DALLAS (AP) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 53 points -- the most ever by
a Dallas player and tops in the NBA this season -- and was just as
dominant in other parts of his game, carrying the Mavericks past
the Houston Rockets 113-106 in overtime Thursday night.
Nowitzki scored 43 in regulation, then opened overtime with a
10-0 run. It featured a tough three-point play when he was fouled
by Tracy McGrady on a layup, and a high-arcing 3-pointer that drew
the biggest roar of the night and forced the Rockets to call a time
out. Nowitzki celebrated by pointing up with his index finger and
soaking in the cheers.
As exciting as his baskets were, he was equally impressive on
defense, stripping Jim Jackson on a drive when it was 97-93 then
knocking a ball away from McGrady on Houston's next possession. He
was active all night, as evidenced by his season highs for rebounds
(16) and blocks (four).
Yet the Mavericks still had to sweat this one out.
McGrady, who missed a free throw with 27.1 seconds left that
would have put Houston ahead, hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 left in
overtime that made it 108-104. A layup by Jackson with 20.4 got
Houston back within four, but the Rockets couldn't get any close in
losing their fifth straight.
McGrady finished with a season-high 48. Jackson scored 17, and
Yao Ming had 13 points and a season-high 14 rebounds before fouling
out with 53 seconds left.
When time expired, McGrady waited for Nowitzki near midcourt.
They slapped hands and hugged, with Nowitzki cracking a sly smile.
They both deserved to enjoy this one, which served as a heck of a
warm-up act for the cable television audience waiting to watch the
matchup of Cleveland's LeBron James and Denver's Carmelo Anthony.
Nowitzki finished 15-of-32, and was 21-of-22 from the line.
He topped his season high of 32 early in the fourth, then passed
his career high of 42 and matched the NBA season-high of 43 by
Cleveland's James on the free throws that came when Yao fouled out.
He matched the franchise record of 50 -- held by Jackson and Jamal
Mashburn -- on two more foul shots soon after he stole the ball from
The way Nowitzki dominated shows he's still improving his game,
even without close friend Steve Nash getting him the ball. The
point guard left for Phoenix in the offseason, but Nowitzki
nonetheless came in averaging 25.5 points, fourth-best in the
He opened by not only hitting his first four shots, but making
two of them immediately after snatching rebounds on the other end.
He looked then as if he was ready for a huge game, yet missed eight
of his next nine shots.
His tenacity showed again in the third quarter when Nowitzki
grabbed a rebound and took off. He tried a long pass, but it hit
the backboard, bounced off several players -- and he chased it down.
Although he missed his shot, the Rockets had to think he was
It seemed that way again when Nowitzki scored the first nine
points of the fourth, then assisted on the next basket. Houston
called timeout, only to be haunted by No. 41 again by Dallas
cheerleaders dancing in front of their bench wearing
rhinestone-studded Nowitzki jerseys. Then he scored the Mavericks'
But Dallas, which had lost three of five, couldn't hold a
five-point lead with 4:51 left.
A 3-pointer by McGrady put Houston up 90-89, the first of five
lead changes in the final 1:54 of regulation.
After McGrady missed the potential winning free throw, Nowitzki
tapped the rebound to Daniels. Nowitzki got the ball on offense,
but gave it to Stackhouse, who put up a wild shot that barely drew
iron. It made him just 3-of-11 and the ball went out of bounds to
Their last play started with McGrady, but he passed to Bob Sura
once double-teamed. Sura missed at the buzzer.
The only solace for Houston was being competitive after getting
routed by 21 at home to Detroit the previous game. The Rockets also
had a season-high 41 field goals; their skid of three straight
games under 30 had ended after three quarters.
Daniels and Jason Terry scored 14 for Dallas, which ended a skid
of six games scoring under 100.
Mavs point guard Devin Harris was named rookie of the month
for November. He's the first Dallas player to win it since Jason
Kidd in March 1995. ... Dallas beat Houston for the 12th time in
the last 15 meetings. ... McGrady set his season high in style: He
hit a 30-footer as the shot clock was about to expire. It gave him
34 and got Houston within 80-77.
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