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Mavericks' Sweep Is Team Effort

April 29, 2002|From Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — The Dallas Mavericks can score, and it doesn't matter where they play or who's taking the shots.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 28 of his 39 points before halftime and lent his hot hand to Michael Finley in the second half Sunday, helping the Mavericks hold off the Minnesota Timberwolves and finish a three-game sweep with a 115-102 victory.

Finley had 13 of his 30 points in the third quarter and Steve Nash had 25 points and 11 assists for Dallas, which made 13 of 24 three-point attempts and advanced to the second round for the second consecutive season and will meet the winner of the Utah-Sacramento series.

"We're always confident down the stretch," Nash said.

"We've got so many shooters, we're bound to make a couple."

The Mavericks, after winning the first two in Dallas, continued their impressive play away from home by withstanding a 22-7 run by Minnesota to start the fourth quarter behind a boisterous Target Center crowd of 18,795.

Dallas has a league-leading 27-14 record on the road this season.

"It's just the best thing in the world for us to go through this kind of atmosphere," Maverick Coach Don Nelson said. "It makes you mature as a player. The more of these we can get, the better."

Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 17 rebounds, and Wally Szczerbiak and Anthony Peeler each scored 20 points for the Timberwolves, who made their sixth consecutive first-round exit from the playoffs.

Minnesota had the league's second-best record at the halfway point this year but wasted a chance at home-court advantage in the first round by losing 22 of its last 42.

"They're a good team," Minnesota Coach Flip Saunders said of the Mavericks. "Everybody was saying you've got to slow the game down, but what are you going to do--tell Nash, Nowitzki and Finley they're not allowed to shoot?"

Leading by 18 starting the fourth, Dallas suddenly went cold as Minnesota pulled within three, 104-101, on a free throw by Garnett with under three minutes left.

Eduardo Najera's rebound and putback after a timeout put the Mavericks ahead by five, and Szczerbiak missed a three-pointer with two minutes left.

Nash made a three-point basket on the other end to make it 109-101, and Peeler's pass went right to Finley in the lane on the next possession.

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