By Steve Keating
DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) - The Dallas Mavericks kicked off the Super Bowl week party by sending the Washington Wizards to their 24th straight road loss with a 102-92 win on Monday in front of the cheering Pittsburgh Steelers.
With the celebrities and high rollers beginning to flow into the "Big D" for the biggest game in American sports, the Steelers were quick to get in on some of the Super Bowl fun and took in the game from a private box.
Searching for their first away win of the season, the Wizards had threatened to spoil the party atmosphere when they got to within four of the Mavs at 95-91 with less than three minutes to play.
"They're a persistent team, they're going to win some games on the road," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle warned reporters.
"For all the games that they (Washington) have lost, they compete. They make you play offensively and if you don't they run through you."
With the loss the Wizards inch closer to the NBA record for most road defeats to start a season, which is currently held by the 1992-93 Mavericks who opened the campaign with 29 straight losses.
The Sacramento Kings hold the NBA record for fewest road wins in a season going 1-40 in 1990-91.
"We've had some bad stretches on the road but we haven't been a team that's quite on the road," said Washington coach Flip Saunders. "If you look at us play you wouldn't think that we've lost 24 straight. We've just got to keep on going."
Dallas received solid contributions up and down their line-up, Nowitzki leading the way with 24 points while Tyson Chandler chipped in with 18 points and 18 rebounds and Kidd flirted with a triple-double hitting for 11 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.
With the help of eight points from rookie of the year candidate John Wall, the Wizard grabbed a 25-21 first quarter lead and increased their advantage to 12 points in the second before the Mavericks rallied to take a wafer-thin 50-49 advantage into the intermission.
The Mavericks built a 74-68 lead after three quarters and looked ready to pull away but the Wizards refused to fold making Dallas earn their victory.
The Steelers take on the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV on Sunday.
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)