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Nowitzki helps continue Mavericks' remarkable run

Mar 7, 2007 - 6:16 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- It was the same old story for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks - yet another win.

Nowitzki collected 22 points and 11 rebounds and came up big down the stretch as the Mavericks extended their franchise-record winning streak to 16 games with a 102-89 victory over the Nets.

Jason Terry scored 24 points and Erick Dampier had 12 and 14 rebounds for Dallas, which won its 23rd consecutive home contest.

"It feels good (winning at home), and I think we have the best fans in the NBA," reserve forward Greg Buckner said. "We want to come out every night and give them a good show. We want them to know that we are here for the long run, and we're going to perform and play hard for them."

Holding the NBA's best record, the Mavericks (51-9) already clinched their seventh straight playoff appearance when New Orleans lost to Utah on Sunday. But two days later, they played with the desperation of a team fighting for a playoff berth.

"After each game, we come in the next day and coach (Avery Johnson) dissects us like we lost," Buckner said. "We know we've got to win games now and try to get that top seed. We want to win 16 games in May and June."

Terry even dove into the second row after a loose ball in the final minutes - renewing a friendship in the front row.

"Oh, that's my lady. She's been a friend of mine since I joined the Mavericks," Terry said. "She always sat on that front row. It was a situation where there was a loose ball, I accidentally jumped into her, I saw where she was a little dazed and I wanted to give her a nice good kiss to wake her up. I woke her up and I was back in action."

However, Nowitzki's clutch shooting was the difference down the stretch. After the Nets cut the deficit to four points with 2:32 left, he nailed a jumper from the right elbow and added a nifty three-point play on Dallas' next possession. His personal outburst made it 92-84 with 1:39 left.

"In the fourth quarter, you know what time it is - it's winning time," Terry said. "Dirk and I really take it upon ourselves to get it done. I'm sure if we can't get it done then (Stackhouse), J-Ho (Josh Howard), somebody's going to step it up. That's the joy about playing on this team, on any given night it could be any one guy."

The 7-0 Nowitzki shot 8-of-17 from the field, dominated the glass and dished out five assists, and Terry was 9-of-15, including 3-of-6 on 3-pointers for Dallas, which shot 49 percent (40-of-82) from the field and 7-of-17 from the arc.

Vince Carter scored 32 points on 10-of-25 shooting for New Jersey, which fell one-half game behind idle Orlando in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

"I just wanted to be aggressive but I still feel like I let my team down," Carter said. "Yeah, I made shots but, to me, that's not acceptable. To win games, I have to come out and play my best, and I was just excited about the opportunity to get back on the floor and play, just compete and give it all I had."

Jason Kidd collected 11 points and eight assists for the Nets, who dropped their third straight game after a three-game winning streak to close out February.

"The effort was there," Kidd said. "We just made some mistakes in the end and again, against a team like Dallas, you can't give them opportunities. If we give that effort, we've got a good chance."

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