Saturday , Feb , 25 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Nowitzki’s jumper in OT caps Mavs’ huge comeback win over Raptors

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki drained a jumper with one second
remaining in overtime, and the Dallas Mavericks completed the second biggest
comeback in franchise history to down the Toronto Raptors, 115-113, at
American Airlines Center.

In coming back from a 24-point third quarter deficit, the Mavericks extended
their franchise-record home winning streak to 14 games. Dallas’ biggest
comeback victory was against the Denver Nuggets on November 12, 1994 when it
trailed by 25 points.

Nowitzki scored a game-high 32 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, Jason
Terry netted 27 points and Jerry Stackhouse sprang for 22 points and dished
out a season-high eight assists for Dallas, which won its fifth consecutive
game.

“How many teams in our league can do what we’ve done in the last two games.
We’re supposed to be not very good defensively and we’re supposed to be a team
that’s soft,” Dallas head coach Avery Johnson said. “I don’t know how many
physical teams that could overcome what we did. This is what I call mental
toughness in the fourth quarter.”

Four Toronto starters scored 20 or more points led by Chris Bosh’s 29 points
and 13 rebounds. Mike James tallied 25 points and dished out seven assists,
Charlie Villanueva recorded 23 points and Morris Peterson posted 20 for the
Raptors, who blew a chance to halt a two-game skid.

“We played well, we played well enough to win the game. Down the stretch we
allowed them to get second chance shots. We allowed them to hit three pointers
and get back into the game,” said Peterson. “Against a team like that who’s so
dangerous offensively we’ve got to step up and make plays, and on the
offensive end we did. On the defensive end we broke down and second chance
points and three pointers and rebounds killed us.”

Behind the normal cast of players, Toronto maintained its comfortable lead
during the third period. The lead grew to 86-62 after consecutive threes from
Villanueva and James, but two Stackhouse free throws trimmed the deficit to
91-74 with 56 seconds to play.

Dallas finally made its run during the opening minutes of the final stanza.
Keith Van Horn, Terry and Nowitzki all buried threes to cut the deficit to
single digits, 98-90, with 4:43 left. The comeback continued as Toronto’s lead
was trimmed to 103-101 on another Terry three-pointer with 2:42 on the clock.

After Stackhouse’s layup with 2:05 left brought the Mavericks all the way back
to a 103-103 deadlock, Nowitzki’s rainbow jumper put the club in front with
51.7 ticks to play.

The jumper capped a 24-5 scoring stretch over seven minutes, but the Raptors
didn’t panic and Villanueva calmly sank two free throws to tie the contest
with 29 seconds left.

Nowitzki turned it over on the next possession and James had his layup altered
by Nowitzki to force overtime.

James’ jumper pushed Toronto in front 110-109 in overtime, then Nowitzki
buried a jumper to put Dallas back in front with 1:15 left. After Toronto
failed to score, Darrell Armstrong found a streaking Nowitzki for a layup. The
perennial All-Star then blocked James’ layup and the Mavs seemed on their way
to victory.

However, Matt Bonner netted a three-pointer with 12.4 seconds left to tie the
contest. Everyone in the building knew Nowitzki was going to get the ball,
and the forward faced up Bonner and drained a jumper right over the Florida
product with one second left.

The Raptors were the aggressor in the opening 12 minutes, continually
attacking the basket and converting 12-of-14 free throw attempts. James and
Bosh each made 4-of-4 from the stripe and Toronto held a 32-22 advantage.

Toronto continued the role reversal with one of the NBA’s top teams, playing a
fearless brand of basketball seldom seen from the Raptors this season. A 7-1
burst to open the second period pushed the edge to 39-23, but Dallas stormed
back on the heels of a 15-6 run. Terry’s jumper followed by Nowitzki’s layup
brought Dallas within 45-38 with 6:48 left.

Toronto continued its solid play and led 67-51 at the half.

Game Notes

Dallas is now 9-1 in February. With a win on Monday, the Mavericks will secure
their seventh consecutive month with at least 10 victories…Dallas improved
to 25-4 at home this season…Toronto fell to 10-19 on the road…Dallas has
won five straight meetings between the clubs. Dallas forward Josh Howard did
not play with a sprained right ankle.

DAL TOR