Final: Thunder 111, Mavs 110
Behind the Box Score
Dirk Nowitzki became just the sixth player in NBA history to reach 31,000 career points. It’s not as glamorous an achievement as reaching 30,000 last year (because “31” doesn’t end in a 0 or 5), but it’s still a testament to his scoring ability and extraordinary longevity. Between joining the 50,000 minutes club, become the franchise blocks leader, and scoring 31,000 points, this has been a month of milestones for Nowitzki.
The Dallas offense had a big third quarter, generating 33 points on a whopping 1.375 points per possession. The Mavs purchased a one-way ticket to the rim for virtually the entire quarter, constantly attacking the Thunder defense and producing several dunks, layups, and alley-oops. It was one of the team’s best, cleanest quarters of the season.
Dwight Powell has handed out 3+ assists in three of his last five games. Most centers are not known for their passing, and Powell certainly isn’t, but it’s been pretty impressive to see him make some plays with the ball. Typically he’s more of a finisher than creator, but if he can show he can do both, he can become an immensely valuable player.
Powell has had the best month of his career by far this February. He’s been sensational as a starter, consistently providing points and rebounds from the center position, which is something the club has been searching for all season long. His development into an elite rim-runner has been one of the biggest bright spots this season and is a testament to his work ethic as well as the Mavs’ coaching staff.
Noel finished with four points, three rebounds, an assist, a steal, and a block in 16 minutes, with most of his best activity coming in the second and third quarters.
Barnes is going to play more small forward down the stretch this season, which means he’ll likely have the ball in his hands in a position to make plays like this much more often than he does when he’s at the 4. Developing as a playmaker would transform his game. He’s very good in isolation and is a strong post-up player, too, but if you can give him the ball 25 feet from the rim and have him make plays for others, it could change the complexion of the Mavs’ offense. It would mean relying less on the guards to do all the heavy lifting in that regard and change the geometry of the floor.
The Mavs (19-43) will play the Chicago Bulls (20-41) on Friday at the United Center at 7 p.m. Central.