Kurt Helin

Dirk Nowitzki, Kristaps Porzingis

Nowitzki, Mavs hold off Porzingis comeback, Mavs beat Knicks


NEW YORK (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki got to see why people compare Kristaps Porzingis to him, and the rookie almost ruined the view.

Porzingis led a fourth-quarter charge and finished with 28 points, but the Dallas Mavericks held on for a 104-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.

Nowitzki scored 25 points after a strong start, then offered some encouragement to Porzingis after the Mavs walked off with a victory that seemed would be much easier than it ended up.

“The comparisons are more than fair,” Nowitzki said. “He’s way ahead of the curve. When I was 20 I was scared to death out there. He’s almost averaging a double-double out there. He’s better than I was in my 20s, so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He’s a complete package.”

Porzingis had 12 points in the fourth quarter of his first matchup with Nowitzki, the German great he has been compared to for his perimeter shooting skills by a 7-footer.

“It really doesn’t matter because we still lost,” he said, “but yeah, I was just hitting shots and trying to do the things to help the team win at the end.”

The Latvian rookie made consecutive 3-pointers as the Knicks cut what had been a 23-point deficit to 101-97 with 43 seconds left, then blocked Deron Williams‘ shot. But Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul as the Knicks were trying to work to get the ball to Porzingis for another shot, and Nowitzki followed with a free throw before Williams made two more to close it out.

Williams had 20 points and seven assists.

A night after making a season-best 16 3-pointers and scoring 116 points in a victory at Washington, the Mavericks appeared to be rolling again in this one. Nowitzki scored 11 in the first quarter to show the Mavs had plenty left for the second night of their back-to-back.

“Dirk loves these types of situations, taking the challenge of a young guy like this, and Porzingis is a special player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

They had a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter and fans were booing the Knicks, but Carlisle had to bring his starters back after the Knicks mounted a charge.

“It’s hard to keep a 20-point lead, especially on the road in the second half of a back-to-back,” Williams said. “With that being said, we’ve got to do a better job.”

Anthony had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but shot 6 for 18 from the field and also picked up a technical foul in the fourth quarter.

The 7-foot-3 Porzingis grabbed just two rebounds but held his own offensively against Nowitzki, the top international scorer in NBA history. But Nowitzki was surrounded by much more firepower Monday even without a big night from Wesley Matthews, who scored 36 points on a franchise record-tying 10 3-pointers in Sunday’s victory.

Matthews was just 3 of 10 for 10 points.

Former Knicks guard Raymond Felton finished with 14 points in the Mavs’ fourth straight victory in the series.


Mavericks: Dallas has won 11 of the last 14 in New York and 23 of the last 28 meetings overall. Devin Harris sat out after injuring his ribs after colliding with teammate Justin Anderson in the first half of Sunday’s game.

Knicks: Porzingis was presented with his Eastern Conference rookie of the month award for October/November before the game. … It was the first of five straight games against Western Conference opponents. After a three-game trip to Utah, Sacramento and Portland, the Knicks return home to host Minnesota on Dec. 16. … Forward Kevin Seraphin turned 26.



Suns’ Mirza Teletovic’s second-chance bucket beats Bulls (VIDEO)


The Phoenix Suns were on the second night of a back-to-back on the road, and it showed in the third quarter in Chicago Monday when they scored just 10 points. The Bulls should have pulled away for a comfortable win, but then in the fourth Phoenix put up 42 and put themselves in position for a final shot to win it.

When Jon Lueur missed an clean look at a corner three, Mirza Teletovic timed his run and beat out Derrick Rose and Nikola Mirotic to the ball, got the offensive board, and hit the awkward fadeaway to put the Suns up two with 0.3 seconds left. That was the game winner.

The Suns have lost so many close games this season — they were 0-4 last week and all those games were within five points in the final five minutes — they deserved a break.

As for the Bulls, I still don’t feel like I have a good read on them.

Brett Brown, Philadelphia in “deep negotiations” on contract extension

Brett Brown
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Through all the ugly losing the past two-plus seasons in Philadelphia, you could say this about the Sixers: They played hard for Brett Brown. For stretches they played good defense under his tutelage. You can’t lay the Sixers’ record at his feet.

New decision maker Jerry Colangelo sees that and Brown isn’t going anywhere. Reports surfaced earlier in the day that the Sixers and Brown were talking contract extension, and Brown confirmed that speaking to reporters before his team went out Monday night and got rolled by the Spurs (San Antonio won by 51), as reported by John Finger at CSNPhilly.com.

“We are in deep discussions on my contract and I have had amazing conversations with Josh Harris and David Blitzer and Sam Hinkie about my future,” Brown said. “This is where I want to be. To go through what we have all gone through over the past two years and the first third of this year and still be passionate about seeing this through, I dream like everyone else.”


Brown has one season after this on his contract.

He’s going to get the chance to stick around longer — and coach better players. That said, like everything around the Sixers, the dynamic changed today. Just getting the guys to play hard is not going to be enough soon in Philly, but Brown is the guy who deserves the chance he can get them to do a lot more (and he likely can).

Kevin Garnett with monster dunk over Blake Griffin (VIDEO)


Kevin Garnett can still get up and throw it down — and he put Blake Griffin in a poster doing it.

This may be my new favorite dunk of the season. Because I didn’t know KG still had that in him. And because like so many guys he has dunked on over the years, Griffin deserves credit for trying to make the defensive play. It just doesn’t work out for him.


Report: Adam Silver had hand in Sixers hiring Jerry Colangelo

Adam Silver

The three-years running tanking effort by the Philadelphia 76ers has been a black eye for the league. It’s legal. It’s arguably smart (if you draft well and can develop the players). It may be the best path for a middle to small market team to win a title. But it also took the idea of taking in the NBA and turned it into a national conversation on the NBA and why it’s advantageous to be bad sometimes. The race to the bottom went against the competitive spirit most people associate with sport.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended what the Sixers were doing as legal, but when he got the chance to help make a change in Philly — to blunt the power of GM Sam Hinkie — he took it. Silver helped bring Colangelo to Philadelphia, as reported by Sam Amick of the USA Today.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had a significant hand in Philadelphia’s decision to hire Colangelo and placed a call to Colangelo to gauge his interest, two people familiar with the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

This wasn’t the first time Adam Silver tried to thwart this level of commitment to being bad to hopefully get good. That included helping bring substantial NBA Draft Lottery reform to the owners, but in the 48 hours before the vote some small and middle markets killed the plan, fearing this would cut off their ability to go bad in the future.

The thing is, a lot of franchises have intentionally been bad for a season or two in hopes of landing a future star, or at least some quality pieces. Just nobody ever had the level of commitment and the stomach for piling up losses like Hinkie and the Sixers did. I said before the season the question with the Sixers rebuilding plan was how long the owner Josh Harris could handle all that losing. Monday we got our answer.

Colangelo wants to build through a more traditional path of draft picks, free agents, and trades. And the process will move faster.