Even after sitting out a month, Michael Finley’s play is proving to be as dependable as ever.
In his second game back after missing time with a sprained right ankle, Finley scored a season-high 26 points and led a third-quarter charge as the Mavericks handed Houston its most lopsided loss of the season, 102-78.
Finley had 19 points in a 107-102 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics in his first game since Nov. 9.
“We’ve been missing him,” Mavericks forward Josh Howard said. “It was great to have him out on the court. He really stretches the defense and when we have two guys that can shoot the 3’s, it is very hard for teams to defend.”
Finley made five of his eight 3-point attempts Saturday. He also had six rebounds and four assists.
Dallas is hoping Finley’s reliable play will help it regain some consistency. The Mavericks are 2-2 since winning four of five.
“We’ve been up and down all season and I really don’t know what to expect each game,” Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. “We haven’t been together as a team yet, this year.”
Finley totaled 51 points in two meetings with Chicago last season as Dallas ran its winning streak in this series to 12, with the last eight being decided by double digits. The Bulls haven’t beaten the Mavericks since Dec. 29, 1997.
Chicago enters this contest having won two of three, thanks in part to the development of first-round pick Ben Gordon.
Gordon scored a career-high 31 points Saturday, rescuing the Bulls from a Minnesota rally with 16 in the fourth quarter, as Chicago nearly blew a 24-point lead before beating the Timberwolves 99-88.
Gordon had 21 points in Wednesday’s 113-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“In the beginning of the year, I kinda had to feel my way out. I’m starting to come along,” Gordon said. “I still have a lot of learning to do and there are things I can get better at.
“I just figured there were some growing pains. Every level of basketball I played, I always struggled at the beginning until I figured it out. I’m just starting to get a little more comfortable.”
Gordon was 13-of-24 from the field Saturday, including 7-of-9 in the final period. He’s coming off the bench right now and his rate Saturday was a point a minute—31 points in 31 minutes.