OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Ugly wins are acceptable at this stage for the Dallas Mavericks.
Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 15 rebounds and the Mavericks spoiled Golden State’s season opener by beating the Warriors for the 18th straight time, 95-87 Wednesday night.
Nowitzki scored five straight points as the Mavericks took control in the fourth quarter and Antoine Walker added 20 points and 14 rebounds for Dallas, which hasn’t lost to the Warriors since 1999 and regrouped after losing its season opener to the Los Angeles Lakers a night earlier.
“The fact is, we struggled the whole game again, until we made shots down the stretch and executed,” Dallas coach Don Nelson said. “It was a situation where we had to win this game. We needed to start playing a little bit better. It was a game you couldn’t leave this arena and not come away with a win.”
Nick Van Exel was sidelined after having arthroscopic knee surgery and is expected to miss two more weeks, Troy Murphy has a foot injury and Jason Richardson was serving the first game of a three-game suspension for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.
“We played with one of the best teams in the league right to the wire,” Dunleavy said. “You can’t say we’ve thrown in the towel.”
The matchup featured the two teams involved in a nine-player trade in August that sent Antawn Jamison to the Mavericks and brought Van Exel to Oakland. But it was an abnormally low-scoring game for the league’s top two offensive teams from last season. And the Mavericks look nothing like the team that reached the Western Conference finals last season, losing to eventual NBA champion San Antonio.
“We’ve just got to gut out wins,” Walker said. “Some might not be pretty.”
Jamison spent five years as the Warriors’ franchise player and led them in scoring last season, but now is the sixth man for Dallas. When the arena’s two most infamous supporters—the faces of this long-suffering fan base—heckled Jamison in the first quarter, he gave them a friendly smile.
The crowd cheered when Jamison missed a second-quarter free throw, and he didn’t play in the second half. He finished with only five points and two rebounds.
Golden State, which has missed the playoffs the last nine seasons, used a 10-2 spurt to start the third quarter and build a 59-51 lead, with Dampier scoring six points in the run and also grabbing a key rebound. But the Warriors couldn’t hold their lead.
After Dunleavy’s 3-pointer made it 64-61, Steve Nash immediately answered with a 3 and Nowitzki then scored for a 66-64 Mavericks’ edge after three.
“I wish the results were different—I’m dying inside,” second-year Warriors coach Eric Musselman said. “But it’s a long season and we feel like we gave a great effort.”
The Warriors started the game 1-for-10, prompting one fan to holler, “Is this high school?” They scored only 14 first-quarter points on 7-for-25 shooting (28 percent).
Dallas led 49-47 at halftime.
Nelson greeted Van Exel with a hug and high-five on the court before the game as Van Exel was shooting around. “We sure miss him, I’ll tell you that,” Nelson said. … Former Warriors F Danny Fortson, another player swapped in the trade, was booed. “I’m sure they’ll boo me,” Fortson said before the game. “I don’t care. I’m here to play basketball.” … Nelson still hasn’t seen consistent team play by the Mavericks. “We couldn’t beat the Pismo Beach Panthers last night,” Nelson said. … Warriors F Brian Cardinal picked up his fourth foul 3:10 before halftime. … Nowitzki averaged 28.5 points against the Warriors last season. … Golden State’s Mickael Pietrus left with a sprained left ankle in the fourth quarter. X-rays were negative and he was listed as day-to-day. “Knowing our luck, it’s two to eight weeks. Markit down,” Musselman said. “We’ll probably play Philadelphia with six guys.”