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San Antonio dealt largest loss of season

DALLAS (AP) -- Beating the San Antonio Spurs just isn't the same
when they're missing Tim Duncan. That is, unless you can make it as
memorable as the Dallas Mavericks did Thursday night.

With Devin Harris starting a fast break by throwing a backward,
overhead pass while falling down and Jerry Stackhouse setting up
another layup with a behind-the-back pass in the lane, the Mavs
resoundingly avoided a season sweep by their division nemesis with
a 104-68 victory that was interesting at the end just to see how
historic it would be.

The answer: Dallas enjoyed its most lopsided win over the Spurs
and tied the fewest points allowed in franchise history, while San
Antonio endured its biggest rout since falling to Seattle by 38 in
a meaningless finale in 2001. The Spurs also went 0-for-12 on
3-pointers, the most misses in team history without one made and
just three shy of the NBA record.

"It was pretty embarrassing," said San Antonio guard Manu
Ginobili, who scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting and missed all
four of his free throws. "Today was awful."

The Mavs led the entire way, with the game tied only at 2. They
held San Antonio to just 27 points during the middle two quarters,
with the Spurs shooting 2-for-17 in the third period. Put another
way, Dallas had as many highlight-reel baskets in the quarter as
San Antonio did overall while sinking toward a sixth straight road
loss since their two-time MVP was injured.

"He would've made a difference," Stackhouse said, smiling,
"but I don't think he would've made a 40-point difference."

Keith Van Horn scored 10 of his 17 points in a row during the
impressive third quarter and Dirk Nowitzki, who was a game-time
decision because of a sore right ankle, had 16 points and eight
rebounds in 27 minutes. He left after exchanging shoves and words
with Nazr Mohammed early in the fourth quarter, when the rout began
leading to plenty of rough stuff.

The Mavs treated their 150th straight sellout crowd to quite a
show, and gave new coach Avery Johnson a 1-0 edge against one of
his mentors, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

Johnson, the starting point guard on San Antonio's first title
team and still among the most popular players in franchise history,
is becoming pretty popular to Mavs fans, too. Dallas is 9-2 since
he replaced Don Nelson, and his emphasis on defense never stood out
as much as this game.

Consider one long San Antonio possession early in the third
quarter: Center Erick Dampier fouled Ginobili outside the 3-point,
then swatted his shot in the lane. Ginobili got the ball back near
the top of the key, was fouled by Josh Howard, then drove again and
had the ball stripped by Nowitzki.

"I think we were able to put them on their heels with our
defense," Stackhouse said.

Still, it was the offense that made it so exciting, starting
with an 8-0 run to open the second half that Nowitzki capped by
slamming a miss by Jason Terry.

Tony Parker drove for San Antonio's first basket, then Van Horn
got going. He had a finger roll, a steal-and-dunk, a three-point
play, another steal-and-dunk then a free throw.

When he got to the line, fans were still buzzing about his last
dunk, which began when Van Horn deflected a pass on defense. Harris
lunged to control it and wound up facing the basket the Spurs were
shooting at, but threw it over his head and hit Van Horn in stride
on one bounce.

Soon after, Stackhouse passed up a probable layup by flicking
the ball behind him to Marquis Daniels, who put it in for a 70-40
lead.

Daniels finished with 13 points, Alan Henderson had 12 and
Howard 11. In yet another example of what a rout this was, Johnson
said before the game that Daniels and Henderson likely will be left
out of his playoff rotation.

All 12 Mavs scored, thanks to Shawn Bradley hitting a free throw
in the closing seconds. More significant was a 3-pointer by Darrell
Armstrong with 5:11 left -- it continued Dallas' streak of
consecutive games with a 3 to 521 in a row.

About the only thing that went wrong for the Mavericks was
letting Mike Wilks hit a short jumper with 13.3 seconds left,
preventing them from giving up their fewest points. Team owner Mark
Cuban told the players on the bench how close they were, so they
were all standing up and rooting for one last defensive stand.

"They just got a lucky little putback," Stackhouse said.

Brent Barry led San Antonio with 12 points and Parker had 11 and
no assists. Every player scored except starting forward Robert
Horry.

Game notes
Dallas' previous biggest win over the Spurs was 32 points
in January 1989. ... The Spurs need to win their final seven to
match their most wins in franchise history, 62. ... Although the
Mavs have lost 12 home games, they've now won a season-best six in
a row and are perfect under Johnson.