Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/18

Game 1: Wednesday, December 18th
Game 2: Monday, January 6th
Game 3: Saturday, February 1st
Game 4: Monday, March 24th

    Coverage: FSRM

    7:00 PM ET, December 18, 2002

    Pepsi Center, Denver, CO

    1 2 3 4 T
    DAL 20 22 22 1680
    DEN 14 23 14 2475

    Top Performers

    Dallas: M. Finley 31 Pts, 4 Reb, 2 Ast, 2 Stl

    Denver: J. Howard 21 Pts, 7 Reb, 1 Stl

    Nuggets sent to sixth consecutive loss

    DENVER (AP) -- On a night when Dirk Nowitzki was off-target and Steve Nash was sore, Michael Finley filled the void.

    Nowitzki shot 2-for-13 and scored nine points, but Finley scored 31 points and Nash added 14 of his 18 points in the second half Wednesday night as the Dallas Mavericks dealt the undermanned Denver Nuggets their sixth consecutive loss, 80-75.

     Michael Finley

    "Boy, did we need Finley," Dallas coach Don Nelson said.

    "With Nash and Nowitzki iffy to start the game, I don't think we could have one the game without him."

    "He was just the one guy that I didn't think I could afford to have out of the game," Nelson said.

    Finley shot 12-for-27 and had 27 points after three quarters. Nash was 8-for-8 from the free throw line as Dallas defeated the Nuggets for the fifth straight time.

    "I didn't have a particularly great game. I just did enough for us to win," said Finley, who had 33 points the night before in a win over Indiana. "I think as a whole, that's all we did as a team -- just enough to win."

    Nowitzki played with a sprained right ankle. Nash had a variety of nagging leg injuries.

    "In a game where everybody is not 100 percent, everybody has to pick it up," Finley said.

    Juwan Howard led the Nuggets, who dressed 10 players, with 21 points. Denver shot only 36 percent and had difficulty in its first game without James Posey, the team's second-leading scorer who was dealt to Houston earlier in the day in a three-team trade.

    "The trade left us with a starting backcourt, one that was undrafted (Junior Harrington) and one taken in the second round (Vincent Yarbrough), to work against Nash and Finley," Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "This left us with a learning process and we are learning the hard way."

    Harrington and Yarbrough combined for 12 points and six of Denver's 21 turnovers.

    "I realize teams are going to use their experience against me," said Harrington, who shot 3-for-7. "I can only come ready to play."

    Denver opened the fourth quarter with baskets by Rodney White and Mark Blount to trail 64-55, but Nick Van Exel made a 3-pointer to put the lead back to double digits, 69-57 with 8:36 left.

    Nowitzki, 1-for-9 through three quarters, hit a 3-pointer with 5:53 remaining to put the Mavericks ahead 74-60. After Finley's 3-pointer pushed the lead to 77-65, Donnell Harvey's dunk and a basket and two free throws got the Nuggets within 77-71 with 1:57 left.

    Nash converted two free throws, but Denver managed only a free throw by Harvey and Nikoloz Tskitishvili's 3-pointer in the last 1:05.

    After leading by five at the half, Nash and Finley hit pull-up jumpers to extend the Mavericks' lead to 46-37. Denver failed to score on its first seven possessions in the third quarter before Harvey's free throw with 8:33 left in the quarter.

    Yarbrough followed with a finishing dunk, but Nash and Finley accounted for the remaining 18 Dallas points in the quarter. The Mavericks took a 69-57 lead into the fourth quarter after Finley made two shots in last minute.

    Finley scored seven points as Dallas closed the first quarter with a 11-2 run to lead 20-14. The Nuggets, 5-for-25 in the period, went over six minutes without a field goal.

    Dallas' lead was 42-37 at halftime as Finley went 4-for-8 and had 10 points in the second quarter.

    Game notes
    Van Exel, formerly of the Nuggets, was soundly booed when entering the game with 3:24 left in the first quarter and every time he touched the ball. ... Raef LaFrentz, who went to Dallas along with Van Exel in a trade last season, received a mixture of boos and cheers when introduced. ... The Mavericks are 4-2 on the second night of back-to-back games. ... Prior to the game, the Nuggets waived guard Kenny Satterfield. ... Denver has been held below 80 points 13 times. ... The Nuggets have lost 19 straight on Wednesdays.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 75
    FGM-FGA 27-82 (.329) 25-70 (.357)
    3PM-3PA 6-24 (.250) 4-15 (.267)
    FTM-FTA 20-21 (.952) 21-31 (.677)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-38 14-52
    Assists 17 16
    Turnovers 10 22
    Steals 11 5
    Blocks 8 5
    Fast Break Points 5 3
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (1/0) 26 (0/0)

    Top Performers

    Michael Finley Finley
    Points: 31
    Reb: 4
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 21
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0