DALLAS — Dirk Nowitzki scored a season-high 31 points Wednesday night to lead Dallas to a 118-108 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers in DeAndre Jordan‘s first visit since backing out on an agreement to sign with the Mavericks in free agency.
Jordan was booed during pregame shooting free throws, and cheered when he missed. Even when he touched the ball briefly on offense, the howls came quickly. And they grew loud whenever he kept it.
That was the hope of owner Mark Cuban, who slipped a couple of times during his usual pregame media session by using Jordan’s first name. Otherwise, he stuck with his mantra of not using Jordan’s name after the Houston native shunned the billionaire in the hours after changing his mind.
They still haven’t spoken, but Cuban is trying to sound as if he’s moved on – even though he said he saved the text messages from the saga that played out during the summer.
“It’s not like DeAndre and I pinky-swore,” said Cuban, who decided against showing several parody videos prepared for Jordan’s visit. “It’s not like we’ve been friends forever. It’s not like he broke some trust we had.”
Chandler Parsons, the chief recruiter of Jordan, once again missed a chance to face him. He had yet to make his debut after offseason right knee surgery when the teams played in Los Angeles the first week of the season.
A tight second half upstaged the sideshow of the return of Jordan, who was booed throughout before coach Doc Rivers pulled him in the fourth quarter with Dallas successfully using the hack-a-Jordan tactic against one of the NBA’s worst free throw shooters.
As Dallas pulled away in the final minute, the crowd chanted a derogatory phrase at Jordan, who had nine points and 11 rebounds with a minus-23 scoring margin while he was in the game.
Signs were plentiful, of course, including one with a pair of flip-flops taped to it, offered to Jordan as a Christmas present.
It was all amusing to Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who said he was “just still shocked” and couldn’t finish the thought – that it was still an issue.
“He had one, and I’m going to repeat this for the 1,000th time so all the Dallas fans can hear this one more time, he had one chance to get it right,” said Rivers, who helped keep Jordan holed up in Houston before the signing. “No matter how long it took, he had the right to get it right.”