Monday, February 11, 2008

Mavs fall flat in second half at Philly

PHILADELPHIA – There are no free lunches in the NBA, regardless of the “level” of competition. The Mavericks ventured east to face a pair of teams on the fringe of the playoff picture and paid a pretty hefty price.

Philadelphia and New Jersey, squads with nearly identical records, gave Dallas two losses in less than 28 hours. The Mavs (34-17) returned home after Monday night’s 84-76 setback to the 76ers at the Wachovia Center in need of a change.

“We still haven’t proven ourselves,” said Josh Howard, who left the game with a bruised lower back in the fourth quarter. “We’ve had two great seasons before this season, but for the most part we’re still flying under the radar. We haven’t achieved anything. We’re still trying to get our identity back. It’s getting close to playoff time and we’ve got to find that quick.”

The scrappy 76ers, the second opponent in a stretch of four in five nights in four different cities, pulled away in the fourth behind lightning-quick sixth man Lou Williams and explosive small forward Andre Iguodala.

Howard and Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs’ two 20-point scorers, combined for 32 points. Nowitzki (15 points) was never able to get going, missing 11 of 15 shots in 40 minutes. Jason Terry, the team’s third-leading scorer, had just seven.

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