NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Lamar Odom’s solid first start of the season helped the Dallas Mavericks overcome the absence of star forward Dirk Nowitzki.
Odom and Delonte West each scored 16 points, and the Mavericks sent the New Orleans Hornets to a seventh-straight loss, 83-81 on Saturday night.
Shawn Marion had 14 points and a season-high 12 rebounds for the Mavs. Jason Terry added 12 points, including two free throws in the final seconds that made it 83-80 before Jason Kidd made sure to foul Jarrett Jack before he could attempt a tying 3.
The foul gave Jack two free throws. He missed the second on purpose, but could not convert a quick putback for the tie.
Emeka Okafor tied a season high with 16 points and grabbed a season-best 17 rebounds for New Orleans, which has lost 13 of 14 games since opening the season with two wins.
Carl Landry scored 19 for the Hornets, but after hitting his first five free throws, missed four of eight in the fourth quarter with the outcome potentially in the balance. Jack and Trevor Ariza each scored 12 points for New Orleans.
Odom started for Nowitzki, who is expected to sit out at least three more games while working on his conditioning and getting treatment for his sore right knee.
Odom was only 6 of 14 from the field and missed four of five 3-point shots, but his baskets were timely. Brendan Haywood grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Mavs win a second straight game.
The Hornets had several chances to tie it in the final minutes, starting with Ariza’s missed jumper, after which Kidd grabbed the long rebound while sprinting up court and whipped a pass to Terry for a transition jumper to make it 79-75.
After Okafor cut it to 79-77 and Terry missed a 3 on the other end, Landry was fouled inside, but made only one free throw to make it 79-78.
Another Terry jumper rimmed out on Dallas’ next possession, but this time the Hornets could not take advantage, with Ariza missing an off-balance fade as the shot clock wound down. The Mavericks controlled the rebound with just over 25 seconds left and the Hornets soon had to foul.
The Hornets sent West to the line and he made both free throws. New Orleans then got the ball inside to Landry to cut it to 81-80 with 6.7 seconds left.
Terry was fouled after grabbing the inbound pass and hit both free throws to set up the final sequence.
For the Hornets, it was only the latest instance in which scrappy defense kept them close, only for them to come up short on the offensive end while explosive scorer Eric Gordon missed his 14th game of the season with a bruised right knee.
The Hornets finished shooting 37.2 percent (29 of 78), while Dallas shot 40.5 percent (32 of 79) and outrebounded New Orleans 48-41.
Dallas opened the second half with a 12-0 run during which Odom and West each scored once inside and hit 3s to make it 53-41. New Orleans, which made only two of its first 12 shots in the period, struggled to chip away, and Dallas held a 64-53 lead at the end of three quarters.
New Orleans briefly seized control early in the fourth, using a 9-0 spurt highlighted by Greivis Vaquez’s three-point play to pull to 66-64.
Odom ended New Orleans’ surge with a layup and two free throws, and Marion bounced in a short floater soon after to make it 73-66 and give the Mavs just enough of a cushion to hold on during the final minutes.
Dallas led by as much as nine during the first quarter when Odom scored inside and hit a jumper to ignite a 10-0 run.
The Hornets responded with a strong second period, taking a 35-34 lead on Ariza’s 3. The game remained tight for the remainder of the quarter, with Marion hitting a free throw to give him 10 points and tie the score at 41 going into halftime.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)