Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki stepped up after Jason Terry left the team’s last game at halftime with a hand injury. After learning that Terry would be sidelined at least several weeks with a broken bone in his left hand, the Mavericks may need more such performances from their All-Star.
Nowitzki looks to build on his clutch performance in an overtime victory Tuesday night when the Mavericks go for their sixth win in seven games—and their 10th straight at home against the Sacramento Kings.
After finishing the first half of Dallas’ game against Chicago on Saturday night, Terry had X-rays that revealed a broken bone in his left hand. He had surgery Monday to stabilize the fracture, and though the team said there is no timetable for his return, he’s expected to be sidelined at least a few weeks.
Terry, the Mavericks’ second-leading scorer with a career-high 19.9 points per game, had scored at least 20 in five of his last six games before Saturday.
In his absence, Nowitzki carried the Mavericks (30-20) to a 115-114 overtime win over the Bulls. He fell two points shy of his season high with 44, including 14 of Dallas’ 18 in the extra session. He made a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds left to seal the win.
“Unbelievable performance,” coach Rick Carlisle said after his team’s fifth win in six games. “He just stayed patient and into the game. Down the stretch his shot-making was phenomenal.”
Nowitzki was 16-for-34 from the field, an impressive finish considering he missed nine of his first 10 attempts.
“I just had to stay aggressive and look for my shot, especially with (Terry) out,” Nowitzki said.
Nowitzki knows he’ll have increased pressure to continue to make up for the loss of Terry, a leading Sixth Man of the Year candidate with a league-best 20.0 points per game off the bench.
“He almost had tears in his eyes, that’s how much he cares,” Nowitzki said of Terry’s reaction to the news Saturday. “We told him we got this one for him and we would hold down the fort. He’s the best sixth man in the league and we’ll miss him dearly.”
The Mavericks, though, haven’t had any problem at home against the Kings (11-41). Dallas has won nine straight home games against Sacramento since a 126-124 overtime loss Feb. 27, 2003. Nowitzki has averaged 27.9 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 55.4 percent during that streak.
The Kings could have a hard time snapping their skid in Dallas if they continue to struggle defensively. They’ve given up at least 106 points in each game of their 1-11 stretch since Jan. 16, allowing an average of 116.3 points.
Sacramento shot a season-high 55.0 percent Sunday, but still fell 116-113 to Oklahoma City.
The Kings split their first two meetings with the Mavericks, both in Sacramento. They were blown out 101-78 on Nov. 29 before surprising the Mavericks 102-95 behind 21 points from Kevin Martin on Jan. 11.
Terry led Dallas in scoring in both games, averaging 28.5 points. Nowitzki is averaging 17.0 points and shooting 36.7 percent (11-for-30) against Sacramento this season.