Dirk scores 17 of his 34 in final period

DALLAS (AP) -- The Sacramento Kings opened their first game
without Chris Webber on a 10-0 run. When they got down by 12 in the
second quarter, they hung tough and were up by nine in the fourth

Yet it wasn't enough to start a new era with a victory.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter
and Michael Finley hit two clutch 3-pointers in the closing
minutes, helping the Dallas Mavericks pull out a 122-113 victory
Thursday night in a matchup of teams left short-handed following
the trade deadline.

Both teams played just eight players, but Dallas used its bench
more and the fresh legs seemed to pay off in the end. The Mavericks
used a 13-2 run to go ahead for good with 4:39 left and scored a
season-best 40 points in the fourth quarter while the weary,
emotionally drained Kings went nearly 4½ minutes without a field
goal down the stretch.

Webber might have shaken things up with a dunk, a jumper or an
assist. But he's now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after being
traded the night before, leaving his former teammates to spend all
day talking about how their roles and the team's outlook have

"It was obviously different without him," said center Brad
Miller, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds. "He was playing real
well for us and not having him out there took some time to get used
to. He's the guy everyone would look to and it was up to the rest
of us to step it up. We're going to have to fill his shoes and make

The Mavericks' bench was thin because big men Alan Henderson and
Calvin Booth were traded to Milwaukee for Keith Van Horn, and Jerry
Stackhouse missed a fourth straight game with a groin injury. Then
Devin Harris blindly ran into a pick by Miller late in the third
quarter and was lost to a strained neck; Mavs coach Don Nelson was
ejected for arguing that no foul was called on the play.

"I'm really proud of us gutting this win out," said assistant
coach Avery Johnson, who took over for Nelson. "They handled a lot
of adversity during the course of the game. ... Everybody that
touched the court tonight contributed in some way."

Dallas trailed 98-89 with 9:02 left before its final surge.
Nowitzki put them ahead for good on a short jumper and Josh Howard
followed with a dunk in transition that turned into a three-point
play. Finley stretched the lead to 112-107, then hit another 3 with
1:42 left to make it 117-110. Sacramento never got closer than four

Marquis Daniels had season-highs with 29 points and eight
assists, plus nine rebounds in his first start since Dec. 6, and
Finley added 22 points, six rebounds and four assists.

Mike Bibby and Cuttino Mobley each scored 26 for the Kings, and
Darius Songaila got off to a good start in his increased role by
posting a career-high 23 points and a season-high 12 rebounds.

The Kings dressed the league-minimum of eight players because
Webber and two reserves were traded and their replacements hadn't
arrived, plus Peja Stojakovic was out with a strained hamstring.
They were good in stretches and led nearly all the third quarter,
but couldn't keep it up.

"We bonded together and had a chance to win, we just got tired
at the end," Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said.

Sacramento's reserves played a total of 29 minutes, with none
logging more than 10. All three of Dallas' bench players logged at
least 21 minutes.

The Kings lost for the third time in four games and seventh in
nine. This loss made for a bad start to a six-game, nine-day road
trip that continues Saturday -- in Philadelphia, against Webber and
the 76ers.

Playing at home for the first time in 16 days, Dallas maintained
the momentum of its 5-0 road trip, a franchise best that included
wins in Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento.

Howard had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Harris added 11
points before getting hurt.

Dallas trailed 84-78 with 1:27 left in the third when Nelson was
ejected. The non-foul on Miller was merely the last straw, as the
Mavericks hadn't gone to the foul line since 2:47 of the first
quarter -- while the Kings had taken 25 free throws in that span --
and several close calls had just gone against them. Nelson ran onto
the court and had to be pushed away from official Kevin Fehr.

Dallas improved to 3-0 against Sacramento this season, giving
the Mavs the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record. Dallas
has won seven of the last eight regular-season meetings with
Sacramento, although the Kings beat them 4-1 in last year's

Game notes
Shawn Bradley had three blocks, giving him a career total
of 2,088 to pass Manute Bol for 10th place on the career list. ...
Finley hit 20 points for a fifth straight game. ... Bibby has
scored at least 20 in six straight games against the Mavs and nine
of his last 10. ... Dallas activated rookie C Pavel Podkolzin to
fill the roster spot created by the two-for-one trade.


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