Despite 27 turnovers the Dallas Mavericks held off a stubborn Alba Berlin side 89-84 in the German capital to claim their first win of the pre-season tour.
Despite the hype of Dirk Nowitzki and the loud reception he got in the team introductions, it was German team-mate Chris Kaman who shone along with veteran Vince Carter and Darren Collison. All three led the Mavericks with 14 points.
For Nowitzki – the man of the hour – he ended with eight points on 3/9 shooting. He also gave the game a blooper moment in the second quarter when he failed to score after the ball slipped out of his hands when he went for an uncontested dunk.
“I’m getting too old to dunk now,” Nowitzki joked afterwards.
He added: “I didn’t even know we had 27 turnovers, that’s a lot so that’s something we’ve got to work on and sometimes it was just easy stuff I mean we got double teamed and we need to make crisper passes, make easy plays, we turned the ball over making simple entry passes to the post so we got a lot of work to do.”
For Alba, competing in this season’s Euroleague, they were led by former former North Carolina big man Deon Thompson who got 20 points.
“It was a great pleasure to face a team like Dallas,” Alba coach Sasa Obradovic said afterwards. “I’m happy that we played the game until the end and showing character from beginning to the end.”
Nowitzki’s signature turnaround was his first bucket of the game that gave the Mavs a 4-3 advantage and later on in the first, veteran Vince Carter hit his first of two threes in the first to extend the lead to 17-12. Berlin came back though to lead 23-21 after one.
Dallas fought back in the second despite falling further behind 29-23 to begin the second. Thompson with four points in a matter of seconds forcing coach Rick Carlisle to call a timeout.
An 11-4 run in 1:34 gave the Mavs a 34-33 lead which was broken with a fantastic cutting pass from Alba Berlin veteran Heiko Schaffartzik which found a gracious Thompson who put the ball home. Dallas found their gear in the second and led at half-time 45-39.
Both teams traded buckets in the third but Dallas held their nerve to lead 65-61 going into the final period. Berlin played with heart and determination in the fourth and their determination looked to have been rewarded when they narrowed the gap to just a point with 2:25 left at 81-80 thanks to a three-point play from Bosnian Nihad Djedovic.
The fans were on their feet, chants of “ALBA, ALBA” were ringing throughout the O2 World Arena.
The Mavs held on though, a bucket from Shawn Marion and free throws from Nowitzki sealed the win.
“The game was very competitive, we struggled taking care of the ball because of how they played us,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said afterwards. “Even though we won the game, they made the game a lot more the way they wanted to play than we did so I give their players, their coaches a tremendous amount of credit.”