The Dallas Mavericks were able to finish the season without a losing record as they secured a 99-87 win over the New Orleans Hornets in the season finale. Playing against the team that drafted him, Darren Collison went 10-for-15 from the field and tallied a game-high 25 points to go along with four assists, two steals and a block in 28 minutes off the bench against the Hornets. Collison left a positive last impression for the team as it was his second-highest scoring game of the season (32 at Oklahoma City Dec. 27). He scored 20-plus points for the seventh time this season and the first since Mar. 18 at Atlanta (24 points).
Dirk Nowitzki totaled 16 points, a team-high nine rebounds and four assists in 28 minutes against the Hornets. Nowitzki averaged 20.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 assists in his final five games of the 2012-13 season.
Some notes before the quotes:
- Vince Carter’s triple at the 9:29 mark of the second quarter was his 162nd 3-pointer of the season (he shot 162-399, .406, on the year). His 162 treys tied his career-high for most 3-pointers made in a season (he shot 162-397, .408, with Toronto in 2000-01). The 162 triples were also tied for the fifth-most treys made by a Maverick in any season (Jason Terry made 162 with Dallas in 2006-07). Carter made at least one 3-point basket in each of his final 25 games of the 2012-13 season. It marked his longest career streak (over a single season) with at least one trey (previous high: 16 straight games on two occasions).
- The Mavericks outshot the Hornets 51.2 percent (42-of-82) to 36.9 percent (31-of-84) on the night. They finished the 2012-13 season with a record of 21-3 when they shot at least 50 percent from the floor.
- Al-Farouq Aminu (16 points and a career-high 20 rebounds) and Robin Lopez (14 points and 13 boards) both recorded double-doubles for New Orleans. Aminu recorded a first-half double-double with 10 points and a career-high 17 rebounds (previous high: 16 rebounds on three occasions). Aminu grabbed 14 boards in the first quarter alone.
- Dallas has now sold out 472 consecutive regular-season games at American Airlines Center, which is an NBA-best sellout streak. The streak began on Dec. 15, 2001 and Dallas has sold out an additional 60 playoff games during that stretch.
Here is the quoteboard for Dallas’ victory over New Orleans in the season finale.
On the key to tonight’s win: “We had a lot of guys contribute. We weren’t perfect. We’ve demonstrated we’re not a perfect team, but the guys hung in. We needed three guys at the center position, we needed two guys at every other position. We had Morrow playing tonight at two, so we had three guys playing the two spot and it was all when the game mattered. It’s good to finish strong. I think if you look back at the last 42, 43, 44 games, there’s a trend where we were doing good things. We just got up against it in December with the slow start and all of that. Now, we’ve got to work in the summer to get our younger guys better and to get the team better.”
On the play of Darren Collison: “He was terrific tonight, absolutely. I thought we had some guys play well, but I thought he was our most consistent and most dynamic guy out there. He did a really good job for us. Again, we have a lot of other guys who may not have great lines, but during the course of the game, did some timely good things that helped us win. It’s good to win the last game. It gets everybody feeling a little bit better about things, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”
On battling back from 10 games below .500: “I expected us to battle back, and I expected us to get to, and I thought we would get above, .500. It didn’t happen, but we never lost our spirit. We never lost our belief and our effort. Those are all good things, but I’m not going to try to blow sunshine up your butt and tell you that we’re happy to be .500. That’s just not how things go around here; I understand that and you guys understand that, too. We do have some positives to take from this; our veteran guys this year, by the time Dirk [Nowitzki] really got his rhythm and his conditioning back, he was the player that he’s been. Marion and Carter were terrific all year long. If you look at Marion’s run the last five or six games, it’s all-star numbers – they aren’t just good numbers, they’re all-star numbers. Tonight, Elton [Brand] was a key guy. We needed another big body because Kaman had a few struggles out there. Kaman’s back was a little sore coming into the game so he wasn’t really feeling 100%, but he wanted to play. We needed everybody. We won and that’s better than losing.”
The fans: “The fans have been great. It’s one of the most loyal towns I’ve seen in my years in the league. We’ve got to repay the loyalty by getting the team better this summer. I know that, Mark and Donnie know that. There’s a lot of work to be done. It’s going to take creativity. It’s going to take being opportunistic. We’re going to have to do our homework on a lot of things.”
Not being able to survive the time where Dirk was out: “The burden of the season is on all of us. I take a lot of responsibility for what happens on the court because that’s my job. Mark is proactive to be accountable for things. He’s the ultimate owner because when things go great, he stays in the background and talks about what a great job everyone is doing. When things go like they did this year, he steps up and says this one is on me. At the top, that’s the kind of ownership any head coach dreams of having. Now, we’re in this position where we’ve got a lot of work to do. I look forward to it.”
On finishing the season 41-41: “We should have never been in this position in the first place, but it is what it is and we never gave up and we ended the season .500 so that’s definitely a positive. It’s better than have a losing season, but at the end of the day I’m sad it’s over with and I wish we could turn back the hands of time, but we have to look forward to see what’s going to happen this summer and the future.”
What needs to happen this summer? “I have no clue. Cuban and Donnie have got some work to do this summer to get us back to where we want to be and where we should be.”
How did you feel this season wrapped up for you? “I thought I had a solid year. I’m a young player and I’m still growing and I definitely have a lot to learn. For our team it is disappointing that we didn’t make it to the playoffs. I’m hurt about that situation, but when we come around next year we’ll be a much better team because of this experience.”
On his goals for the summer: “I definitely want to become an elite point guard in this league. I definitely have the tools to do so but I’ve got to be able to put it together. Coach did a good job of grinding me and helping me get better each day … I have a lot of things to work on, and I’m up for the challenge.”
On tackling the roller coaster of the point guard position with other players coming in and taking his spot: “I feel like I withstood some things that a lot of players couldn’t … I never put my head down. I just kept working. It’s good to leave on a good note.”
Assessing this season: “41 and 41. It’s admirable of our team that we were able to stick together coming into the second part of the season.”
Assessing the push to finish the year: “To be 10 games under .500 wasn’t pretty, but I’m actually proud of the guys how we finished the season … The guys kept playing hard, kept competing and we finished the season off the right way.”
On Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban: “They’re always geniuses making stuff happen. We need a big summer.”
What was missing this year? “Well, I was missing for 30 games so that’s what we were missing for months.”
Would he like to see a lot of the guys back next season for chemistry? “I think the team is going to look a lot different next year. We’ll just have to wait and see. No one can see in their crystal ball now and know what’s happening until October. There’s going to be a lot of stuff happening. We’ll have to see who we bring back. Some of the guys are obviously going to get contract offers somewhere else. We’ll just have to see who we can hold and bring back.”
EXIT INTERVIEWS WILL BE CONDUCTED AT 11 AM THURSDAY. WE’LL HAVE THE QUOTEBOARDS.