OAKLAND – Dirk Nowitzki closed the Oracle Arena chapter in his career in grand style.
Playing in an arena that gave him so many frustrations, Nowitzki looked fit as a fiddle as he scored 10 of the Dallas Mavericks’ first 14 points on Saturday night. From there, the Mavs continued their total dominance as they led wire-to-wire and embarrassed the Golden State Warriors, winning, 126-91, before a sellout crowd of 19,596.
Considering that the Warriors are the two-time defending NBA champions and are heavy favorites to three-peat as champions — and the Mavs entered the game just 6-30 on the road – what transpired Saturday was totally unexpected on many levels.
“Our guys came out and really competed and played a complete game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “NBA basketball is 48 minutes – you’ve got to play all 48 – and we did.
“We caught a break with (Stephen) Curry not being out there, it changes a lot of things. But our guys played a determined game.”
It was a night where everything the Mavs touched turned to gold.
Now 29-44, the Mavs shot 53 percent from the field, made 21 shots from 3-point range – one shy of their franchise record — won the board battle, 49-36, and quite frankly, ran the Warriors out of their own building. It was the worst loss of the season by the Warriors and also their worst loss at home since 2007.
Nowitzki started the onslaught for Dallas as he scored the game’s first five points and 10 of the Mavs’ first 14 points as they opened up a surprising 14-2 lead that stunned this crowd.
“They were obviously three guys out, but you still got to come out and compete and beat this team, which there still were some great players out there,” said Nowitzki, who scored a season-high 21 points. “I thought our energy was great all night long after we had some tough losses over the last few weeks.
“This is actually a good feeling. We’ve had a lot of disappointing losses on the road all season. This one we can be proud of.”
The Mavs kept their feet squarely on the gas all night long and never allowed the Warriors to mount any type of sustained rally. Thanks to 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists from Luka Doncic, the Mavs led 37-22 after the first quarter.
That lead kept growing and growing and growing until the Mavs led 74-46 at the half, 108-70 after three quarters, and 125-82 with 2:25 remaining in the game. By the time the dust settled Doncic had registered his sixth triple-double of the season as he finished with 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, and also added three steals.
“I think we just played like a team,” Doncic said. “We took great shots and didn’t force them.
“I think we played great (defense), too. We had some great stops and just forced them into a lot of bad shots.”
And there were plenty of contributions by other members of the Mavs.. Ryan Broekhoff (17 points), Maxi Kleber (16 points, nine rebounds), Trey Burke (13 points) and Jalen Brunson (11 points) did more than enough to help keep the pressure off Doncic and Nowitzki.
“Dirk coming out there and getting 21 points, what a performance for a guy that has such a history here,” Carlisle said. “Really great the way the fans acknowledged him, both at the beginning of the game and at the end.”
The Mavs hadn’t played or practiced since losing at Sacramento on Thursday, 116-100. And that made a world of difference.
“We’ve had a day-and-a-half rest, we didn’t have shootaround today,” Carlisle said. “A lot of things lined up well for (Nowitzki) to have his legs, and not just him.
“We’ve been a little tired as a team lately. Luka’s been a little tired. Everybody was fresh and played fresh, but (Nowitzki) getting eight points in the first two minutes and us moving the ball the way we did to get him those points, it was a great start and then we just kept going from there. I was real proud of the way our guys competed.”
Nowitzki was 8-of-14 from the field and 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point line as he kept finding the basket form long range and confusing the Warriors’ defenders.
“I really enjoyed my time here and enjoyed competing against some great players and some great teams,” Nowitzki said. “So I’ll always remember this building, fortunately with my MVP season, but also with a lot of great memories.
“My first basket ever was in this building, so I’m going to for sure miss it.”
NOTES: Saturday was the Mavs’ final game at Oracle Arena, which will close after this season as the Warriors move to the new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. “I remember this arena back in ‘84-’85, which was my first year playing,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “Everything you hear about the place downtown is going to be just off the hook. Everybody will look forward to that. I know they had some good memories in here, some great memories in here. I don’t get too sentimental about most places. I did about the Boston Garden because I played there. Of course, the original Madison Square Garden is still there. I played for a month in the Meadowlands (in New Jersey), but I didn’t cry too many tears for that one. The game keeps moving forward and some of these buildings are a memory of the past.”. .Center Salah Mejri missed Saturday’s game with an illness. . .The Mavs’ next game is Tuesday in Dallas against the Sacramento Kings.