Deron Williams battled through injury to help the Dallas Mavericks earn a tough weekend split on the road.
The Mavs (22-16) were edged 96-95 in the final seconds by the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday, wherein D-Will suffered a right (shooting) elbow injury in a collision with Bucks center Greg Monroe. He toughed it out two nights later as his team turned around and was on the other side of a close contest, topping the Minnesota Timberwolves 93-87 on Sunday.
“This was a huge win for us,” Deron said on Sunday. “After the one we just had (against Milwaukee) this was a good one to come back and get. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.”
BUCKS STEAL LATE WIN
The Mavs rode back-to-back wins into Milwaukee, but the young Bucks just did edge Deron and Co. late to halt their streak. Early turnovers and a critical late giveaway proved to be Dallas’ downfall.
“We kept giving them the ball,” said head coach Rick Carlisle. “We gave them the ball seven times in the first quarter for a total of 10 points, and that gets them to 28 points in the first quarter and kept us at 18.”
Deron’s minutes were limited due to the elbow injury. He went just 2-of-5 for five points in 24 minutes of play, though he added two boards and a team-high six assists.
Milwaukee (15-24) scored 56 points in the paint to Dallas’ 32. The Mavericks tried going small against the much bigger Bucks, making 44 three-point attempts, but their shots weren’t quite there, as only 14 connected.
The Mavs trailed by as many as 17 in the first half, but came out of the break with energy to score 36 in the third quarter. D-Will sparked the surge with a driving layup to open the second half.
They went on to outscore the Bucks 20-17 in the fourth, but ultimately came up short. Nowitzki hit a pair of free throws to put Dallas up one, 95-94, with 38 seconds to go. But Milwaukee forward John Henson deflected Dirk’s pass to Zaza Pachulia on the next possession, which led to Khris Middleton’s game-winning shot with 9.1 seconds remaining.
“A bad turnover on my part there. We’re up one,” said Nowitzki, who finished with a team-high 20 points. “I saw Zaza flash in there and thought I could get it to him in the lane. He could swing it maybe for a good shot on the weak side. Henson’s long, and he got his arm on it.”
Deron took just two shots in the second half after sustaining the arm injury. The second of which was a potential go-ahead bucket at the buzzer. D-Will launched a pull-up 15-foooter at the buzzer, but it bounced off the rim.
“We got a good look for the win — D-Will with a good up-fake and a one-dribble pull-up,” Nowitzki said. “I’ll take that all day. It just didn’t go.”
MAVS BOUNCE BACK
Despite his arm injury, Deron was given the go-ahead to play Sunday, but he wasn’t at his best in Minneapolis. He shot just 2-for-10 for four points. No. 8 added four dimes, three boards and a steal—however he didn’t use the elbow injury as an excuse when talking about his rough night.
“It’s an off-night,” said Deron, who wore a sleeve over his right elbow. “I just chalk it up as that.”
While D-Will wasn’t on, Dirk was all night. Minnesota (12-26) started the game with a 12-4 run, but Dallas evened the score at 22 after 12 minutes. Then in the second quarter, Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons each found a rhythm, combining for 16 of the Mavs’ 26 second-period points.
That gave Dallas a 48-42 lead at the break. But coming out of intermission, the Mavs were sluggish. Minnesota quickly turned a six-point deficit into a one-point lead before Dallas awoke. The Mavs ended the third quarter with an 18-4 run to take a 68-55 lead into the final frame.
Minnesota kept fighting though. Back-to-back layups by Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins put the young T-Wolves within four points, 85-81, with 1:50 to go. But Nowitzki quickly squandered any momentum with a clutch three-point play.
With 1:30 remaining, Nowitzki drew a foul on the fadeaway and hit the and-one to put the Mavs up 88-81. Less than thirty seconds later, D-Will put the game even further out of reach for the T-Wolves with another bucket.
Nowitzki finished with 29 points on 12-of-22 shooting, including four 3-pointers, marking his fourth consecutive game with 20-plus points — a first for him since 2014.
“The way he played tonight was amazing,” Deron said. “It was classic Dirk. Big shots, big plays. That’s why he’s one of the greatest.”
Deron and the Mavs have a tough schedule ahead of them, as they host the East-leading Cavaliers (26-9) on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET before embarking on a three-game road trip with stops in Oklahoma City (26-12), Chicago (22-13) and San Antonio (32-6).
“We have a tough schedule coming up with three in four nights against three really good teams,” Deron said. “You know, we wanted to go into those with a win and with some confidence.”
- Brutal four-game stretch awaits Mavs this week (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 10, 2016)
- Nowitzki bolsters All-Star consideration in win over Timberwolves (Dallas Morning News, Jan. 10, 2016)
- Bucks escape Mavericks when Deron Williams misses buzzer beater (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 8, 2016)
- Mavs at Bucks: Game Book (NBA, Jan. 8, 2016)
- Dirk, Mavs make sure Minnesota sports fans stay sad (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jan. 10, 2016)
- Mavs at Timberwolves: Game Book (NBA, Jan. 10, 2016)
- Game 38: Mavs at Timberwolves (Mavs.com, Jan. 10, 2016)