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Nowitzki, Mavericks keep Spurs winless

Nov 5, 2008 - 5:01 AM By Brian Guerra PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN ANTONIO (Ticker) -- Dirk Nowitzki had 30 points and seven rebounds to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a 98-81 triumph over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.

The Mavericks notched their second road win of the season and kept the struggling Spurs winless three games into the campaign for the first time since 1973-74.

"We're all a little ticked about the 0-3 start and dropping another one at home," Tim Duncan said. "What can you do? You don't hang your head. You try and turn it around tomorrow."

Dallas, which used a 24-9 run late in the second quarter to open an 18-point halftime lead and held a comfortable advantage for much of the second half, withstood a late charge by San Antonio.

The Mavericks were on the second game of a back-to-back after a humbling loss, 100-81, to Cleveland the night before in Dallas. Nowitzki said the team was embarrassed after the setback to Cleveland.

"We had a meeting this morning, and we just had to get back to playing hard on both ends of the floor. I think today we found a good rhythm," he said.

The Spurs cut the deficit to seven after rookie George Hill converted two free throws with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter, but the Mavericks responded with eight straight points - part of an 11-3 run - to open a 91-76 lead.

"They were starting to knock on the door," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We needed to have good possessions and knock down some shots, and we did."

Josh Howard paced Dallas with eight first-quarter points, and Nowitzki and Jason Terry took over from there. The duo combined for 30 of the Mavericks' 52 points in the opening half, and Terry, in his first start of the season, finished with 29 points and six assists.

"(Terry's play) was big," Jason Kidd said. "Josh and Dirk have been playing well, so for him to come in and get going right off the bat was huge for us."

Tony Parker scored nine of his 22 points in the second quarter for the Spurs, but the Mavericks shot 55 percent from the field in the first half for a 54-36 lead at intermission.

"Dallas came out with a lot of energy, shot the ball well and executed," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We did the opposite and that put us in a hole."

The Mavericks outrebounded the Spurs, 45-34, a stat Popovich pointed out.

"They just simply kicked our butts on the boards," Popovich said. "They were more focused and more energetic. I don't know, their pregame talks must be better than ours."

Duncan, who finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, scored four straight to trim the deficit to 72-57 with 2:18 left in third quarter. He opened the fourth with an emphatic dunk that seemed to energize the Spurs, sparking a 15-4 run that reduced the Mavericks' lead to 80-73 with 7:29 left.

Hill and Roger Mason each came off the bench to score 11 points for San Antonio.

Howard added 14 points and 12 rebounds for Dallas, which had 22 assists compared to San Antonio's 12.

Dallas hasn't been playing it's best basketball early in the season, but Carlisle said they made small strides against San Antonio.

"Basketball has a balance and a formula that works for every team and tonight is the closest we've been to that formula," he said.

The Spurs last dropped their first three contests to open a season 35 years ago, when they started 0-4 as members of the ABA.

"Well, we're 0-3, and that's not as good as 3-0, but we play another game tomorrow," Popovich said.

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