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National Basketball Association
                       === Mavericks hold off Hornets ===
 New  Orleans,  LA (Sports  Network) -  Dirk Nowitzki  registered 25 points and
 seven  rebounds,  leading the Dallas  Mavericks to a  104-100 win over the New
 Orleans Hornets on Friday.
 Nowitzki  was  10-of-17 from the  field for the  Mavericks, who have won three
 straight  games.  Vince Carter  recorded 22  points and  nine rebounds off the
 bench and Elton Brand added 13 points.
 "It  was  as big as  it gets," said Mavericks  head coach Rick Carlisle. "Down
 four  with  a minute to  go, the great  thing was no  one ever wavered or lost
 belief. The guys kept battling."
 Eric  Gordon  and Jason Smith  scored 23 and  22 points, respectively, for the
 Hornets,  who have lost three straight games. Ryan Anderson recorded a double-
 double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, as did Anthony Davis, who had 10 points
 and 11 rebounds.
 "Any  time you lose a game you feel bad, but any time you lose a game that way
 because of your mistakes, it's worse," said Hornets head coach Monty Williams.
 "They hit some tough shots, but a lot of it was defensive breakdowns."
 Davis  left the game in the third quarter with a sprained right knee. He would
 return  to the bench  in the fourth and was available to return, but stayed on
 the bench for the remainder of the game.
 "I  came  down on  it and it  started hurting,  and I came  to the back," said
 Davis. "It's a sprained knee, whatever they told you that's what it was. I was
 prepared to play if they needed me. It's fine."
 Tied  at 94-94 with  4:43 remaining in regulation, Smith made a free throw and
 followed it up with a 14-foot jumper to give the Hornets a 97-94 edge.
 With less than three minutes left, Nowitzki made a jumper to get Dallas within
 one,  97-96.  However, Anderson made a  3-pointer to give the Hornets a 100-96
 After  a  Mavericks timeout, Mike James  answered back with a 3-pointer of his
 own to get Dallas within one again, 100-99, with 42 seconds to go.
 Greivis Vasquez missed a 15-foot jumper on the ensuing New Orleans possession,
 and Nowitzki came down with the defensive rebound.
 With  six seconds remaining, Carter made a 3-pointer to give the Mavericks the
 lead, 102-100.
 "I  just  tried to read the  situation, see if a  guy was open and try to find
 somebody,"  said Carter. "He was backing up in the retreat position. You can't
 be  afraid to shoot it. If you feel confident in your shot, go ahead and shoot
 it.  I know when it feels good. I've been around. I've been in many situations
 where  I've taken the game winning shot and missed it. I've been in situations
 where  I've hit  big shots for our team.  I've never been afraid to take a big
 shot  and  deal with  the consequences  either way. In  that situation, I feel
 Darren  Collison then drew  a foul on Vasquez and made both of his free throws
 with three seconds left to put the game out of reach.
 Down  58-53  after the first  half, the Mavericks  opened up the third quarter
 with  a  6-0 run, capped off  by a 3-pointer by  Nowitzki to take a 59-58 lead
 with 10 1/2 minutes left.
 Smith took back the lead for the Hornets with a 17-footer before Nowitzki made
 a layup to give Dallas a 61-60 edge with 8:49 remaining.
 However,  a  three-point play by  Gordon started a 7-0  run for New Orleans to
 take  a 67-61  lead  with just  under  seven minutes  remaining  in the  third
 Dallas  responded with a  11-4 run  of its own,  capped by  a dunk  from Shawn
 Marion, and regained the lead, 72-71, with 3:46 remaining.
 Al-Farouq  Aminu made  a free throw to  tie the game, but Dallas held an 83-79
 advantage entering the fourth.
                                   Game Notes
 Carter was 5-of-7 from behind the arc ... Dallas has scored 100-plus points in
 16 of its last 18 games.
 02/23 00:13:09 ET

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