The Dallas Mavericks hosted the New York Knicks in a game featuring several interesting matchups and storylines, and an all-too familiar conclusion, as Dallas battled back from a late deficit to tie the game in the final minute, and then suffer another agonizing defeat. However, the feature of the night for Mavs’ fans was undoubtedly:
Derek Harper gets his number retired
#12 finally went up into the rafters as the American Airlines Center Sunday night. Derek Harper — a fixture of the upstart Mavs’ teams of the 1980’s and a key contributor to the Knicks’ NBA Finals run in the mid-90’s — gave a moving speech and was clearly humbled by the experience of seeing his name raised beside a couple of his greatest teammates, Rolando Blackman and Brad Davis. Both Blackman and Davis also gave speeches, acknowleding that Harper was as hard-nosed a player as any they’d been around, and for those who didn’t get to watch Harper in his day, “Harp” was exactly that.
Whether it was a clutch three when his team needed it, or physical defense at the other end, Harper was a true two-way gamer, beloved by fans for never taking plays off. The modern “hand-check” rules are largely in place because of Harper, who wreaked havoc with this move en route to posting nearly 2000 steals in his career(13th all time).
So, to Harp, we salute you, as it was a long time coming.
Dirk vs Kristaps
If memory serves, the last time these two teams met, both Kristaps and Dirk(?) were out, so it was nice to see the Big German and his Latvian Heir Apparent go at it. Or, at least, in theory it would have been. Porzingis did his part, leading all scorers with 29 points, but this was Dirk’s lone bad game after a stretch of consistently strong play, as Nowitzki finished 1-7 with 5 points in 23 mintues. He was a ghastly -17.
Dennis v Frank
The other interesting matchup you might say is the one between the 8th and 9th picks in last year’s draft. Smith, Jr. struggled to finish on his drives to the rim, but did manage to hand out 5 assists without a turnover. Both he, J.J Barea and Devin Harris all had 11 points. At the other side, Frank Ntilikina showed off his versaility with 7 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks and a steal.
The Mavericks will be back at it Tuesday against Orlando, and hope to close out what has been a disappointing home stand with a win.