Friday , Mar , 02 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Streak at 14 as Mavs hold off Cavs

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki continued his push for the
league’s MVP and the Mavericks equaled a franchise-record with their 14th
straight win, escaping a pair of missed three-pointers from LeBron James in
the final few seconds for a 95-92 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Nowitzki had 24 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, as the Mavericks nearly
blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead before holding on for their 21st
consecutive home win, extending a franchise record.

Jason Terry ended with 20 points and Josh Howard contributed 17 points and 10
boards for Dallas, which tied the 14-0 start of the 2002-03 team for the
longest winning streak. That mark can be broken Saturday night at home against
Orlando.

“It was a tough win for us,” Howard said. “We didn’t finish out the fourth
quarter like we were supposed to. But it was a good overall effort and great
team defense.”

Dallas has won 10 of the last 12 meetings against the Cavaliers, but this
victory wasn’t secured until the final seconds. The incredible string by the
Mavericks, which includes wins in 35 of their last 37 games, moved their
record to a league-best 49-9.

“I love games like this,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. “We were fortunate
enough to win it, but we will have some good film study tomorrow to keep us
sharp and on our toes.”

Cleveland nearly won despite being without two of its players. Larry Hughes
was out with the flu, and Damon Jones missed the game with back spasms. That
meant LeBron James had to pick up the slack, and he did to the tune of 39
points on 17-of-27 shooting, but the All-Star missed two free throws and a
pair of threes in the final 13.7 seconds, as the Cavs lost for the third time
in four games.

Donyell Marshall’s driving layup cut Cleveland’s deficit to 94-89 with 1:52
left, but he and Sasha Pavlovic both missed three-point tries moments later.

Marshall was then called for a loose-ball foul on Howard, who made one free
throw with 46.8 seconds left.

James, though, completed a three-point play with 41 seconds left before Terry
missed on a drive to the basket, and James was fouled on a drive to the bucket
with 13.7 seconds to go. James missed both foul shots, but the Cavs got the
ball back when Dallas tipped it out of bounds with 10.3 showing.

James then missed a long three from the top of the circle, but the ball
caromed off the front of the rim back to him. He then pump-faked before
missing his second try off the back of the rim as time expired.

“I thought both of them were going down, but I doubt that next time I don’t
take them,” James said. “Things happen and we had an opportunity to make shots
before them, but I’ll take that shot any day.”

Erick Dampier added 10 points and nine rebounds for Dallas, which also got 10
points from Jerry Stackhouse.

Marshall scored 14 and Pavlovic 11 for the Cavaliers.

The Mavs led 27-23 after one quarter and were in front 52-42 at the half. They
remained ahead by double digits most of the third, carrying a 74-62 cushion
going into the fourth. That margin grew to 89-75 following two Nowitzki free
throws with 6:21 left before Cleveland rallied.

Game Notes

Cleveland has lost seven straight and nine of its last 12 at Dallas…Dallas’
last loss at home was on December 7th against the Detroit Pistons. The Mavs
last loss overall was January 25 at Chicago…This was the first of two
meetings between the squads this season. Cleveland is scheduled to host the
Mavericks on March 21.

CLE DAL