Nowitzki leads Mavericks over Jazz 95-83
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) When Dirk Nowitzki was shipped to Dallas in a surprise trade before his rookie season, it seemed like a major gamble for a franchise that had endured a stretch of several rough seasons.
That little deal worked out in a big way for the Mavericks.
Nowitzki had 21 points Tuesday night to pass Oscar Robertson for 10th on the NBA’s career scoring list, leading the Mavs to a 95-83 victory over the Utah Jazz.
Dallas (48-31) shot 56 percent from the field and had six players score in double figures en route to recording a fifth consecutive victory. Monta Ellis scored 16 points and reserve Vince Carter added 13 for the Mavericks to help them complete the series sweep of Utah.
The 35-year-old Nowitzki went 9 for 11 from the field in Dallas’ fifth straight win. The 7-footer now has 26,714 career points, four more than Robertson.
”It feels kind of surreal, still,” Nowitzki said. ”All night, I was trying not to think about it. I was trying to concentrate on the next shot. I knew how many points I needed, but I wasn’t trying to think about it. I was just trying to think about the next shot and how I can get open.”
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has spent 30 years in the NBA as a coach or player. Seeing Nowitzki join the top 10 NBA scorers is one of the few times he has been in awe of an accomplishment.
”He’s an original. He is a generational player,” Carlisle said. ”Now most teams start a stretch four. He’s changed the game in so many ways. The kind of humility and dignity he does it with, it leaves you standing there in awe.”
Derrick Favors scored 19 points for the Jazz (24-54), who lost for the 18th time in their last 21 games. Reserve Enes Kanter added 15 points and 19 rebounds, and Richard Jefferson had 15 points.
The Jazz outrebounded the Mavericks 47-36. They also enjoyed a 52-34 advantage in points in the paint and a 22-7 edge in second-chance points.
Dallas overcame the disparity inside with a terrific shooting performance, including a 9-for-23 night from 3-point range.
”We got defensive stops when we needed and we executed on the offensive end,” Ellis said.
The Jazz matched the Mavericks’ scoring pace early on. Utah made six straight shots to open the first quarter. Favors had three of those baskets, helping his team to an early 13-6 lead.
The Jazz simply had no answer when the Mavericks had the ball.
Dallas opened the game by making 17 of 18 shots. The Mavericks shot 94.1 percent (16 of 17) from the floor in the first quarter alone. It helped Dallas grab control before the quarter was done.
”They didn’t seem like they were missing any shots in the first quarter,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ”After that, we did a better job of staying closer to them.”
Samuel Dalembert made back-to-back baskets to tie the game and the Mavericks claimed a 20-18 lead on a Shawn Marion layup with 5:01 left. Dallas eventually made 16 straight baskets before finally missing a second shot.
Wayne Ellington had a jumper on first possession of the second quarter, giving the Mavericks a 41-26 lead.
”They just made shots,” Jazz point guard Trey Burke said. ”I don’t think we just played awful defense. They hit open shots. Dirk hit shots. We expected him to make some tough shots, but they shot 94 percent in the first quarter. I don’t think it was a lot on our defense. They just made shots tonight.”
The Mavs never really cooled down before halftime. Dallas shot 70.3 percent (26 of 37) from the field in the first half, preventing the Jazz from mounting any sort of big rally.
Utah closed to 52-40 after Kanter made back-to-back baskets. Marion then scored on an alley-oop jam to stop the run. He and Ellis each scored a pair of baskets to boost the Dallas lead to 61-44 in the final minute before the break.
The Jazz made one more attempt to climb back into the game early in the third quarter. Utah trimmed Dallas’ lead to 61-51 when Favors made a layup and Gordon Hayward drained a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions.
Dallas responded by scoring on four straight possessions – culminating with a three-point play by Nowitzki – to take a 70-55 lead.
NOTES: Kanter registered his 21st double-double of the season. He is second on the team in that category behind Favors, who has 23. … Dallas has won five straight regular-season meetings with the Jazz after completing a 4-0 sweep this year.