Mavs clinch home-court advantage
Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Dirk Nowitzki scored 26 points as the Dallas
Mavericks clinched home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs with a
96-86 win over the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center.
Jerry Stackhouse added 18 points for Southwest Division champion Dallas, which
clinched the top mark in the Western Conference. The Mavs, winners in 12 of
their last 14, lead second place Phoenix by six games with five to play.
Josh Howard tallied 16 points and Devin Harris had 14 for the Mavs, who gave
the Clippers a taste of what the postseason will be like if they qualify.
The Clippers’ lead over Golden State fell to one-half game for the final spot
in the Western Conference. The Warriors are currently in action against the
Corey Maggette scored 24 points to lead Los Angeles, which has dropped two in
a row after a three-game win streak. Elton Brand added 20 points for the
Dallas broke open a close game in the third quarter. The Mavs scored the first
six points of the frame, capped by a Howard three-pointer for a 58-45 lead a
minute into play. Nowitzki later increased the lead to 15 points, 66-51 after
a pair of free throws with 6 1/2 minutes to play and the Mavs cruised into
the fourth with an 80-67 advantage.
Over the final 12 minutes, the Clippers could only get within eight points,
94-86, and that was with less than a minute to play after a Jason Hart bucket.
Hart ended with 14 points and eight assists for the Clippers, who trailed
30-27 after one quarter and 52-45 going into halftime.
The Mavs improved to 35-4 at home this season…Dallas has won five straight
at home…Howard returned to the lineup after sitting out Saturday’s game with
an ankle injury…Dallas has won two of the three meetings against the
Clippers this season.