DALLAS (AP)—Don Nelson has walked off a basketball court with a hand on the shoulder of his pal Del Harris plenty of times.
Never under circumstances this wild, though.
While Nelson’s return to his old stomping grounds was the major story line, the Mavs added to the drama with forward Josh Howard spraining his ankle, coach Avery Johnson and point guard Jason Terry getting ejected, then botching a final sequence—with no help from the officials.
“I never expected this win,” said Nelson, who came out of retirement late this summer to take over the Warriors. “I didn’t think we’d be able to beat a good team at this point of the season, but I was wrong. I’m very proud of my squad. You take the win when you can get it.”
Nelson and Mavs owner Mark Cuban are squabbling over $6 million, which is likely why there was no formal recognition for the winningest coach in Mavs history. Still, he received a warm ovation from fans and took pride in the unveiling of a banner recognizing Dallas for being the 2005-06 Western Conference champions.
“At 66, you don’t find a lot of emotion except for love and death. But it was a special (night) for me,” Nelson said.
Jason Richardson put Golden State ahead 107-97 with a layup with 2:26 left, but Dallas rallied to get within a 3-pointer of forcing overtime.
Jerry Stackhouse missed one with about 5 seconds left, then Anthony Johnson got the rebound and headed for the 3-point line. He instead passed to Devin Harris in the corner. Harris passed it back and time expired before Johnson could shoot.
All the while, Del Harris—who took over when Avery Johnson was tossed before halftime—was near midcourt screaming for a timeout. He had been hollering since before Stackhouse’s shot.
“You could pretty much hear him through the monitor,” said Johnson, who was watching on television.
When Harris complained to official Dan Crawford, he apologized and gestured that he couldn’t hear Harris over the crowd. Nelson smiled, laughed and gave Harris a pat on the back, then they left the court together.
“It was like a player being traded, coming back and wanted to do well against his old team,” said Richardson, who scored 22 points. “He wanted this game and we wanted to play hard and get it for him.”
Baron Davis scored 26 points and Troy Murphy added 20 as the Warriors beat the Mavericks for the four straight time and fourth in a row in Dallas. Golden State was the only team that beat the Mavs three times last season.
“I don’t know what it is,” Richardson said. “Maybe we just like these rims.”
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 26 points and Harris scored 17 in his first start of the season. Terry had 15 after scoring only one the previous game, but was ejected with 3:05 left to play for a hard takedown of Golden State’s Monta Ellis on a drive to the basket.
The Mavericks fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1993-94 and are in jeopardy of the first 0-4 start in franchise history, not exactly the start the club expected coming off its first trip to the NBA finals.
“It’s still early, we’ve got 79 games left,” forward Greg Buckner said. “But we’ve got to press a little bit. We can’t keep saying `It’s still early’ and lose six more.”
The Mavs will be on the road for three games in six days, which could be the bonding time they need to work out the kinks. However, they could be forced to do so without Howard, their second-leading scorer. He left wearing a walking boot and is scheduled to have an MRI on Tuesday.
“It’s not looking too good,” Avery Johnson said.
Nelson and Harris last coached against each other in February 1998, when Nelson was with the Mavs and Harris was running the Lakers. Los Angeles won 101-88. … Nelson had his fourth different starting lineup in as many games. In this one, Mike Dunleavy Jr. didn’t start for the first time. … Harris replaced Buckner in Dallas’ starting lineup, but Buckner started the second half in Howard’s place. … The curtain covering the Western Conference champion banner got stuck about halfway up. A worker had to walk across a catwalk and give it a stiff tug to free the snag.