Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki makes season debut, but team loses by 38 | NBA
Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, who had knee surgery Oct. 19, played in his first NBA game of the season, a 129-91 loss to host San Antonio.
SAN ANTONIO — Dirk Nowitzki wasn't expecting to play much during his season debut Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
Still, after missing the Dallas Mavericks' first 27 regular-season games, he didn't expect to take a seat on the bench after 20 minutes with the game out of hand.
"In the middle of the third, we were down by 80 so I didn't really have to go back in," said Nowitzki, exaggerating the Mavericks' largest deficit.
Danny Green scored a career-high 25 points and the Spurs spoiled Nowitzki's return with a 129-91 rout of the Mavericks.
San Antonio's largest lead was actually 46, but the deficit seemed larger to Dallas.
Nowitzki, the league's most valuable player for the 2006-07 season, had surgery on his right knee Oct. 19.
"Before the game I felt decent, so I said I'm going to give it a go," said Nowitzki, who had eight points. "I felt actually good out there."
The Spurs (21-8) set a franchise record with 20 three-pointers, surpassing the record of 19 they set Dec. 8 in Charlotte. San Antonio also set a season high for largest margin of victory.
"We were fortunate it was one of those nights when your opponent has a bad night and you have a great night and it ends up like tonight," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said.
Dallas was outscored 36-14 in the third quarter.
"We need to keep on working," Nowitzki said. "We've got a lot of areas to improve. We might not be as talented as some teams on the top, but if we're not, you have to make it up with how you play and compete and it's just not there."
their 13th in a row
PHOENIX — Blake Griffin scored 23 points, Chris Paul contributed 17 points and 13 assists and the Los Angeles Clippers extended a franchise record with their 13th consecutive victory, 103-77 over the Phoenix Suns.
Reserve Jamal Crawford — a graduate of Rainier Beach High School in Seattle — added 22 points for the Clippers, who won in Phoenix for the first time since April 17, 2007.
"We're just taking care of business right now," Griffin said. "To be honest, we're not really concerned with 'You haven't won here since then' or 'You haven't won this many games in a row.'
"We hear it all, but we're about just getting these wins and if they come within a streak or when we haven't won somewhere, that's fine."
The Clippers have won by an average of 13 points during their streak.
Jared Dudley scored 19 for the Suns.
Knicks rally to win
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored 19 of his 33 points in the fourth quarter, rallying New York to a 94-91 victory over Minnesota.
Nikola Pekovic had 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Timberwolves.
Anthony said Christmas music at halftime at Madison Square Garden "kind of put us to sleep a little bit" and added, "I love Christmas music, but it was just the time of the game.
"We was down, we didn't have no energy, then they threw the 'Chestnuts are roasting ... ' "
J.R. Smith added 19 points for the Knicks, who headed to the airport for a trip to Los Angeles for a Tuesday game against former New York coach Mike D'Antoni and the Lakers.
• Marcus Thornton had 22 points as host Sacramento beat Portland 108-96, snapping the Trail Blazers' winning streak at five games. The Kings played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins, who was suspended indefinitely Saturday for conduct detrimental to the team.
• Joe Johnson scored 22 points as host Brooklyn beat Philadelphia 95-92.
• Paul Millsap scored 18 points to help visiting Utah defeat Orlando 97-93.