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Sports

Dirk Nowitzki's Mavericks out of NBA playoffs

The Dallas Mavericks fell at the first hurdle of the NBA playoffs fourth defeat to the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Dallas haven't made it past the playoff first round since they won the NBA title in 2011.

Dirk Nowitzki's seventeenth season in the NBA came to a sour end on Monday night as the Dallas Mavericks lost 103-94 to the Houston Rockets, knocking them out of the playoffs in the first round.

Nowitzki scored 22 points and recorded 14 rebounds on the night, but it wasn't enough for Dallas to force a sixth game of the series.

Houston led the best-of-seven games series 3-1 heading into the match at the Toyota Center. Houston - who finished 2nd in the Western Conference after the regular season - recorded only their second playoff series win in 18 years with the nine-point victory on Monday.

Star player James Harden shone for the Rockets, scoring 28 points. Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Terrence Jones all added double-figure point scores of their own to help Houston to victory.

Monta Ellis top scored for Dallas with 25 points but in their third consecutive playoff trip, the Mavericks fell short in the first round. Houston will now go on to face either the Los Angeles Clippers or the San Antonio Spurs, with their series tied 2-2.

It had been a special season for Dirk Nowitzki, who set various NBA records. None more important than when he became the NBA's top-scoring foreign player in November.

apc/sms (dpa, AP)

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