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Trying to maintain playoff spot, Mavs drop Nets to end three-game skid

DALLAS (AP) -- Jason Kidd faced the New Jersey Nets for the first time since being traded, Devin Harris returned to Dallas and Brandon Bass scored the most points in his career.

Yet the long, loud standing ovation and the confetti shower at game's end wasn't for any of them. It was for the guy Mavericks fans usually come to see -- Dirk Nowitzki.

Nowitzki further entrenched himself as the greatest player in franchise history by moving to the top of the club's career scoring list with 34 more in a 111-91 victory over the Nets on Saturday night.

Nowitzki upped his point total to 16,644, one more than Rolando Blackman scored. Nowitzki did it in 743 games, while Blackman played 865 games from 1981-82 to 1991-92.

"Ro Blackman is a friend of mine and he coached the German national team one year, so I'm really, really close to him," Nowitzki said. "I hate to break that record and take it from him. But it's definitely a great honor for me."

Said Blackman, the team's director of basketball development and one of only two players whose number is retired: "It's just a fantastic thing to see a guy be so consistent and really such a great star in this league. I'm glad he broke the record. I'm glad it's him. It's a good overall night."

Nowitzki, the reigning NBA MVP, already held most of the significant marks in the Mavs record book. This gives him the biggest of all. It's worth noting that since he broke into the league in 1998-99, only Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson have scored more points.

"Hopefully I've got a lot of good basketball, a lot of points left in me for this franchise," said Nowitzki, who at 29 might only be halfway through his career. "All of those records are going to look really nice in 20, 30 years when you look back and you can tell your grandchildren about them. As of right now, we're just trying to get back on track."

The Mavericks had lost three straight and four of five, putting them in jeopardy of slipping to the outer edge of the playoff race. But they're hoping this victory helps get them headed back in the direction they expected when making the eight-player trade to land Kidd. The schedule is ripe for them as this started a five-game stretch against teams with losing records, the first four coming at home.

"We definitely needed to get together," said Jerry Stackhouse, who got promoted to the starting lineup and responded with 20 points.

Bass added 19 points and Kidd had 13 assists -- including setting up Nowitzki's record-breaker -- plus five rebounds and three points.

Richard Jefferson scored 22 points for New Jersey, which lost its fifth straight and fell to 3-7 since adding Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager and Keith Van Horn.

Harris was 3-of-12 for nine points with two assists. The Nets had 12 total assists -- one less than Kidd handed out. Dallas had a total of 26.

"I think we're a little stagnant right now," said Harris, who received a loud cheer and a standing ovation from about half the crowd when he was introduced. "It's kind of hurting when we only get 12 assists and that ball is not moving like it should."

Kidd didn't dazzle, but he showed he was giving maximum effort by hustling up the court to try preventing a fast break, charging to hard to knock over former teammate Josh Boone that his momentum carried him several rows into the stands.

"The emotions were the first couple minutes, seeing the guys. Then you realize it's not a practice, it's a game, and we needed a win," Kidd said. "We tried to get some easy baskets early and make it tough on them."

Dallas never trailed, despite its starters going 1-of-10 in the first quarter. Coach Avery Johnson practically emptied his bench in the opening period and opened the second quarter with all reserves. Once the starters returned, they built an 18-point halftime lead and were up by at least 12 the rest of the way.

The only intrigue left was whether Nowitzki would set the record.

The public-address announcer let everyone know when he was only a point away from the tie. He got a loud standing ovation every time he touched the ball after that, missing one shot and throwing away a pass before finally breaking the mark on an 18-foot turnaround jumper with 4:50 left.

He was taken out soon after, getting a big high-five and a hug from Johnson, then more congratulations from his teammates and team owner Mark Cuban. When the game ended, blue and white confetti fell from the rafters to mark the feat. Alas, Nowitzki already was in the locker room and most fans had headed out by then.

Nowitzki might've gotten the record the previous game, but he missed it because of a one-game suspension for a hard foul on Utah's Andrei Kirilenko.

"Tell Dirk just don't get any more flagrant fouls in my coaching tenure," Johnson said. "I'm a better coach when he's on the floor."

Game notes
Harris on the difference between being the point guard for the Nets than the Mavs: "There's a lot more freedom, I'm a lot more off the leash." ... Best fan's sign: "Devin Who? Just Kidd'n." ... Johnson repeatedly hollered "Illegal! Illegal!" just as ref Joe Forte was calling the Nets for an illegal defense. Forte then looked at Johnson and pointed to himself, saying something about let him do the officiating. "I'm just helping you," Johnson replied, managing to keep a straight face. ... Dallas player development coach Billy Owens was absent from his usual seat behind the bench. He was at Syracuse getting his number retired.