The Dallas Mavericks found a way to get some satisfaction out of beating the Tim Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs -- they beat 'em to a pulp.
With Devin Harris starting a fast break by throwing a backward, overhead pass while falling down and Jerry Stackhouse setting up another layup with a behind-the-back pass in the lane, the Mavericks resoundingly avoided a season sweep by their division nemesis with a 104-68 victory last night in Dallas.
Keith Van Horn scored 10 of his 17 points during the game-breaking third quarter, after which it was only a matter of the Mavericks' margin of victory. The result was San Antonio's most lopsided loss since falling to Seattle by 38 in the 2001 season finale. It also was the Mavericks' biggest victory margin over the Spurs, topping a 32-point win in January 1989.
San Antonio, which has lost six straight road games since their two-time MVP was injured, never had a chance in this one. The Spurs never led and only had it tied at 2. They scored just 27 points over the middle two quarters, shooting just 2 for 17 in the third period. They finished 0 for 12 on 3-pointers, the first time all season they failed to hit one.
Rockets 114, Lakers 100 -- Tracy McGrady had 27 points and seven assists, and visiting Houston beat slumping Los Angeles. The Rockets snapped a three-game losing streak and handed Los Angeles its fifth straight loss, and 13th in 14 games. The Lakers (33-42) are assured of their first losing record since they went 33-49 in the 1993-94 season. This year and that season are the only times they've failed to qualify for the playoffs since 1976.
Yao Ming scored 21 points, Scott Padgett had 16, Mike James and David Wesley added 13 each, and Bobby Sura scored 11 for the Rockets (45-31). Caron Butler had 24 points and 12 rebounds, Kobe Bryant had his fifth triple-double of the season with 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, and Chucky Atkins added 15 points for the Lakers.
Nets 110, Knicks 98 -- Jason Kidd had 28 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds for his 66th career triple-double, and New Jersey kept its slim playoff hopes alive by handing visiting New York its season-high eighth straight loss. The win was the eighth in 11 games for the Nets (37-39), and it moved them within a game of idle Philadelphia (37-37) in the race for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference. The loss pushed the Knicks (29-45) to the brink of being eliminated from playoff contention. A win by Philadelphia or a loss by the Knicks will end New York's misery.