OKLAHOMA CITY – Dirk Nowitzki scored 30 points and Jason Terry added 26 to lead the Dallas Mavericks over the New Orleans Hornets 109-103 on Saturday night.

Terry had eight points of his season-high total in the final 4:22. His driving basket with 31.8 seconds remaining made it 104-96. After a three-point play by Chris Paul got the Hornets within five, Nowitzki sank two free throws for a 106-99 lead and the Mavericks held on from there.

Paul led the Hornets with 26 points on 10-of-13 shooting. He was coming off a 4-of-13 night in a loss to Orlando on Wednesday. Speedy Claxton had 17 points and David West 15.

The Hornets drew a capacity crowd of 19,163 for the second time in three home games. This was the first time they played on the same day that the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football teams also played at home.

Nowitzki, nursing a lower back strain, scored 12 in the third quarter when the Mavericks, used a 10-0 run to take a 71-60 lead.

During the quarter the 7-foot Nowitzki was guarded alternately by 6-5 Desmond Mason and 6-9 Bostjan Nachbar and he took advantage, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and two jumpers to help the Mavs take control.

Nowitzki’s 3-pointer at the 7:35 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Mavericks their largest lead, 92-78. New Orleans then got within 94-88 with a 10-2 run. Terry ended the spurt with a baseline jumper, added another jumper about two minutes later, then came through with his driving basket and added two free throws in the final seconds.

The Hornets, coming off a home loss to Orlando, came out with more energy against the Mavericks and shot 50 percent in the first quarter. But the Mavs hit 65 percent (13-of-20) as they consistently scored inside against the smaller Hornets.

Keith Van Horn, who had 15 points, scored six straight after entering late in the first quarter. He added five more early in the second, including a 3-pointer that gave Dallas its largest lead of the half, 38-30.

Notes: Dallas coach Avery Johnson, a New Orleans native, played the 1984-85 season at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla. “I wouldn’t call it playing,” he said. “I just occupied a uniform.” Johnson transferred the next year to hometown Southern University, where he twice led the NCAA in assists. … The pastor, who gave the pregame invocation, drew a laugh when he closed with this: “And if it be Your will, we ask that You allow these stallions from the south to be stung by our beloved Hornets.” … Mason had three dunks that electrified the crowd.

AP-ES-11-12-05 2247EST


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