8:00 PM ET, January 10, 2002
American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
The New York Knicks, however, didn't seem to know that Thursday night.
Nowitzki had 29 points and 13 rebounds and Nash added 14 points and 11 assists, leading the Mavericks past the reeling Knicks 111-89 for their first easy victory in more than a week.
"Steve and Dirk came out on all cylinders and then everything we threw at them started clicking," said Dallas' Juwan Howard, who had 10 points. "It was one of our best wins, for sure, and it was mostly because of our defense. We have a lot to be proud of."
Dallas avenged a 108-101 overtime loss in Madison Square Garden a week before that ended a 10-game winning streak. The Mavs' two games since then were both decided in the final seconds -- a loss to San Antonio and a victory over lowly Denver.
They didn't waste any time turning this one into a rout as Nash scored or assisted on Dallas' first 25 points, building a nine-point lead in the first quarter. The streak ended when he went to the bench for a breather.
"I just wanted to be real aggressive and force the issue, and if it didn't go our way, at least it would have set the tone," Nash said.
He wound up playing only 25 minutes, sitting the final 15:41. Nowitzki joined him on the bench for the final 6:19. Finley, out with a strained hamstring, sat near them in a suit, savoring the team's success without him.
"We kind of took them out of this one early," Nowitzki said. "We got the rhythm early and took it from there."
New York never led a night after losing at the buzzer in Houston. The Knicks trailed by at least 15 the entire second half, the deficit peaking at 31, en route to their fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games.
"I thought our defense stunk, big time," coach Don Chaney said. "We never really challenged or got into people all night. If you don't show up against a team like this, you'll get killed."
"As we go, so goes the team, so we have to play better," said Sprewell, who had 10 points, including two free throws, giving him 34 in a row and tying Kiki Vandeweghe's team record set in 1990-91.
Part of Dallas' success on defense came from a matchup zone it used for extended stretches. New York never saw that while beating the Mavericks in 16 of the previous 19 meetings, including six of nine in Dallas.
"We've been putting it in the last few days," Mavs coach Don Nelson said. "We started looking good against it in practice and we started liking it. For a new thing, it was pretty successful. I think the more we do it, the better we well get. It's a nice weapon to have."
Nash scored eight points and dished out eight assists in the first 10 minutes. While on the bench, he saw New York get within 31-28 on a 3-pointer by Houston early in the second quarter.
Then the Knicks went 6:40 without another field goal and the Mavericks turned the drought into a 19-5 run.
Nowitzki made sure Dallas remained in control with three straight jumpers during a 13-3 spurt early in the third quarter that made it 74-51.
Dallas' Tim Hardaway scored 13 points, although he was 1-for-7 on 3-pointers, and had five assists, and Wang Zhizhi tied seasons highs with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Johnny Newman, starting in Finley's spot, had a strange line. He made all three field goals and all three free throws for nine points but also fouled out in 14 minutes with no assists or rebounds.
Neither team shot a free throw in the first quarter. ... New York went 0-3 in consecutive road games against San Antonio, Houston and Dallas. This is the fourth time that's happened to the Knicks in 12 trips through the so-called Texas Triangle, the first since 1990-91. ... Finley got a firsthand look at the guy who replaced him atop the NBA's consecutive games streak: New York's Shandon Anderson, who played in his 370th straight. ... The Mavs improved to 4-0 without Finlay, although all are against losing teams.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||36-85 (.424)||43-81 (.531)|
|3PM-3PA||4-13 (.308)||4-20 (.200)|
|FTM-FTA||13-19 (.684)||21-25 (.840)|
|Fast Break Points||11||27|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||27 (0/0)||22 (0/0)|