for this game

Mavericks down Clippers, seize seventh place in West

Apr 1, 2008 - 6:26 AM By Jonathan Raber PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks aren't exactly looking like a squad bound for the playoffs.

Jason Kidd scored a season-high 27 points as the Mavericks escaped with a 93-86 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

Josh Howard had 25 points and Jason Terry added 20 for Dallas, which had dropped five of its last six games entering the contest.

"This was a big win on the road in the position we are in," Kidd said. "Everybody responded tonight to win against a team that played hard. We held on there at the end."

The win helped Dallas (46-28) move into the seventh seed in the Western Conference, one-half game ahead of the Golden State Warriors (45-28) and a one game in front of the Denver Nuggets (45-29). The three teams entered Monday tied for seventh.

"We are in control of our own destiny," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said. "All we have to do is try to get better on defense and keep moving the ball on offense. If we can get some of these same performances we are getting out of our guys without Dirk Nowitzki, when he gets back, we think we can be a pretty good team."

The Mavericks have feasted on lowly competition, winning their last 11 contests against teams with losing records. However, they've stumbled against quality opponents, having lost 11 straight to teams with winning records.

"We had some tough losses last week, it's a good way to rebound after (Sunday night)," said Howard, whose team was defeated by the Warriors, 114-104, on Sunday. "We've got to turn it up another notch and get ready for this test."

Dallas will need to improve on Monday's performance if it hopes to not only make the postseason, but enjoy an extended stay.

The Mavericks took a 44-26 lead on a pair of free throws by Kidd midway through the second quarter before the undermanned Clippers chipped away at the lead, pulling to within three points on Al Thornton's putback with 6:07 left in the fourth quarter.

"We tried to fight back in the end, and we made a run in the fourth quarter, but we put ourselves in too much of a hole," Clippers forward Quinton Ross said.

Dallas followed with a 9-3 run, highlighted by Terry's 3-pointer, giving his team an 87-78 cushion with 3:39 remaining.

The Mavericks were without two regulars as Nowitzki missed his fourth game with the left ankle and knee injuries while Jerry Stackhouse sat out his second game with a strained right groin.

"With Dirk out, I'm just looking to be more aggressive and look for my shot," Kidd said. "Coach is encouraging me and my teammates would rather have me score a little more than pass."

The Clippers season-long struggles continued as they have lost 19 of their last 22 games.

Los Angeles' already depleted lineup took a hit when Chris Kaman left the game after suffering a right ankle sprain late in the first quarter and Cuttino Mobley exited late in the third with a sore left heel. Both did not return to the floor.

"I was definitely pleased with how hard our guys played," Clippers coach Mike Dunleavy said. "They kept us in the game after Kaman and Mobley got hurt. They kept battling and kept going hard."

Thornton finished with 26 points and Corey Maggette had 23 and nine rebounds in the loss for the Clippers, who had 10 field goals and 12 turnovers by halftime and finished with 23 total turnovers, which led to 32 points by the Mavericks.