On their first trip up court to open Saturday’s game against the Sacramento Kings, the Dallas Mavericks ran a play that had Dirk Nowitzki setting a down screen for Samuel Dalembert.
Nowitzki, the greatest player ever to wear a Mavs uniform, opened the game setting a pick for Dalembert, the lanky center who has had an up-and-down season this year.
The play worked as Dalembert hit an open 17-footer and the Mavs were off and running toward a 103-100 victory over the Kings.
“We ran the first play for him, he knocked in the shot, and that gets him going, too,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s been doing a lot of really good things.”
In the Mavs’ past six games, Dalembert has averaged 9.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per contest, and has hit 62.2 percent of his shots.
“Maybe it took a while for him to get things; I’m not sure,” Carlisle said. “But teammates have been behind him, really, for most of the year in a big way.”
The 12-year veteran has had double-digit rebounds in four of the past six games. That includes a season-high 15 rebounds and blocking a season-high seven shots during a March 23 game against the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m just trying to play my game,” said Dalembert, who shrugged off back pain to have 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks against the Kings. “My teammates and my coaches have been helping me along the way, and I’m just trying to help us get to the playoffs.”
Vince Carter praised Dalembert.
“He’s given us a lift as far as just getting extra possessions with his offensive rebounds,’’ Carter said. “He’s running the floor and he’s doing a great job of just defending the basket.
“In the last 10 to 15 games of the season he’s really stepping up for us. If he continues to play that way we have a great shot to go far.”
Mavs back at work
The Mavs took Sunday off and will be back at practice Monday in preparation of Tuesday’s home game against the Golden State Warriors.
It’s the final game of a team record eight-game homestand for the Mavs before they play at the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday to open a four-game road trip. The Mavs are 4-3 on this homestand.