For only the second time since February 11th, the Dallas Mavericks were able to win a game.
The Mavs ended their season-long seven-game losing streak Saturday night by defeating the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers 121-116. Even without the services of Luka Doncic, who missed the game with a knee injury that apparently happened sometime during Thursday’s loss in Denver, the Mavericks offense was able to score in bunches against a terrible Cavaliers defense.
Dirk chasing history
Dirk Nowitzki entered tonight’s game just 18 points away from passing the legendary Wilt Chamberlain for sixth place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. His season high was 15 points, so it was going to have to be a special performance for him to reach it.
The touches weren’t there in bunches for Dirk early on. His first shot of the game came on a wide-open three at the top of the arc, but that was an unfortunate airball from the Big German. Nowitzki was able to nail his next two shots from inside the arc to get to his four points he had in the first half.
Nowitzki played the first six minutes of the third quarter but was only able to fire up one missed shot in that time. Dirk had a couple looks that he could have put up, but he opted to swing the ball for a higher quality shots.
Things got real fun in the fourth quarter.
Dirk entered the frame with just four points on the night, but things began to heat up for him. After missing two free throws, Nowitzki went on what might have been his best run of the season.
From the 9:14 mark to the 7:15 mark of the 4th quarter, Nowitzki scored ten points and set the American Airlines Center on fire.
THE MAN. WON'T. MISS. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/PINdyOhDfg
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 17, 2019
Nowitzki would finish with 14 points on the night, 4 points shy of passing Wilt. It appears to be set for happening Monday night at home against New Orleans. While he was unable to make it happen tonight, others in the organization were excited for Dirk.
“I thought he played great,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the game. “Try to put yourself in his shoes and just think of everything involved in it. It is quite a thing.”
“I mean it’s watching history,” Devin Harris said with a smile. “He has worked so hard for it, you know all the things he battled with this summer to come back, play, and compete and try to get to a high level, you know we’re just happy for him.”
Mavs role players step up with no Luka
When you saw that the Mavericks would be starting Dirk, Dwight Powell, Tim Hardaway Jr., Dorian Finney-Smith and Jalen Brunson, points seemed like the were going to be hard to come by. Even though Brunson has averaged over 20 points per game the last few games, it’s still a bit premature to be able to label him as a team’s go-to scorer.
In Luka’s absence, the streaky Tim Hardaway Jr. stepped up as the team’s main bucket-getter in the first half. THJ notched an impressive 19 points in the first half with four makes from beyond the arc. While he was a little quiet in the second half with just 3 points to get him to 22 points on the night, the birthday boy still led the Mavericks in scoring.
Maxi Kleber’s shooting stroke was back tonight as he went 3/6 from deep on the night and notched a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Fellow big Dwight Powell fouled out in 29 minutes, but continued a very good stretch of basketball with 16 points and 6 rebounds. Plus a pretty nasty alley oop finish in transition.
DWIGHT! 😳 pic.twitter.com/IbZi2UmetN
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) March 17, 2019
The win tonight was just the second win for Dallas since they came back from an extended All-Star break. Obviously, the team is well-equipped to win a lot of games after their trades in late January and early February, but the competitive nature still runs strong within the organization. This past week with close losses to Western Conference playoff teams like the Rockets, Spurs and Nuggets plus a win tonight at home, Dirk Nowitzki is happy with what he has seen from his team lately.
“It’s been fun being in games. It’s no fun to lose by 30 to Memphis and then by 40 to Brooklyn in back-to-back games. It has been more competitive for us and I think we’re better than we were 2 to 3 weeks ago.”
Hopefully Monday night against the Pelicans, Dirk Nowitzki will get a chance to compete and make history in front of his home fans. The 28-41 Pelicans will head to the AAC on Monday night for a tip set for 7:30.
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