January 27, 2013

Night of milestones sends Mavericks over Suns

Shawn Marion, Elton Brand, and Dirk Nowitzki reached milestones in the Mavericks' 110-95 victory over the Suns.

DALLAS -- In a night replete with milestones, the Dallas Mavericks dropped the hammer on the Phoenix Suns, winning 110-95 before a sellout crowd of 20,305 at American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks won for the sixth time over the past eight games and increased their record to 19-25 before embarking on a week-long, four-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Portland.

Sunday's win came on a night when forward Shawn Marion played in his 1,000th career game, center Elton Brand played in his 900th career game, and forward Dirk Nowitzki moved past Allen Iverson and into 18th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list with 24,375 points.

Marion was the table-setter for the Mavs as he finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

"He played extremely well, and he stepped up his game tonight," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I thought he was very aggressive from start to finish -- a lot of big rebounds in traffic."

Carlisle threw a wrinkle in the game when he employed his 17th different starting lineup when rookie center Bernard James started in place of veterans Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, who had started the previous two games, respectively.

"He's energetic and he goes hard," Carlisle said of James. "The biggest thing we need right now is energy. We need any kind of injection of it that we can get. He's one of those guys you put him in there and you know what he's going to do."

James finished with two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes. But most of the heavy lifting in this center-by-committee format that the Mavericks have employed came from Brand, who finished with 12 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes.

The other two centers -- Kaman (six points, five rebounds) and Brandan Wright (four points, three rebounds) -- also had their bright moments.

"Tonight we used four guys at that [center] position and they all played an important part in the game," Carlisle said. "I don't necessarily want it to be like this, and I'd like there to be some consistency and some rhythm to things.

"But we're not there yet, and that's the truth. I'd like us to get there, but we're still working on it."

The Mavericks put Sunday's game in the freezer by using a 19-5 run over a 4-minute, 54-second span to expand an 81-76 lead to 100-81 with 6:05 to play.

Vince Carter (15 points), Darren Collison and Wright each popped in four points during the game-changing surge by the Mavericks.

Meanwhile, Marion was basking in the glory of his 1,000th career game.

"It's a lot of miles," Marion said. "It's a great milestone and it's a true blessing to be able to play at such a high level and play that many games and be so effective at it."

Next to Marion's locker, Brand was singing a similar tune after he used his aggressive style of play to help keep the road-weary Suns at bay.

"It's ironic that Shawn Marion, he gets a thousand, and we were in the same draft class [in 1999]," Brand said. "So that's a testament to injuries and being banged up and missing a lot of games."

Nowitzki, who scored 18 points and collected seven rebounds, said Sunday's game was a must-win situation for the Mavericks after they blew last Friday's home game against San Antonio. He also noted that now is not the time for him to be dwelling on milestones.

"It's going to be great once my career is over and I see how many points I scored, but right now I'm just trying to get myself going more," Nowitzki said. "I feel better and better from game to game.

"I feel like I moved a lot better today, I got a little bit more lift in my jump shot, so that's really all I'm worried about for now and we'll see how many points I scored when it's all said and done. But as of now I'm trying to get myself going and hopefully chase that eighth [playoff] spot."

Dwain Price, 817-3907760


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