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NBA FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL --- --- --- --- ----- DALLAS 29 38 23 19 109 HOUSTON 32 26 14 25 97 FINAL

HIGH SCORERS: DAL - MICHAEL FINLEY 27, JUWAN HOWARD 23, DIRK NOWITZKI 20 HOU - CUTTINO MOBLEY 28, MAURICE TAYLOR 16, HAKEEM OLAJUWON 15

HIGH REBOUND: DAL - DIRK NOWITZKI 9, THREE PLAYERS WITH 6 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 9, TWO PLAYERS WITH 8

HIGH ASSISTS: DAL - STEVE NASH 9, VERNON MAXWELL 4 HOU - STEVE FRANCIS 5, SHANDON ANDERSON 3

ATT: 11,926


Extended Box

DALLAS (109) AT HOUSTON (97)

DALLAS REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

HOWARD F 27 8-13 7-7 1 5 6 1 4 0 3 23 NOWITZKI F 33 9-16 1-3 0 9 9 1 4 1 0 20 BOOTH C 16 1-2 2-2 1 2 3 0 5 1 0 4 FINLEY G 41 12-21 2-2 2 4 6 3 2 1 3 27 NASH G 38 7-12 2-3 3 3 6 9 5 1 4 16 MAXWELL 33 3-10 0-0 0 3 3 4 4 1 1 8 BUCKNER 7 1-3 0-0 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 2 EISLEY 28 3-5 2-2 1 3 4 2 1 0 0 9 BRADLEY 9 0-1 0-0 1 3 4 0 0 0 0 0 NAJERA 5 0-3 0-0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 EKEZIE 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0

TOTALS 240 44-86 16-19 9 35 44 20 28 5 11 109 (.512) (.842) TEAM REBS: 6 TOTAL TO: 13(15 PTS)

HOUSTON REBOUNDS PLAYER POS MIN FGM-FGA FTM-FTA OFF-DEF-TOT AST PF ST TO PTS ====== === === ======= ======= =========== === == == == ===

ANDERSON F 24 2-4 2-2 1 1 2 3 0 0 0 6 TAYLOR F 24 7-14 2-3 0 4 4 2 3 0 3 16 OLAJUWON C 23 6-13 3-8 3 5 8 0 2 1 2 15 FRANCIS G 33 1-12 3-4 4 5 9 5 5 2 1 5 MOBLEY G 48 11-23 5-6 4 4 8 2 3 0 3 28 BULLARD 24 1-5 0-0 0 5 5 1 0 0 0 3 WILLIAMS 25 4-10 3-4 0 3 3 0 2 0 0 12 NORRIS 27 2-4 4-8 2 3 5 2 1 1 0 8 CATO 12 0-1 4-4 1 2 3 0 4 0 1 4 LANGHI DNP - STOMACH FLU ROGERS DNP - COACH'S DECISION THOMAS DNP - STOMACH FLU

TOTALS 240 34-86 26-39 15 32 47 15 20 4 10 97 (.395) (.667) TEAM REBS: 13 TOTAL TO: 10(10 PTS)

DALLAS 29 38 23 19 - 109 HOUSTON 32 26 14 25 - 97

BLOCKED SHOTS: DALLAS - NOWITZKI, BOOTH, BRADLEY. HOUSTON - FRANCIS, ANDERSON, CATO, WILLIAMS, OLAJUWON. 3-PT. FIELD GOALS: DALLAS 5-16 (.313), NOWITZKI 1-7, FINLEY 1-3, MAXWELL 2-5, EISLEY 1-1. HOUSTON 3-13 (.231), ANDERSON 0-1, FRANCIS 0-1, MOBLEY 1-3, BULLARD 1-4, WILLIAMS 1-4. TECHNICALS: DALLAS - MAXWELL, HOUSTON - MOBLEY. OFFICIALS: HUGH EVANS, DAVID JONES, COURTNEY KIRKLAND. A - 11,926. T - 2:11.


Box Score

DALLAS (109) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Howard 27 8-13 7-7 1-6 1 4 23 Nowitzki 33 9-16 1-3 0-9 1 4 20 Booth 16 1-2 2-2 1-3 0 5 4 Finley 41 12-21 2-2 2-6 3 2 27 Nash 38 7-12 2-3 3-6 9 5 16 Maxwell 33 3-10 0-0 0-3 4 4 8 Buckner 7 1-3 0-0 0-2 0 1 2 Eisley 28 3-5 2-2 1-4 2 1 9 Bradley 9 0-1 0-0 1-4 0 0 0 Najera 5 0-3 0-0 0-1 0 1 0 Ekezie 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 44-86 16-19 9-44 20 28 109 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.512, FT-.842. 3-Point Goals: 5-16, .313 (Nowitzki 1-7, Finley 1-3, Maxwell 2-5, Eisley 1-1). Team rebounds: 6. Blocked shots: 3 (Nowitzki, Booth, Bradley). Turnovers: 13 (Nash 4, Finley 3, Howard 3, Maxwell). Steals: 5 (Booth, Finley, Maxwell, Nash, Nowitzki).

