Lightning almost struck the Dallas Mavericks twice in the same week.
But Dirk Nowitzki helped the Mavs weather the storm by pulling out his Superman cape at critical moments of the fourth quarter Monday night, enabling Dallas to knock off the winless Philadelphia 76ers 92-86 before 11,555 at Wells Fargo Center.
By winning the first two games of this three-game road trip, the Mavs widened their record to 7-4 heading into Wednesday’s contest at Boston. The Sixers, meanwhile, dropped to 0-11 and have lost 21 straight games dating to last season.
Last Tuesday, Dallas traveled to New Orleans to battle the 0-6 Pelicans. But the Mavs never established any rhythm in that game and were blown out 120-105.
Faced with similar circumstances Monday night, the Mavs found themselves needing to rally down the stretch to keep the Sixers as the only NBA team without a victory this season.
The Sixers (0-11) have lost 21 consecutive games dating to last season.
“They’re clawing and scratching and trying to get their first win, and they’ve got some inexperienced guys that go really hard,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “They made a few mistakes, and we made a few buckets, and there’s the difference.”
The Sixers went down swinging and had the Mavs playing as if they were skating on a highway filled with potholes. Although they had racked up their 26th turnover, the Sixers showed some resiliency by bouncing back from a 19-point deficit to take an 82-81 lead with 3:24 remaining in the game.
But Nowitzki scored seven of the Mavs’ final 11 points, including a dagger 3-pointer that sucked the air out of the building and put Dallas ahead 90-84 with 1:47 to go.
“That was the killer shot for the game, and it was huge,” Carlisle said. “The ball moved and found him and he stepped into it. Hey, look, he’s been doing that for almost two decades. You’re never shocked when it happens.”
The Mavs received a huge lift from Chandler Parsons, who scored a season-high 20 points — all in the first half. Parsons, however, remains on a minutes restriction and finished the night 8-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes — playing just 2:52 in the second half.
Dirk Nowitzki scored seven of the Mavericks’ final 11 points, a crucial 3-pointer that gave Dallas a 90-84 lead with 1:47 to go.
“It’s been awhile since I got a lot of shots like that to fall,” Parsons said. “They were going under our ball-screens early, and I just had to make them pay. I knocked some shots down early; I just ran the floor, and early on our defense was solid.”
With Parsons tallying nine points, the Mavs broke out to an early 13-4 lead. He finished with 11 points in the first quarter, which ended with Dallas nursing a 28-15 advantage.
That lead blossomed to 38-19 after Parsons drained a 16-foot step-back jumper with 7:54 remaining before halftime.
All of this came while the Sixers — they had 17 of their 27 turnovers in the first half — were playing hot potato with the basketball.
It’s been awhile since I got a lot of shots like that to fall.
Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons
But Philadelphia kept applying defensive pressure and managed to get within 49-44 at intermission. Part of it was because the Mavs shot a meager 39.5 percent from the field while turning the ball over a surprising 19 times.
“We just didn’t shoot the ball well today,” said Nowitzki, who scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half. “I thought even in the first half, we got a nice little lead and got off to a good start, and then they did their substitutions.
“They’re pretty athletic; they’re pretty long off the bench. They picked up the pressure, and I don’t think we handled it great.”
But the Mavs handled it well enough to avoid another embarrassing loss. All they had to do was think back to what happened in New Orleans, and then shift into another gear.
“We already let the Pelicans beat us when they were [0-6],” said Deron Williams, who had 12 points and six assists. “We don’t want to make a habit of it.”