PHILADELPHIA – Dirk Nowitzki had 28 points and 12 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks erased a 15-point deficit with a dominant second half to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 82-75 on Friday night.
Dominique Jones added 12 points, and Jason Kidd had nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists to help the Mavericks win their sixth straight game. Dallas snapped a tie early in the fourth with a 9-0 run, and that was more than enough with the 76ers losing their touch in the second half.
Nowitzki nearly beat the Sixers on his own in the second half, scoring 24 points to match Philly's team total after halftime.
Reserve Nik Vucevic had 16 points to lead the Sixers, who missed 13 of 14 attempts from 3-point range.
Down 15 in the first half, Nowitzki found his stroke in the third and led the Mavericks on a crushing 19-2 run. Nowitzki hit a pair of 3s during the spurt to put Dallas ahead three. He shook off a woeful first half in a big way, with a 5-for-6 third for 12 points.
Lou Williams hit a jumper at the buzzer to give the Sixers a measly eight points in the quarter and a 61-59 deficit. Philly missed 16 of 20 shots in the third and scored a season low for points in a quarter.
The Sixers beat everyone from the East-leading Bulls to Atlanta, Orlando and the Los Angeles Lakers in building a nice lead in the Atlantic Division.
They blew their chance in a big way to add the defending NBA champions to the list.
The veteran Mavericks have eight players with at least 10 years of NBA experience. Nowitzki, Kidd, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion have hit big shots and won big games at every level of the postseason, while the Sixers' nucleus is mostly 25 and younger.
But they played like seasoned pros early against Dallas, dishing out 14 assists on 20 buckets in the first half and committing only one turnover. Lavoy Allen had six points and six rebounds in the first quarter, while Vucevic made his first five shots and finished the half with 12 points.
Elton Brand's lone block led to a fastbreak dunk for Williams and a 13-point lead. The Sixers took a 51-37 lead into halftime and appeared in control.
Dallas had the experience edge — just not the shooting one. Nowitzki missed nine of 11 shots and Marion was 1 of 7 in the first half. In crunch time, however, the Mavs know they can count on their All-Stars to bail them out. The Sixers had no one step up at crunch time with a needed basket or key stop.
Philadelphia's starting backcourt of Jodie Meeks and Jrue Holiday combined to go 0 for 12 from the floor for three points.
Nowitzki turned around after each shot in the third with a fist pump or big yell as he brought the Mavs back. All 12 of his rebounds were defensive.
Notes: 76ers C Spencer Hawes is wearing a boot on his left foot and will visit a specialist in California over the All-Star break. He's been bothered by an Achilles' heel strain. ... Jason Terry (personal) and Delonte West (broken finger) sat out for Dallas. ... Phillies slugger Ryan Howard was at the game.