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Nowitzki powers Mavericks past Hawks

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks made it look easy against
the Atlanta Hawks.

Jason Terry, however, knows it will only get tougher the rest of
the way as they seek to win the NBA's Western Conference and gain
the home court advantage during the playoffs.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to help
the Dallas Mavericks to a 98-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks on
Saturday night.

"All the remaining games (12) are important. We're jockeying
for position every night trying to get the No. 1 seed," said
Terry, who had 26 points.

Jerry Stackhouse added 16 for the Mavericks (54-16), who are
percentage points behind San Antonio (54-15) for the best record in
the Western Conference and two games behind Detroit (55-13) for the
league's top record.

"Obviously, (winning the division) is big. To be No. 1 is
always important.," said Nowitzki.

Erick Dampier added 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Mavericks.

"It's always a big deal. Every game is crucial for us. If we
take care of business, everything will fall into place," Dampier
said.

The Mavericks have a difficult road ahead with their next three
games on the road, including Tuesday night at Detroit. Their only
remaining game with San Antonio on April 7 is also away from home.

"During the playoffs the home court means a lot," said Terry.
"Last year we didn't have it and lost in six games to Phoenix. We
don't want that to happen again."

Al Harrington scored 19 points for Atlanta, which lost its third
in a row and for the seventh time in eight games. Joe Johnson added
17 and Marvin Williams had 13 points and 11 rebounds.

"Defensively, I guess you could say they took us out of it,"
said Harrington. "They are playing much better defense than they
have in the past. With a team like that, with so much offensive
firepower, you cannot get behind."

Dallas led 76-61 after three periods. The Hawks had gotten as
close as 65-56 with 2:38 left in the third before the Mavericks
closed the quarter on a 11-5 spurt. Terry scored five points during
the run. He opened the fourth with a pair of 3's for a 82-63 lead
early in the period.

The Mavericks had their biggest lead at 87-66 on a basket by
Erick Dampier with just under nine minutes remaining and the Hawks
never got closer than 16 the rest of the way.

The Mavericks took a 51-35 halftime lead with Nowitzki scoring
14 points and Terry 10. Their largest margin was at 33-13 after a
Stackhouse basket finished a 25-5 run with just over nine minutes
left before intermission.

The Mavericks, led by Nowitzki's six points, took a 24-10 lead
after one quarter. Dallas broke an 8-8 tie and went on a 12-0 run
midway in the period for a 20-10 lead as the Hawks went more than
five minutes without a field goal. Atlanta shot only 4-for-25 (16
percent). The 10 points were one shy of their season-low for a
quarter, getting nine in the first quarter at Miami on Dec. 10 in a
111-92 loss.

Game notes
Dallas, in the only other matchup with the Hawks this
season, won 87-78 at home despite 21 points and 12 rebounds from
Zaza Pachulia. Josh Howard, who is out with a strained left
hamstring, had 25 points for Dallas. ... When the Mavericks allow
100 points they are 6-11. ... Nowitzki scored 51 points in
Thursday's 122-121 loss to Golden State, the most ever by a Dallas
player in a non-overtime game.