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Nowitzki finishes strong to help Mavericks edge Grizzlies

Feb 1, 2007 - 5:44 AM MEMPHIS, Tennessee (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki showed the Dallas Mavericks that when the pressure was on, they could lean on him.

Nowitzki scored 26 points and hauled in 11 rebounds as the Mavericks edged the Memphis Grizzlies, 95-94.

Jason Terry and reserve Jerry Stackhouse each had 20 points for Dallas, which has beaten Memphis six straight and 11 of the last 12 times.

Nowitzki, who had just 10 points at the end of three quarters, shot 4-of-7 from the floor and was 8-of-8 from the free-throw line in the final period to help the Mavericks hold off a 20-point burst by the Grizzlies' Mike Miller in the final quarter.

"In the fourth quarter I was able to get a few layups and a few free throws to go down, and that sort of got me going," Nowitzki said. "The main thing is we got the win."

"Stackhouse helped us during a big stretch, but Dirk's points in the fourth quarter off post moves, getting to the free-throw line and making strong moves basically carried us home," Spurs coach Avery Johnson said.

After Memphis' Chucky Atkins made a jumper from the left corner to cut the deficit to 91-88 with 13 seconds remaining, Nowitzki nailed four free throws in the final moments to help Dallas withstand 3-pointers by Miller and Atkins in the final five seconds.

"Mike Miller just seemed to back up every time he got the ball," Nowitzki said. "We knew he was a great shooter. He was really on fire and he kept them in the game in the end there."

"We were hitting shots and grabbing rebounds and playing better defense than we were in the first half," Miller said "But Dallas is a great team, and they just made plays when they had to and got the win."

Erick Dampier had 15 points and eight boards and Devin Harris scored 10 points for Dallas, which shot 43 percent (34-of-80) and overcame the absence of Josh Howard (19.4 points), who is awaiting the birth of his first child.

Miller scored 32 points - including 7-of-10 from the arc - and reserve Hakim Warrick added 15 points for Memphis, which has lost six straight at home to Dallas.

"Against this team, you either have an answer for Dirk or you don't, and tonight we didn't, Grizzlies interim coach Tony Barone said. "Their team has a deep bench, and they hit big shots. That's why their as good as they are."

Pau Gasol had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Grizzlies, who shot 44 percent (33-of-75) and have lost five of their last seven games.

"I wish we could have had a little more time at the end of the game," Atkins said. "It was a tough game. Obviously, when you play a team of that caliber, you have to play your best in order to win. We just couldn't make the key stop when we needed to."

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