While Linsanity is already simmering down a bit in New York, Dirk Nowitzki keeps having big games for the Dallas Mavericks like he has for so long.
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Nowitzki scored nine of his 28 points in a game-clinching run after the Mavericks had lost the lead by going scoreless the first 7 1/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, and Dallas beat the Knicks 95-85 on Tuesday night.
”This was a much-needed win. It was a big character win,” Mavericks guard Jason Kidd said. ”We responded with some stops and Dirk made some big shots.”
Nowitzki made a 14-foot fadeaway jumper with 4:34 left, starting a 14-0 run when the 11-time All-Star forward scored nine points.
That was right after the Knicks, who had trailed by as many as 19, scored the first 15 points of the fourth quarter and went ahead 78-77 when Amare Stoudemire penetrated to make a shot with about 5 minutes left. It was their first lead since scoring the game’s first four points, and didn’t last long.
”The rhythm I had there in the second half, I was definitely looking for the ball,” said Nowitzki, who scored 24 after halftime. ”I was chasing the ball sometimes, I was looking at Kidd and basically telling him, just bring it over here and let me try and take it home.”
Jeremy Lin had 14 points and seven assists, solid numbers but only half of what he had nearly 2 1/2 weeks ago when the Knicks won at home against Dallas. He had 28 points and 14 assists in that game before the All-Star break that ended a six-game winning streak for the Mavericks, and started a stretch of six losses in eight games before Tuesday night.
The Knicks are 2-4 since then, and have consecutive losses for the first time since Lin became a starter a month ago.
Stoudemire had 26 points. Tyson Chandler, who got his NBA championship ring from the Mavericks before the game, had six points, eight rebounds and a technical foul.
When Nowitzki made a short baseline shot with 2:27 left to stretch the lead to 88-78, Chandler was standing at the scorer’s table waiting to get back into the game. He was motioning for a travel call against his former teammate, and even tapped an official running by before Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni called timeout.
”First half we did a great job containing him,” Stoudemire said of Nowitzki. ”Second half, he was able to get it going a little bit, a couple of open shots, a couple of tough shots, a couple of travel shots. But he played well.”
Chandler got called for the technical during the stoppage in play, and Nowitzki made the free throw.
Rodrigue Beaubois added 18 points for the Mavericks, while Kidd had 15 points and six assists.
Dallas, which lost at Oklahoma City on Monday night, wraps up a stretch of nine games in 12 days with three road games in three nights, starting Thursday in Phoenix.
Mavericks fans were cheering loudly with 13 seconds left in the third quarter when Nowitzki, with JR Smith pushing against him, finally moved around and drew the foul while driving toward the basket. Nowitzki made both free throws to make it 77-63, but the Mavericks didn’t score again until he dominated in the game-turning spurt.
Lin wasn’t even on the court the first 8 minutes of the fourth quarter when the Knicks briefly took the lead.
”We made a run with our second team,” Lin said. ”We couldn’t close this game out and they obviously did a great job of getting defensive stops. Those stops led to quick easy buckets and Dirk is a clutch player who scores a lot in the fourth quarter.”
The Mavericks played without starting center Brendan Haywood and post player Brandan Wright, who missed his third consecutive game after a concussion.
Coach Rick Carlisle said Haywood still had some swelling after rolling his ankle on the opening possession in the loss at Oklahoma City, but would travel with the team. Wright will not make the upcoming three-game trip.
Haywood became the Mavs starter after Chandler got a $56 million, four-year contract with the Knicks in a sign-and-trade that was part of a three-team deal at the start of training camp.
In a short ceremony before the game, Chandler became the last player from the Mavericks’ 2010-11 team to get his NBA championship ring.
A video of Chandler’s highlights from last season was shown before the 7-foot-1 center got a nice ovation from Mavericks fans.
”To us, he was that missing piece last year that took us over the top,” Nowitzki said. ”I was happy to see him get a great ovation by the crowd. That was a special moment for him and for us. I’m glad everything got their ring now and we can focus on getting to the playoffs.”
Notes: The Knicks played the second of four consecutive road games, and four of six away from Madison Square Garden. They are at San Antonio on Wednesday night. … Mavericks guard Vince Carter went 1-for-8 shooting for three points. He made a 3-pointer for the first Dallas basket, and didn’t make another shot.