Mavs hold off Rockets for 106-102 win



AP Sports Writer

HOUSTON (AP) — Peja Stojakovic is settling in with his new team, adding a valuable dimension to the Dallas Mavericks’ offense.

Stojakovic scored 22 points and broke a tie with Dale Ellis for fourth place in career 3-pointers as the Mavericks beat the Houston Rockets 106-102 on Saturday night.

Dallas acquired Stojakovic on Jan. 24, and the 3-time All-Star wasn’t in playing shape because he’d been sitting out since November. He went 1-for-11 from long range in his first three games before rediscovering his touch on Saturday night and going 4 for 6.

“I was getting good looks in the last couple of games, too, it was just that the shots wouldn’t go,” Stojakovic said. “It’s easy to play with the guys. I get so many good looks because they draw so much attention. Tonight (Saturday), I was able make them.”

Stojakovic now has 1,723 career 3s and trails only teammate Jason Kidd (1,756), Reggie Miller (2,560) and Ray Allen (2,562) in NBA history. Allen passed Miller for the lead Thursday, and Kidd wouldn’t mind at all if Stojakovic eventually leapfrogs him.

“That’s an added dimension that we’ve been missing, and it just makes us deeper and stronger,” Kidd said. “As long as he keeps making them, he can pass me. I’m just happy to be in the top 5.”

Dirk Nowitzki also scored 22 points and Shawn Marion had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Mavericks, who have won 12 of their last 14 and eight of their past 11 games in Houston.

As Stojakovic chatted with reporters after the game, Nowitzki walked by and yelled, “There’s a Peja sighting, baby! There he is!”

Nowitzki went 8 for 16 from the field and he’s eager to see how much Stojakovic’s shooting will benefit him by spreading out opposing defenses.

“He’s arrived,” Nowitzki said. “That was fun to see.”

Kyle Lowry scored 26 points and Kevin Martin added 17 for the Rockets, who have dropped 17 of the last 23 meetings with Dallas.

The Mavericks built a 23-point lead in the second half, but then had to stave off a rally by the Rockets in the closing minutes.

“We let them get out to a big lead, so we had to do something to come back,” Lowry said. “We just fight hard and scrap, but it was too late.”

The Mavs stretched the lead over 20 early in the third quarter as the Rockets continued to misfire. Nowitzki and Stojakovic swished 3s to make it 72-49 and prompt cheers from large contingent of Dallas fans in the crowd.

Houston missed 16 of its first 20 shots after halftime and trailed 83-67 after three quarters. Stojakovic went 3 for 4 from 3-point range in the quarter, and the Mavs hit 10 of 17 shots overall.

The Rockets closed the gap in the fourth, as the Mavs started missing shots and giving away turnovers. Houston also started hitting 3-pointers, and finished 6 for 14 in the final quarter alone.

“Didn’t finish the way we wanted to, and made it a lot closer than we needed to,” Nowitzki said.

Aaron Brooks, who missed his first eight shots, and Shane Battier sank 3-pointers and the Rockets cut the Mavs’ lead to 10. Dallas pushed the lead back into double digits, before the Rockets rallied again.

Battier swished a 3-pointer from the corner, and Brooks flipped a behind-the-back pass to Jordan Hill for a layup that made it 95-90 with 3 minutes left. Lowry scored inside with 2:18 remaining to cut the gap to three.

Nowitzki hit a wing jumper with 1:57 left and then Jason Terry chased down a loose ball and found Kidd for an easy layup to put Dallas up 99-92.

The Rockets missed their next three shots from 3-point range, and the Mavericks finished it off at the free-throw line.

Houston has lost five of eight.

“I don’t care how many games we have left, or what our record is,” coach Rick Adelman said. “You’ve got to try to continue to succeed and get better as an individual, and as a team, and that’s what we have to do.”

Stojakovic swished his first 3 in front of the Dallas bench with 44 seconds left in the half to break the tie with Ellis (1,719) for fourth all-time. The Mavs stood and cheered when the shot went down, apparently aware of its significance.

Dallas shot 61 percent (25 of 41) in the first half and led 57-44 at the break. Houston went 1 for 8 from 3-point range in the opening half.

NOTES: The Mavs have scored 100 points in 10 of their last 11 games. Dallas is 27-2 when it reaches 100 points this season. … Dallas has hit a 3-pointer in an NBA-record 992 consecutive games. … Martin was held under 20 points for the first time in six games. He went 0 for 4 from 3-point range, snapping a streak of 12 consecutive games with at least two 3-pointers.

Updated February 12, 2011