Mavericks 106, Clippers 100

So much for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd trying to call it an

early night with the Lakers awaiting. The Los Angeles Clippers

wouldn’t allow it.

Both of Dallas’ stars were needed in the fourth quarter, when

the Mavericks rallied to win 106-100 Wednesday night and improve

the NBA’s best road record to 27-10.

Nowitzki scored 24 points playing nearly 37 minutes, including

almost all of the fourth, to beat back the scrappy Clippers. Kidd

was hoping to sit out the final period, but he was needed for 2 1/2

minutes to ensure the Mavs secured their fifth straight win.

”We wanted to get some momentum going into tomorrow,” Nowitzki

said. ”We had a good lead and didn’t close the game out the way we

wanted to.”

The victory moved the Mavs within a half-game of the

second-place Lakers in the West, with the No. 2 seed up for grabs

when they play Thursday night.

”It’s not the end of the world to be (No.) 3, but we’re going

for it,” Nowitzki said.

He missed the first of two free throws midway through the

period, snapping his streak of 74 in a row – longest in the league

this season – that dated to the fourth quarter against Indiana on

March 4.

Nowitzki got ample chance to make up for it, when Mo Williams

was hit with consecutive technicals and ejected with 6:02 remaining

and Nowitzki made both. Blake Griffin got a technical about 42

seconds earlier.

”We lost control of the game when we had all those technical

fouls,” Eric Gordon said. ”That gave them a good run and those

were free points we gave them. They just got a lot of calls.”

Griffin had 25 points and 17 rebounds for his 57th

double-double, and in the process set a franchise rookie record for

most points in a season. He came off the bench in the fourth to

erase most of the Clippers’ 16-point deficit, scoring six points in

an 11-0 run that left them trailing 96-91 with 3:20 left.

”It started with Jamario Moon hitting a 3. After that, they

made a layup and get to the free throw line and all the sudden it’s

under 10,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. ”Then the building is

into it and we had to answer. This is a good win for us.”

Jose Barea answered with five straight points to push the Mavs’

lead to 101-91. He finished with 22 points. Kidd had 10

assists.

”We keep pushing the tempo and keep coming. We don’t panic,”

Kidd said.

Earlier in the fourth, Nowitzki scored six points – four on free

throws – in the Mavs’ 13-1 run that produced their first

double-digit lead of the game, 96-80. Nowitzki missed another free

throw in the final minute.

Gordon added 15 points and Williams scored 19 points, making all

nine of his free throws for the Clippers, who’ve lost nine in a row

and 15 of their last 16 to the Mavs. Dallas has won its last five

road games against the Clippers.

Down by six with 7 seconds left, Gordon airballed a 3-point

attempt.

”I just couldn’t get easy baskets,” he said. ”They didn’t let

me get into the lane. When that happens, you end up with just

long-range shots.”

The teams traded leads in a tight third quarter. With the

Clippers leading by one, the Mavs outscored them 12-6 to lead 75-70

going into the fourth. Peja Stojakovic and Brian Cardinal hit

3-pointers in the spurt.

The Clippers blew a 13-point lead in the first, when Williams

scored their first nine points. Dallas tied the game at 44 late in

the second and scored the final two baskets to lead 48-46 at the

break.

Notes: The Mavs improved to 13-1 against the Pacific Division,

with their only loss to the Lakers. … The Clippers’ franchise

record for double-doubles is 69 set by Bob McAdoo in 1974-75, when

the team was in Buffalo. … The crowd of 19,060 was the Clippers’

16th sellout of the season.