Let the shaving begin.
All those bushy beards the Dallas Mavericks sported over the past two months were able to come off Sunday night after the Mavs posted a 107-89 blowout against the New Orleans Hornets.
A little more than two months ago, the Mavs vowed not to shave until they reached the .500 barrier. The win over the Hornets pushed the Mavs to 40-40, the first time they were .500 since they were 11-11 on Dec. 12, and Dallas pushed a few whiskers onto the floor inside its locker room.
The first player to trim his beard was Dirk Nowitzki, who collected 19 points and six rebounds in Sunday’s win.
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“It’s been too long,” Nowitzki said. “Even my wife stopped kissing me somewhere in February. It feels good to shave again.”
And how quickly did Nowitzki shave off his beard?
“I did it in a minute or a minute and a half, and then I did the coach’s meeting,” Nowitzki said. “And then I ran back in right before the interviews and cleaned up the rest on my neck and behind the ears and the nose hair a little bit, and then I did the interviews.”
Nowitzki said he used a small razor to get the fuzzy hair off his neck and chin.
“Actually, someone brought the bigger [razor],” he said. “I had a little one, so I struggled a little bit the first couple of times. But I was able to get most of it, so I’m happy.”
The Mavs, who host Memphis at 7 p.m. Monday, also are happy as they remain within reach of completing their revised goal of finishing the season with a winning record. They’re also pleased that they didn’t have to struggle too much to dispatch the Hornets, who were playing their final home game of the season.
“We had a lot of guys step up and play well,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a great win for us, and now we got to get ready for a tough back-to-back against a Memphis team that has a lot to play for, too.”
On a night when Nowitzki became the 17th player in NBA history to score at least 25,000 points, the Mavs jumped on the Hornets quickly, rolling out to a 33-19 lead in the first quarter.
Nowitzki buried an 18-footer with 6:44 left before halftime to reach the 25,000-point mark and give the Mavs a 43-27 lead. The entire Mavs’ bench jumped in jubilation when Nowitzki reached the milestone; Vince Carter was the first to give him a big hug, and the rest of the players and coaching staff also hugged him a few minutes later when a timeout was called.
“I knew I had to get 10 [points] today [to reach 25,000], and the guys knew it. And we kept running one play after another for me to get it,” Nowitzki said. “We wanted to get it over with there in the first half so we could focus on winning this game. I’m proud how the guys played.”
The Hornets (27-54) didn’t put up much of a fight. The Mavs outscored the Hornets in the paint 52-40 and led by as much as 27 points — 58-31 with 2:13 remaining in the first half.
In addition to Nowitzki’s 19 points and six rebounds, Shawn Marion finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two steals, Vince Carter and Brandan Wright had 16 points apiece, and Chris Kaman collected 11 points and seven boards.
“I thought we did good,” point guard Mike James said. “We were up from the jump and managed to keep it at double digits.”
About the only flaw came in the second quarter when Wright had to receive three stitches on his left cheek due to an inadvertent elbow from Al-Farouq Aminu, but Wright was able to play in the second half.
Meanwhile, Carlisle is excited about what lies ahead for the Mavs in their final two games of the season.
“We’ve been up against it all year,” Carlisle said. “It’s great to have gotten to this point finally. But what we really want to do is end this thing on the best possible note, and we’ve got two games left to finish the story, whatever the story’s going to be.”