HOUSTON (97) fg ft rb min m-a m-a o-t a pf tp Anderson 24 2-4 2-2 1-2 3 0 6 Taylor 24 7-14 2-3 0-4 2 3 16 Olajuwon 23 6-13 3-8 3-8 0 2 15 Francis 33 1-12 3-4 4-9 5 5 5 Mobley 48 11-23 5-6 4-8 2 3 28 Bullard 24 1-5 0-0 0-5 1 0 3 Williams 25 4-10 3-4 0-3 0 2 12 Norris 27 2-4 4-8 2-5 2 1 8 Cato 12 0-1 4-4 1-3 0 4 4 Langhi DNP - stomach flu Rogers DNP - coach's decision Thomas DNP - stomach flu _______________________________________________ TOTALS 240 34-86 26-39 15-47 15 20 97 _______________________________________________

Percentages: FG-.395, FT-.667. 3-Point Goals: 3-13, .231 (Anderson 0-1, Francis 0-1, Mobley 1-3, Bullard 1-4, Williams 1-4). Team rebounds: 13. Blocked shots: 5 (Francis, Anderson, Cato, Williams, Olajuwon). Turnovers: 10 (Mobley 3, Taylor 3, Olajuwon 2, Cato, Francis). Steals: 4 (Francis 2, Norris, Olajuwon). ____________________________________________ Dallas 29 38 23 19 - 109 Houston 32 26 14 25 - 97 ____________________________________________ Technical fouls: Dallas 1 (Maxwell, 7:14 4th). Houston 1 (Mobley, 0:42 2nd). Flagrant fouls: None. A: 11,926. T: 2:11. Officials: Hugh Evans, David Jones, Courtney Kirkland.


Game Story

HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Before clinching their first playoff berth in 11 years, the Dallas Mavericks almost celebrated early.

The Mavericks nearly squandered a 20-point lead but held on for a 109-97 victory. The win, coupled with San Antonio's victory over Seattle, enabled the Mavericks to wrap up their first postseason berth since 1990.

The accomplishment was especially satisfying for Dallas coach Don Nelson, who missed 21 games earlier in the season while recovering from prostate cancer treatment.

"How about that?" he exclaimed. "Congratulations, Dallas. We made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. We're very proud of that and it was a long time coming. That was our No. 1 goal at the beginning of the season."

"It's very gratifying," Dallas forward Michael Finley added. "I think it's also gratifying for coach Nelson because he said he would turn this team into a playoff team."

In the last decade, the Mavericks have been one of the NBA's losingest teams but they showed progress last season, finishing 40-42.

"Nobody believed in us at the beginning of the year but we believed in ourselves," Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "With Juwan (Howard) coming over in the trade, it has really helped our team get ready for the playoffs."

Dallas saw its lead cut to seven with just under three minutes remaining. Walt Williams and Cuttino Mobley hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cap a 13-0 run that pulled Houston within 100-93 with 2:53 remaining.

Nowitzki, who scored 20 points, stopped the spurt with a jumper with 2:33 left before hitting another that made it 106-95 with 1:19 to play.

Finley scored 27 points and Howard added 23 for the Mavericks, who completed a grueling five-game road trip at 4-1. They also beat Utah, Portland and Sacramento on the trip.

"If anyone said we would get 4-of-5 on this trip, I would have said they were insane, but we did it," Nelson said. "It was one of the most amazing trips I've been on. We're playing our best ball of the season right now."

Dallas' next goal will be to try to secure the home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The Mavericks hold the fifth seed in the Western Conference but are only one-half game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and one game in back of the Utah Jazz.

"It's (clinching a playoff spot) anticlimatic," Dallas guard Steve Nash said. "We knew it was coming and now we want something better. Last year, it would have been different but this year, we're shooting for bigger and better things."

The loss moved the Rockets one step closer to elimination. Houston fell four games behind idle Minnesota in the battle for the final spot in the West with only seven remaining.

"What does the math say?" Houston coach Rudy Tomjanovich asked. "It's not over 'til it's over."

Houston ran into a buzzsaw in the first half as Dallas raced to a 67-58 lead. The Mavs stretched their lead to 90-72 by holding the Rockets to only 14 points in the third quarter.

"We were playing one of the hottest teams in the league," Tomjanovich said. "We stayed with them for a while but we missed too many point-blank layups and they hit threes on the other end. That's the way it goes sometimes."

Dallas shot 51 percent (44-of-86) from the field while holding the Rockets to just 39.5 percent (34-of-86). The Mavericks also had a 21-5 edge in fast-break points.

Mobley scored 28 points and Maurice Taylor added 16 for the Rockets. But guard Steve Francis had one of the worst games of his two-year career, scoring only five points on 1-of-12 shooting.

The Rockets have dropped six of their last eight to virtually fall out of playoff contention.

"No excuses," Taylor said. "We fought hard for the last month and we came together as a team. It's really disappointing the last few games to see it slip away."

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