Friday , Feb , 16 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Mavs at 44-9 after edging Rockets

Houston, TX (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points and grabbed
eight rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks came back to topple the Houston
Rockets, 80-77, to win their ninth straight game entering the All-Star break.

Jerry Stackhouse contributed 17 points off the bench for the Mavs, who have
won 30 of 32. Josh Howard added 15 points and 11 boards for Dallas, which
enters the break at a league-best 44-9.

“We have a lot of confidence in each other that we are going to make the plays
at the end of the game,” said Stackhouse.

Tracy McGrady scored 27 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Rockets,
who had won two straight entering the game. Juwan Howard scored 14 points for
Houston, and Shane Battier added 11 points.

Houston had a chance to win the game, holding the ball with the shot-clock
turned off, but Luther Head forced an off-balance jumper in the lane with just
under five seconds left. Jason Terry collected the rebound and was fouled,
hitting two free throws to put the Mavs up 80-77.

The Rockets still had 4.2 seconds left to hit a game-tying three, but Dallas
trapped McGrady as he received the inbounds pass, and the Rockets could not
get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.

Houston had led 77-74 with three minutes left, but could not score another
point, and four points from Terry, including a pull-up jumper in the lane, put
Dallas ahead 78-77 with 1:09 left.

Houston suffered through a cold spell in the third quarter, scoring only 12
points. Dallas capitalized on Houston’s struggles to regain the lead, but only
barely, entering the fourth quarter.

Despite an inability to hit shots from the field, a McGrady three boosted the
Rockets lead to 55-46 with 4:25 left in the third. The Mavs finally heated up,
though, ripping off a 12-0 run, capped by back-to-back threes by Stackhouse
that put Dallas ahead 58-55 with 24 seconds left in the third. Juwan Howard
hit a jumper in the waning seconds of the stanza, though, and the Mavs lead
stood at 58-57 entering the final 12 minutes.

“It’s the third straight time we’ve played them and been blitzed in the third
quarter,” said Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy.

The Rockets struggled early, and the Mavs led 21-12 with 3:21 left in the
quarter. A McGrady jumper fueled a 9-0 run to close the quarter, though, and
the Rockets edged into a 23-21 lead heading into the second.

Houston held a 45-38 lead at the break.

Game Notes

Dallas won the season series between the clubs, 3-1…Dallas improved to 20-6
on the road this season, where they have won four straight…Both teams shot
38.5 percent (5-of-13) from behind the three-point line…Houston had a
season-low nine assists.