Mavs and Nuggets Are Finding Their Way

Wednesday, November 15th 2006, 6:26 am
By: News On 6

Those slow starts in Dallas and Denver look like nothing to worry about. There might be some cause for concern in Miami, though.

The Mavericks won their third straight following an 0-4 start, beating the Chicago Bulls 111-99 Tuesday night. Dirk Nowitzki scored 31 points and Erick Dampier had season highs of 14 points and 13 rebounds as Dallas picked up its first home victory of the season.

``We're working better together. The preseason was tough,'' Nowitzki said. ``We had a lot of injuries and we couldn't really practice together the way we wanted to. In October, we never really had everyone together in one practice. But everyone's starting to get a grasp of the system we're trying to run, defensively and offensively.''

The Nuggets also have won three in a row, reaching .500 after an 0-3 start with a 112-105 victory in Miami. Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points for Denver, which is winning even without injured forwards Kenyon Martin and Nene.

``A week ago the media had us buried,'' coach George Karl said. ``Now we're good.''

The defending NBA champions aren't. Playing again without Shaquille O'Neal, Miami dropped its second straight and fell to 3-4 overall, 2-3 at home.

``We can't get them back,'' Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. ``They're gone now. We have no excuse. We're not playing well, and we know it.''

In other NBA games, it was: Milwaukee 103, Atlanta 101; New Orleans 94, Charlotte 85; Minnesota 101, Portland 89; San Antonio 92, Houston 84; Utah 112, the Los Angeles Clippers 90; and Golden State 110, Toronto 99.

With O'Neal out because of a hyperextended left knee, his second injury to the knee this season, and starting point guard Jason Williams still not ready yet, Dwyane Wade tried to carry Miami. He finished with 37 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

But the Heat's problems are on the other end of the floor. After allowing 55 points in the second half of Sunday's loss to Houston, Miami surrendered 64 after halftime Tuesday.

``We can't stop anybody right now,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said.

While Miami brought back almost entirely the same team it used to win the title, Dallas made a number of moves after losing to the Heat. Those changes likely contributed to the Mavs' slow start, but they are starting to figure things out now.

``We have not arrived yet this year. We got one more win,'' Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. ``Obviously if you were watching the game you know we still have lots of things to work on, but we got a good groove going.''

Jazz 112, Clippers 90

At Salt Lake City, Carlos Boozer had 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and Utah got off to its first 7-1 start since the lockout season of 1999.

Despite playing without Andrei Kirilenko, the Jazz held the Clippers without a field goal for 10 minutes, 27 seconds of the second half and beat the Clippers for the 33rd time in the last 34 meetings in Utah.

Hornets 94, Bobcats 85

At Oklahoma City, Peja Stojakovic scored a career-high 42 points, including the Hornets' first 20 of the game, as New Orleans broke a three-game losing streak.

Emeka Okafor had 25 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks for Charlotte. Adam Morrison, the No. 3 overall pick in the NBA draft, matched his career high with 21 points.

Spurs 92, Rockets 84

Tim Duncan had 19 points and 15 rebounds as San Antonio rallied from 19 points down in the third quarter to beat Houston for the seventh straight time.

Francisco Elson scored 12 and Robert Horry added 10 for the Spurs, who have won their first four road games for the first time in franchise history.

Tracy McGrady scored 26 for the Rockets, but he had only five in the second half. Yao Ming, who had topped 30 points in his last two games, scored 20 and was just 7-for-21 from the field.

Bucks 103, Hawks 101

Michael Redd converted a three-point play with 27 seconds remaining and finished with 30 points as visiting Milwaukee snapped a four-game losing streak.

Joe Johnson and Tyronn Lue each scored 29 for the Hawks, who have lost two straight after a four-game winning streak.

Timberwolves 101, Trail Blazers 89

Ricky Davis broke out of a shooting slump with 27 points to help host Minnesota snap a four-game losing streak.

Davis was shooting just 32 percent during the losing streak, but made 11 of 18 shots Tuesday. Kevin Garnett added 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Wolves, who led by as many as 26 points.

Zach Randolph had 26 points and nine rebounds for banged-up Portland.

Warriors 110, Raptors 99

At Oakland, Calif., Baron Davis had 22 points and 12 assists while seizing control of the fourth quarter in Golden State's comeback victory.

Chris Bosh had 23 points and matched his career high with 22 rebounds for the Raptors, who set a franchise record with a 41-point second quarter. But Toronto went 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal down the stretch, losing its second straight to start a five-game West Coast road trip with 13-of-43 shooting in the second half.