LOS ANGELES, USA – The Phoenix Suns took care of business at home, downing Dallas 99-89 to spoil the season debut of Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki in the NBA on Thursday, December 13 (Friday, December 14, Manila time).
Nowitzki, who had ankle surgery in April, became the first player in NBA history to suit up for 21 seasons for the same team when he came into the game in the 1st quarter.
He played just over 6 minutes and scored 2 points – banking in a jump shot on his first attempt of the night.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said the team was "thrilled" to have Nowitzki back on the floor, but the lowly Suns spoiled the party, snapping a 10-game losing streak.
TJ Warren led Phoenix with 30 points. Jamal Crawford added 17 off the bench and fellow reserve Josh Jackson contributed 14.
Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks with 15 points, but Dallas was undone by 23 turnovers.
TJ Warren leads all scorers with 30 PTS as the @Suns win 99-89 over the @dallasmavs! #TimeToRise Jamal Crawford: 17 PTS, 5 AST Josh Jackson: 14 PTS, 8 REB pic.twitter.com/CetGljtH4T — NBA (@NBA) December 14, 2018
Nowitzki made his long awaited first appearance of a record-setting 21st NBA season with the Mavericks as no other NBA player has played so many seasons with the same team.
He had been tied at 20 seasons with the same club with former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant.
Nowitzki, the seventh-leading scorer in NBA history, hadn't played in a game since March and had surgery on his left ankle in April. He had hoped to be ready for the start of the season but continued soreness in the ankle slowed his return.
The 40-year-old Dallas talisman acknowledged recently that he expected it to be tough to regain his rhythm and get comfortable with the pace of play.
Nowitzki, the 2007 NBA Most Valuable Player from Germany, came off the bench with 3:27 left in the 1st quarter, and promptly banked in a 15-foot jump shot.
Congrats to @swish41 on playing in his 21st season for the @dallasmavs! #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/c0bVh4I9w7 — NBA (@NBA) December 14, 2018
Spurs dominate, Magic up
The San Antonio Spurs continued their rise up the Western Conference rankings with a fourth straight victory, 125-87 over the Los Angeles Clippers.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points, connecting on 12 of 14 shots. That included his first three-pointer of the season.
Rudy Gay scored 21 points and DeMar DeRozan and Marco Belinelli added 14 apiece as 6 Spurs players scored in double figures.
It was the Spurs' biggest win of the season and gave them 4 wins in as many games of their current six-game homestand. They had arrived back in Texas having lost two on the road to fall 3 games under .500 for the first time in two decades.
"We had a lot of games on the road and that kind of caught up with us," Aldridge said. "Coming home, guys wanted to recharge and take care of this home stand."
Meanwhile, a trip south of the border proved fruitful for the Orlando Magic, who ended a three-game skid with a 97-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls in Mexico City.
Center Nikola Vucevic scored 26 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Magic, who trailed by 4 points with 7:35 remaining.
Vucevic scored 10 points in the 4th quarter as the Magic secured the victory in front of a crowd of 20,021 at Arena Ciudad de Mexico. – Rappler.com