© St. Petersburg Times, published November 17, 2002
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The unbeaten streak has reached double figures for the Dallas Mavericks, whose newfound commitment to defense helped them defeat the Nets 96-88 Saturday night.
Steve Nash scored 30 points, Michael Finley had 20 points and 13 rebounds, Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Shawn Bradley scored 12, including two jumpers that started the Mavericks on a game-closing 13-5 run.
The Mavericks (10-0) are the NBA's only unbeaten team.
"I would have to say this: People can play a lot of years in this league and never start 10-0," Bradley said. "What determines how neat of a start this is depends on what we do from here."
Dallas has held eight opponents under 100 points, and the defensive effort was there again down the stretch against the defending Eastern Conference champions.
New Jersey was held to five points in the final 5:50, and the Mavericks kept Jason Kidd off the boards in the fourth quarter to prevent him from a triple-double.
Dallas is holding teams to 89 points per game after allowing 101 last season -- the second-highest opponents' average in the league.
"Sacramento exposed our lack of defense in the second round of the playoffs. It wasn't there last year, and we know if we want to do something in the playoffs we first have to get better defensively," Nash said. "It's our mind-set now."
Kidd had 22 points, 13 assists, 9 rebounds and 5 steals, and Kerry Kittles added 21 points for the Nets, who lost at home for the first time this season after winning their first five.
PISTONS 74, NUGGETS 53: Cliff Robinson scored 17 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter to help host Detroit beat Denver after the teams combined for the lowest-scoring first half in NBA history. Denver led 29-28 at halftime, and the 57 combined points broke a 47-year-old record by one point. The Nuggets shot 37.5 percent for the half and turned the ball over eight times, and the Pistons hit 29 percent of their shots and had 11 turnovers. Richard Hamilton added 15 and Corliss Williamson 12 for Detroit.
76ERS 93, KNICKS 92: Latrell Sprewell arrived early, entered the game late and disappeared down the stretch along with the rest of his team. Sprewell, recovered from a broken finger, played in his first game of the season but couldn't reverse host New York's sinking fortunes as Philadelphia scored 17 of the game's final 25 points. Allen Iverson and Todd MacCulloch each scored 17, and Keith Van Horn had 15 points and 12 rebounds.
SPURS 90, CAVALIERS 77: Bruce Bowen scored 14 points, Tony Parker had 13 and San Antonio barely needed Tim Duncan against Cleveland, which dropped its sixth straight. Duncan spent much of the night in foul trouble and played a season-low 21 minutes before fouling out with 6:06 left. But by then, the Spurs were ahead by 19 and won for the first time in three games on an Eastern road trip. Duncan, who came in averaging 20.9 points, finished with six.
HAWKS 89, HORNETS 82: Shareef Abdur-Rahim scored 27 points, and Glenn Robinson had 24 for host Atlanta. Theo Ratliff grabbed a career-high 17 rebounds and blocked five shots for Atlanta, which won its second straight. Jamal Mashburn scored 19 points, David Wesley 18 and P.J. Brown had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the New Orleans, which had won six of seven games but made just 35 percent of its field-goal attempts.
WIZARDS 95, HEAT 65: Host Washington used a torrid-shooting first half to take control, and Jerry Stackhouse made the advantage stand up. Washington's defense was just as effective -- it was the fewest points the Wizards have allowed. The team mark was 69 points. Miami lost its fifth in a row and is off to its worst start (1-7) since 1994-95.
BUCKS 104, CELTICS 85: Ray Allen scored a season-high 31 points, including 18 in the first half, and Sam Cassell added 25 for Milwaukee. Antoine Walker and Paul Pierce each had 28 points for Boston.
PACERS 107, TIMBERWOLVES 101; Ron Mercer scored 22 points off the bench, and Jermaine O'Neal scored 12 of his 20 in the second half as visiting Indiana got it seventh straight win. Indiana (8-1) is off to its best start since the 1969-70 season in the ABA.
BULLS 111, GRIZZLIES 93; Donyell Marshall scored 31 points and had 17 rebounds off the bench, and Jalen Rose also had 31 points for host Chicago.
CAVALIERS: Forward Darius Miles was placed on the injured list with tendinitis in his left knee, the same one he had surgery on this summer.
MAVERICKS: Veteran forward Mark Strickland joined the team after the NBA granted a roster exception because of a rash of injuries. Dallas has three players -- Raef LaFrentz (ankle sprain), Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee soreness) and Nick Van Exel (knee surgery) -- on the injured list and two others -- Popeye Jones (back spasms) and Evan Eschmeyer (knee strain) -- who are unavailable.
WARRIORS Forward Guy Rucker was waived.