It must haunt Dirk Nowitzki to visit the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, the site of the Dallas Mavericks' greatest losses (the Miami Heat's American Airlines Center excepted). But he showed no signs of fear in leading the Mavs to a 112-106 victory in Oakland on Wednesday.
Dirk scored 34 points on 10-22 shooting, with 12 coming in the crucial fourth. Dallas actually trailed by as many as 18 in the first half, and by seven with seven minutes remaining. But the Mavericks went on a 15-0 run over four minutes; Nowitzki scored eight of those himself. Golden State couldn't recover.
Golden State scored rather efficiently all night long; Monta Ellis shot 10-20 for 26 points, and David Lee hit 10-14 for 22. But as is usually the case, those same scorers gave up big nights to their opponents; Lee couldn't handle Nowitzki, and Rodrigue Beaubois shredded Ellis for 18 points of his own, on 7-11 shooting. Beaubois, a lightning quick Caribbean guard, also had four steals; there was a stretch in the first quarter during which Ellis committed three consecutive turnovers, the first two of which were steals by Beaubois and the third of which was forced by Rodrigue.
In other action:
Nuggets 102, Hawks 87: Denver isn't just winning without Carmelo Anthony -- the Nuggets are killing playoff teams. Nene dropped 20 points on Al Horford, and Atlanta's three-guard lineup failed as the Hawks shot just 41 percent from the floor.
Pistons 107, Raptors 93: Rip Hamilton scored a game-high 24. Anyone else think the Pistons would be in a legit race for the final playoff spot had Rip and John Kuester settled their differences earlier and Hamilton would have played all along?
Magic 93, Bucks 89 (OT): Milwaukee made the Magic sweat. Jameer Nelson got caught by Brandon Jennings with the Magic up three and just seconds remaining in regulation, as Jennings managed to slip into the act of shooting as Nelson fouled him. Jennings hit all three free throws. But Dwight Howard was on a rampage, and Hedo Turkoglu took over in overtime.
Hornets 100, Suns 95: Chris Paul is still bangin'; is it rude to say that the concussion seemed to spark him pretty well? Paul had 26 points and nine assists. Steve Nash is still ailing badly, though. Someone hit him in the head!
Cavaliers 97, Kings 93: Beno Udrih couldn't guard a crosswalk, despite his best intentions. Ramon Sessions, decidedly more dangerous than a crosswalk, ripped off 20 points on 10-15 shooting as Cleveland earned a road win. It's actually possible that the Kings -- not the Cavs -- would finish with the NBA's worst record. And the Cavs lost 26 straight!
76ers 104, Clippers 94: Elton Brand, the Clippers' last amazing power forward, gave Blake Griffin a lesson. What that lesson was, I don't know. But it was vicious! Brand had 19 and 12; Griffin shot 3-12 and fouled out in 36 minutes. Philadelphia wins.