Mavs lose in OT in Nowitzki's return

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 06, 2013
Eric Gordon completed a three-point play with 4.7 seconds left in overtime and the New Orleans Hornets won 99-96 Saturday night to spoil the Dallas Mavericks' first game this season with Dirk Nowitzki in the starting lineup. After a timeout, O.J. Mayo was beyond the 3-point line when Gordon went up the air and by him. Gordon's foot made contact with the ball, knocking it loose. Instead of a foul, officials called it a kicked ball. Dallas got one more chance but Vince Carter's shot from the right corner ricocheted off the rim. Nowitzki had a team-high 20 points in 34 minutes, his most extensive action this season. He missed a free throw with 18 seconds left in regulation that would have put the Mavericks ahead by a point. Greivis Vasquez had 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Hornets, but missed a final shot at the end of regulation. Vasquez also had nine assists. Gordon's game-winner came when he scored on a bank shot from the top of the circle after he got Darren Collison up in the air and drew the foul. He then made the free throw. The Mavericks (13-21) have lost 10 consecutive overtime games, matching an NBA record held by three other teams. That includes seven OT losses this season, and five in their current 2-11 stretch. New Orleans (8-25) had lost 14 of its previous 16 games, and still has the worst record in the Western Conference. Ryan Anderson had 16 points for the Hornets, while Gordon had 14 and Jason Smith 12. Al-Farouq Aminu had 10 points and 13 rebounds. Carter had 17 points for the Mavs, and Mayo had 14 on 5-of-17 shooting. Nowitzki had been a reserve in his first six games after missing the first 27 games of his 15th NBA season recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery. It was the NBA-high 15th different starting lineup for the Mavericks, and the first time this season they had the starting five they anticipated before the star 7-footer had surgery Oct. 19, three weeks into the preseason: Nowitzki with Shawn Marion and offseason additions Chris Kaman, Mayo and Collison. There was a huge ovation when Nowitzki was the last of the starters introduced before the game. Vazquez kept scoring in the fourth quarter, and his 3-pointer with 7 1/2 minutes left in regulation put the Hornets up 79-73 for their biggest lead of the night. Anderson hit a long 3-pointer from the left wing with 3 minutes left in regulation to put New Orleans up 84-83, and Carter responded with his own 3 for Dallas. After Vasquez missed both of his free throws with 1:12 left, the Mavs led 88-87 after Nowitzki swished a long jumper over Anderson. But Smith then drove past Nowitzki for a layup. Hornets coach Monty Williams was livid when Gordon was called for a foul when providing some help defending Nowitzki. Dallas got the ball on the side before Nowitzki was fouled again by Gordon, this time going to the line with 18 seconds left. But he missed the first of two, for a tie game. New Orleans called timeout to set up a final play, but Vazquez missed a wild shot just before the buzzer. NOTES: The Mavs played their only home game in a six-game stretch. They play at Utah on Monday night, starting a three-game trip. ... Marion could only smile when he was called for a foul in the third quarter, when he barely made contact with Vasquez. The Hornets guard fell back onto the floor like he had shoved hard. ... Dallas owner Mark Cuban attended his first home game since before Christmas. He was hospitalized for kidney stones for several days last month before a holiday trip to the Cayman Islands.
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