DALLAS (AP) -- Del Harris is walking away from his stint as
interim coach of the Dallas Mavericks with a perfect 2-0 record.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks in scoring with 22 points.
''I say let Del stay out there until we lose,'' Mavs captain
Michael Finley said with a smile following a 97-83 victory over the
Phoenix Suns on Saturday night.
Coach-general manager Don Nelson and son Donnie, an assistant
coach and the president of basketball operations, watched from a
honky tonk in Fort Worth as they wrapped up a two-game suspension
for attending a workout in Yugoslavia that featured players
ineligible for the draft.
Playing at home for the first time since an overtime defeat against Sacramento in Game 4 of a second-round playoff series last season,
the Mavericks never trailed by more than three, and that was in the
Nick Van Exel hit consecutive 3-pointers in the final 27 seconds
of the first half, including a halfcourt bankshot that was upheld
by a replay, to put Dallas up by 12. Then Finley hit two 3-pointers
and a jumper to spark a 14-3 third-quarter run that turned a
lopsided game into a runaway.
That run came soon after Raef LaFrentz hurt his right ankle when
he landed hard after colliding with Jake Tsakalidis under the
basket. It was called a sprain, but LaFrentz said he ''heard a
pop.'' He left the locker room on crutches.
''We're still trying to figure it out,'' said LaFrentz, who
started at power forward after starting at center in the opener.
''Hopefully, I didn't rupture it.''
Phoenix dropped its eighth in a row on the road, second this
season. The Suns were coming off a victory at home Friday night.
They started strong in the first quarter as Shawn Marion and
Stephon Marbury combined for 16 points. The duo scored a total of
three points in the middle two quarters, letting Dallas take over.
Marbury, who went 5-for-17, finished with 15 points and 10
assists. Marion had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Tom Gugliotta had
13 points, hitting all six of his field-goal attempts.
''They're a good team, but we helped them out tonight,''
Gugliotta said. ''We just got bogged down on offense and made it
tough on ourselves.''
While the Mavericks have put an emphasis on defense this season
and confused the Suns by switching from man to zone, most of
Phoenix's problems were self-induced. They had 22 turnovers -- five
each by Marbury and Penny Hardaway -- and were hardly in a game in
which they outrebounded Dallas 49-34.
''They were able to turn turnovers and our bad shots into easy
buckets,'' Suns coach Frank Johnson said. ''We played hard. Now we
have to play smart.''
The Mavs made sure not to have a fourth-quarter letdown like
they did in the opener against Memphis, when they allowed 108
''We learned,'' Finley said. ''We ended this game the way we
The home opener in American Airlines Center featured several new
wrinkles, including tests of the league's new video replay at the
end of the second and third quarters.
Also, player introductions were punctuated by fireworks shot
from giant basketballs and the return of the Mavs ManiAACs, a group
of hefty-sized male dancers who debuted in the playoffs.
As they did for the opener, the Nelsons hosted a
game-watching party. They switched themes from jailbirds to
outlaws, and switched sites to Billy Bob's Texas. ... Bradley was
called for a loose ball foul before the opening tipoff. ... The
Suns took 19 free throws. They had only 30 the first two games
after averaging a record-low 19.9 last season. ... Dallas won its
fourth consecutive home opener. ... The Mavs signed Walt Williams to
provide outside shooting, but he missed all four shots he took in
22 minutes. All were 3-pointers.