Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t expecting to play much during his season debut against the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, after missing the Dallas Mavericks’ first 27 regular-season games, he didn’t expect to take a seat on the bench after 20 minutes with the game totally out of hand.
”In the middle of the 3rd we were down by 80, so I didn’t truly have to go back in,” Nowitzki related, exaggerating the Mavs’ largest deficit just a bit.
Danny Green scored a career-high 25 points and the Spurs spoiled Nowitzki’s season debut with a 129-91 rout of the Mavericks.
San Antonio’s biggest lead was actually 46, but the deficit appeared larger to Dallas.
The Spurs set a franchise record with 20 3-pointers, besting the record of 19 they set December 8 in Charlotte. San Antonio also set a season high for largest margin of victory.
Tony Parker had 18 points; Kawhi Leonard added 17, Tim Duncan 15 and Stephen Jackson 14 for the Spurs (21-8).
Darren Collison scored 15 points toward lead Dallas (12-16), which lost its 3rd straight. Vince Carter added 13 points and Chris Kaman had 10.
Spurs also had 33 assists, a season-high 17 steals and forced 20 turnovers.
”We don’t create that many turnovers normally,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich asserted, ‘’so that’s a heck of a night for us as far as takes are concerned. That isn’t going to happen very often. We were lucky it was one of those nights when your opponent has a bad night and you’ve got a great night and it ends up like tonight.”
It came on the night Nowitzki returned following surgery on his right knee Oct. 19 after battling soreness the previous season.
He entered with 6:28 left in first quarter to a hearty mixture of cheers and boos. The former MVP quickly got a rebound for Dallas and finished with 8 points – going 3 for 4 from the field – and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes.
Nowitzki’s presence did little to stifle San Antonio’s outside shooting. The San Antonio Spurs were 20 from 30 from 3-point range and shot 56% from the field overall. Football spreads
”Luckily it felt good tonight,” Green expounded. ”Some nights you have it and some nights you don’t. Good thing we had it tonight. Not just myself, but everyone else on the team.
Manu Ginobili and Boris Diaw hit consecutive 3s to push San Antonio’s lead straight to 55-45 with 3:42 left in the 1st half.
Green’s 7th 3-pointer gave the Spurs a 77-57 lead with 7 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.
The Spurs controlled by as much as 46, while the Mavs’ lone lead came at 4-3 on Kaman’s jumper with 10:30 left in the 1st quarter.
Tiago Splitter’s dunk gave San Antonio a 100-66 lead at the close of the 3rd. Splitter ran to the sideline after the dunk with a huge a smile, where he was immediately met with a low 5 by an equally happy Duncan.
Dallas was outscored 36-14 in the 3rd quarter. San Antonio Spurs closed the quarter on a 31-9 run.