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Mavericks 107, Hornets 89

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NEW ORLEANS -- Dirk Nowitzki became the 13th player in NBA history to notch 25,000 career points Sunday by scoring 19 points, including eight in the final quarter, to power the Dallas Mavericks to a 107-89 victory over the New Orleans Hornets at the New Orleans Arena.

Nowitzki, a 14-year veteran and 10-time All-Star, needed just 10 points to crack the 25,000-point mark, and he got the basket he needed with a trademark, step-back 18-foot jumper over the outstretched arms of Hornets center Robin Lopez with 6:43 left in the second quarter. The jumper gave him 11 points in the half and 25,001 for his 14-year career.

When Nowitzki drained the shot, every player on the Dallas bench stood and raised his arms, and when the game was stopped briefly a few second later, Nowitzki gave a left-handed salute to his teammates and then hugged Vince Carter near halfcourt.

Nowitzki's score gave Dallas a 43-27 lead, and the Mavericks continued to press, building a 27-point lead, 58-31, on the strength of consecutive 3-pointers by Carter and five points by Shawn Marion, who had 15 first-half points and a team-high 19 points. Marion's left-hand drive into the lane capped a 25-12 run for Dallas.

The Mavericks shot 57.4 percent from the floor (27 of 47) and outscored the Hornets 32-18 in the paint in the first half. The Hornets managed just 34.9 percent shooting, and Eric Gordon didn't make his first basket until 1:12 left in the half.

Nowitzki didn't score in the third quarter, but he hit eight of the Mavericks' first 11 points of the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away for good. Dallas led by 22 points at halftime, but the Hornets closed the deficit to 81-67, mostly because the Mavericks missed 21 of their first 27 shots in the quarter.

But Nowitzki blunted the Hornets rally by hitting four consecutive foul shots to open the fourth and then following up with a pair of mid-range jumpers.

Dallas improved its record to 40-40, the first time since Dec. 12 that the Mavs have been at .500. After falling 10 games under .500 on Jan. 9, several Mavericks players vowed not to shave until they got back to .500.

The Mavericks failed on three previous occasions since then before breaking through last night. They have won 26 of 42 games since then.

The Hornets (27-54) were led by Ryan Anderson with 20 points. They closed out their home schedule with a 16-25 record.

NOTES: Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said Nowitzki is a rare player. "His legacy is intact, regardless of any other scoring," Carlisle said. "He's (also) one of those 13 guys -- a 10-time All-Star, Finals MVP and league MVP. There's only 13 of them, and he's one of them. That's pretty strong." ... New Orleans played its final home game as the Hornets before becoming the Pelicans next year. New Orleans coach Monty Williams said his earliest memories as a young player of playing against the Hornets was the rabid home crowd in Charlotte. "That was one of the loudest places I ever knew," Williams said. ... Hornets center Robin Lopez has flashed signs of picking up his offense and rebounding. "I'd love for him to get a jump hook that's pretty extended and be able to make power moves around the basket consistently and dunk the ball," Williams said. "As active as he is, he should be close to double figures in rebounds, and he's nowhere near that." ... Look for the Hornets to add veteran free agents this summer to the youngest roster in the NBA. "We don't want to bring in veterans for veterans' sake," Williams said. "We want to bring in the right guys that may be familiar with our system or guys who I may have a relationship with." ... Williams is not counting out Kobe Bryant from making a full return from a torn Achilles'. "Kobe's such a maniac when it comes to working out, I wouldn't be surprised if he got back to what he was," Williams said.
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