The last time these in-state rivals met Dirk Nowitzki ended up going to the hospital with a few of Carl Landry’s teeth stuck in his elbow. That game ended in an overtime loss for the Mavericks- something Cuban is probably still fuming over. New Year’s Eve offered the Mavericks a chance at redemption for the earlier loss less than two weeks ago. What better way to round out the year than by avenging a loss and proving you’re the best team in the state?
That plan may have worked had the Mavericks not lost Nowitzki for the better part of the first half. This time is was not a collision with a wayward Rocket sending him to the hospital; instead it was too many fouls sending him to the bench.
Even though Nowitzki ended the game with an uncharacteristic 11 points and 7 rebounds in 31 minutes of play the Mavericks still had a solid shot to pull a victory in Houston. Houston had a 7 point lead after the end of the first that stretched to a 9 point one by halftime with the Mavericks behind, 47-56. Dallas did manage to tie the game up with just less than 5 minutes left at 89, but a 3 pointer by Shane Battier with a little more than 2 minutes remaining ended up being the nail in the coffin. Jason Kidd had a chance to send this game into overtime with a final 3-point shot yet missed.
As the Mavericks go into the New Year they can at least take solace in the way that they have been playing of late. On a night where Dirk was not able to get the job done the rest of the team did step up fairly well even though they fell short in the end. Three starters scored in double figures as did three bench players. In fact, the high scorer for the night came off the bench, Jason Terry with 20 points.
Going into 2010 the Mavericks remain in first place of their division with the Spurs now 2 games behind and the Rockets 2 ½ games behind in third. Their first game of 2010 will be in Sacramento against the Kings on Saturday.