DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks didn't expect to see Tracy
McGrady. So, when the Orlando Magic star checked into the game, the
Mavericks made sure he wasn't a big factor.
"We found out that he wasn't going to play before the game,"
Dallas' Steve Nash said after the Mavericks' 108-90 victory
Saturday night. "But when he came out, we were a little
McGrady didn't start because of a strained rib muscle on his
right side. The team announced before the game that the NBA's
leading scorer wasn't going to play Saturday.
And the Mavericks took advantage by jumping out to a 28-9 lead
8½ minutes into the game.
But McGrady, who wore a protective wrap around his rib area,
checked in with 3:55 left in the first quarter. After hitting a
3-pointer to pull Orlando within 30-18 late in the opening quarter,
McGrady missed his next eight shots.
McGrady, who scored 30 or more points in 14 consecutive games,
was 3-of-14 for 12 points in 25 minutes before sitting out the
fourth quarter. McGrady also had his franchise-record streak of 45
straight games of scoring 20 points or more snapped.
McGrady, who was injured in Tuesday's 118-105 loss to San
Antonio, was getting X-rays after the game and did not speak to
"I decided to let him play as long as he was moving freely,"
Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "But if I saw him wince, I was
going to take him out."
Dirk Nowitzki scored 29 points and Steve Nash added 28 as Dallas
retained its lead in the Western Conference. The Mavericks (57-19)
hold a one-game advantage over San Antonio in the race for the top
record in the conference and the Midwest Division.
Dallas also equaled its club record for victories in a season,
which it originally set last year.
The Magic completes a three-game road trip Sunday against
"Yeah, we hope so," Rivers said about McGrady's playing status
Sunday. "We can't afford to have him out because we're just not
The Mavericks, who led by 21 at halftime, extended their lead to
78-50 on Nash's 3-pointer with 7:26 remaining in the third. The
Magic got no closer than 14 the rest of the way as Dallas emptied
its bench in the fourth quarter.
"It's never easy to get a big lead, and it is sometimes harder
to maintain it," Dallas coach Don Nelson said. "We were able to
do it, but it was pretty ugly in the fourth quarter. I'm just happy
we got the win and won it decisively."
Powered by Nowitzki's 22 first-half points, Dallas jumped out to
a 63-42 halftime lead.
"We were able to get off to a good start, and that carried us a
long way," LaFrentz said.
Nowitzki scored 12 points, and LaFrentz had nine as the
Mavericks took a 25-9 lead before McGrady came in.
"We knew Tracy wasn't 100 percent," Nowitzki said. "So we
wanted to put them away early."
Armstrong's layup with 11:06 left in the first half brought
Orlando within 33-24, but that was the closest it got after the
But the Mavericks outscored the Magic 23-7 over the next eight
minutes to build a 56-31 lead. Nowitzki capped the run with a
basket and 3-point play.
Dallas ends the regular season with a game at San Antonio
on April 16. The Spurs lead the season-series 2-1. ... Dallas'
Michael Finley missed his eighth consecutive game Saturday night
because a strained left hamstring. ... Orlando's Jeryl Sasser, a
Dallas native, was scoreless in 21 minutes. ... The Magic's magic
number to clinch a playoff berth is three.