points and 15 rebounds and Nash scored seven of his 16 points in the final 4:02, leading the Mavericks to a 101-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I tried to be aggressive early. And when a couple of shots go in, your confidence starts to get bigger,” Nowitzki said. “After that, for a while, it felt like everything was going in. I had the opposite kind of game last night at Phoenix, and I couldn’t find my shooting rhythm. That’s the NBA.”

Nash also had 11 assists for the Mavericks, who trail the fourth-place Lakers by one game in the Western Conference standings. Michael Finley, who scored a season-high 38 points against the Clippers on Dec. 10 and equaled it against the Suns, had 14 points.

Quentin Richardson had 32 points and 11 rebounds and Corey Maggette had 25 points for the Clippers, who have dropped 19 of their last 23 meetings with the Mavericks despite beating them the first two times they played them this season. Elton Brand was held to a season-low five points in 42 minutes,

Los Angeles coach Mike Dunleavy used his 21st different starting lineup, with Brand shifting from power forward to center for the first time this season, Bobby Simmons playing in Brand’s spot and Keyon Dooling replacing the injured Marko Jaric at point guard.

But it hardly mattered as the Clippers fell a season-worst 14 games under .500 following their fourth straight loss and eighth in nine games. Simmons and Dooling each shot 1-for-6 over the first three quarters. Brand shot 2-for-11 from the field.

“I got the jump ball, and after that it was all downhill,” said Brand, who was held to eight points and one rebound over 21 minutes in a 116-92 loss on Feb. 24 at Dallas.

“In Dallas, we got blown out and I didn’t play the fourth quarter, so I don’t count that,” Brand said. “The game before that, I had 25 points and 20 rebounds against that same defense. But tonight I have to credit them. They had great defense, greats traps, and they were doubling every time. So I just tried to hit the open man.”

Brand entered the game averaging a team-high 20.4 points.

“We’re not the most physical team in the league and we really struggling with dominating kinds of players, so we were just trying to get keep the ball out of his hands and make other guys take shots,” Nowitzki said. “Maggette and Richardson got hot for a while, but it’s still better for them to shoot from the outside than to beat us inside. That’s why we won the game.”

Trailing 75-65 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Clippers scored six of their next seven baskets from behind the 3-point line—three of them by Richardson in a frantic 68-second span to narrow the gap to 88-85 with 4:19 to play. But they never got closer.

Nash hit two free throws, then set up a driving layup by Eduardo Najera as the Mavericks closed out the game with a 13-3 run.

The Clippers scored nine straight points to slice a 14-point deficit to 64-59 with 5:06 left in the third quarter. Chris Wilcox capped the run with a layup off an alley-oop feed from Richardson, followed by a slam dunk, but left the game after straining his left Achilles’ tendon early in the fourth.

Nowitzki, who averaged just 16 points in his three previous games against the Clippers this season, paced Dallas to a 52-43 halftime lead with 21 points and nine rebounds. The Mavericks opened the second quarter with a 12-3 run that increased their five-point lead to 41-27 with 6:27 left in the half. Reservecenter Shawn Bradley capped the rally with a short hook shot and a tip-in.

Notes

The Clippers tied a franchise record for one quarter with their six 3-pointers in the fourth. … The Mavericks had 26 assists, improving to 22-1 when they record at least 25. They are 17-2 when Nowitzki scored at least 25 points. … The Clippers, who have 16 games remaining, are two losses away from their 11th consecutive losing season. The longest such streak in NBA history is 15 straight—a drought the Sacramento Kings franchise began in 1984 when the team was based in Kansas City. … Rookie Josh Howard did not play for the Mavericks after getting a cut on his lower lip in Saturday night’s game that required nine stitches. … Finley, who turned 31 on March 6, is the onlyplayer in his 30s among the league top 14 players in minutes.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Dallas
D. Nowitzki D. Nowitzki
12-23,  34 Pts
15 Rebs, 3 Assists
 LA Clippers
Q. Richardson Q. Richardson
13-25,  32 Pts
11 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists