Dallas Mavericks: The Week that Dirk Nowitzki passed Wilt Chamberlain

Luka Doncic and Dirk Nowitzki share a special moment on the court. Photo Courtesy: Dominic Ceraldi

By Joel Montgomery

The regular season wraps up in the coming weeks, as the Mavericks prepare to begin their offseason and retool for a blow-out upcoming year. Though not playing for anything themselves in these final handfuls of games, they can potentially spoil the plans of some playoff hopefuls.
 
vs New Orleans Pelicans (3/18)
In a momentous night against the Pelicans, Dirk Nowitzki, now age 40, passed Wilt to now place 6th on the all-time scoring list. Spending his entire pro tenure with the Mavericks, the organization and fans couldn’t be more proud of the accomplishment, and the overall career that Nowitzki has been through with the team.
 
New Orleans been recovering from a drama-filled season in regards to Anthony Davis wanting out and the advances made by the Los Angeles Lakers. On this night, the team looked united and were able to have a scoring fest with practically the whole roster. Julius Randle (30 pts, 9 rebs) showed out as he continues to put together a fantastic season, and Elfrid Payton (19 pts, 10 rebs, 11 asts) notched an impressive double-double, establishing himself in his new home. 
 
On Dallas side, Luka Doncic (29 pts, 13 rebs, 10 asts) also wanted in on the triple-double fun, coining yet another for his ROY campaign. Tim Hardaway Jr. (21 pts, 6 rebs) and Dwight Powell (16 pts, 8 rebs) also fulfilled their roles, but in the end it wasn’t enough to pull the Mavs over the edge in this close bout.
 
FINAL: New Orleans 129 (31-42), Dallas 125 (28-42)
 
@ Portland Trail Blazers (3/20)
Dallas traveled to the west coast to challenge Portland on Wednesday night, and it was tough on the Mavs keeping up with the solidified playoff contender throughout the game. The Blazers backcourt was all over the place, despite missing CJ McCollum (knee). 
 
Damian Lillard (33 pts, 12 asts) was an offensive dynamo and was doing his thing all around the court. Both scoring and distributing weren’t a problem at all for Lillard. Also, in some sweet revenge against his former team, a now healthy Seth Curry (20 pts, 5 rebs) made sure to let it be known that he should be missed.
 
Luka (24 pts, 6 asts) led the team again, and Justin Jackson (21 pts) actually had his highest scoring game as a Maverick so far. The pickup from Sacramento (acquired in the trade for Harrison Barnes) proves to be yet another scorer this team can utilize.
 
FINAL: Portland 126 (44-27), Dallas 118 (28-43)
 
@ Sacramento Kings (3/21)
In part 2 of this west coast back-to-back, the Mavs faced one of the season’s surprise teams in the Kings, who despite not making the playoffs, have got closer than about anyone expected they would have prior to this year. 
 
For Sacramento, Buddy Hield (29 pts) did his thing as the young leader of the team, with both Marvin Bagley (22 pts, 12 rebs) and Willie Cauley-Stein (10 pts, 18 rebs) both got double-doubles down low. Against a team with great bigs, Dallas’ paint weakness becomes jarring.
 
Justin Jackson (19 pts) led Dallas in scoring, and Luka (13 pts, 10 rebs) had a quiet double-double. Overall, it was a lull of a night for the team, but this late in the season, in part 2 of a California back-to-back? It’s hard to get mad at the team.
 
FINAL: Sacramento 116 (35-36), Dallas 100 (28-44) 
 
@ Golden State Warriors (3/23)
After some less than desired nights, the Mavericks pulled out all the stops against the defending champion Warriors. Golden State might have been missing Stephen Curry (rest), but that didn’t stop Dallas from going all out.
 
For the Warriors though, they struggled mightily. Kevin Durant (25 pts, 5 rebs) led the team but failed to get the offensive flow of the entire team rolling. DeMarcus Cousins (19 pts, 5 rebs) had an okay night on the offensive side of the ball, but like usual proved a defensive liability more often than one would want. Klay Thompson (8 pts) also struggled without the pace brought on by Curry’s on-court presence.
 
Luka (23 pts, 11 rebs, 10 asts) had yet another triple-double as he went off in Dub Nation. Showing no fear against the champs is a good sign of Doncic’s grit as a young leader moving forward. Much to every Mavs fan’s surprise and delight, Dirk (21 pts) had his best scoring night of the season, showing he’s still got it. And some, including KD, are skeptical if this season is truly the end for Nowitzki: “Has Dirk retired yet? I feel like everybody‚Äôs pushing him out the league,” said Durant on Nowitzki’s imminent future. “So, I’ll wait until he makes his official announcement to really comment on that.” Ultimately, it seems Durant and other players certainly want Nowitzki to remain in the league if he wishes, so why so eager on the retirement party? It’s a valid observation, and everyone else should consider that at the end of the day, “Ballers ball.” And Dirk may just not be done doing so.
 
FINAL: Dallas 126 (29-44), Golden State 91 (49-23)
 
So in the end, it was quite the eventful week despite the Mavericks’ organization as a whole not having much left to play for pertaining to this current regular season. With player development looking good and Dirk possibly considering sticking out for one more year, Mavs fans still have a lot to look forward to with little time of waiting.
 
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
3/26 vs Kings        7:30 p.m.
3/28  @ Heat         6:30 p.m. 
3/31  @ Thunder   2:30 p.m.