Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 12/4

Game 1: Saturday, December 4th
Game 2: Wednesday, February 23rd
Game 3: Saturday, April 9th

Jazz 81

(24-52, 8-30 away)

Mavericks 88

(52-24, 27-12 home)

    Coverage: KJZZ

    7:30 PM ET, April 9, 2005

    American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX

    1 2 3 4 T
    UTAH 23 17 13 2881
    DAL 23 25 20 2088

    Top Performers

    UTAH: K. Humphries 15 Pts, 9 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Dal: D. Nowitzki 24 Pts, 9 Reb, 5 Ast, 5 Blk

    Nowitzki puts in 24 as Dallas secures fourth spot

    DALLAS (AP) -- The Dallas Mavericks will begin the playoffs on their home court.

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 24 points, and also contributed a key defensive play and an assist in the final minute to help the Mavericks beat the Utah Jazz 88-81 Saturday night and wrap up the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

    "We got what we wanted," said Nowitzki, who added nine rebounds, five assists and five blocks. "Now we have to focus ourselves so we can get our game where we want."

    The Mavericks' game looks pretty strong already. They won their seventh straight at home and improved to 10-2 since head coach Avery Johnson took over for Don Nelson on March 19.

    Jason Terry added 14 points and Michael Finley had 13 for Dallas (52-24), which holds a 5½-game lead over fifth-place Sacramento (47-30) and won the season series against the Kings 3-1.

    Kris Humphries scored 15 points to pace injury-riddled Utah, which was without Andrei Kirilenko (broken wrist), Carlos Boozer (strained foot), Raja Bell (bruised shin) and Curtis Borchardt (knee tendinitis).

    "I know they've been hit by injuries, but that team is going to play hard," Dallas' Keith Van Horn said.

    Mehmet Okur added 14 points for the Jazz, who have lost 15 of its last 19.

    "It's not good enough just to be in the game," Humphries said. "We want to win. We put ourselves in a good position and competed hard, but it's still an 'L' in the paper."

    Dallas was in front by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but the Mavericks missed 12 of its first 15 field goal attempts in the fourth. The Jazz narrowed it to 81-80 with 1:41 left on Okur's two free throws.

    After Josh Howard's layup gave the Mavericks an 83-80 lead with 54.8 seconds left, Nowitzki turned to defense to seal the victory.

    On Utah's ensuing possession, Nowitzki slapped the ball off the leg of Okur with 43 seconds left. When Okur complained that no foul was called on the play, he picked up his second technical of the night for an ejection.

    Nowitzki made the free throw for the technical, then fed Van Horn for a layup with 21.5 seconds left to stretch Dallas' lead to 86-80.

    "He's our go-to scorer, those other things are just intangibles," Terry said of Nowitzki. "But when he does (those other things), that just makes us tougher to beat."

    Dallas missed seven of 18 first-half free throws, but still held a 48-40 lead at intermission.

    The Mavericks clamped down on the defensive end in the second half, holding the Jazz without a field goal for a span of 10:20 late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter.

    "It takes a close game in the fourth quarter to wake you up," Johnson said.

    Game notes

    After the game, Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse and Utah's Kirk Snyder scuffled for 40 seconds in a hallway near the Jazz team bus. Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said no one was hurt and the league had been notified. "Stack said he was defending himself," Cuban said. "It started in the game. Right now we're hearing a lot of bits and pieces and we're investigating." ... Dallas swept the season series against Utah for the first time. ... Dallas C Erick Dampier was taken to the locker room for three stitches to close a cut on his chin in the first quarter. He was back on the floor midway through the second quarter. Dampier finished with 10 points and five rebounds. ... The Mavericks are 20-1 when holding their opponent to under 100 points.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 81 88
    FGM-FGA 25-67 (.373) 28-67 (.418)
    3PM-3PA 3-8 (.375) 5-12 (.417)
    FTM-FTA 28-33 (.848) 27-38 (.711)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-39 12-35
    Assists 15 18
    Turnovers 22 17
    Steals 8 8
    Blocks 4 11
    Fast Break Points 8 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 32 (3/1) 30 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 4 17

    Top Performers

    Kris Humphries Humphries
    Points: 15
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1
    Dirk Nowitzki Nowitzki
    Points: 24
    Reb: 9
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 5