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Nowitzki leads Mavericks over Clippers

Jan 7, 2009 - 6:22 AM DALLAS (Ticker) -- The Dallas Mavericks were already coming off one embarrassing loss to an inferior opponent. Dirk Nowitzki wasn't about to let them suffer through another one.

The former league MVP buried a go-ahead, fadeaway jumper in the lane with 37 seconds left and scored 34 points to lead the Mavericks to a 107-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.

"This was a feisty Clippers team," Mavs forward Josh Howard said. "Those guys came out and competed with us, and we made some big shots in the end, with (Jason Terry) and Dirk, you know, we finished the game off."

The Mavs were blown out by the woeful Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday and looked well on their way to their second straight loss in this one.

They had already relinquished an 18-point, second-quarter lead as the Clippers stormed back to pull ahead in the final frame.

"We had a good lead there in the first quarter and just let up," Nowitzki said. "They got whatever they wanted offensively, and we couldn't get any stops. We were just trading baskets there for a while."

Al Thornton knocked down three buckets in a row to give Los Angeles a 101-96 advantage with 2:39 on the clock.

"We had just seven guys and still played well enough to win this game, should have won this game," Thornton said. "I think the guys gave their all and went out there and competed."

But the Mavericks closed the game on a 11-1 run. Nowitzki kicked things off with a 3-pointer, Howard followed with a baseline jumper to cut the deficit to one and Nowitzki put Dallas on top for good one possession later.

"It was a combination of us taking bad shots and them getting the ball to Dirk," Thornton said. "Dirk stepped up and made All-Star plays ... he's a great player. He stepped up and made some plays and they got the momentum going."

The Mavericks all but sealed the win moments later on the defensive end.

Jason Kidd poked away Eric Gordon's dribble, giving Dallas a shot to extend its lead and wear down most of the remaining seconds on the clock.

"I'm not going to even comment about that," Gordon said of the turnover. "It is what it is. The game's over and we took a loss, so I'm not going to worry about that."

Terry took advantage, burying a runner with six seconds left to make it a 105-102 ballgame.

"It was a situation where Dirk and I had communicated a decoy play where it looks like we're going to go to him, and I take the center off the dribble," Terry said. "We knew they would switch, and I made strong finish."

Thornton misfired from the arc on the other end as the Clippers' losing streak extended to eight games and counting.

It was the second disheartening loss in a row for the Clips, who took the surging Detroit Pistons to the brink on Sunday, only to fall by a single point thanks to a defensive goaltending call on the game's decisive possession.

In this one, they spoiled a stellar effort from rookie guard Gordon, who poured in a career-high 32 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field and 13-of-15 from the line.

"It was tough at the end," Gordon said. "We've been in this situation many times ... at least 10 times this year."

He scored the team's last nine points of the first half, including a 3-pointer and four foul shots, to cut the deficit to 10 going into the break.

"He just comes at you with strength, explosiveness," Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle said. "He had the officials blowing their whistles all night."

However, he went cold in the fourth quarter, registering just one point and committing three turnovers before ultimately fouling out.

Thornton added 25 points and eight boards for the Clippers.

Nowitzki and Howard made up the bulk of the offense for Dallas, as Howard dropped in 22 points to help make up for the struggles of the team's other offensive weapons. Terry was just 2-of-10 - including 1-of-8 from the arc - for nine points, while Kidd was 1-of-6, with all of his shots coming from 3-point range.

"We didn't play well at all, can't sugarcoat it," Terry said. "We've had two bad games in a row. We're fortunate to get away with a win, but it is what it is."