Mavericks 112, Suns 106

The Dallas Mavericks won their 40th game of the season, 13 out

of 14 in the last month.

And Dirk Nowitzki seems to be just getting warmed up.

Nowitzki, hitting his stride a month after returning from a knee

injury, scored 35 points Thursday night to lead the Mavericks past

the Phoenix Suns 112-106.

”Dirk’s back. He is all the way back,” Dallas coach Rick

Carlisle said, ”and it really is great.”

Nowitzki missed nine games with a right knee sprain before

coming back on Jan. 14. His performance Thursday night was by far

his best since his return.

”I felt good,” Nowitzki said. ”I had a good rhythm early and

made a couple of shots early, which usually helps. Over the last

couple of weeks I haven’t really shot the ball well. I hit my first

couple of shots and had a good rhythm out there and kept on


Tyson Chandler had 12 points and 12 rebounds, including a tip-in

with 19 seconds left. Jason Terry scored 16, capped by a pair of

free throws with 14.1 seconds to play to give Dallas a 111-106

lead. Shawn Marion added 12 points as the Mavericks improved to 9-0

against Pacific Division foes, including 4-0 on the road.

Channing Frye scored 24 points and Steve Nash had 15 points and

14 assists in just the third loss for the Suns in their last 11


”We can’t let Dirk get off to such a hot start, and that’s my

fault,” Frye said. ”It’s the first time I’ve gone up against him,

and Coach gave me confidence. He just made some tough shots.”

Nowitzki was at his smooth-shooting best most of the night,

sinking 8 of 10 in a 19-point first half. He finished the game 13

of 18 from the field and 6 of 6 at the foul line, including a

nine-point fourth quarter.

The Suns, who take a .500 record into the All-Star break, stayed

with the Mavericks through the night despite going 5 of 18 from

3-point range.

Dallas had just six offensive rebounds, but two by Chandler came

at crucial points down the stretch. On the first, he dunked and was

fouled from behind by Frye for a three-point play that put the Mavs

up 101-94 with 3 1/2 minutes left.

The second, with just over 19 seconds left, gave Dallas a

109-103 advantage.

Frye banked in a 3-pointer to cut it to 109-106 with 17.3

seconds left, but Terry’s two free throws finally put the game out

of reach.

”We have guys that are not quitters,” Phoenix coach Alvin

Gentry said. ”I believe in this team. We will come back after the

All-Star break and we will play good basketball and we will find a

way to make a run and get in the playoffs.”

Down by seven at halftime, the Suns led much of the third

quarter, but never by more than four points. After Mickael Pietrus’

dunk gave Phoenix an 80-76 lead, Dallas scored the last nine of the

third quarter on Nowitzki’s 22-footer, Marion’s reverse layup on a

pass from Nowitzki, Jason Kidd’s 3-pointer and a dunk by Marion on

another assist by Nowitzki.

Dallas led 85-80 entering the fourth quarter and never trailed


Nash’s driving layup cut it to 94-92 with 5:38 left, but

Nowitzki sank a pair of free throws and a 5-foot jumper to boost it

to 98-92 and Phoenix never got that close again.

Notes: Nash missed his only 3-point attempt and still needs one

3 to move ahead of Eddie Jones for sole possession of 10th place on

the NBA career list. … Dallas and San Antonio are the only

Western Conference teams Phoenix has not beaten this season. …

Nowitzki’s season high was 42 points against Detroit on Nov. 23.

… Dallas’ lone loss in the last month was at Denver on Feb.