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Mavericks use big fourth quarter to defeat Wizards

Dec 22, 2008 - 3:00 AM WASHINGTON (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks certainly aren't making things easy for themselves.

While once again struggling against one of the league's weakest teams, the Mavericks overcame an often-sluggish performance to post an 97-86 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday night.

The Mavericks have been played tough by the likes of Oklahoma City, Charlotte and Toronto this month - but have managed to come away with victories in those contests nonetheless. Sunday's ballgame was no exception.

"It wasn't a pretty game. We kept on plugging," Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "We knew they had a lot of guys who were capable. Teams are never as bad as their records."

After holding just a two-point edge through three quarters, the Mavs finally got a bit of breathing room as they opened up the final frame with a 6-0 run. Nowitzki scored all three baskets as Dallas pulled ahead and never looked back. The All-Star forward finished with 23 points and nine boards to deal the Wizards their sixth loss in a row.

"We got better as the game went on," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. "The group at the end did some really good things. They took away penetration. They helped. They scooped loose balls. They got rebounds. They converted at the other end."

It was also sweet revenge for the Mavericks, who were swept by Washington in the 2007-08 season series.

After Caron Butler's 3-pointer with 6:20 on the clock pulled Washington to within five, Jason Kidd found Jason Terry cutting through the lane on consecutive possessions, then found Devean George for a dunk to extend the lead into double digits.

"It was the same story. They went small and we had a lot of miscues on defense," Wizards forward Antawn Jamison said. "They did a lot of cutting and screening and we didn't communicate at all. We did a great job throughout the game, but when we needed it most, we didn't communicate and play as a team on the defensive end."

Kidd, despite an 0-of-6 showing from the floor, engineered Dallas' fourth-quarter surge, dishing out six of his 11 assists in the final six minutes of play.

"He can always impact the game even if he doesn't score any points," said Terry, who led Dallas with 25 points off the bench. "He had so many assists. In the last four minutes of the game, he totally controlled the game."

Prior to the final period, neither team had been able to establish any semblance of control. The biggest lead of the night was the Wizards' 44-38 edge late in the second quarter - which came courtesy of the team's most impressive stretch of the game.

Washington had fallen behind by three but responded with a 9-0 run, with Jamison capping the spurt with a pair of short jumpers. However, Terry buried four free throws over the final 45 seconds of the half to pull the Mavericks back to within two.

Terry once again brought the Mavericks from behind at the end of the third, knocking down 3-pointers on the last two possession of the quarter to turn a four-point deficit into a 70-68 lead.

"When you're on the road, you keep playing," Carlisle said. "We were disappointed in the first half, didn't get off to a good start in the second. We knew we had to hang in. We knew the Wizards are a good team despite the record."

Jamison paced the Wizards with 22 points and Butler added 18.

During their current six-game slide, the Wizards have reached the 100-point mark just once. In this one, they shot 39.5 percent (30-of-76) from the field, but took advantage of Dallas' poor perimeter shooting. The Mavericks were just 5-of-30 (17 percent) from 3-point range, as their entire starting lineup went cold from the arc.

The Nowitzki-Kidd-Josh Howard trio was a combined 0-of-12, missing four shots apiece. Terry was the only Maverick to find his range, going 4-of-8 from the arc.

"You just try to wear them down," Kidd said. "We were still in the ballgame. If we make some of those shots, it would be a different ballgame. We kept plugging away, getting stops on the defensive end. In the fourth quarter, we kept getting stops and getting baskets on the other end."