Ten consecutive misses for Nowitzki. Even more for Kidd.
Nowitzki broke out of his slump first, scoring nine straight
points -- including two jumpers -- during a 17-1 run in the closing
minutes, carrying the Dallas Mavericks past the Eastern
Conference-leading New Jersey Nets 113-105 Monday.
"They were playing good defense on me," said Nowitzki, who
scored 39 points despite going over 27 minutes between field goals.
"I just had to stay aggressive and get my rhythm back."
Kidd never found his. He missed his first 16 shots, then hit a
3-pointer with 25 seconds left. It was too little, too late,
though, as the Mavericks won for the seventh time in eight games.
"I missed a couple of shots in the beginning and I stopped
having confidence for some odd reason," said Kidd, who had eight
rebounds and 15 assists, including the 5,000th of his career.
"Even though I didn't shoot good, we had a chance to win."
Kidd has had several other incredibly inaccurate games this
season: 0-of-9 vs. Philadelphia, 1-of-11 vs. Detroit, 2-of-14 vs.
Denver and 2-of-10 vs. Phoenix. However, he's had at least 12
assists in each of those games.
The Nets -- atop the Eastern Conference despite a worse record
(27-13) than Dallas, the West's fifth-place team -- lost for only
the second time in nine games.
Dallas improved to 29-12, the franchise's best record at the
midway point, and 9-1 without All-Star Michael Finley, who is on
the injured list with a strained hamstring.
His absence has made Nowitzki the primary scorer and he's
responded by averaging nearly 30 points a game. He's averaged 36
the last four games.
He opened this game with 10 in the first quarter, when Dallas
went up by 15, and had 13 in the second. He had the Mavs' first 11
points in the period and when he missed his final two shots of the
half it didn't seem like a big deal.
But Nowitzki missed five straight in the third quarter while the
Nets started fighting back. Ramming the ball inside, they took the
lead and were up 99-92 with 4:25 left and Nowitzki still seeking
his first basket since 5:15 of the second quarter.
After Steve Nash and Juwan Howard got Dallas within one,
Nowitzki hit two free throws to put the Mavs ahead. He followed
with two more free throws, his streak-busting jumper with 1:51
left, then another free throw and yet another jumper.
"We had a couple of turnovers and missed shots and they came
down and scored," said New Jersey's Kenyon Martin. "We just let
it get away."
The Mavericks were saved by good free-throw shooting: 36-of-42,
both season highs, with Nowitzki going 16-of-18.
Nash hit all eight of his free throw attempts and scored 19
points. Howard had 22 one game after scoring two on 1-of-12
shooting. Shawn Bradley made a rare appearance for Dallas and got a
flagrant foul in his only minute for a collision with Martin.
Lucious Harris led New Jersey with a season-best 23 points. The
Nets needed his hot hand because Kerry Kittles was almost as cold
as Kidd, going only 2-of-7 for five points. One of his baskets was
a dunk of a perfectly lobbed alley-oop from Kidd, which
coincidentally was the milestone assist.
Keith Van Horn had 13 points and a season-high 15 rebounds, and
Martin, who went to high school in Dallas, had 21 points and six
The Mavericks were without coach Don Nelson, who is taking a
two-game absence to be with his wife, Joy, who had surgery for
breast cancer Monday.
Nelson's son, Donnie, replaced him as coach Monday. Donnie went
13-8 while filling in last season while the elder Nelson fought
New Jersey had been 11-0 when scoring at least 100. ...
When New Jersey played at Dallas last season, Johnny Newman was the
leading scorer and Evan Eschmeyer led the Nets in rebounds. Both
are now Mavericks. ... Dallas' oft-injured starting forward Greg
Buckner strained his left calf in the first quarter and didn't
return. ... Kidd had the first 1,590 assists of his career in
Dallas, where he spent his first 2-plus seasons. "The milestone is
great and to do it where it all started was nice," he said.