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Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011

Spurs rub salt into Mavs' wounds

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Everything is on track for the San Antonio Spurs. They're staying healthy and coasting toward the home-court advantage they prize in the playoffs.

News photo
Sorry, Amare: Sacramento's Samuel Dalembert blocks a shot by New York's Amare Stoudemire on Friday night. The Kings beat the Knicks 93-83. AP PHOTO

The Dallas Mavericks, meanwhile, are still banged-up and sliding.

Tony Parker scored 18 points, DeJuan Blair had 18 points and 13 rebounds, and the Spurs won their fifth in a row while handing the reeling Mavericks their fourth straight loss, 101-89 on Friday night.

Dirk Nowitzki missed his ninth straight game because of an ailing right knee and the once-mighty Mavs lost for the seventh time since the All-Star forward went out. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after the game Nowitzki could be back as early as Saturday against Memphis.

"They didn't have Dirk and we took advantage of it, but it doesn't mean nothing because they're not the same team without him," Parker said.

The Spurs (34-6) beat Dallas for a second time with Nowitzki sidelined. The injury has prevented a full-strength showdown between the NBA-best Spurs and Mavs, who have slipped seven games behind their Texas rivals in the Southwest Division.

Shawn Marion had 14 points as Dallas matched its worst loss of the season. This one could have easily taken the top spot before the Mavs' bench shaved down a 24-point deficit with both sides sitting most of their starters in the fourth.

"We're taking our hits right now and it's no fun," Carlisle said. "I'm a believer. I like all these guys."

Nowitzki didn't speak to reporters after the game, but he told ESPN during the broadcast he hopes to return as early as Saturday. Carlisle also said it's a possibility.

"Then again, maybe not," the coach said. "We can't mess with that."

Nowitzki's return can't happen soon enough for Dallas. The Mavs trailed the Spurs by only 3 1/2 games when they last met Dec. 30, three days after Nowitzki sprained his knee in a win at Oklahoma City.

That deficit has doubled since, a tailspin that was accelerated when Caron Butler sustained what was likely a season-ending injury on New Year's Day.

Even before Friday's game, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mentioned how the Mavericks might have been the NBA's best team before losing their two biggest stars.

"If you're going to pick somebody, I still think the Lakers are the best team, once it's all said and done," Popovich said. "Before Dirk got hurt, I thought they were real close to them."

Celtics 99, Bobcats 94

In Boston, Shaquille O'Neal had 23 points, five rebounds and five blocks in a season-high 35 minutes for the short-handed Celtics as they held off Charlotte and ended the Bobcats' four-game winning streak.

O'Neal went 10 for 12 from the field as he huffed and puffed up and down the court all night and even made all three of his foul shots. Boston was missing Kevin Garnett for the ninth straight game and played without Paul Pierce much of Friday because of foul trouble. Pierce still finished with 19 points.

Lakers 100, Nets 88

In Los Angeles, Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol had 20 points and nine rebounds, and the Lakers hung on for their seventh straight victory.

Pistons 101, Raptors 95

In Toronto, Tracy McGrady scored 22 points and Rodney Stuckey had 19 in Detroit's victory over the Raptors.

Charlie Villanueva had 16 points and eight rebounds while rookie Greg Monroe scored 12 for the Pistons, who had lost five of six. Chris Wilcox had 12 rebounds and four points.

Kings 93, Knicks 83

In New York, Beno Udrih scored 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting and Sacramento snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over the lethargic Knicks.

Rookie center DeMarcus Cousins added 16 points and 10 rebounds, and reserve Carl Landry had 15 points for the Kings, now 1-3 on their six-game road trip. They have won four in a row at Madison Square Garden.

Bulls 99, Pacers 86

In Indianapolis, Derrick Rose had 29 points and 10 rebounds to help Chicago beat the Pacers.

Rose, who scored 20 points in the second half, also had five assists. Luol Deng had 17 points and five assists, Carlos Boozer scored 14 points and Kurt Thomas had a season-high 18 rebounds.

76ers 95, Bucks 94

In Philadelphia, Lou Williams hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with 43 seconds left and scored 25 points to lead the Sixers past Milwaukee.

Hornets 110, Rockets 105 (OT)

In Houston, David West scored 29 points, Jarrett Jack added 23 points and seven assists and the Hornets rallied from 16 points down in the third quarter to beat the Rockets in overtime.

Jazz 121, Cavaliers 99

In Salt Lake City, Deron Williams scored 26 points, reserve C.J. Miles added 20 and Utah cruised past hapless Cleveland.

Warriors 122, Clippers 112

In Oakland, Calif., Monta Ellis scored 30 points, Stephen Curry had 23 and Golden State pulled away late for a victory over Los Angeles.

Suns 115, Blazers 111

In Phoenix, Steve Nash had 23 points, including a 3-pointer that put the Suns ahead for good with 1:11 to play, and handed out 13 assists in a win over Portland.

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