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DALLAS - Monta Ellis came to Dallas because he wanted to pair up with Dirk Nowitzki and see what kind of scoring tag team they c

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DALLAS - Monta Ellis came to Dallas because he wanted to pair up with Dirk Nowitzki and see what kind of scoring tag team they could be. Jimmy Wynn Jersey . With the Mavericks in danger of making their playoff road much more difficult, they shared their best moment of the season. Ellis matched his season high with 37 points and Nowitzki scored 21 of his 23 during a second-half rally that carried the Mavericks back to the post-season in a 101-98 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. "The reason we won is because we had one of the best players on the planet in Dirk," coach Rick Carlisle said. "And because Monta Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and played his biggest game of the year." The Mavericks left the Suns and Memphis to battle for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by winning their home finale, and avoided a possible winner-take-all game at the Grizzlies on the last night of the regular season. Dallas is back in the playoffs after a 12-year streak ended last season. "It felt like the playoffs started early this year," Nowitzki said. "This is where we want to be, on the big stage of the playoffs." Eric Bledsoe scored 29 points and Channing Frye had 21 after a hot start for the Suns, who play Memphis on Monday night in a game that figures to go a long way toward deciding the final playoff team in the West. "Weve got to stay positive," Bledsoe said. "You could tell it was a playoff atmosphere. I thought everybody laid it out on the court." Ellis and Nowitzki brought the Mavericks back by hitting five 3-pointers between them in less than 4 minutes of the third quarter, erasing most of a 13-point deficit. Then they teamed to get the lead back in the fourth, and Dallas held on in the final minutes. Nowitzki broke an 89-all tie with a 3-pointer, shouting "Boom!" as he signalled a "3 with both hands. Seconds later, Ellis stole the ball from Frye and hit a tough layup with Bledsoe riding his hip. After a rare miss from Frye — who made his first five 3-pointers — Devin Harris hit a 3 from the top of the key, holding his arms up and looking to the ceiling in apparent relief after struggling from long range recently. The Suns were down 99-91, but got back within two when Bledsoe stole a pass by Ellis and coasted in for a layup with 1:15 remaining. It was one of 19 turnovers for the Mavericks, and the Suns had 18 in a fast-paced game with a lot of wild passes. Bledsoe then missed a free throw that would have tied the game again, and Ellis missed one of two from the line twice in the final 20 seconds to give Phoenix more chances to tie or go ahead. The Mavericks were finally safely in the playoffs when Markieff Morris was off target on a high-arching 3-point try with 2 seconds left. Ellis, who was 15 of 23 from the field and made three of four from long range, kept up his hot shooting in the third quarter and Nowitzki joined him after a cold first half as the Mavericks top two scorers combined for 44 points after halftime. "I was just feeling what the defence would do," said Ellis, who made the playoffs last year with Milwaukee but got swept by Miami in the first round and longed for a change, signing with Dallas as a free agent. "The floor was open for me. Coach just had me attack." Dallas third-quarter surge started after P.J. Tucker missed a free throw on a potential three-point play that would have given the Suns their biggest lead at 70-56. Vince Carter made a driving layup and Ellis hit back-to-back shots from the side of the 3-point arc, screaming for emphasis after the second one. Then it was Nowitzkis turn to hit two in a row and shout, which he did after getting Dallas within 72-70 from a couple of feet behind the arc late in the third quarter. The Mavericks took their first lead since midway through the second quarter when Nowitzki hit a layup on a pass from Ellis to go up 88-87 midway through the fourth quarter. NOTES: Goran Dragic played with a sprained left ankle after missing a game the previous night in San Antonio and finished with 13 points on just 6-of-18 shooting. ... Carter passed Adrian Dantley for 25th on the scoring list. He finished with 12 points and now has 23,183 points, six ahead of Dantley. Hector Rondon Astros Jersey .C., won gold in the womens 200-metre backstroke, and Dominique Bouchard of North Bay, Ont. Carlos Correa Jersey . After falling 5-0 on home ice in a game that could have tied them for second in the wild card standings, Washington head coach Adam Oates had some strong words for Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin. http://www.baseballastrosproshop.com/lance-mccullers-astros-jersey/ . A player confirmed to TSN on the condition of anonymity that he received his ballot yesterday. Another confirms hes been told to expect his shortly. "The unions executive committee insists a strike vote does not mean were pushing away from the table," the player said. "But we want the league to know were serious about our position.BUFFALO, N.Y. -- James van Riemsdyk had at least one point on his stick with 44 seconds left. With plenty of net to shoot at, the Toronto Maple Leafs winger-turned-centre wouldve scored had it not been for Buffalo Sabres defenceman Christian Ehrhoff getting in the way. Van Riemsdyk was left to shake his head as offensive production continued to desert the Leafs in a 3-1 loss