Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/10

Game 1: Monday, December 10th
Game 2: Saturday, January 19th
Game 3: Monday, April 8th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 16th

Jazz 87


    Coverage: KJZZ

    7:30 PM ET, April 16, 2002

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 21 23 21 2287
    DAL 25 23 22 2696

    Top Performers

    UTAH: A. Kirilenko 18 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl, 6 Blk

    Dal: M. Finley 35 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 2 Blk

    Nowitzki likely to sit out Mavs' finale

    DALLAS (AP) -- Their bid to win the division title is going down to the last day of the season, but the Dallas Mavericks might not have their leading scorer and rebounder for the finale.

    Michael Finley

    Michael Finley, left, tests Jazz guard John Stockton.

    Although Dirk Nowitzki returned from a four-game injury absence to score 24 points in a 96-87 victory over the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, the All-Star forward said that he'll probably sit out Wednesday night's game in Phoenix to rest up for the playoffs.

    "I wanted to make one of the last two games," said Nowitzki, who'd been out since rolling his left ankle April 8. "I decided to play today and get an extra day of rest to see how the ankle reacts."

    Dallas, which went 3-1 without Nowitzki, has the same 57-24 record as San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers but loses tiebreakers to both. So while the Mavericks haven't given up on either winning the division or finishing third in the Western Conference, they realize it's a long shot.

    The Mavs also know that the fourth seed has some benefits, including avoiding a series against the Lakers or Spurs until the conference finals.

    "We just have to continue to win to go into the playoffs on a positive note," said Dallas' Michael Finley, who celebrated being named the West's player of the week on Monday by scoring 35 points.

    The Jazz already know they'll be starting the playoffs on the road for the first time since 1994. This loss prevented them from locking up the seventh seed, but with the second through fourth seeds up in the air it wouldn't matter much anyway.

    Utah was in the game early, then trailed by 10 before halftime. The Jazz was up 62-61 late in the third quarter after a flip shot by Karl Malone but never led again.

    Nick Van Exel led a 9-2 run the rest of the period and lobbed an alley-oop pass to Finley early in the fourth. The Jazz got within three on a jumper by John Stockton, but Finley cut between three defenders for a powerful dunk that put Dallas up five and wiping out Utah's comeback hopes.

    "We had turnovers, opportunities and didn't capitalize on it," said Malone, who had 24 points, seven rebounds and seven turnovers. He sat after the game with ice packs on his knees and spoke low, without his usual vigor.

    "Now we've got our work cut out for us. We'll just play and see what happens. The whole thing has been frustrating. It's been an interesting year. Now we've got one left and it's big. We've just got to go out and play."

    Said Dallas reserve and Utah native Shawn Bradley: "I grew up a Jazz fan and it took me a long time to get that out of my head. Now I'm a Jazz fan again."

    Andrei Kirilenko had 18 points and six blocks -- two on dunk attempts by 7-foot-6 Bradley -- and Scott Padgett had 15 points.

    Nowitzki said he was nervous before the game about whether the ankle would hold up.

    He got into the flow of the game early, getting an assist on the game's first basket, then making a steal on the other end of the court. He swished his first shot, a 20-footer, hit another jumper, then threw down a dunk on a fast break.

    While he felt pain throughout his 37 minutes, it didn't hamper his touch. He hit eight of 17 shots and made all seven free throws. He scored 11 points in the final period.

    "It wasn't great," he said. "I've just got to play through the pain. I don't want to lose my rhythm before the playoffs."

    Finley scored 15 points in the first quarter and Dallas' first 11 of the third quarter. He also had six steals and two blocks.

    Van Exel had 11 points and five assists and Raef LaFrentz, who got four stitches above his right eye during the third quarter, had eight points and 10 rebounds. Bradley, bidding for playoff minutes, had six points, three blocks and three rebounds in 20 minutes.

    Dallas has won three straight and five of six, extending its franchise record for wins in a season. The Mavs finished with 30 home wins, tying the 1989-90 team for fourth-best in team history.

    Game notes

    Utah is 3-13 against the top five teams in the Western Conference. The Jazz are 0-3 against San Antonio, which they play Thursday in the finale at home. ... Maybe the Mavericks are looking for some friendly whistle-blowers: The Dallas and Fort Worth chapters of the state officiating association for high school sporting events was recruiting in the concourse before the game. ... Indiana Hoosiers coach Mike Davis sat at midcourt and was bumped into by Wang Zhizhi, who was chasing a loose ball during the second quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 87 96
    FGM-FGA 34-80 (.425) 32-79 (.405)
    3PM-3PA 2-9 (.222) 4-12 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 17-19 (.895) 28-32 (.875)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-44 12-41
    Assists 19 19
    Turnovers 22 16
    Steals 9 13
    Blocks 11 9
    Fast Break Points 5 4
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 29 (0/0) 19 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Andrei Kirilenko Kirilenko
    Points: 18
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 6
    Michael Finley Finley
    Points: 35
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 2