After a two-week holiday hiatus, the Rundown is back. Every Monday, The Rundown will chronicle the week that was for the Mavericks, as well as let you know what is coming up for the boys in blue, with a unique spin. Simply put, it is your Monday catch-up on all things with the Dallas Mavericks.
With no Rundown in two weeks, there’s been a lot of things that have transpired for the Mavericks. The biggest thing has been the return of Dirk Nowitzki. Despite his grand return, things continue to look bleak for the Mavericks. They are in serious danger of not making the playoffs for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s take a look at the week for that was for Dirk.
Did THAT Really Happen?
- Seeing Dirk come back to the Mavericks has clearly helped get the Mavericks back in gear in terms of playing with more of a competitive spirit. The Mavericks went 12-15 (.444) in their first 27 games without Nowitzki in the lineup. Dallas is now 36-36 (.500) all-time when he doesn’t play.
- In the better late than never department, Dirk went 2-for-2 from the line at Oklahoma City on Dec. 27, giving him exactly 6,000 career made free throws. He became the 18th player in NBA history with at least 6,000 made free throws. He also became one of only four 7-footers to reach the milestone (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson). Nowitzki has shot 6,009-of-6,847, 87.8 percent, from the line for his career. Dominique Wilkins ranks 17th on the NBA’s all-time list for free throws made with 6,031.
- Dirk was clearly feeling feisty against the Miami Heat. Seeing the Heat on the other end of the floor definitely takes Dirk’s game up another level. Even if he wasn’t 100 percent, he was ready to step up. He tied the game at 103-103 and forced overtime with a 14-foot fadeaway with 3.9 seconds remaining. You know Dirk is feeling good and that he’s nearly all the way back when you see this. Prior to the game against Miami, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra had some enlightening words on the far-reaching impact Dirk has on the game simply when he steps onto the floor:
“I see him change how everybody plays them. It’s the Dirk Nowitzki Effect on their offense. As a defense, you absolutely overreact to every situation he’s in — or even that he’s not in — and then you lose all sight of your team defensive rules. As soon as he comes in, you see that whole effect come in. It’s fascinating to see, and he’s earned that respect, that overreaction by defenses. He’s obviously working his way back into rhythm. Hopefully it doesn’t fully come back tonight.”
Box Score Revelations
- Dirk went 5-for-7 from the field (1-for-2 from deep) en route to 11 points in 17 minutes off the bench at Washington on New Year’s Day. The 11 points was the first time this season Dirk had scored in double figures. Before the game against Washington, his previous high was 9 at Oklahoma City on Dec. 27.
- The very next night, Dirk recorded a season-best 19 points to go along with a season-high-tying six boards in a season-high 29 minutes at Miami. In his sixth game of the season, it definitely appeared that Dirk was rounding into form.
- In his seventh game, Dirk make his first official start of the season, causing the Mavericks to use their 15th different starting lineup of the season, against the New Orleans Hornets. Nowitzki tallied a season-best 20 points to go along with a season-high-tying six boards in a season-high 34 minutes. His previous high scoring game this season was 19 points, which he recorded in Dallas’ previous game at Miami. He went 2-of-3 from beyond the arc against New Orleans and is now tied with Mookie Blaylock for 30th place on the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goals made list with 1,283 career treys. Nowitzki is averaging 16.7 points per game on 50 percent shooting over his last three games. He is averaging 26.7 minutes per game over his last three contests.
- With the seven made field goals against New Orleans, Dirk has 8,461 career field goals and needs seven baskets to pass Allen Iverson (8,467) for 23rd place on the NBA’s all-time field goals made list.
Check Your Calendar
- The Mavericks start a West Coast trip on Jan. 7 as they take on the Utah Jazz. With the bruising big men Utah has, it will be a physical challenge for Dallas. It’s a good thing the Mavericks have Dirk back for this game because they’ll need all the firepower they can get.
- Dallas will then have a back-to-back with the first game being against the Los Angeles Clippers on Jan. 9. The Clippers well be extremely well-rested for the game against the Mavericks as the game on the 9th will be the first one for them since Jan. 5.
- The Mavericks will head to Sacramento to take on the Kings to complete the back-to-back. Fans will get to see DeMarcus Cousins in action. Cousins’ name has popped up in trade rumors and has been linked to the Mavericks. He’s certainly playing well. He’s coming off a game against the Toronto Raptors on Jan. 4 where he scored 31 points, pulled down 20 rebounds and had 4 assists. He became only the third Kings player with a 30-point, 20-rebound game in last 25 seasons. The other two: Brad Miller, Chris Webber. Cousins joined Zach Randolph and Joakim Noah as the only guys this year who have gone for at least 30 points and 20 rebounds. The Kings will have two days off before the game against the Mavericks.
- Speaking of Zach Randolph, the Mavericks will host the Memphis Grizzlies on Jan. 12. Again, it will be another physical matchup with the big men that Memphis posses. The game will be the second night of a back-to-back for the Grizzlies as they host the San Antonio Spurs the night before.
BG’s Baller of the Week
Baller status has been granted to…Dirk Nowitzki. Yes, the Mavericks are behind the eight ball in their pursuit of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, but the world is still better when Dirk is healthy and playing basketball. It appears there won’t be any setbacks with Dirk’s knee and that the knee is as healthy as its been in quite some time. It’s clearly a dark time for the Mavericks. There is one bright spot in the darkness and that’s the fact Dirk is back. As long as Dallas has Dirk, they’ll always have a chance.
Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He is a contributing writer for Mavs.com. Bryan also attended Ball So Hard University. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.