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Dallas holds off late rally from Heat

3/8/2003

MIAMI (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks hardly expected to be pushed
to the wire by the struggling Miami Heat, who once again weren't
happy with the officiating.

Steve Nash scored 22 points and Dirk Nowitzki added 21 as the
Dallas Mavericks held off a late rally and defeated the Miami Heat
91-89 Friday night.

Dallas pulled out the win thanks in part to a controversial foul
call with 11.1 seconds left.

After a 10-2 run pulled the Heat within two points with 1:02
remaining, Caron Butler's drive to the basket was whistled dead,
with referee Ken Mauer calling a Steve Nash for a blocking foul
from under the basket and Bernie Fryer whistling an offensive foul
from the sideline. Fryer's call prevailed.

"(Mauer) very visibly called it," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
"He was the one under the basket. He saw it and the other guy, he
just pointed the other way."

But Riley, who has been fined $75,000 for criticizing
officiating this season, restrained himself from commenting
further.

"Heat bleeped," Riley told reporters. "That's tomorrow's
headline. Don't leave it to me, I'm broke. I'm not doing it
anymore. Write it the way you saw. Don't ask me for a response."

Nash felt confident it was the right call.

"I knew it was a charge," he said. "I don't know if my feet
were 100 percent set, but he dropped his shoulder and was a little
out of control."

"It was a clear charge, I thought he had great position,"
agreed teammate Eduardo Najera, adding another twist: "Plus, he's
an All-Star, and Butler's a rookie, so it was a good call."

Mavericks coach Don Nelson has spoken about getting some of his
players extra rest as the Mavericks gear up for the postseason.
With upcoming games against Utah on Saturday and Minnesota on
Monday, Friday night's game against the Heat seemed like a perfect
candidate for an easy victory.

"We're gonna enjoy this win the best we can," said Nelson.
"It was an emotional win and it was a tough win. We're playing
tomorrow. We'll fill it up and we'll be there."

Nowitzki also had 10 rebounds, while Michael Finley scored 15 to
go along with 11 rebounds.

Finley was called for fouling Mike James on a 3-point attempt
with 2.9 seconds remaining in the game.

James hit all three free throws to make it a one-point game, and
Nash missed his first free throw after hitting his first 10.

That gave Miami a chance to go for the tie or win, but Malik
Allen's 18-foot shot rimmed out as time expired.

"I got a good look at it. It rattled in and out," said Allen.
"It just didn't go down for me."

The Heat led 44-36 at the half with the Mavericks shooting only
32.6 percent.

James scored a career high 20 points for the Heat, including 11
in the fourth quarter. Rasual Butler added 20 points, but scored
none in the fourth quarter.

Nelson was charged with a technical foul for arguing about a
goaltending call that put his team down eight points with 2:28
remaining in the third quarter.

But the Mavericks responded with a 18-3 run featuring two
3-pointers by Nowitzki to put the go up by seven points by the
middle of the fourth quarter. The Heat missed 11 of 12 shots to
help their opponents along.

Game notes
The Mavericks have 21 road wins, one more than the Heat's
overall victory total. ... Butler made two free throws to bring his
season total to 229, tying him for second most ever among Heat
rookies. ... The Mavericks have won five of their last six meetings
against the Heat, and haven't lost in Miami since 1999. ...
Nowitzki missed Thursday practice recovering from a lingering cold.
He was visited by tennis player Boris Becker ... Friday night's
game was the Mavericks' last against an Eastern Conference opponent
this season.

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