Regular Season Series (Game 3 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

Nuggets 100


Mavericks 122


    Coverage: FSSW

    7:30 PM ET, February 1, 2003

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    DEN 31 23 16 30100
    DAL 29 29 40 24122

    Top Performers

    Den: J. Howard 14 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl

    Dal: N. Van Exel 30 Pts, 2 Reb, 7 Ast

    Van Exel ignites Mavs in relief role

    DALLAS (AP) -- While starter Steve Nash rested, Nick Van Exel came off the bench to lead the Dallas Mavericks.

    Nick Van Exel
    Van Exel

    Van Exel had a season-high 30 points, including five 3-pointers in the third quarter, and two other Dallas reserves scored in double digits as the Mavericks shook off a sluggish start to rout the Denver Nuggets 122-100 on Saturday night.

    Shawn Bradley contributed 12 points and nine rebounds off the bench and reserve Walt Williams had 11 points, seven rebounds and six assists to help Dallas improve to 21-3 at home and a league-best 37-9 overall.

    Michael Finley had 22 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 20 for the Mavericks, who matched their season-high for points.

    "The shot felt good tonight,'' Van Exel said. "I just wanted to come in and be a spark off the bench. I like shooting the long ball. It's easier for me than some of those touch shots I like to take.''

    Van Exel had three 3-pointers while the Mavericks were breaking the game open with an 18-3 third-quarter run. Finley's 20-footer with 3:04 left in the third quarter gave Dallas an 88-63 advantage.

    Van Exel got credit for one of his third-quarter 3s when Denver's Chris Andersen was called for goaltending after leaping and catching Van Exel's shot before the ball hit the rim. Van Exel's only miss of the third quarter came on a desperation heave at the buzzer.

    "Van Exel was in a zone tonight,'' Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. "This just proves what a great player he can be. He was just tremendous. You never know when it's coming from Nick. I just let him do what he does best and that's be a shooter. It couldn't have worked out any better. The bench made a good contribution. We were hoping to get our starters some rest because we have tough back-to-back games next week.''

    Nash, picked for the All-Star team this week, went scoreless for the first time this season, taking only two shots in 16 minutes. He was able to rest a sore shoulder in the second half when he played only three minutes while the Mavericks were building leads of as many as 32 points.

    Van Exel filled the void, going 11-for-13 from the field against the team that traded him to the Mavericks last season, 7-for-9 on 3-pointers.

    "He's amazing,'' Nowitzki said. "Nick would be a starter for any other team. He gave us a big lift tonight.''

    Dallas outscored Denver 40-16 in the third quarter, the Mavericks' second-highest scoring quarter of the season. They scored 42 points in one quarter against the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 10.

    Rodney White had 17 points and Nikoloz Tskitishvili scored 15 to pace the Nuggets, who've lost seven straight overall and 12 in a row in Dallas.

    The Mavericks have won six of their last seven.

    Dallas had a 98-70 lead entering the fourth quarter, allowing Nelson to rest his starters.

    Denver opened the game by connecting on 12 of its first 18 field goal attempts and took a 31-29 lead after the first quarter. The Nuggets were in front by as many as eight in the opening quarter.

    The Mavericks led by as many as 12 points in the second quarter and held a 58-54 halftime edge behind Van Exel's 15 points.

    Nowitzki's dunk with 9:02 left in the second quarter gave Dallas a 38-36 lead, and from that point on the Mavericks never trailed.

    "They are so explosive,'' Denver coach Jeff Bzdelik said. "They have so many weapons that they're hard to stop. They might have one or two guys struggle, but they have two or three guys pick up the slack.''

    Game notes

    Denver C Marcus Camby missed his seventh consecutive game due to a sprained right ankle. Camby said he doesn't know when he'll return. F Ryan Bowen also sat out for Denver with a bruised hip and strained groin. ...The Mavericks had a moment of silence prior to the game to remember the seven astronauts who died in the space shuttle Columbia in the skies over Texas on Saturday morning. ...Van Exel had a four-point play late in the first quarter, his first for the Mavericks, hitting a 3-pointer and converting a free throw. ...Denver scored 100 points for the second time this season. ...Dallas got double-digit scoring from three bench players for the fourth time this season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 100 122
    FGM-FGA 38-78 (.487) 48-87 (.552)
    3PM-3PA 6-15 (.400) 12-20 (.600)
    FTM-FTA 18-22 (.818) 14-17 (.824)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-37 8-36
    Assists 25 31
    Turnovers 18 12
    Steals 11 8
    Blocks 5 4
    Fast Break Points 5 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 25 (1/0) 20 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Juwan Howard Howard
    Points: 14
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0
    Nick Van Exel Van Exel
    Points: 30
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0