Dirk Nowitzki continues to make history. Last year Dirk etched another achievement into his already first ballot Hall of Fame resume by joining NBA legends Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Karl Malone in the 30,000 points club. Dirk was the sixth player to ever reach the accomplishment. In last night’s game against the Clippers, Dirk added yet another incredible accomplishment by being the sixth player in history to reach 50,000 minutes played. To put his durability into greater perspective: Dirk has missed only 42 total games over 13 years, per Rob Mahoney for Sports Illustrated. Talk about being a great product of German engineering.
Dirk’s milestone was one of very few bright spots for the Mavs last night. As has been the case for the past few weeks, Dallas started the game out slow. They let the Clippers open up a 0-5 lead two minutes into the game which eventually ballooned up to a nine points deficit (11-20) with six minutes left in the first. As has also been the case the past few weeks, Dallas fought back and finished the first quarter trailing 28-32.
Wesley Matthews helped his team claw back into the game by making two of his seven made three pointers in the second quarter. Matthews would go on to finish the game with 23 points, 5 assists, and 2 rebounds on roughly 45% shooting from the field. His defense and his shot making were key to keeping the Mavs within punching distance heading into half-time and throughout the game. With the help of Matthews scoring punch Dallas came back from an eight point deficit in the second quarter and used a 17-13 scoring run to pull themselves within three to finish the quarter trailing 55-58.
The Clippers would surrender the lead during the third quarter. Dallas took the lead with 7:56 left to go off of a Welsey Matthews step back three pointer. The Mavs made four consecutive three pointers to give themselves the lead, including three consecutive threes by a scorching Matthews. The Mavs utilized the three ball in the quarter with Dirk, Devin Harris, JJ Barea, and Matthews all making threes to push their lead to 82-78 at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter is where the Mavs ran into trouble, particularly in crunch time. Dallas found themselves in another crunch time game when Lou Williams made a 13 foot pull up jump shot to cut the Mavs lead to 101-97. Coach Carlisle opted to use his younger players down the stretch, including Dennis Smith Jr. who had a game that he will want to forget. With 1:36 to go and the Mavs leading 101-100, DSJ over penetrated and found himself trapped between the baseline and a double team. He would be whistled for an offensive foul while trying to pass out of it. After he grabbed the defensive rebound on the next possession DSJ took the ball down the court on a fast break and had the ball stolen from behind by defensive stub Avery Bradley. After a series of change of possessions between the Mavs and Clippers, Smith Jr. fouled Danilo Gallinari. The only problem was that the Clippers were in the bonus and the Mavs were leading by only one. Gallinari would go on to sink both free throws and the Mavs never lead again.
DSJ finished the game with 12 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 9 turnovers with a -22 plus/minus, the worst of any player in the game. He only shot 5 for 17 from the field and 2 for 7 from three. DSJ did not shoot any free throws. He showed us that even though he is destined for greatness, he still is prone to rookie moments like the two turnovers and unnecessary foul that not only gave the Clippers lead, but also fouled him out. Coach Carlisle addressed the rookie’s poor game in his post game interview saying that “Dennis can’t have a night like that. Again, this is how young players learn. Unfortunately, young players plus learning equals painful.” The ending to the game was indeed painful, but it is a pain that Mavs fans have learned to tolerate, so long as the young rookie keeps learning and improving.
Dallas visits Golden State on Thursday. The game tips off at 9:30 pm central time on Fox Sports Southwest.
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