Updated at 12:58 a.m., March 11, 2011
DALLAS (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points, Shawn Marion had 22 and Jason Terry 21 and the Dallas Mavericks proved themselves to their coach by beating the New York Knicks 127-109 Thursday night.
Dallas had lost two of its past three games, with coach Rick Carlisle calling his Mavericks “soft” after they blew a seven-point lead in the final minute in New Orleans the night before. Players responded just like he hoped, setting season highs for points in a quarter (41), half (72) and game.
The Mavs showed plenty of feistiness on both ends of the court, from newly added reserve Corey Brewer making a pair of backcourt steals — leading to a powerful dunk once — to Tyson Chandler and Jason Kidd turning an errant pass headed out of bounds into a three-point play for Brendan Haywood.
The lead peaked at 26 with those points, then New York rallied, but Dallas avoided another meltdown as it had against the Hornets and a few days before against Memphis, when an 18-point lead turned into a one-point loss.
The next challenge for the Mavs will be keeping it going Saturday night when the Los Angeles Lakers come to town. Dallas is 1 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles for the second seed in the Western Conference and would win the season series with a victory.
That’s important because it’s the first tiebreaker. The difference between second and third seed matters because it would determine the host of a second-round series between those teams.
Amare Stoudemire scored 36 points for the Knicks, who had won three straight. Stoudemire also picked up his 16th technical foul, which would trigger an automatic one-game suspension if it’s upheld. It was a marginal call and could be rescinded; he’s already had two wiped out this season. He also played through a bruised left shoulder sustained early in the game.
Carmelo Anthony had 18 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Landry Fields scored 19 and Toney Douglas added 18; those guards were the only New York players to make more than half their shots.
The Knicks made just 43 percent of their shots. The Mavs made 51 percent. Their effort showed up in other areas, too, such as 30 second-chance points and grabbing 10 more rebounds.
Marion was a surprise starter, both because Carlisle likes him coming off the bench and because he hurt his ribs while absorbing a flagrant foul the night before. He made 10 of 15 shots and grabbed eight rebounds in 30 minutes.
Nowitzki was only 7 of 19, but added nine rebounds. Rodrigue Beaubois had 14 points and six assists. Haywood had 12 points and eight rebounds in extended playing time because Chandler got in foul trouble. Chandler still added nine points and eight rebounds.
The Knicks made only 4 of 18 shots in the first quarter. They scored 22 of their 51 first-half points on free throws. They really weren’t doing much of anything until they were down by 26. Then Stoudemire led a 17-4 spurt that made things interesting.
Dallas never pulled away, but remained comfortably ahead, with the Knicks only getting as close as 12 points with 4:37 left.
Notes: Stoudemire’s technical foul was part of offsetting techs with Dallas’ Brendan Haywood. They were so stunned by Bennett Salvatore’s call that both were laughing. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni understood the ramifications and was so angry he got rung up, too. … This capped a stretch of four games in five days for Dallas, seven games in 10 days for New York. … The Knicks have lost 17 of 19 to the Mavericks and 10 of 11 in Dallas. … Knicks guard Chauncey Billups missed a sixth straight game because of a bruised left thigh. “He’s close,” D’Antoni said. “We’re hopeful he can get a practice on Saturday and then go on Sunday.” … Dallas F Peja Stojakovic (stiff neck) missed a second straight game. … Mavs owner Mark Cuban said the Denver Nuggets may be better off without Anthony. The Knicks are 6-4 since the blockbuster trade.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)