HOUSTON (AP)—It was the kind of game not to write home about—unless you’re Marquis Daniels.
Most of the other players were less than inspired. Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash and Antoine Walker didn’t play in the fourth quarter, even though Houston made a late run to almost close what was a 15-point deficit.
“It was one of those games that it was important nobody get hurt,” said Nowitzki, who had 10 points in 23 minutes. “So it was mission accomplished. We got the win. Now we have to move on.”
Nash, who had just five points in 21 minutes, agreed.
“It was kind of one of those games nobody really wants to play,” Nash said. “Everybody kind of looked past it. But nobody got hurt and we got the win, so that’s great. The best is yet to come for this team.”
Even coach Don Nelson couldn’t deny this was a difficult game to play.
“We accomplished a lot tonight,” Nelson said. “We got a lot of minutes for Michael (Finley) so he could get that bad game out of his system.”
Finley had nine points in 31 minutes against Memphis on Monday.
“We played Marquis a lot of minutes,” Nelson added. “I wanted to get a lot of players in the game. We didn’t get anybody hurt, so it was perfect.”
Houston’s players also didn’t seem to place a lot of emphasis on the game and coach Jeff Van Gundy didn’t like it.
“Mike Wilks did a real good job,” Van Gundy said of the backup guard who scored 13 points and had five assists. “Other than that, I don’t think we played well.
“There could have been a lot accomplished tonight, but we didn’t gain much.”
Wilks played a season-high 25 minutes and enjoyed it tremendously.
“It was a great opportunity for guys like me who don’t get a lot of minutes,” he said. “I appreciate the coach giving me the opportunity to play. I think we played with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We really wanted to win this game, and I think everyone played hard and with a lot of intensity. We just came up short.”
Clarence Weatherspoon also played 25 minutes.
“Every game means a lot,” said Weatherspoon, who had six points and eight rebounds. “That’s why they put them on the schedule. We wanted to go out on a winning note. It’s always a positive when you win.”
Antawn Jamison had 18 points for Dallas, which has won seven of the last eight games and 11 of 14 against Houston.
Scott Padgett had a season-high 18 points to lead the Rockets, who played without Steve Francis (sprained right wrist, bruised left elbow) and Cuttino Mobley (left shoulder contusion) for the second straight game.
Antoine Walker had 10 points in the first quarter and Dallas led by as many as six, 17-11. But Houston got consecutive 3-pointers from Jim Jackson and Mark Jackson late in the period. The Mavericks had only a 26-25 lead at the end of the quarter.
Jamison and Daniels each scored six points in the second quarter as Dallas gradually opened a nine-point lead. The Mavericks led 47-39 at the half.
The Dallas lead reached as many as 14 in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Bostjan Nachbar pulled the Rockets to 68-59 at the end of period.
An 8-0 run, sparked by five points from Wilks, allowed Houston to close to 80-73, the closest it got in the final period. But Daniels scored seven points in the period, including five straight at one point to help Dallas stretch the lead back to 12 with 3:22 to play.
^Notes: Nachbar started at forward, Jim Jackson moved to guard in place of Mobley and Mark Jackson started in place of Francis. Nachbar had 12 points to reach double figures in consecutive games for the first time in his career. … The Rockets had their 17th sellout of the season at Toyota Center. … Dallas is 13-1 when all five starters score in double figures. … Dirk Nowitzki had 99 3-pointers and 103 blocks for the season to just miss getting 100 3-pointers and blocks in a season for the second time in his career. Nowitzki, who had no 3-pointers for the game and didn’t play in the fourth quarter, accomplished the feat in 2000-01 to become one of only four to do it in NBA history. The others were Robert Horry (1995-96), Raef LaFrentz (2001-02) and Rasheed Wallace (2001-02).