Earlier this year, Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut had difficulties meshing their talents when they were on the basketball court at the same time.
But that’s not the case with Nerlens Noel and Nowitzki.
Since the Dallas Mavericks traded Bogut, Justin Anderson and a protected 2017 first-round draft pick to the Philadelphia 76ers for Noel, that move has been a good for Nowitzki. At least the part where the Mavericks are noticing that the combination of playing Noel and Nowitzki at the same time is working better than the Nowitzki-Bogut combination.
“It’s easy to play with him.’’ Nowitzki said of Noel. “He’s a great screener and roller, he opens up a lot of things for us outside players just by him being so quick.
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“And getting out of those screens quick and getting to the rim, so that usually opens up a lot for us perimeter players. We need him to do some more of that tonight and just be active and have fun playing.”
Noel hopes to have a lot of fun tonight at 6 when the Mavericks face the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center. It will be his first game in Philadelphia since the Sixers decided to trade him to the Mavericks.
Nowitzki and Noel have only played seven games together, and the Mavericks are 6-1 in those games. In the games Noel has played in, Nowitzki is averaging 15.7 points and has made 43-of-88 shots (48.9 percent), including 11-of-28 shots from 3-point range (39.3 percent).
Meanwhile, Noel piggy-backed off of his popularity in Philadelphia by purchasing and passing out cheese steaks at a local restaurant on Thursday night.
“Thanks to all the fans that came out,’’ Noel said after Friday’s shootaround. “They got themselves a free cheese steak and got to hang out and take pictures, so it was a great time.”
Noel had missed three games with a sore left knee before returning to score 12 points and play some lockdown defense during Wednesday’s 112-107 victory at Washington. The Mavs expect more of the same from their 6-11 athletic center against the Sixers.
“Just play a game that he did in Washington,’’ Nowitzki said. “He gave us good solid minutes, he gave us rim presence on both ends of the floor, he can guard multiple positions, and just be a threat out there -- be a rim threat.
“He can put it down with both hands, he had some nice finishes there in Washington, so we’re looking hopefully at some more of that and (him) being more comfortable. I hope he feels better with his knee and be a factor for us out there.’’