As he buttoned up his custom suit with a stylish hat to match, Dallas Maverick center Tyson Chandler had a big smile on his face that he can take to Thanksgiving Day dinner.
The Mavs motivational leader had just posted set season highs with 17 points and 25 rebounds, helping the Mavericks to a 109-102 victory against his former team, the New York Knicks; who were missing star forward Carmelo Anthony.
“At the beginning of the year, you always look at the calendar and mark it,” Chandler said. “After taking two tough L’s I was focused on bringing energy and doing everything it took to get a win before we embark on this tough road trip. This was a game we thought we should come out and get, after being flat in our last two games.”
Knick guard J.R. Smith, starting with Anthony sidelined by back spasms, was 1 of 10 from the field entering the fourth quarter. Despite his struggles from the field Smith made a tying jumper with 0.9 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, Smith hit a jumper to put New York up 99-97 in overtime before Dirk Nowitzki started a 9-0 run with a jumper and Chandler put the Mavericks ahead for good when J.J. Barea knocked the ball loose from Dalembert after a rebound and Monta Ellis kept it from going out of bounds with a toss to Chandler under the basket.
After a pedestrian first half, Nowitzki went in attack mode down the stretch scoring 15 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We’re not playing really well right now and I think that’s very obvious and we had to find a way to steal this victory,” a relieved Nowitzki said. “For most of the night they were better than us and were playing our stuff pretty good. Offensively I looked for my shot more down the stretch, I didn’t really have my three-ball going but was able to get to my spots 17 to 16 feet in and do enough damage to help get the win and not hit the road on a three-game losing streak.”
Knicks rookie head coach Derek Fisher who has seen a couple of Nowitzki explosions as a player gave the future Hall of Famer a Texas size tip of the hat.
“Dirk is going to score points no matter how you cover him and will go down as a Hall of Famer when his career is over.”
The Knicks will finish their three-game road trip in Oklahoma City on Friday and are expected to be without Anthony as the Knicks’ medical staff has not given him a specific timetable for his return. While the Mavericks travel up north for a four-game road trip all against Eastern Conference teams.
Kendrick Johnson writes for a daily newspaper and is an independent print journalist and sports television reporter who has covered the NBA Finals, NFL, NCAA football, MLB, NHL, championship boxing and UFC Fights. He’s done numerous one on one interviews with some of the biggest names and personalities in sports. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @kendrickjohnso