Published April 13, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points in 22 minutes, Shawn Marion added 21 points in his return from an injury, and the Dallas Mavericks kept a firm grip on the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a 117-94 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
Jason Kidd had 12 points and 12 assists for the Mavericks, who blew out the lifeless Clippers with a 37-point first quarter on the way to a 64-43 halftime lead.
Dallas (54-27) has won four straight and seven of nine while holding off Denver (53-28) and Phoenix (52-28) in the race behind the Lakers.
The Mavericks end the regular season at home against San Antonio on Wednesday, while the Nuggets conclude Tuesday night against the Suns, who finish Wednesday against Utah.
Chris Kaman had 17 points and seven rebounds as the Clippers played without starting guards Baron Davis and Eric Gordon. Craig Smith and Steve Novak scored 15 points apiece for the Clippers, who have lost eight of nine and 18 of 21 at the close of their 17th losing season in 18 years.
Dallas finished with the NBA's best road record at 27-14, a mark Cleveland and Boston can match with wins in their season finales. The Mavericks have won six straight over the Clippers, including a three-game sweep this season, and 15 of 18.
After Nowitzki scored 40 points at Portland and 39 more at Sacramento in the Mavs' last two games, he settled for 9 of 13 shooting — including three 3-pointers without a miss — and eight rebounds while playing only the first three quarters against the Clippers. He even extended his streak of consecutive free throws to 72, stretching his own team record.
While Caron Butler sat out with a strained right hip, Marion returned from a three-game absence with a strained oblique muscle. He sparked the Southwest Division champions' offense with 9-of-12 shooting, including a breathtaking two-handed dunk on an alley-oop pass off the backboard from Kidd to close the first half.
Rookie Rodrigue Beaubois scored nine points in the first nine minutes while Dallas jumped to an early 32-16 lead and didn't let up, eventually leading by 33 points before the reserve-filled fourth quarter.
Los Angeles finishes its season with a "home" game against the Lakers, who pack Staples Center with thousands of their own fans for the twice-yearly games.
NOTES: Davis sprained his right wrist in the Clippers' win over Golden State last Saturday, while Gordon missed his second straight game with a due to a viral infection. ... Clippers F Travis Outlaw scored 13 points after missing four games with a strained right groin. ... Nowitzki hasn't missed a free throw since March 29. ... Actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus attended the game with her family.