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Mavericks edge past Rockets

May 03, 2005 12:33 IST

Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 points and pulled down 13 rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks held off the Houston Rockets 103-100 to claim a 3-2 series lead in their Western Conference quarter-final playoff on Monday.

After dropping the opening two games of the best-of-seven series, the Mavericks can advance to the next round with one more victory when the teams return to Houston for Game Six on Thursday.

The Mavericks got double-figure efforts from six players, including 17-point performances from Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse.

Tracy McGrady had 25 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Rockets but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the contest into overtime.

Yao Ming, who has found himself in foul trouble through much of the series, had a game-high 30 points and eight rebounds for Houston.

However, a controversy surrounding the Rockets Chinese center continued to simmer.

Just prior to Monday's contest, Houston coach Jeff Van Gundy was fined a record $100,000 by the NBA after he accused league officials of targeting Yao.

Van Gundy said an NBA official had told him that the league was paying close scrutiny to Yao following complaints from Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

"The effort was there but we didn't play good enough to come away with the road win," Van Gundy said.

Having staged fourth quarter rallies to win their last two games, the Mavericks led by 11 with just under five minutes remaining but saw that advantage trimmed to 102-100 with 12 seconds on the clock.

McGrady could not complete the rally, however, watching his three-point attempt clang off the rim at the buzzer.

In Washington, Juan Dixon racked up a career-high 35 points as the Wizards led from the opening tip-off to collect a 106-99 win over the Chicago Bulls, levelling their Eastern Conference quarter-final series at 2-2.

The best-of-seven series now returns to Chicago where the Bulls won the opening two games.

Rebounding in spectacular fashion from a dismal one-for-10 shooting display in Game Three, Dixon was nearly perfect on Monday going 11-of-15 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line.

Gilbert Arenas contributed 23 points to Washington's cause and Antawn Jamison added 18.

Kirk Hinrich and Jannero Pargo scored 18 points each while Tyson Chandler added 13 points with 13 rebounds for the Bulls.

The Wizards took control from the start, rolled to a 61-37 lead at the break and increased their advantage to 28 points in the second half.

The Bulls closed the gap with a late surge, but never threatened to take the lead.

"That would be called a whuppin' where I come from," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said.

"They attacked us from the beginning and we didn't have any answers."

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