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Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010

Mavericks lose Nowitzki to injury, hold off Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) The Dallas Mavericks were already without their coach after knee surgery, then lost Dirk Nowitzki to his own knee injury.

News photo
Release point: David West of the Hornets puts up a jumper over Minnesota's Kevin Love in the second half on Monday night. The Timberwolves won 113-98. AP PHOTO

And the Mavericks just kept rolling on the road.

Caron Butler scored 21 points and the Mavericks shook off the loss of Nowitzki in the second quarter to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-93 on Monday night for their 17th victory in 18 games.

Nowitzki scored 13 points before leaving with 9:10 left in the second with what the Mavericks said was a sore right knee. Shawn Marion scored 20 points off the bench to help replace him.

"You hate to see the big German go down," guard Jason Terry said. "But we saw him at halftime and he was smiling. He told us, 'No problem. You guys got this.' "

Dallas improved to 11-1 on the road this season, best in the NBA, and 24-5 overall.

"Just a great team win," said Mavs assistant Dwane Casey, running the team while Rick Carlisle recovers from his surgery. "Huge team win. The guys pulled together. We had to get into a rhythm offensively. It took us awhile to find it. This should be a huge confidence boost for our guys."

Casey said he didn't believe Nowitzki's injury was serious.

For the Thunder, Kevin Durant scored 28 points, one game after a season-high 44 points on Christmas against Denver. Teammate James Harden had 18 as his club dropped its second in a row to the Mavericks this season.

Oklahoma City coach Scott Brooks said his team's approach did not change after Nowitzki's injury.

"I knew this team was a defensive team. They have the record of 24-5 because they have a talented group of guys that play well," he said. "Dirk is one of the best players, but he isn't the only guy on their team."

Grizzlies 96, Raptors 85

In Memphis, Zach Randolph scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and the Grizzlies woke up from a slow start to beat Toronto.

Rudy Gay added 18 for Memphis, which won its second straight.

Hawks 95, Bucks 80

In Milwaukee, Al Horford had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Joe Johnson added 15 points and Atlanta beat the Bucks to snap a five-game road losing streak.

Magic 104, Nets 88

In Newark, N.J., Dwight Howard had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Orlando won its third straight with a victory over the Nets.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 20 points as the Magic had six players in double figures.

Bobcats 105, Pistons 100

In Charlotte, D.J. Augustin scored 27 points, Stephen Jackson added 23 and the new-look, up-tempo Bobcats held on to beat Detroit to give interim coach Paul Silas a victory in his debut.

Timberwolves 113, Hornets 98

In Minneapolis, Michael Beasley had 30 points, nine rebounds and a career-high seven assists to lead the Timberwolves to a victory over the stumbling Hornets.

Trail Blazers 96, Jazz 91

In Salt Lake City, LaMarcus Aldridge scored 26 points, former Utah guard Wesley Matthews had 14, and the Trail Blazers halted a four-game road losing streak with a victory over the Jazz.

Deron Williams had 31 points for Utah.

Rockets 100, Wizards 93

In Houston, Kevin Martin scored 20 points, Shane Battier and Aaron Brooks each added 15 and the Rockets won their fifth straight game, beating Washington.

Clippers 100, Kings 99

In Sacramento, Eric Gordon tied a career high with six 3-pointers and scored 31 points, leading Los Angeles to a victory over the Kings.

Warriors 110, 76ers 95

In Oakland, Monta Ellis had 22 points and a season-high 12 assists, David Lee added 21 points and 16 rebounds and Golden State won its third straight, beating Philadelphia.

Francis quits team

BEIJING (AP) Three-time NBA All-Star Steve Francis is leaving his Chinese team after playing in just four games over two weeks.

Chinese media say the out-of-shape 33-year-old played just 14 minutes for the Chinese Basketball Association's Beijing Ducks. To the consternation of his coach, Francis left the stadium midway through the Ducks' 104-89 victory over the Jiangsu Dragons on Sunday.

Francis had reportedly signed with the Ducks for $800,000 for the 32-game 2010-11 season, a portion of which he will receive as a settlement.

"I feel unhappy that I couldn't play the game. I know I was not well-prepared physically to help the team on court. As the team is in hot form, I think it is best for both sides for me to terminate my contract," Francis was quoted as telling Beijing Television on Monday afternoon.

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