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Nowitzki's late 3-pointer lifts Mavericks over Jazz

Apr 11, 2008 - 4:38 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 32 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer with under one second to go as the Dallas Mavericks posted a thrilling 97-94 win over the Utah Jazz on Thursday.

Jason Terry scored all 21 of his points in the second half for Dallas, which clinched a playoff spot with the win.

Nowitzki finished 12-of-23 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from the arc, leading Dallas to its fifth win in its last six games.

"It was just a great, great ballgame with playoff intensity," Nowitzki said. "I think when the playoffs start, we're going to all have to play a high level because the Western Conference is so deep and we've got to have everyone playing well."

Utah was down by three when Deron Williams banked in a 3-pointer from the left wing to tie the game with five seconds remaining.

But the Mavericks did not call a timeout and raced down the court. Nowitzki, who was left all alone on the left side of the arc, drained the outside shot to give Dallas a 97-94 edge with nine-tenths of a second to play.

"I saw the ball go in off the glass and I knew we didn't have a timeout left," Nowitzki said. "Usually you take a time out there and set up a play. We all knew that we didn't have a timeout left, so Kidd took it out really quick and got it to Eddie (Jones).

"Eddie did a great job of pushing the ball and making the defense collapse on him. I was wide open on the wing, and at that point, I really didn't know how much time was left, but I knew I had to let it go - and I'm happy it went in."

Williams' desperation 3-pointer was off the mark, as Dallas (50-29) sealed its eighth straight 50-win season.

"We played a team tough, a team that's been playing pretty good basketball right now fighting to get into the playoffs and trying to climb up the ranks," Williams said. "It's a loss, man. It happens. They just made some more plays than us down the stretch."

Nowitzki scored seven points during an early 11-0 run that gave the Mavericks an 18-4 lead with 5:43 left in the first quarter.

"My biggest problem was the way we started the game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "You come out the way we started to play and there wasn't very good basketball at all. They took us out of our offense early and we panicked a little bit and couldn't get back into it for a while."

Utah trailed by nine at the end of the first and cut the deficit down to 28-26 early in the second, but Dallas pushed the lead up again to as many as 13 before settling for a 47-40 advantage at the break.

The Jazz chipped away in the third quarter and a Ronnie Brewer jumper gave Utah its first lead since the opening minutes at 60-59 with 3:28 left in the quarter.

The Mavericks reclaimed a one-point edge entering the fourth, and the lead changed eight times in the first six minutes of the final period until Terry scored four straight points to give the Mavericks an 82-79 advantage with 5:15 remaining.

"We hadn't really won these types of games," Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. "Now, it's three out of four against some pretty good teams and that's all we're focusing on."

However, Carlos Boozer answered with a three-point play to tie the contest at 82-82.

Trailing by one with under two minutes to go, Dallas went ahead on a jumper by Terry, and Nowitzki later pushed the lead to 92-89 on a jumper with 28 seconds remaining.

Williams made a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to one, but Terry answered with two from the stripe to give Dallas a 94-91 lead with nine seconds left.

Mehmet Okur had 19 points and 14 rebounds and Williams finished with 18 and 12 assists for the Jazz, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

"Give them credit," Sloan said. "They (Dallas) wanted it and they got after it and played hard."