ATLANTA (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks already had blown one big
lead, so they weren't going to let it happen again.
Dirk Nowitzki and Nick Van Exel combined for 18 points during a
decisive 20-4 run as Dallas pulled away for a 117-99 victory over
the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, improving the NBA's best
record to 29-5.
Nowitzki finished with 30 points and 14 rebounds and Van Exel
added 14 points for the Mavericks, who won their fourth in a row
and seventh in eight games. They opened a 15-point lead after one
quarter, but Atlanta rallied back to tie it at 58 at the break.
"We didn't want to give them a chance to get back in the
game," Van Exel said. "We had a pretty good rhythm, but we let
them back in the game."
Jason Terry scored 20 of his 27 in the first half for the Hawks,
who got poor performances from Glenn Robinson and Shareef
Abdur-Rahim to lose their sixth straight. They are 1-6 since coach
Terry Stotts replaced Lon Kruger and 2-12 since evening their
record at 10-10 on Dec. 7.
"They are the best team in the league for a reason,'' Stotts
said. ``We defended them well in spots. But a team with that many
offensive weapons is difficult to sustain."
The Mavericks led by seven late in the third quarter before the
game-changing run. Raef LaFrentz started it with a layup before
Nowitzki and Van Exel took over and scored the next 18 points for
"That took away all of our momentum," Stotts said.
With time winding down in the third, Van Exel hit a 3-pointer
from well behind the line to stretch the lead to 12, and then he
and Nowitzki quickly scored eight in the final quarter to give the
Mavericks a 20-point lead.
Stotts was screaming for Terry to foul Van Exel before the long
3-pointer, but before he could, Van Exel pulled up and shot it.
"I heard them say 'foul him,'" he said. "I was already in my
rhythm. It was a lucky shot."
Dallas cruised from there.
"Those shots right there at the end of the third and at the
start of the fourth were very deflating," Stotts said. "They got
us on our heels."
Atlanta rookie Dan Dickau set career highs with eight points, 10
assists and 32 minutes. He was on the injured list for 20 games
after knee surgery and was playing for just the second time since
"It was tough, trying to get minutes as a rookie and then
having the disappointment of getting hurt," Dickau said. "But I
felt good out there, and all I could do was play hard and try to be
Robinson, averaging a team-best 20.7 points, had 16 on 6-for-21
shooting. Abdur-Rahim appeared out of rhythm from the tip, going
nearly 9 minutes of the first quarter without getting a shot. He
had a season-low seven points, the first time this season he hasn't
been in double figures.
The Mavericks had no such troubles. They shot 51 percent for the
game and trailed only once in the second half. LaFrentz had 26
points and 10 rebounds, and Steve Nash scored 19.
"We took the ball to the basket," Nowitzki said. "We started
passing the ball and got some wide-open shots."
Dallas C Shawn Bradley, penciled into the original starting
lineup, didn't play. The team didn't announce any injury, and he
took part in pre-game warmups. ... The announced attendance of
10,997 included Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who drew
the loudest cheer of the night when he was shown on the scoreboard
before the fourth quarter. ... The Hawks are expected to re-sign G
Mike Wilks when he clears waivers Thursday.