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Cavs go cold in fourth in 91-87 loss to Dallas


Published: Wed, March 15, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.


Cleveland blew a 19-point third quarter lead.
DALLAS (AP) -- On the night Avery Johnson moved into the NBA record book, the Dallas Mavericks made their defense-oriented coach proud with a little history of their own.
The injury-depleted Mavs erased a 19-point third-quarter deficit by holding the Cleveland Cavaliers to only eight points -- the fewest they've ever allowed in any quarter -- and kept rallying for a 91-87 victory Tuesday night, giving Johnson his record 66th victory over his first 82 games in charge.
Dirk Nowitzki and Marquis Daniels combined for 20 points during Dallas' 29-4 run from the opening minutes of the third quarter to the start of the fourth, putting the Mavericks up by six. Even after Cleveland's LeBron James, who had 36 points and 12 rebounds, hit a long jumper, Nowitzki answered with a 3-pointer that stretched the lead and got the crowd back on its feet.
The Cavaliers never regained the lead after Dallas' big rally, although they were within 86-84 after a basket by James with 15 seconds left. The Mavs held them off by making five of six foul shots the rest of the way and seeing Cleveland's Zydrunas Ilgauskas miss three straight tip-in attempts on one possession.
Stepping up
Nowitzki finished with 30 points and 13 rebounds, Jason Terry scored 20 points and Daniels had 17. Erick Dampier had seven points and 13 rebounds, plus made one of the biggest plays during the comeback, a clean block of a dunk attempt by Drew Gooden that left Dampier screaming with delight and teammates bumping chests.
Playing without starters Josh Howard and Adrian Griffin, and also missing key reserve Devin Harris, Dallas remained at least tied with San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference and clinched a sixth straight 50-win season. The Mavs also swept the season series at home against teams from the East, going 15-0.
Johnson was guaranteed of having the most victories of any coach after the equivalent of a full season regardless of the result; the previous mark was 62 by Paul Westphal.
The Mavericks have only lost consecutive games once under Johnson, but seemed headed toward another two-game skid -- and possibly more -- with a starting lineup that featured undrafted rookie Rawle Marshall. Fellow rookie Josh Powell joined him on the court in the first quarter and Dallas played like a ragtag bunch, missing not only shots but passes, too. They scored only 34 points, matching their lowest half of the season.
Nowitzki missed 10 of his first 11 shots, while James and Ilgauskas had their way over the first two quarters. Then Johnson opened the third quarter with a lineup of his five best healthy players, stuck with them nearly the entire third quarter and was rewarded with one of the best 12 minutes of the season.
The Mavs outscored the Cavs 27-8, outrebounded them 17-8 and didn't have a turnover.
Cleveland lost its third straight game overall and sixth straight in Dallas.
Mavericks center DeSagana Diop had only two points and four rebounds in his first game against his former team. He played only 15 minutes, most during the early meltdown, failing to show the Cavaliers how much he's improved since getting off the end of their bench.


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