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Nowitzki scores 28 to lead Mavs' rout

1/11/2003

DALLAS (AP) -- If Antoine Rigaudeau was watching his potential
teammates on the Dallas Mavericks play Friday night, the Italian
League star might try getting to the United States as soon as
possible.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 points in the first quarter, Michael
Finley had 16 in the second then Steve Nash chipped in 13 in the
third, sending the Mavericks to a 103-78 victory over the Boston
Celtics.

Despite being the only team averaging more than 100 points per
game, and scoring 92 points after three quarters in this game, the
Mavs are seeking to add firepower by signing Rigaudeau. He could be
in uniform as soon as Wednesday against Sacramento.

Part of his role will be helping others score. As the Celtics
found out, Dallas has no shortage of players who can do that. The
Mavericks improved their NBA-best record to 30-5 and are 18-2 at
home.

"They're the best team in the league, definitely one of the
most talented,'' said Paul Pierce, who led Boston with 20 points.
"If you don't match their hustle and energy, the game ends up like
this.''

Dallas was clicking at both ends, especially in fighting for
loose balls. Of its first 45 points, 15 came on second-chance
plays, mostly set up by offensive rebounds.

The Celtics' passiveness was best illustrated in the second
quarter, when they had consecutive 24-second violations. And the
first one came after they had called timeout.

At the time, the Mavericks were in the midst of a 21-3 run that
began with the teams tied at 27. Dallas went into halftime up 19
and stretch it to 30 with a 12-0 spurt in the third that featured
an electrifying alley oop from Finley to Nowitzki.

"We were playing with a lot of energy, and offensively we were
able to give ourselves second and third opportunities,'' said
Nowitzki, who finished with 28 points. "Normally we're not a great
offensive rebounding team, but tonight we gave ourselves more
chances.''

Finley had 22 and seven assists and Nash had 13 points and six
assists.

While the Celtics lost for the sixth time in eight games, this
game might be remembered for Vin Baker not playing for the first
time this season despite being healthy.

The former All-Star had been averaging over 18 minutes per game,
but was coming of a scoreless performance in 15 minutes against New
Orleans.

"The coach put the lineup he thought could win,'' said Baker,
who was teary-eyed and had to stop to gather his emotions while
speaking to reporters. "You want to be on the floor with your team
and help them win. We came up short. It's disappointing from the
standpoint that I didn't get a chance to help the team.''

Coach Jim O'Brien said he held out Baker because of matchups.
Baker was the only player on either team not to play.

Tony Delk had 13 points for Boston and Antoine Walker was
4-for-14 for 11 points.

What was expected to be a tough game for Dallas turned into a
nice tuneup for a four-game West Coast road trip that starts Sunday
against the Los Angeles Clippers, followed by the showdown with the
Kings.

"This was unexpected,'' Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. "But
it's a nice surprise.''

Former Celtic Adrian Griffin was Dallas' sparkplug, grabbing six
offensive rebounds in the first half. At the time, the entire
Boston team had four. Griffin finished with eight points, 12
rebounds and five assists.

His timing was good, too, because Rigaudeau's arrival could
limit Griffin's minutes.

"I don't even know his name,'' Griffin said. "I just want to
go out and play hard. I can't control who they bring in. All I can
control is how I play.''

Game notes
The 30 victories secures Dallas' best record at the halfway
point -- and there are still six games to go. Last season's team
holds the mark at 29-12. ... Pierce had three assists, giving him
1,000 for his career. ... Pierce leads the NBA in free throws
attempted, but took only three. ... The Mavericks are 18-2 at home,
but will be away from American Airlines Center all next week
because of the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.