Marion, Nowitzki lead Mavericks over Hornets

Associated Press
4/14/2013 10:37:47 PM
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NEW ORLEANS -- Dirk Nowitzki didn't even wait to shower before shaving off his beard.

After becoming the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 career points, he was even happier the Dallas Mavericks got back to .500 for the first time since mid-December, allowing him to shave off the facial hair he and his teammates had vowed to leave untouched until they evened their record.

Shawn Marion had 21 points on 10-of-16 shooting, Nowitzki scored 19 and the Dallas Mavericks beat the New Orleans Hornets 107-89 on Sunday night.

Brandan Wright and Vince Carter added 16 points off the bench for Mavericks. They had lost by double digits in their three previous chances to even their record.

"It's been too long," the clean-shaven Nowitzki said. "My wife stopped kissing me somewhere in February. It feels good to shave again."

Nowitzki reached the 25,000-point mark with a midrange jumper over Hornets' centre Robin Lopez in the second quarter. Teammates said he reached for the razor almost as soon as he entered the locker room after the game.

Nowitzki, Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Carter had not shaved since late January when Mayo said they would wait until they got back to .500. The Mavericks reached their low point on Jan. 9, falling to 13-23.

"Nobody thought that we could actually fight back," Nowitzki said. "We won some close games, we won some big games and made it interesting all the way down the stretch."

The Mavericks will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1989-90, but they played like they had post-season motivation in the first half. Dallas put this one away early, going on an 11-0 run after New Orleans scored the first basket and extending the advantage to as many as 27 points in the first half.

Nowitzki's landmark basket came with 6:45 left in the second quarter.

"It's an unbelievable accomplishment," he said. "When I first got in the league, I didn't know if I could make it here. I worked hard over 15 years, and it paid off."

Ryan Anderson led the cold-shooting Hornets with 20 points, but he was only 8 of 20 from the floor. Eric Gordon contributed 15 points, and Robin Lopez had 10 points and 13 rebounds. New Orleans shot 39.7 per cent in its final home game.

Marion connected on 7 of 10 shots, and the Mavericks got pretty much whatever they wanted before the break. They scored 12 points on second-chance opportunities, 12 points on the fast break and 32 points in the paint while going 5 for 9 on 3-pointers. Their last basket of the first quarter was typical, Wright following his own missed shot with an uncontested dunk.

Wright dunked again to close out Dallas' scoring in the second quarter.

"We're veteran guys who have been around, and we feel like we're good enough to be in the playoffs," Carter said. "We let the opportunity slip away and have been playing catchup. The motivation is finishing off on a positive note, knowing that we should have been in the playoffs."

New Orleans began the second half on a 10-2 run to cut its deficit to 64-50, but the Hornets never pulled within single digits. The closest they came was 79-67 late in the third quarter, but Wright finished off the quarter with another dunk to make it 81-67 entering the fourth.

Nowitzki sank a midrange shot and Kaman converted a 3-point play as the Mavericks went back up by 19 early in the fourth to take control.

By then, it was obvious the beards were about to come off, although Nowitzki was the only player to shave his in the locker room.

"I need a barber to get mine," said Mayo, who had eight points and four assists. "I don't want to be too trigger happy."

The Hornets were without Anthony Davis, who is out for the rest of the year with a sprained left knee, but point guard Greivis Vasquez was back after missing Friday's game against the Los Angeles Clippers with a sprained right ankle.

New Orleans played its final home game as the Hornets. The team will become the Pelicans next season after 25 years as the Hornets -- the first 14 in Charlotte and the last 11 in New Orleans.

Team mascot Hugo the Hornet made all five of his dunk attempts while jumping off a trampoline during a timeout in the first half in his last appearance. The Hornets could have used some of that energy.

"Obviously I didn't have everybody ready to play today, and that's solely on me," Hornets coach Monty Williams said. "I can't grow up for the players we have. We have a lot of guys who need to grow up."

They could use Nowitzki as a model.

"He will go down as one of the NBA greats," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "Just his ability to do the things he does all over the court is what sets him apart."

NOTES: The last time Dallas was .500, its record was 11-11. .The Hornets had won four or their last five home finales. . Six Mavs scored between four and six points in the first quarter, setting the tone for a balanced night. . New Orleans finished 16-25 at home. . The Hornets played a video tribute to Hugo on the overhead screen during a timeout in the fourth quarter, and Hugo took a bow on the court when it was over.

Shawn Marion (Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)


(Photo: Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
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