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With Nowitzki hurt, Nash explodes for career-high 39

DALLAS (AP) -- With Dirk Nowitzki in the locker room icing a
sprained left ankle, Steve Nash took over for the Dallas Mavericks.

Nash scored a career-high 39 points -- 17 in the final 6:23 -- as
the Mavericks ended their season-high three-game losing streak by
beating the Portland Trail Blazers 105-103 Tuesday night.

"We had one horse and we rode him and rode him," Mavericks
coach Don Nelson said. "They had six horses, and we had one, but
our horse won."

The Mavericks got 20 points from Michael Finley, who made only
seven of 26 attempts from the field.

Nash went 12-for-16 from the field and hit 13 of 16 free throws.
Of his 17 fourth-quarter points, 10 came at the line.

"I just felt good all night and I tried to ride it out," Nash
said.

Bonzi Wells had 21 points and 13 rebounds for the Trail Blazers,
who had won four of their previous six games. Rasheed Wallace and
Ruben Patterson scored 16 points each, and Damon Stoudamire added
15 points and 12 assists.

Nowitzki, averaging 24.5 points, finished with 10. He sprained
the ankle when he stepped on teammate Juwan Howard's foot with 9:04
left in the second quarter after a move to the basket. Nowitzki was
fouled on the play by Zach Randolph, hit 1-of-2 free throws, and
did not return.

At halftime, Nowitzki tested the ankle, but he could not run
without a limp. He said he would try to play Thursday night against
Cleveland.

Nowitzki watched the second half against Portland on TV in the
locker room, and cheered for his close friend, Nash.

"Steve was unbelievable," Nowitzki said. "He carried the team
and hit some unbelievable shots down the stretch to win the game."

Trail Blazers coach Maurice Cheeks couldn't believe his team
lost on a night when Nowitzki was hurt and Finley shot so poorly.

"We should have won the game, no question," Cheeks said. "It
seems every time we play someone they get a career high."

Nash kept the Mavericks ahead down the stretch of a tight game
after Tim Hardaway's 3-pointer with 7:48 remaining gave Dallas the
lead for good at 81-78.

Nash scored six straight points, capped by two free throws with
3:04 left, to extend the Mavericks' lead to 91-86.

With 1:18 left, Nash hit a 3-pointer to increase the lead to
96-87, but he missed three of his team's next six free throws to
allow the Trail Blazers to stay close.

"I was so tired at the end, I started to get a little shaky,"
Nash said. "But then the game slowed down a little bit."

Nash's two free throws with 3.9 seconds left gave Dallas a
105-100 lead, before Derek Anderson hit a 3-pointer at the final
buzzer for Portland.

The Mavericks, who lost at Utah on Monday night, were playing
their third game in four nights.

Hardaway had 12 points, and reserve Eduardo Najera sparked
Dallas with seven points and nine rebounds.

"I thought I brought some energy," Najera said. "I feel
confidence. I was at the right position at the right time."

Game notes
Nash's previous career high was 31 points. ... Portland was
without forward Scottie Pippen, day-to-day with a sprained right
knee. Pippen was on the injured list with the same injury from Nov.
20 to Dec. 1. ... Nowitzki missed last Saturday night's game
against Washington with a sprained left ankle, but the Mavericks
said Tuesday night's was a different injury. ... Wallace was called
for his seventh technical foul of the season in the third quarter.

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