DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki scored 34 points and combined with Devin Harris to spark a 16-2 run that broke open a tie game, leading the Dallas Mavericks past former teammate Michael Finley and the San Antonio Spurs 103-84 Saturday night.

In their first home game since Finley’s departure, the Mavericks held their former leader to two points. He received a long, loud standing ovation when he entered in the first quarter, but was hardly heard from again despite playing 27 minutes.

With Finley released this summer in a cost-saving move and Steve Nash having left as a free agent the previous year, Nowitzki is all that’s left of the Big Three that helped Dallas return to prominence. The way he played Saturday night showed why the Mavs are happy to take their chances with him and a supporting cast.

The 7-foot German stayed mostly in his comfort zone, 15-plus feet from the basket, yet still dominated, such as scoring 11 straight points in the second quarter. He finished 12-of-20 – including 4-for-5 on 3-pointers – and had eight rebounds.

Harris was 8-for-8 from the field and scored 20 of his career-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, including a long 3-pointer seconds before the final buzzer. Josh Howard added 17.

Tony Parker led San Antonio with 24 points and Tim Duncan scored 18, but only three in the second half. Manu Ginobili scored 13 and Nick Van Exel, another former Mavs player, had 11, all in the first half.

Dallas began to pull away in the third quarter, with Nowitzki scoring over Duncan, then hitting a 3-pointer for a 62-51 lead midway through the period. But the Mavericks missed their next six shots and San Antonio took advantage with an 11-0 run that included Finley’s only basket, a layup.

Then came a big dunk by Keith Van Horn and Dallas was back in control.

Nowitzki nailed another 3, Harris scooped in a layup around Duncan and Nowitzki hit a jumper over Rasho Nesterovic to give Dallas a 71-64 lead at the end of the quarter. The Mavs scored the first seven points of the fourth and the Spurs, who played at home the previous night, had only one run left in them.

San Antonio trimmed its deficit to 94-84, but Nowitzki answered again, hitting a pair of jumpers and grabbing a rebound of a Spurs miss in between, drawing some of the loudest cheers of the night from a sellout crowd of 20,468.

Another biggie came when Finley entered the game wearing silver and black, but his familiar No. 4. No special announcement was made, but the crowd honored him for 81/2 great seasons – and official Jess Kersey helped stretch out the applause by chatting with Finley before handing him the ball for an inbounds pass.

His first shot came a little over a minute later and it was terrible, a 3-pointer that never had a chance. Perhaps realizing his aim was way off, Finley took only one more shot in the first half. He finished 1-of-6, missing a pair of 3-pointers. He had four rebounds and no assists.

Notes: Howard had four steals in the second quarter, three coming on consecutive possessions. … At halftime, Duncan had 15 points and the rest of San Antonio’s starters had 14…. Doug Christie, Finley’s replacement in Dallas’ starting lineup, made 2 of 3 shots. He was 1-for-10 over his first two games. … Mavs point guard Jason Terry scored four points after hitting 20 his first two games.

AP-ES-11-05-05 2310EST


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