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Nowitzki, Mavericks top Grizzlies to continue home dominance

Feb 8, 2007 - 6:40 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks are good on the road but they are practically unbeatable at the American Airlines Center.

Nowitzki had 38 points and 10 rebounds and Josh Howard added 23 and nine as the Mavericks tied a franchise record with their 16th consecutive home win, a 113-97 victory over the lowly Memphis Grizzlies.

Holding the NBA's best record, Dallas (40-9) continued its stellar play and tied the previous franchise-best home stretch set from January 3-March 3, 2006. The Mavericks' last home loss came against Detroit on December 7.

"The great teams do a great job protecting home court," Nowitzki said. "We haven't really played that great. We want to step it up and work on some stuff and go from there. At least, we know we can win some games."

One of the leading candidates for MVP, Nowitzki used his unguardable jumper to torch the Grizzlies, who could not find an answer for the 7-0 superstar. Nowitzki shot 14-of-20 from the field - including nailing both of his 3-pointers - and 8-of-9 from the line.

With Memphis in a zone, Nowitzki's shot was especially valuable.

"You want to get the best look out there," Nowitzki said. "We had some good looks out there; some open threes in the corner and had some open 15 to 16 footers that we have to take. We can't over-penetrate the zone either. You have to take the good looks that are there and just keep moving the basketball. It's better to go through (seeing a zone) now than in the playoffs."

Hitting from all angles, Nowitzki's shot was on but he made an impact with his unselfish play, dishing out six assists and helping out on the boards - snatching four offensive rebounds.

Setting the tone for the game, Dallas outscored Memphis, 40-24, in the opening period, and the Grizzlies would not recover. However, the Mavericks were disappointed in their sluggish play in the second half.

"Unless you know how hungry we are, last year was a real disappointment for us in the Finals," Dallas guard Jason Terry said. "Guys are just holding each other accountable. We can't keep having those mental lapses. It's just little things that we need to work on. It's nothing major.

"Like you said, we still won by 16, but that third quarter, we're going to look at that and he (coach Avery Johnson) is going to get after us. We'll have a good practice (Thursday)."

Mavericks center Erick Dampier did not play with a sore right knee, and his teammates missed his interior presence.

"Obviously, we need him. DeSagana (Diop) got into foul trouble and was able to be out there for only about 10 minutes," Nowitzki said. "Obviously, that hurt us. We need those two centers to clog up the middle for us. When we go small, guys get in the paint on us and score in there. Obviously, we need our two fives to come up big."

Pau Gasol had 29 points and nine rebounds for Memphis (12-38), which shot 49 percent (38-of-78) and remained one game ahead of Boston for the worst record in the NBA and a better chance at the No. 1 pick in June's highly anticipated draft.

"We've got a young, talented team here," Gasol said. "It needs time to get better and for those players to mature. We've gone through a lot this year. We need to focus on this year and why it's not working right now. We've had so many things we had to fight against. It's just been tough."

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