Mavericks extend dominance of Hornets

3-27-07 -- Even a throwback night couldn't help the New Orleans Hornets hearken back to the times when they beat the Dallas Mavericks.

Not against a team so proven at establishing and extending winning streaks.

Josh Howard had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Mavericks beat New Orleans 105-89 Tuesday night for their 21st straight victory over the Hornets.

For a team that's already become the first in NBA history to have three winning streaks of 12 games or longer in a single season, it was also the seventh straight win for the Mavericks and their sixth in a row on the road.

"It was really a fun trip, obviously. We're trying to work hard offensively moving the ball, and everybody's making shots," said Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 15 points while shaking off an illness. "It was a fun trip."

Jason Terry added 19 points and seven assists, and Devin Harris scored 14 points for Dallas. The Mavericks are already past halfway to an unprecedented fourth 12-game winning streak.

Dallas needs only one more win to match the franchise record of 60, set in 2002-03 and matched last season.

"We just knew we wanted to get better as a team going on this road trip. In the playoffs, you need wins on the road," Howard said. "We've kind of proven to ourselves right now that we can get wins on the road."

The Hornets haven't beaten Dallas since the turn of the century, the longest losing streak for one team against an opponent in the NBA, NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball. The Mavericks' last loss in the series came on Nov. 17, 1999, in Charlotte.

On a night when fans were asked to wear retro clothing from the 1970s and '80s, Dallas led by 25 points after three quarters, and the team's top three scorers were able to watch the entire fourth quarter from the bench. Hornets coach Byron Scott said he thought his team had quit even before then.

"With 18 minutes left, down 15 points, they said, `It's too hard.' That is very discouraging to a coach," Scott said. "I told them I don't want to see that again."

Scott said he didn't think the losing streak against the Mavericks "had anything to do with it."

"I think they saw a mountain that couldn't be moved," Scott said. "They said, `We can't even push it. It's not going anywhere.' I don't care if it can be moved or not. You keep pushing. You keep trying to move it. We stopped."

Tyson Chandler scored 11 of his 13 points in the first half as the Hornets overcame an early 11-point Dallas lead before succumbing to the team with the NBA's best record.

Jannero Pargo added 23 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, and Desmond Mason and David West scored 10 apiece for New Orleans. Chris Paul, the Hornets' leading scorer, went 1-for-10 from the field and matched his season low with two points.

"He felt like we gave up, but that wasn't the case," Paul said of his coach's comments. "I think we gave an effort. I just think a lot of credit goes to Dallas. They shot the ball unbelievably well, and they really put it to us tonight."

After making more than 60 percent of their shots until early in the fourth quarter, Dallas ended up at 55 percent from the field.

The Mavericks hit seven straight shots, including three straight jumpers by Nowitzki, and pulled away with a 21-8 run to build an 80-56 lead late in the third quarter. Howard finished the quarter with a four-point play to give the Mavericks a 25-point edge.

The lead reached as many as 31 twice in the fourth quarter with mostly reserves on the floor for both teams.

Despite two early fouls that landed Nowitzki on the bench, Dallas scored nine straight points to build a 22-11 first-quarter advantage. The Hornets rallied back in the second quarter with a 9-0 run of their own, capped by Rasual Butler's 3-pointer from the left wing that put New Orleans up 39-38.

Mavs coach Avery Johnson then called his second timeout in a 39-second span and took Nowitzki, DeSagana Diop and Devean George out of the game. Dallas responded by scoring 11 points in a row. Terry had the final five points on a jumper and -- after Paul couldn't get back following a fast-break miss -- a 3-pointer from the left corner.

"We had to get two people out that weren't competing defensively. We had to get them out, get some other guys in that wanted to compete a little bit more defensively and move the ball," Johnson said. "When we brought the other two guys back, then they got back on the same page in terms of what we were trying to do."


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