Even if it’s still hard to spell sometimes.
On a night when his last name was botched on the back of his jersey, the Dallas forward became the sixth player in NBA history to reach 50,000 career minutes. He finished with 12 points but the Mavericks collapsed down the stretch in a 104-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Nowitzki said he didn’t notice until after the game that his name was misspelled on his uniform.
“I actually just saw it,” he explained. “I had no idea. It happens. I guess it sums up our season.”
Danilo Gallinari had 28 points, including the go-ahead free throws with 24 seconds left, and the Clippers scored the last 13 points of the game to rally past a Mavs team that went scoreless over the final 4:42.
Tobias Harris had 19 points for Los Angeles, and Lou Williams added 15 off the bench.
“This felt like a steal game, because we didn’t play well and they shot the heck out of the ball,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “To steal a game like this, you feel like you got two games.”
With the Clippers up by one after Gallinari’s free throws, DeAndre Jordan won a jump ball with 4.5 seconds remaining and tipped it to Avery Bradley for a fast-break layup that made it 104-101.
Yogi Ferrell had a chance to tie it with 0.4 seconds to play, but he stepped out of bounds before his shot bounced off the rim.
“When you’re playing from in front, you’ve got to protect the ball and get good shots and we struggled to do both,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
Wesley Matthews led the Mavericks with 23 points and Devin Harris added 16 off the bench.
Nowitzki passed Elvin Hayes (exactly 50,000 minutes) for fifth place on the career list in the regular season. Nowitzki has played an additional 5,895 minutes in the playoffs. Next among active players on the regular-season minutes list is Utah’s Joe Johnson at 43,806.
Mavericks: F Harrison Barnes was held out with a sore left ankle. . Carlisle on Nowitzki: “I just really believe Dirk’s record of high level of excellence, of longevity, durability, is one of the most remarkable I’ve ever seen in sport.” … Carlisle does not expect the Mavs to be active before Thursday’s trade deadline: “I don’t think we’re going to make any trades. Of course, that’s been my opinion every year in the 16 years I’ve been coaching. This time of year there’s a lot of talk, and normally not a lot of activity.”
Clippers: G Austin Rivers (ankle) might return to action Friday in Detroit. He has missed 18 games. … The Clippers had a season-high 38 fast-break points in their previous game against the Bulls, the first game for Harris and Bradley with Los Angeles since they were acquired from Detroit. Doc Rivers said the up-tempo game was by design. “We told Tobias and Avery, it doesn’t matter who gets it, that’s the start of the break,” he said. “We don’t look for a point guard and then get the ball up the court. We’re gone.”
WELL DONE, DIRK
The Clippers were in awe of Nowitzki’s accomplishment.
“That’s crazy,” said Doc Rivers. “It really is amazing. I mean, I don’t know how he gets up in the morning. And he had hard minutes because he was the guy other teams were trying to attack every night.”
“Amazing,” Gallinari said. “I’ve been playing against him not just in the NBA but overseas, so it’s been a lot of battles, especially with the (Italian and German) national teams, too. He’s a legend, a Hall of Famer. For us growing up in Europe, he’s one of the best ever.”
Mavericks: End their four-game road trip Thursday at Golden State.
Clippers: Play the first of seven consecutive road games Friday night in Detroit, where they will face former teammate Blake Griffin for the first time since he was traded.