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Mavericks hold off Cavs in final preseason game



Published: Thu, October 26, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Dallas owner Mark Cuban brought his team back to his hometown .

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- DeSagana Diop and Austin Croshere each made a free throw in the final 68 seconds and the Dallas Mavericks held off the Cleveland Cavaliers 83-81 in a preseason game Wednesday night.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 points, Devin Harris added 14 and Jerry Stackhouse had 12 for the Mavericks, who are 3-4 with one exhibition game remaining against San Antonio. The Cavaliers finished the preseason 2-8, with LeBron James getting 13 points -- 6 in the opening 4 minutes -- in 271/2 minutes of playing time.

Drew Gooden had 10 points for Cleveland, which gave more playing time to its bench than Dallas did.

Cleveland didn't score after Shannon Brown's 15-footer with 2 minutes remaining put the Cavaliers up 81-79. Harris' two free throws with 1:23 remaining tied it, and Diop gave the Mavericks the lead by hitting a free throw with 45 seconds to go. Croshere made the back end of two free throws with 43 seconds to go, and Brown then dribbled the ball out of bounds 14 seconds later.

Diop kept the Cavaliers from getting the ball back for a final attempt to tie or win it by rebounding Harris' missed jumper with 5 seconds to play.

"It was a decent effort -- it's closer to the season and we're trying to find a rhythm. We're still trying to work everybody in," Nowitzki said. "Overall I thought the effort was good. We're still making a lot of mistakes defensively. ... I think we're going to be a work in progress."

Played hard

James felt the Cavaliers played hard for a game that didn't count.

"Even though it's the preseason, we've still got guys going out there and going hard," James said. "We just don't go out there and mess around, you can easily get hurt doing that. It's always good to play against an elite team in the NBA."

Dallas coach Avery Johnson felt the same way about his team.

"I thought our guys' effort was good, and I told them that," he said.

The Cavaliers are trying to build a fan base in Pittsburgh, a two-hour drive from Cleveland. Cavs games are regularly televised locally, and the club has begun marketing in a region where the University of Pittsburgh has sold out its home games for four seasons.

While Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was prominent in his center court seat and coach Jamie Dixon of Big East preseason favorite Pitt sat a few rows behind the Cavs bench, the person attracting the most attention in a half-filled Mellon Arena was Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Cuban brought the Mavericks to his hometown for the first time and seemed to be everywhere, shaking hands, signing autographs and posing for pictures. He spent part of the first half behind the microphone for the game telecast on the high-definition TV channel he owns.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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