Friday, February 29, 2008

Dirk & Kidd star in win over Kings

Jason Kidd poked the ball out of a Kings’ hands and went flying into the most expensive of expensive seats at halfcourt. Before he fell, he flipped the ball back to Dirk Nowitzki.

We’ve seen that flip a few times over the last 10 days.

Nowitzki took a step and launched a 35-footer off one foot, the buzzer sounded and the bank was friendly. Another packed house at American Airlines Center, naturally, exploded.

“If he doesn’t get that steal that play doesn’t happen,” said Nowitzki, adding that his shot was “lucky.”

The play of the year for the Mavericks? You’re not going to get much of an argument, especially since the SportsCenter moment highlighted the momentum-turning sequence in the 116-105 victory Thursday night over Sacramento.

“That’s one of my highlights of my career right there,” Avery Johnson said. “If I wasn’t a coach, I would have been jumping out of my suit. But I had to remember I was the coach. I was clapping and smiling and laughing at [Paul] Westphal. Boy, if I was a fan, I would have gone crazy on that one just like our fans did. That was a great highlight play.”

The red-hot Nowitzki scored a game-high 34 and an aggressive Kidd (21 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists) flirted with another triple-double as Dallas bounced back from Thursday night’s setback in San Antonio and won its 12th straight at home.

Josh Howard (20 points) reached the 20-point plateau for only the second time in 10 games. Jerry Stackhouse led the bench brigade, which was stretched out considerably more than the previous night, with 23 points in 33 minutes.

The Mavs had four score at least 20 for the second time this season. Kidd’s total was easily his highest since returning to Dallas (it had been 12) and the most he’s scored in game this season. Erick Dampier led the team with 13 boards, with Nowitzki adding another 10.

The Mavs (39-20) had their issues with Sacramento, the only team with a losing record that the Mavs will face in a five-game run that started against the Spurs. The Kings led by as many as 11 in the first quarter before Dallas turned the tide with a 30-10 run.

Beno Udrih, the victim of Kidd’s swipe at the end of the third, Ron Artest and Kevin Martin helped keep Sacramento afloat. The Kings battled back and regained a nine-point edge in the third before the Mavs stormed back.

Starting with a 7-foot hook from Howard, the home team reeled off 12 consecutive points in just 93 seconds. Challenged by Johnson before the game to attack the basket, Kidd followed with a driving finger roll. Nowitzki drilled a 3-pointer, Howard connected on a floater and then came Kidd-Nowitzki special.

The Mavs would extend their lead from three (84-81) after three period to nine in the fourth, but Sacramento pulled within one possession of taking the lead on several occasions. Dallas would never surrender it and closed out the win at the line in the final minute.

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