PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 40 points, making a key 3-pointer with under three minutes left, and the Dallas Mavericks clinched the Southwest Division with an 83-77 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night.
Nowitzki added 10 rebounds and was 17 for 17 from the free throw line for the Mavericks, who needed both the victory over Portland and a Memphis win over the Spurs. The Grizzlies obliged earlier in the night by winning 107-99 at San Antonio.
Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer with 2:43 left that put Dallas up 77-68 and all but sealed a contentious game that had the sellout crowd at the Rose Garden mercilessly jeering the officials.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points for the Blazers, who had won the three previous meetings with the Mavericks this season.
Dallas is in a battle for the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference with Utah, Denver and Phoenix. The Blazers are at the bottom half of the standings with San Antonio and Oklahoma City, all of whom are trying to avoid a first-round matchup with the defending NBA champion Lakers.
The Mavericks were without Shawn Marion, who missed his second straight game with a left oblique strain.
The game was marred by questionable calls on both sides, including a pair of technicals late against Portland. The Blazers got visibly frustrated, as did the crowd. Security had to remove several courtside fans.
Replays showed that Najera elbowed Howard on the Mavericks' end. On the way back down the court, the two got into a shoving match. Teammate Jason Kidd restrained Najera, and Howard was eventually given an offensive foul and a technical for unsportsmanlike conduct.
A short time later, Portland's Rudy Fernandez drew a technical foul and the sold-out Rose Garden loudly booed the officials.
Dallas went on to take a 38-28 lead on Brendan Haywood's layup. The Blazers mounted a late rally to close to 42-39 at the half on Brandon Roy's step-back jumper at the buzzer.
Portland held a 59-58 edge going into the fourth quarter and kept a slight lead until Najera hit a 3-pointer that gave Dallas a 67-65 lead with 6:12 to go.
After Roy hit one of two free throws, Caron Butler made a jumper from the baseline to make it 69-66 for the Mavericks, who led the rest of the way.
NOTES: With its first three wins, Portland won its first season series over the Mavs since the 1998-99 season. ... The Rose Garden on Saturday night hosts the annual Nike Hoop Summit, pitting American prep stars against their international counterparts. The Blazers have four alumni of the event: Nicolas Batum, Patty Mills, Martell Webster and Jerryd Bayless. ... Portland's Marcus Camby played despite hurting his right hamstring in Portland's 93-85 victory over the Clippers on Wednesday night.