Trying to maintain playoff spot, Mavs drop Nets to end three-game skid

3-08-08 -- Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points and became the leading scorer in franchise history, helping the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Jersey Nets 111-91 Saturday night in the first meeting between the teams since making an eight-player deal featuring Jason Kidd.

Brandon Bass added a career-high 19 points, and Kidd had 13 assists, five rebounds and three points as Dallas ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 5-5 since the big trade.

Top Gun
Dirk Nowitzki needed every one of his 34 points Saturday against the Nets as he became the Mavericks' all-time leading scorer, edging out Rolando Blackman by one point.

Richard Jefferson scored 22 points for New Jersey, which lost its fifth straight and fell to 3-7 since adding Devin Harris, DeSagana Diop, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager and Keith Van Horn.

Nowitzki upped his career point total to 16,644, one more than Rolando Blackman. Nowitzki did it in 743 games, while Blackman played 865 games from 1981-82 to 1991-92.

The public-address announcer let everyone know when Nowitzki was a point away from tying Blackman and he got a loud standing ovation every time he touched the ball after that. He missed one shot and had a turnover before finally breaking the mark on an 18-foot turnaround jumper with 4:50 left. He left soon after, getting a big high-five and a hug from coach Avery Johnson, then more congratulations from his teammates and team owner Mark Cuban.

When the game ended, blue and white confetti fell from the rafters to mark the feat. Alas, Nowitzki already was in the locker room and most fans had headed out by then.

Harris received a loud cheer and a standing ovation from about half the crowd when he was introduced. He said before the game "of course there's motivation" to prove himself, but he was 3-of-12 for nine points with two assists. His few highlights included driving by Kidd and flipping a shot over Nowitzki, off the glass and in, and turning one of his high-speed fastbreaks into a three-point play.

Kidd didn't dazzle, but he showed he was giving maximum effort by hustling up the court to try preventing a fast break, charging so hard to knock over former teammate Josh Boone that his momentum carried him several rows into the stands.

The Mavericks came in knowing they need to get on a roll, and soon, to preserve a playoff spot and possibly improve their seeding. The schedule is ripe for it as this was the first of five straight games against teams with losing records, the first four of them at home.

Maybe that's why Johnson made so many moves.

He started Jerry Stackhouse and benched Jason Terry. He used six subs before the first quarter was over, ending that period and going the first two minutes of the second quarter with all his starters on the bench. The punishment seemed to work. After all five starters returned, Dallas closed the half on a 19-8 roll, taking an 18-point lead into the locker room. New Jersey never got closer than 12 the rest of the way.

Stackhouse scored 20 points, including a four-point play. Malik Allen and Antoine Wright, who came to Dallas with Kidd, combined for 11 points and Allen had nine rebounds. Jamaal Magloire, who signed with Dallas last week after being waived by New Jersey, had a basket, too.

The first 13 minutes of this game were tough to watch, with each team going 6-of-25. Dallas was up by 11, though, because it made all 13 of its foul shots while New Jersey was 2-of-6 from the line.

Game notes
Harris on the difference between being the point guard for the Nets than the Mavs: "There's a lot more freedom, I'm a lot more off the leash." ... Best fan's sign: "Devin Who? Just Kidd'n." ... Johnson repeatedly hollered "Illegal! Illegal!" just as ref Joe Forte was calling the Nets for an illegal defense. Forte then looked at Johnson and pointed to himself, saying something about let him do the officiating. "I'm just helping you," Johnson replied, managing to keep a straight face. ... Dallas player development coach Billy Owens was absent from his usual seat behind the bench. He was at Syracuse getting his number retired.