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Nowitzki scores 30 as Mavericks win fifth straight

Dec 22, 2007 - 7:21 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki has found his stroke, and the Dallas Mavericks are on a roll.

Nowitzki collected 30 points and six rebounds to lead the Mavericks to a 102-89 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Devin Harris scored 21 points, Josh Howard added 15 and Jason Terry chipped in 14 for Dallas, which has won five straight and seven of its last eight games.

"At this point, it doesn't really matter how many games you win in a row," Nowitzki said. "I thought after a tough month of November, things weren't really going our way and we couldn't really get any stops, we weren't making any shots and lost a lot of games that we thought we should have won.

"So far, for us the month of December has been a step in the right direction. We're not worried about any streaks. We want to feel good about ourselves going into the new year. We definitely made some improvement this month."

Nowitzki reached the 30-point plateau for the third straight game after not being able to put together back-to-back 30-point efforts in the first 25 games of the season. The reigning MVP shot 11-of-17 from the floor and poured in 10 points in the final quarter to help the Mavericks pull away.

"Some nights, you find your rhythm quick and some nights you don't," Nowitzki said. "I thought today I got great looks right away. I got to the foul line some, that always helps. I've got a good shooting rhythm lately. I hope I continue this but some nights it seems like nothing goes down, and I've still got to be efficient for the team and effective.

"I've got to go out there and help the team in a lot of different areas. We'll see if I continue to have good shooting rhythm after the break."

The Clippers hung tough in the opening period and grabbed a brief 24-23 lead when Paul Davis nailed a jumper 27 seconds into the second quarter. But the Mavericks responded with a 12-0 run over the next four minutes to take a 35-24 lead.

Devean George hit a pair of 3-pointers and Jerry Stackhouse scored four points during the spurt. Nowitzki ended up with 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the opening half, including 14 in the first quarter.

Dallas led 54-42 at the half, scoring 31 points in the second quarter on 62 percent (11-of-18) shooting from the field.

Harris made all three shots he took and scored 10 points in the second quarter as the Mavericks held Los Angeles to 38 percent (18-of-48) shooting from the field in the first half.

"They pay so much attention to Dirk, Josh, guys that they have to pay attention to, so I can sneak in there for three or four layups," Harris said. "When we get stops, we definitely want to push it on the other end and get some easy buckets."

The Clippers used a 15-4 run top open the third to cut their deficit to 60-57 on Richie Frahm's 3-pointer. Frahm scored seven points and Corey Maggette added four during the burst.

Dallas answered with an 11-2 spurt over the next 3 1/2 minutes that stretched the lead back to 71-59 with 3:14 left in the third. Howard totaled five points in the run, capping the spurt with a 3-pointer, while Harris had four points in the run.

"I'm guessing we got some stops and just executed on offense," Harris said. "That's usually what it comes down to."

"We got it to within three in the third quarter and then let them get, I think, three buckets in succession," Clippers guard Brevin Knight said. "You can't do that against good teams."

Los Angeles got as close as 88-81 on Dan Dickau's jumper with 5:16 left in the game, but Nowitzki scored six points as the Mavericks reeled off a 9-0 run over the next two minutes to put the game away.

Nowitzki's big game overshadowed another dominant performance by Clippers center Chris Kaman, who finished the game with 24 points and 19 rebounds. Kaman shot 11-of-19 from the floor en route to his 11th straight double-double.

"It's frustrating," Kaman said. "A lot of things went well for me, but we can't get the win. I just try to play hard. My teammates really do a good job of getting the ball to me. I try to find them when I can. It's a team game but we just don't do it as well as we can. It's unfortunate."

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