Mavericks 104, Warriors 94

Vince Carter and Brandan Wright are showing how much they can

help Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry.

And that can be significant for the defending NBA champion

Dallas Mavericks heading into the playoffs.

Wright had 17 points in 17 minutes and Carter’s 19 points

included eight straight for Dallas early in the fourth quarter,

when the Mavs finally pulled away from the young Golden State

Warriors for a 104-94 victory Friday night.

”When it’s my turn, I’m going to come in aggressive and ready

to play,” said Carter, the 13-year veteran who joined the

Mavericks just before the season. ”I just want to help these guys,

Dirk and Jet (Terry), really take pressure off them so they don’t

have to take double-teams all the time.”

Carter, who didn’t score before halftime, hit a long jumper to

start the fourth quarter. When he ended his personal scoring streak

with an assist on Terry’s breakaway 3-pointer, Dallas had stretched

its lead to 87-75 with 9 minutes left.

”We were looking to get him involved,” coach Rick Carlisle

said. ”He made good decisions, made shots and made a couple of

good passes. It gives us another attacker out of the small forward

position. That’s a plus.”

It was the last regular season home game for the Mavericks, who

clinched a playoff spot Thursday night without even playing. They

were guaranteed their 12th straight playoff appearance after

Houston’s sixth consecutive loss, in New Orleans a night after the

Rockets lost in Dallas.

The Mavericks finished 23-10 at home. Nowitzki and Delonte West

each had 16 points, and Shawn Marion 14 in the finale.

”We’re playing as a cohesive unit out there,” said West, who

had some big plays in the third quarter.

Dallas, sixth in the Western Conference standings, plays at

Chicago on Saturday night. The regular season finale is Thursday at

Atlanta.

Klay Thompson, one of four rookie starters for Golden State, had

26 points. Brandon Rush had 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting for the

Warriors.

”I thought it was an outstanding effort when you look at the

team we put on the floor,” coach Mark Jackson said. ”We found a

way to hang in until the fourth quarter when they got some

separation.”

The Warriors, playing the first of three straight road days,

were without five injured players.

Dallas didn’t go ahead for good until late in the third

quarter.

Two free throws by Carter tied the game at 58 before West had a

three-point play, driving and reaching around a defender for a bank

shot high off the glass while being fouled and then making the free

throw.

The third quarter ended with a scrambling possession by the

Mavs. West made a 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer for

a 76-70 lead.

”Our main goal is to finish strong and compete,” said Dorrell

Wright, the only veteran starter for the Warriors. ”It’s a

learning process with four rookies starting. … They finished.

That’s why they’re the defending champs.”

Wright had 19 points. Jeremy Tyler had 15 points and Charles

Jenkins had 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Center Andris Biendrins didn’t even make the trip, missing his

third straight game because of a mild concussion, and guard Nate

Robinson missed his second game in a row with a strained right

hamstring. Also out were center Andrew Bogut (broken left ankle),

guard Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) and post player David

Lee (strained groin).

Dallas led 40-29 midway through the second quarter after Wright

scored 11 points in a 4 1/2-minute span. Nowitzki had the only

other Mavs basket in that stretch.

Wright, the 6-foot-10 forward, is getting some of the minutes

that were going to Lamar Odom before he played his last game with

the Mavericks two weeks ago.

When Terry missed a 3-pointer, Wright grabbed the rebound among

three defenders and went right back up for the first basket of the

second quarter. Terry then had a steal and passed ahead to Wright

for a powerful two-handed dunk.

Wright had another putback of a missed 3-pointer before Terry

made a nifty behind-the-back bounce pass to Nowitzki for a long

jumper. Less than 2 minutes after that, Nowitzki penetrated and

passed off to Wright for a slam instead of taking a shot

himself.

”I’m pretty much keeping the same way. I’m a pretty low key,

calm guy and not get rattled,” Wright said. ”I’ll keep the same

routine, but obviously the games mean a lot more.”

Notes: It was the ninth consecutive game Dallas had at least

five players score in double figures. … Carter became the eighth

player in NBA history with 1,500 3-pointers when he made one in the

closing minutes. … Carlisle doesn’t plan for Jason Kidd to play

Saturday night in Chicago. It is just a chance to rest the

39-year-old guard.