OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Dirk Nowitzki’s back problem appears to be behind him.
Jason Terry added a season-high 26, including eight in the final 4:22 when the Mavericks held off a New Orleans rally.
Nowitzki was coming off a 23-point, 16-rebound effort Friday night against Charlotte. He was just 9-of-22 from the field in that one, but hit half his 18 shots against New Orleans including 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
“We just need to get him some rest now,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “He hit big shots when we needed it. I thought there were some shots where he could have taken the ball to the basket, but it’s a work in progress.”
Terry provided a nice complement to Nowitzki. His driving basket with 31.8 seconds remaining made it 104-96. After a three-point play by Chris Paul got the Hornets within five, Nowitzki sank two free throws for a 106-99 lead and Terry added two more a bit later as the Mavs held on.
“We have a lot of offensive weapons on this team, from the starting lineup to the bench,” Terry said. “They played a lot of zone against us. We found the holes and I was able to hit some shots.”
The Hornets drew a capacity crowd of 19,163 for the second time in three home games. This was the first time they played on the same day that the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football teams also played at home.
“You have to go through some pain to know what this is all about and be able to win close games like this at home,” Hornets coach Byron Scott said.
Nowitzki scored 12 in the third quarter when the Mavericks used a 10-0 run to take a 71-60 lead. During the quarter the 7-foot Nowitzki was guarded alternately by 6-5 Desmond Mason and 6-9 Bostjan Nachbar and he took advantage, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and two jumpers to help the Mavs take control.
His 3-pointer at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Mavericks their largest lead, 92-78. New Orleans then got within 94-88 with a 10-2 run. Terry ended the spurt with a baseline jumper, added another jumper about two minutes later, then came through with his driving basket and added two free throws in the final seconds.
The Hornets came out with more energy against the Mavericks than they did against Orlando and shot 50 percent in the first quarter. But the Mavs hit 65 percent (13-of-20) as consistently scored inside against the smaller Hornets.
Keith Van Horn, who had 15 points, scored six straight after entering late in the first quarter. He added five more early in the second, including a 3-pointer that gave Dallas its largest lead of the half, 38-30.
Avery Johnson, a New Orleans native, played the 1984-85 season at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. “I wouldn’t call it playing,” he said. “I just occupied a uniform.” Johnson transferred the next year to hometown Southern University, where he twice led the NCAA in assists. … The pastor who gave the pregame invocation drew a laugh when he closed with this: “And if it be Your will, we ask that You allow these stallions from the south to be stung by our beloved Hornets.” … Mason had three dunks that electrified the crowd.