Friday night at First Niagara Center. "That was a heck of a play by him. He made a good read and sacrificed his body for it," van Riemsdyk said. "I guess we are not getting those bounces right now, but weve got to keep fighting for it." The Leafs did plenty of fighting on an emotional night in Buffalo that marked the start of the Pat LaFontaine era as president of hockey operations and Ted Nolans return as coach after a 16-year break. They outshot an opponent for just the third time all season and the first time since Oct. 5, but Marcus Folignos goal stood up as the game-winner. Coach Randy Carlyle and goaltender Jonathan Bernier pointed to losing the special-teams battle as the reason for the loss. Steve Ott scored on the power play for the Sabres, while the Leafs went 0-for-3 to fall to 2-for-12 on the power play in their past five games. Its no coincidence theyre 1-3 in that time and that the one victory came in a shootout, but theres more to these offensive woes. The Leafs have just four goals in their past four games, and just two at even strength after Trevor Smith scored in Buffalo. "Were just not getting the results," Carlyle said. "Weve had chances, we had glorious opportunities. Its just that right now were squeezing the sticks or were getting hit in the shaft or players making a big stop." The biggest stop came when Ehrhoff got in the way of van Riemsdyks shot, which couldve been his first since moving to centre after Dave Bollands injury in Vancouver on Nov. 2. Tyler Bozaks long-standing hamstring injury already tested the Leafs depth down the middle, and Nazem Kadris three-game suspension for elbowing Minnesota Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom compounded the problem. Smith, called up from the AHLs Marlies to replace Kadri in the lineup, scored his second goal of the season on his fifth shot in the second period. It wasnt the prettiest goal, but it was something. "I just tried to get it off as quick as I can," Smith said. "I think it hit a D-man in front and went in, but well take em where we can get em." The Leafs will take it, but theyd also benefit from their top offensive players scoring. Joffrey Lupul, Mason Raymond and Phil Kessel each scored once in the previous three games, but it has proven to be not nearly enough. "Its a long season, theres ebbs and flows a bit," van Riemsdyk said. "Were going to keep with the same approach: just getting a lot of pucks to the net. Were getting some good chances, weve just got to start burying them." Meanwhile, the Leafs have been counting on their goaltending to keep them in games.. Carlos Correa Astros Jersey. The crossbar helped Bernier a bit as he struggled to track the puck. "It was a tough game for me," said Bernier, who made 24 saves on 26 shots. "They tipped a lot of pucks, especially in the first, and they had a lot of presence up front. They played well. They worked really hard and they kept it simple." Perhaps that could serve as a blueprint for the Leafs, starting Saturday when they host the Sabres at Air Canada Centre. Carlyle liked his teams effort and worth ethic on the road, but he lamented a lack of second opportunities. "The one thing that we could do is we could shoot the puck," Carlyle said. "Put the puck towards the net and drive people towards the net. Shoot the puck. Dont try to be so fine. It seems like were trying to pick the top corners, theyre trying to pick spots where we should be just concentrating on quicker release, get pucks directed at the net, have that second and third opportunity. And I think wed be rewarded." Van Riemsdyk shouldve been rewarded in the games final minute. With Bernier off for an extra attacker, the Leafs got their best chance of the night with goaltender Ryan Miller likely unable to get over in time. Foligno called Ehrhoffs block "something special." "It was just desperation," Ehrhoff said. "I know (Miller) was just on the other side of the net and the puck came out to van Riemsdyk and I just tried to make myself as big as I can, and I got the save." Just 12 seconds later Ehrhoff iced the game by scoring an empty-netter from his own goal line. "It brings a smile to my face," Miller said. "Christian Ehrhoff had the play of the game and saved our butts and then he put it away. It was a great turn of events there to watch him make that play on the back side, have great awareness to find it and help me out then get it down the ice and split the uprights." The Sabres gave Nolan his first NHL head-coaching victory since 2008 and first behind the bench for Buffalo since 1997. "You know what? I cant even put it into words," he said. "It was one of those games where you didnt know where this type of day would ever happen again. It was really very emotional. Ill have a good cry after everybody leaves." Bernier believed the Leafs deserved "a better fate" than a regulation loss, but Carlyle doesnt want his players crying about falling short against the Sabres. "We cant get down on what happened tonight," Carlyle said. "They dont feel very good about themselves, but its about results-oriented and thats what happens. But I thought our work ethic was strong, we did a lot of good things in the hockey game and were going to have to continue to work on that." Notes -- Rookie defenceman Morgan Rielly was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games and fourth time this season. When he played Wednesday at the Minnesota Wild, the Leafs dressed seven defencemen. ... Folignos goal was his seventh point in seven career games against Toronto. ' ' '

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