Nowitzki’s strong finish leads Mavs over Bobcats

Dirk Nowitzki apparently wasn’t kidding when he said an early

season game against Charlotte was a must-win for the Mavericks.

Once the big German finally found his scoring groove, he got

Monta Ellis to play along.

Nowitzki scored 14 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and

combined with Ellis to score Dallas’ last 19 points, and the

Mavericks kept the Bobcats winless in Dallas by rallying for an

89-82 victory Tuesday night.

”We were just reading one another,” said Ellis, who had 10 of

his 22 points in the fourth quarter, when Dallas outscored

Charlotte 29-15. ”Dirk did a great job of keeping us close, then

he got us ahead and we ran the two-man game and we just picked to

see what the defense was doing.”

Al Jefferson had 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, and

Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker scored 16 apiece for the Bobcats,

who fell to 0-10 in Dallas and 1-17 overall against the Mavericks

despite leading by 12 in the third quarter.

”We’ve got to get more organized,” said Walker, who also had

seven rebounds and five assists. ”We tend to stop doing what we’ve

been doing for the first three quarters. In order to win in this

league, you have to stick with what you’ve been doing.”

The Mavericks had lost four of their previous five and trailed

from late in the second quarter to the middle of the fourth before

rallying to wrap up a stretch of seven home games in nine

outings.

Dallas, which is 2-6 on the road, starts a four-game trip

Wednesday night in New Orleans.

”We talked about it a little bit during timeouts that we needed

to get things going,” said Nowitzki, who was 1 of 10 from the

floor in the first half. ”This was a big game for us with us about

to hit the road for a lot of tough games.”

Nowitzki put Dallas ahead for good 79-78 with a free throw after

Josh McRoberts was called for a technical after getting whistled

for a foul while Nowitzki was setting up with Ellis for a

pick-and-roll with 3:08 left.

Ellis hit a driving layup on the same possession, and then a

jumper after Anthony Tolliver missed a 3-pointer. Ellis, who got

his fourth quarter going with a tough baseline jumper late in the

shot clock for a 78-76 lead, finished 22 points and five

assists.

Dallas was up 83-78 when Ellis jumped high for a rebound after a

miss from Walker. Nowitzki hit a long jumper at the other end to

turn the game into a free-throw exercise.

Dallas guard Jose Calderon played after missing one game with an

ankle injury and had back-to-back 3-pointers to give Dallas a 35-33

lead with 4:16 left in the first half. He finished with 12 points

on 4-of-5 shooting from long range and was on the floor with

Nowitzki and Ellis late.

”Nowitzki and Ellis took over the game,” Charlotte coach Steve

Clifford said. ”And if we would run around a double team, they’ve

got 3-point shooters all over.”

A cold-shooting first quarter provided a preview of a sluggish

offensive game in the fourth quarter, when the teams either

misfired or couldn’t get off a shot in 10 consecutive possessions

with the Bobcats leading 73-70.

A 3-minute scoreless stretch ended with three straight made

shots – two jumpers from Nowitzki over McRoberts and a bucket from

Jefferson on an assist from McRoberts.

The 6-foot-10 McRoberts had three assists, including one on a

running behind-the-back pass to Henderson for a fast-break dunk to

cap an 11-0 run in the first half.

The Mavericks scored the first five points of the fourth quarter

on a runner in the lane from Vince Carter and a 3-pointer from

Nowitzki to get within 67-65.

”The turning point was at the beginning of the fourth quarter

when we had a chance to extend the lead or to give it up,”

Clifford said.

The Bobcats went ahead by 12 with a 10-run early in the second

half. Henderson had a three-point play for a 54-42 lead after

making a jumper earlier, and Walker hit a 3-pointer.

NOTES: The teams combined to shoot 28 percent in the first

quarter (11 of 40). … Bobcats G Michael Kidd-Gilchrist left the

game in the second half with a fractured left hand. Clifford said

he didn’t know how long Kidd-Gilchrist would be sidelined. ”It’s

going to be tough to make up for what he does,” Clifford said.