By Bryan Murphy
The Dallas Mavericks avoided catastrophe and another three-game losing streak by taking care of the lowly Philadelphia 76ers, 129-103 on Sunday.
Dirk Nowitzki reached yet another milestone in his illustrious career. Early in the third quarter, Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to reach 29,000 points after he splashed in a three pointer from the top of the arc off of a crafty no-look bounce pass from Zaza Pachulia.
The Mavericks also made some news off of the court as well with 2X All-Star David Lee agreeing to sign with Dallas for $2.1 million in a prorated deal.
Lee has been in the NBA for ten seasons and has either been a starter or a major contributor to a team for much of his career. But, this season, that hasn’t been the case with career lows in minutes per game, field goal percentage and rebounds per game for the Boston Celtics.
“I just think he’s a quality veteran player who has been in a situation in Boston where they were overstocked and decided to go with some younger guys,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We believe he can help us.”
After being one of the go-to guys for much of his career, Lee took the role of a veteran role player last season for the NBA champion Golden State Warriors. Although his playoff numbers weren’t all that impressive, his impact in the Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers was undeniable. He was pivotal in big moments in the minutes he did play, especially in Games 3, 4 and 5 of that series.
Dallas will look to receive that same veteran savvy off of the bench in the four and five positions from Lee beginning Wednesday night against Oklahoma City. The 40-16 Thunder come to town in the second game of a whopping six-game home stand for the Mavericks.
Oklahoma City is coming off of an embarrassing loss at home to LeBron James and the Cavs on Sunday, 115-92. The 23-point loss was the third worst home loss for the Thunder in the Russell Westbrook-Kevin Durant era. The dynamic duo combined for 46 of the team’s 92 points in the loss, getting little to no help from starter Dion Waiters and the rest of the bench.
If the Mavericks want to avoid being swept in the season series by OKC, they can’t let players like Waiters and the other streaky shooters like Anthony Morrow and Randy Foye on this team have big games. Foye was just acquired from the Denver Nuggets and will be looking to stand out on his new squad. Superstars Westbrook and Durant will almost inevitably get theirs in the stat sheet.
Speaking of the Nuggets, they will be next to come to the American Airlines Center. Denver is 12 games below .500 and in no way a playoff contender in the Western Conference this season. That doesn’t mean they are a team that should be taken lightly, though.
Forward Danilo Gallinari leads this struggling Denver team and he has been on a tear as of late. Galinari is averaging over 21 PPG since the start of January, but is shooting just 41 percent from the floor in February. Where Gallinari gets a lot of his points are from the free throw line. His 8.3 free throw attempts per game are fourth in the NBA behind James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins and DeMar DeRozan and that’s where he earns many of his points. Limit him from getting to the free throw line at will and that could equal an easier night for Dallas.
Another young and struggling team is the 17-39 Minnesota Timberwolves coming to town to finish the week. When your two best players are both 20 years old, that will be expected. Sophomore Andrew Wiggins and rookie Karl-Anthony Towns are already playing at extremely high levels and will both most likely be superstars in this league someday. They aren’t there yet, though, and this should be an easy win for the Mavericks to close out the week.
Upcoming Schedule – All Times Central
2/24 vs Thunder 7:30 PM
2/26 vs Nuggets 7:30 PM
2/28 vs Twolves 6:00 PM