Mavs lose double-digit lead for 2nd straight game


DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks are developing a knack for
letting easy wins turn into tough ones.

In their first game since needing overtime to salvage what was
once a 20-point lead, the Mavericks needed double overtime to beat
the Philadelphia 76ers 125-122 Wednesday night after letting a
15-point fourth-quarter lead slip away.

"We keep shooting ourselves in the foot," said Antawn Jamison,
who scored 23 points. "We have to understand the urgency of the
situation. We have to fight and stay competitive."

These close games are only part of the emotional ups and downs
coach Don Nelson has gone through this week. Before tipoff, he
spent about a half-hour discussing his job status with team owner
Mark Cuban, with Cuban telling Nelson, "You ain't going
anywhere." The topic has become a source of speculation because
the team has yet to get on a roll this season.

The Mavs responded through three quarters, going up 85-70 early
in the fourth. Helping Antoine Walker notch a second straight
triple-double seemed to be all that was left, especially
considering that Philadelphia was without injured starters Kenny
Thomas and Derrick Coleman.

But the 76ers started nailing 3-pointers and even went up by
four in the final three minutes of regulation. Neither team led by
that much again.

"No moral victories," said Philadelphia's Allen Iverson, who
had five 3-pointers and finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and
seven assists.

"We had opportunities to win the game, we just couldn't get it
done. That's the sad part about everything. The game was right
there for us to win. We just didn't execute the way we needed to
down the stretch."

Dirk Nowitzki helped win it with five points in the second
overtime, including the go-ahead jumper with 24.1 seconds left. He
finished with 25 points and 14 rebounds.

Michael Finley had 32 points. Walker got his milestone with 11
points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists -- but shot 4-of-19 and fouled
out in the final minute of the second overtime.

The Mavs certainly could've done without the extra 10 minutes;
at 3:14 it was the longest game in team history. And this was their
only home game in a stretch of five games in seven days that
concludes Friday at Denver and Saturday at Portland.

Dallas ended up allowing it most fourth-quarter points all
season, 37. Philadelphia scored its most points of the season,
aided by great 3-point shooting: 9-of-12 in the fourth quarter and
first overtime. The 76ers went 0-for-3 in the second OT.

Glenn Robinson had 34 points and seven rebounds, and Samuel
Dalembert set career highs with 24 points and 16 rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, Dallas recovered to lead by two with 20
seconds left. Robinson tied it with 14.9 seconds left, then Finley
missed a 20-footer at the buzzer.

Iverson and Nowitzki traded 3s in the first overtime, then with
21.9 seconds left the 7-foot Nowitzki lost the ball out of bounds
while trying to back down 6-foot-3 Eric Snow. It was only the
fourth turnover for Dallas; three would've tied the NBA record.

Aaron McKie, playing only his second game after missing seven
straight with a strained hamstring, had a jumper go in and out at
the buzzer.

Nowitzki hit a jumper for the first points in the second
overtime. Philadelphia tied it, but never led again.

The key basket was a 15-footer by Nowitzki that made it 122-120.
It came at the end of a wild series that began with him missing a
shot, Jamison missing two follows, then 5-foot-11 Travis Best
snagging that rebound in the paint and feeding Nowitzki.

Dalembert missed one of two free throws with 18.5 seconds left
when he could've tied it at 122.

After Best made two foul shots to put Dallas back up by three,
Snow missed one of two free throws. Then Finley went 1-of-2 from
the line, giving Philadelphia one last chance.

Snow wasted it by putting up an airball on a 3-pointer.

Coleman missed a second straight game with a sprained left knee.
Thomas, who was averaging 10.9 points and 12.7 rebounds the last
six games, sat out because of a sprained right ankle.

Game notes
The Mavs played their first back-to-back overtime games
since 1998. ... Walker became the first Dallas player with
consecutive triple-doubles since Jason Kidd did it Jan. 12-13,
1996. Kidd also did it April 5-7, 1995. ... On the day the
second-winningest coach in league history was told his job was
safe, the league's all-time winningest coach returned as Lenny
Wilkens was hired to run the New York Knicks. "Good," Nelson
said. "Put it (the wins record) out of sight. That's fantastic."
Wilkens has 1,292 wins; Nelson has 1,118.