11/20/2006 Mavericks @ Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - It took an off night to convince Dallas coach Avery Johnson that the Mavericks have erased the memories of their 0-4 start.

Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points and 14 rebounds and Jason Terry scored five straight points in a late run Monday as Dallas held off the Charlotte Bobcats 93-85.

The Mavericks won their sixth straight game despite shooting 39 percent from the field and missing 13 free throws.

``We can turn a bad night into a good night, Johnson said. ``We had some bad nights early in the season, but we lost. It's good to have some bad nights - and win these games. We very well have some stuff to work on.

After letting leads of 10 points in the third quarter and nine points in the third slip away, the Mavericks closed the game on a 7-0 run.

Terry hit a 3-pointer with 1:38 left to give the Mavericks an 89-85 lead. On the next possession, Greg Buckner stole the ball from Gerald Wallace and fed Terry for the decisive layup.

``I'm a fourth quarter player, man, Terry said. ``Dirk kept telling me that's what you do. You always live for your moments in the fourth quarter of a close game. I answered the call.

Devin Harris added 17 points and Jerry Stackhouse returned after missing a game with a strained groin to score 15 for the Mavericks, who have never lost to Charlotte in five meetings.

Emeka Okafor had 22 points, 13 rebounds and set a team record with eight blocks. Wallace scored 21 points for the Bobcats, who have lost six of seven.

Wallace's free throw with 5:08 left gave the Bobcats their first lead since the first quarter, 79-78. But in what has become routine for the Bobcats, they couldn't hold on.

``We play good for 46 minutes and then the last two minutes we have mental mistakes along with bad calls and defensive breakdowns, Wallace said. ``It kills us.

The Bobcats' meltdown came despite one of Okafor's best games of his three-year career. He made 8-of-14 shots and bested his own team record of seven blocks, set last week against New Orleans. He also tied the NBA season high of eight, held by Indiana's Jermaine O'Neal.

``I'm just trying to do my part, Okafor said. ``Coach told me they need me to clean the glass and that's what I do.

But he got little help. Adam Morrison was held to seven points on 3-of-14 shooting and Charlotte was outrebounded 48-37, including 16-7 on the offensive glass.

``The guy is bailing us out, but he has to get help, Bobcats coach Bernie Bickerstaff 1000 said of Okafor.

Harris scored six points in a 9-2 run to start the second half that gave the Mavericks a 52-43 lead. But Charlotte fought back, tying the game on Jake Voskuhl's tip-in to start the fourth.

Dallas, despite shooting 29 percent in the first half, held a 42-32 lead before the Bobcats went on a 9-1 run. The highlight of the spurt was Okafor swatting Austin Croshere's shot in the lane that landed out of bounds near midcourt.

Okafor's sixth block of the first half - on Maurice Ager's dunk attempt just before the buzzer - kept Dallas' lead at 43-41 at halftime.

``Emeka was playing as well as I've ever seen him play, being really strong down low, Nowitzki said. ``We had to tough this one out and we did.

Brevin Knight started for Charlotte after missing Saturday's loss to Orlando with a sore left knee, but then left the game in the second quarter with a strained left calf and was limping noticeably in the locker room after the game.

Devean George sat out for Dallas with a hyperextended right knee. He'll be evaluated in Dallas Tuesday.

Notes: Bickerstaff reminisced before the game about coaching Johnson when he was a rookie with Seattle in 1988. ``It was like the basketball was attached to his hand, Bickerstaff said. ``The cerebral part of his game was always there, and he always had life in perspective. ... Bobcats C Primoz Brezec, in his second game back after sitting out two weeks due to exhaustion, committed two fouls in one scoreless minute and didn't return. ... Dallas F Josh Howard missed his seventh straight game with a sprained left ankle, but Johnson said he should go through a full practice later this week.