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Nowitzki, Howard lead Mavs over Grizzlies

Nov 18, 2007 - 6:12 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Josh Howard and Dirk Nowitzki combined to keep the Dallas Mavericks perfect at home. But just barely.

Howard scored a season-high 27 points and Nowitzki scored six in the final minute before the Mavericks survived two wide-open 3-pointers on the final possession for a 108-105 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night.

Devin Harris had 19 points, eight assists and keyed the defense with five steals for Dallas, which won its fifth straight home game.

"We were up three and gave them a clean look to tie it", Nowitzki said. "We were really very fortunate that (Juan Carlos Navarro) missed both of them. We didn't really finish the game the way we wanted to but at the end it's a W, but I think we know we've got a lot of things to work on."

The Mavericks broke open a back-and-forth game with a 12-1 spurt midway through the fourth period that snapped an 89-89 tie.

Howard scored six points during the burst, but Mike Miller took over for the Grizzlies, draining two long jumpers, a 3-pointer and a three-point play that tied the game at 101-101 with 73 ticks remaining.

"We didn't really close out the game the way we wanted to", Nowitzki said. "We left their shooters open a couple of times, gave up a couple of and-ones, the next thing you know they were right back in the game."

Nowitzki drilled a face-up jumper from the right wing, but Memphis' Rudy Gay hit a pull-up jumper in the lane to tie it with 44 seconds left. Nowitzki then drew a foul during a drive down the lane and hit two free throws with 31 seconds left.

Memphis center Pau Gasol then attempted to maneuver in the lane but was stripped by Harris, who was fouled and split two free throws for a 106-103 edge with 17.5 seconds left.

"Scouting report stuff,", Harris said. "Obviously, he likes to come back to his left hand. (DeSagna Diop) did a good job of cutting him off. I just anticipated him spinning back and he just happened to have the ball out and I got a piece of it."

After Navarro hit two free throws, Nowitzki drained two more from the free-throw line to rebuild a 108-105 lead with eight seconds left, but the Mavericks escaped when Navarro missed two wide-open 3-pointers in the final seconds.

"I was alone," Navarro said. "I tried to find one good shot, and then (Stromile Swift) got the ball again and passed me it. Bad luck, I don't know. So many minutes without a shot, but I was ready. It's just basketball, the shots are difficult, but that's my game and the coach has confidence in me."

In Friday's 120-118 double-overtime loss to New Orleans, the 27-year-old Spaniard tied the rookie record with eight 3-pointers en route to 28 points.

Nowitzki finished with 21 points and had missed five of his first nine free throws before the final minute.

"I couldn't make a free throw to save my life at the beginning," Nowitzki said. "It was just a weird game for me. At the end I got involved a little bit and knocked some shots down and made two big free throws. I put this game behind me. it was a win and that was about it."

Miller finished with 23 points and reserve forward Hakim Warrick added 17 for Memphis, which played without power forward Darko Milicic, who was out with an injured left thumb, and lost reserve point guard Mike Conley Jr. with a shoulder injury in the third period.

"We feel like Dallas is one of the top teams in the West, no question," Miller said. "Anytime you come into their place it's going to be a tough game. We competed, but we're not going to take a moral victory out of it because we don't believe in that. At the same time, we're growing as a young team and that's important."

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