DALLAS – One by one, they came to American Airlines Center on Saturday night determined to not only see history made, but also to see the Dallas Mavericks snap their seven-game losing streak.

Well, at least the sellout crowd of 20,347 went home half satisfied.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led a balanced Mavs’ attack with 22 points on his 27th birthday and the home team was able to blow out the candles on a pulsating 121-116 triumph over the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the other big news of the night was the run Dirk Nowitzki is making towards becoming the No. 6 all-time leading scorer in NBA history.

Nowitzki entered Saturday’s game just 18 points shy of passing Wilt Chamberlain for the sixth spot on the league’s all-time scoring chart. The 21-year veteran played a season-high 29 minutes and finished with 14 points on 5-of-13 shots, coming up only four points shy of overtaking Chamberlain and sending the crowd home really, really happy.

“I was going for it there,” Nowitzki said. “I just didn’t have the hot hand there down the stretch.

“I forced it, obviously, a little bit. I didn’t really have any great looks. We won the game and we’re moving on.”

Since the Mavs host New Orleans on Monday, more than likely Nowitzki will be able to make history and past Chamberlain against the Pelicans. And that will suit him just fine.

“I was dragging a little bit down the stretch, that’s why actually coach gave me another minute,” Nowitzki said. “It was just good to be out there.”

Obviously, coach Rick Carlisle and the rest of the Mavs are very aware where Nowitzki stands on the all-time scoring list.

“At this point the whole world is going to know where things are at, which is cool,” Carlisle said. “Our guys have been aware of it since the All-Star break.

“And as things have gotten closer, certainly the arena has been more perked up. Tonight, it was mayhem in there.”

Mayhem definitely ensued when Nowitzki scored and followed that up with a 3-pointer, and then added another 3-pointer a short time later to push the Mavs ahead 112-96 with 7:13 left in the game.

“After I made those back-to-back three’s the crowd went wild,” Nowitzki said. “It was a fun game.”

The Mavs played without their best player, Luka Doncic, who sat out a right knee contusion. However, the Mavs shot 51.1 percent from the field, 45.7 percent from 3-point range (16 of 35), and distributed 32 assists while turning the ball over just five times.

Guard Devin Harris acknowledged that the Mavs were trying their best to help Nowitzki get over the scoring hump against Cleveland. But they also had to keep a watchful eye on the Cavs, who fell behind by 20 points in the first half and sliced their deficit all the way down to 119-116 when Collin Sexton scored with 5.3 seconds remaining,

But Harris, who collected a season-high nine assists, closed the deal with a pair of free throws with 4.3 seconds left.

“I mean at the end of the day we’re still playing a game, so we had to make enough plays to win the game,” Harris said. “But I think everybody sacrificed and tried to get it open for (Nowitzki).”

Besides Nowitzki and Hardaway, heroes were plentiful on this night for the Mavs. Maxi Kleber registered his second straight double-double as he finished with a season-high 18 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, Jalen Brunson finished with 16 points and seven assists, and Dwight Powell scored 16.

Also for the Mavs, Dorian Finney-Smith was 4-of-6 from 3-point land and collected 14 points, six rebounds, a career-high six assists and two steals, and Trey Burke added 11 points in just 22 minutes. Still, the spotlight was shining bright on Nowitzki as he continues to chase history.

“We wanted to get it open for him so he could have it,” Harris said of Nowitzki. “I’m hoping this next game we will be able to, but you know getting on the (losing) streak we have been on you know obviously being so close to winning games, you know playing a lot harder on defense it was more important to get the win tonight. But obviously we want him to get the next one.”

So do Nowitzki.

“I haven’t played 30 minutes, obviously, in a long, long time,” Nowitzki said. “Overall, not that great enough to put it over 18, but there’s always the next night, hopefully.”

NOTES: By sitting out Saturday’s game with a right knee contusion, rookie Luka Doncic has now missed five games this season due to various injuries. . .The 22 points Tm Hardaway Jr. scored against the Cavs were two shy of the most points he’s scored since he was traded to the Mavs from the New York Knicks on Jan. 31. Hardaway’s high with the Mavs are the 24 points he scored during a Feb. 10 home game against Portland. . .Luka Doncic received a trophy at halftime for winning the NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for his play during the month of February. It’s the fourth consecutive month Doncic has won this award. He also became the first member of the Mavs to win the award four times in one season. . .Cavs coach Larry Drew had some high praise for Mavs rookie Luka Doncic. “I had seen some tape on him prior to him coming to Cleveland before we played them (on Feb. 2),” Drew said. “But he’s a good player, solid. He plays with a lot of confidence as a rookie, real similar to our rookie (Collin Sexton). I think he has a tremendous future ahead of him.”. .The Mavs will host the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday at 7:30 p.m. before opening a three-game road trip Wednesday in Portland.

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