Yet it wasn’t enough to start a new era with a victory.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 17 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter and Michael Finley hit two clutch 3-pointers in the closing minutes, helping the Dallas Mavericks pull out a 122-113 victory Thursday night in a matchup of teams left short-handed following the trade deadline.
Both teams played just eight players, but Dallas used its bench more and the fresh legs seemed to pay off in the end. The Mavericks used a 13-2 run to go ahead for good with 4:39 left and scored a season-best 40 points in the fourth quarter while the weary, emotionally drained Kings went nearly 4 1/2 minutes without a field goal down the stretch.
Webber might have shaken things up with a dunk, a jumper or an assist. But he’s now a member of the Philadelphia 76ers after being traded the night before, leaving his former teammates to spend all day talking about how their roles and the team’s outlook have changed.
“It was obviously different without him,” said center Brad Miller, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds. “He was playing real well for us and not having him out there took some time to get used to. He’s the guy everyone would look to and it was up to the rest of us to step it up. We’re going to have to fill his shoes and make adjustments.”
The Mavericks’ bench was thin because big men Alan Henderson and Calvin Booth were traded to Milwaukee for Keith Van Horn, and Jerry Stackhouse missed a fourth straight game with a groin injury. Then Devin Harris blindly ran into a pick by Miller late in the third quarter and was lost to a strained neck; Mavs coach Don Nelson was ejected for arguing that no foul was called on the play.
“I’m really proud of us gutting this win out,” said assistant coach Avery Johnson, who took over for Nelson. “They handled a lot of adversity during the course of the game. … Everybody that touched the court tonight contributed in some way.”
Dallas trailed 98-89 with 9:02 left before its final surge. Nowitzki put them ahead for good on a short jumper and Josh Howard followed with a dunk in transition that turned into a three-point play. Finley stretched the lead to 112-107, then hit another 3 with 1:42 left to make it 117-110. Sacramento never got closer than four again.
Marquis Daniels had season-highs with 29 points and eight assists, plus nine rebounds in his first start since Dec. 6, and Finley added 22 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Kings dressed the league-minimum of eight players because Webber and two reserves were traded and their replacements hadn’t arrived, plus Peja Stojakovic was out with a strained hamstring. They were good in stretches and led nearly all the third quarter, but couldn’t keep it up.
“We bonded together and had a chance to win, we just got tired at the end,” Sacramento coach Rick Adelman said.
Sacramento’s reserves played a total of 29 minutes, with none logging more than 10. All three of Dallas’ bench players logged at least 21 minutes.
The Kings lost for the third time in four games and seventh in nine. This loss made for a bad start to a six-game, nine-day road trip that continues Saturday—in Philadelphia, against Webber and the 76ers.
Playing at home for the first time in 16 days, Dallas maintained the momentum of its 5-0 road trip, a franchise best that included wins in Phoenix, Seattle and Sacramento.
Howard had 16 points and nine rebounds, and Harris added 11 points before getting hurt.
Dallas trailed 84-78 with 1:27 left in the third when Nelson was ejected. The non-foul on Miller was merely the last straw, as the Mavericks hadn’t gone to the foul line since 2:47 of the first quarter—while the Kings had taken 25 free throws in that span—and several close calls had just gone against them. Nelson ran onto the court and had to be pushed away from official Kevin Fehr.
Dallas improved to 3-0 against Sacramento this season, giving the Mavs the tiebreaker if they finish with the same record. Dallas has won seven of the last eight regular-season meetings with Sacramento, although the Kings beat them 4-1 in last year’s playoffs.
Shawn Bradley had three blocks, giving him a career total of 2,088 to pass Manute Bol for 10th place on the career list. … Finley hit 20 points for a fifth straight game. … Bibby has scored at least 20 in six straight games against the Mavs and nine of his last 10. … Dallas activated rookie C Pavel Podkolzin to fill the roster spot created by the two-for-one trade.