for this game

Nowitzki, Mavericks simply too much for 76ers

Feb 12, 2007 - 3:19 AM PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia 76ers have been making strides of late. A visit from the league-leading Dallas Mavericks let them know how far they have to go.

The 76ers were no match for the Mavericks, who opened a big early lead and had all five starters in double figures as they cruised to their seventh straight victory, 106-89.

"They are one of the top teams," 76ers guard Andre Iguodala said. "They are trying to be a championship team just like they tried last year. It really is a matter of who gets hot at the right time. I think they are trying to go out there and continue to get better. They are trying for perfection in everything that they do and that is what help a team become a champion."

Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Mavericks (42-9), who shot 52 percent (39-of-75) from the field and improved to a remarkable 18-6 on the road as they began a three-game trip.

"They're a good basketball team," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "There's a reason why they're 42-9. You can see a lot of things that they do - they defend, they have good offensive players, they have five or six guys in double figures every night, and they have two All-Stars."

The 76ers (17-35) have shown steady improvement since trading superstar Allen Iverson in December and waiving forward Chris Webber last month. They came into Sunday's contest 12-16 since the trade and had won seven of their last 12 contests, a stretch that also included a pair of one-point losses.

But the Sixers do not have anywhere near enough firepower to play with the Mavericks, and that became evident very quickly.

"That was a great team we played against - a team that is going to be (in the hunt) at the end," Sixers forward Kyle Korver said.

Despite a sputtering start, Dallas opened a 25-18 lead after one period as Nowitzki scored 10 points and turned it into a rout in the second period.

The Mavericks made the defense of the Sixers seem non-existent, scoring 38 points on 15-of-19 shooting and speeding to a 63-39 halftime advantage.

"Ultimately, that's what you want to do on the road is establish yourself, play some good defense, push the ball up the floor and make some shots," Nowitzki said.

"Against a good young team, you have to come out and impose your will," said Mavericks guard Jason Terry, who had 16 points and 11 assists. "I thought that we were able to do that for the first 24 minutes."

A three-point play by Josh Howard, who scored 15 points, gave Dallas its largest lead at 78-48 midway through the third quarter before Philadelphia began to fight back.

The Sixers closed to 84-65 after three periods, then opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run, cutting the deficit to 86-78 on a three-point play by Iguodala with 8:46 to play.

"We cut the lead to eight, which is a feat in itself after being down 30, but we had to do everything right at that point," Cheeks said. "We continued to play and that's what I like about our team. Even though we got down 30 points, we continued to fight, we gave ourselves a chance."

Terry answered with two straight jumpers to rebuild the lead to 12 points. An 8-0 burst gave Dallas a 98-80 lead with less than five minutes to go and sent what remained of the small crowd of 13,673 heading for the exits.

Devean George scored 15 points and Erick Dampier added 12 for the Mavericks, who made 7-of-15 3-pointers and committed just nine turnovers.

Iguodala had 21 points and nine boards and Korver scored 18 points for the Sixers, who shot 43 percent (34-of-79).

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