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Nowitzki takes charge, leads Mavs past Kings

Jan 28, 2007 - 5:53 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki would not allow the Dallas Mavericks to have a losing streak.

Nowitzki fueled a pivotal fourth-quarter surge and sank a key jumper with 27 seconds remaining as the Mavericks resumed their winning ways with a 106-104 victory over the pesky Sacramento Kings.

Nowitzki had 32 points and 11 rebounds for the Mavericks (36-9), who had to scratch and claw for their 13th straight home win. They improved to 3-0 against the Kings this season.

"We wanted to focus on the one loss and people forgot about the other two wins we had (on the road)," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "So the men are working hard and they gutted this one out and I am really proud of them."

"To lose two in a row would really be disheartening, so after we lose, everybody is pretty much like a self-check," Mavericks guard Jason Terry said. "We all look in the mirror to see what we could have done better and we come out really, really focused in that next game."

Dallas had an eight-game winning streak snapped with Thursday's loss at Chicago, just its second setback in 44 days. The Mavericks had not lost consecutive games since starting the season with four straight defeats but appeared to be in trouble as they trailed 79-75 entering the final period.

"They were making shots and we really didn't have a lot of emotions out there and I thought it was time in the fourth quarter just to step it up on both ends of the floor," Nowitzki said.

"Maybe they overlooked the game a little bit," Kings center Brad Miller said. "They just finally lost to Chicago the last game out, so maybe they overlooked us."

Nowitzki made a jumper and found DeSagana Diop for a layup that triggered a 14-2 run and tied the game. From the mid-post, he handed off to Devin Harris, who drove for a three-point play that gave the Mavericks an 82-79 lead with 10:10 left.

The 7-foot superstar added an inside bucket and a 3-pointer that widened the margin to 89-81 with 7:43 to go.

"We had some good shots in transition, had some layups and that is really our game," Nowitzki said.

"They got the crowd back into it and they got all fired up and that's what you do when you're at home," Miller said.

The Kings hung around and closed to 101-100 with 46 seconds left on a jumper by Mike Bibby over Nowitzki, who responded with a 15-footer from the right wing with 27 seconds remaining.

A 3-pointer by Miller again made it a one-point game with 4.1 seconds to go before Nowitzki drained two free throws and the Mavericks intentionally fouled to prevent a tying 3-pointer.

Terry scored 18 points - including a clutch driving layup with a minute to play - and Jerry Stackhouse added 16 for the Mavericks, who shot 53 percent (40-of-76) from the field and held a 40-33 advantage on the glass.

Dallas shot a season-low 31 percent in Thursday's loss.

"We always like to bounce back from those types of games and tonight was no different," Stackhouse said. "Coming back home from the road, you know that first game is almost like still a road game, so it took us a little while. But we finally got it in gear in the fourth quarter and did what we should do and that is to protect our home court."

Ron Artest scored 25 points, Kevin Martin added 21 and Corliss Williamson 20 for the Kings, who also shot 53 percent (39-of-74). Sacramento has lost two in a row and 10 of 13.

Martin had a chance to tie the game but missed an open 3-pointer with 12 seconds to go.

"I thought offensively we executed as well as any team has all year against Dallas," Musselman said.

In a first half devoid of defense, Stackhouse and Williamson each scored 12 points off the bench as the Mavericks grabbed a 52-49 lead. The teams combined to shoot 54 percent (39-of-72) from the field.

Martin scored 11 points in the third quarter, when Artest took a shot to the mouth from an inadvertent elbow from Mavericks forward Josh Howard.

"We'll just learn from losses and move on," Nowitzki said. "We didn't respond the way we wanted to today, but at least we did enough to get the win there in the fourth quarter."

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