Don’t look now, but the Dallas Mavericks are directly in the middle of the Western Conference playoff race and Dirk Nowitzki is still doing his thing. The All-Star forward scored 20 points on just 9 (!) field goal attempts on Friday night, and he needed only 26 minutes of game time to lead the Dallas Mavericks to a dominant, 103-81 win over the Utah Jazz.
Ultra-efficient play is nothing new from Dirk, but this season, he’s taken things to a new level while playing reduced minutes. Entering the night, he was shooting 49/41/91 from a percentage standpoint, and his 22 points per game in less than 33 minutes is borderline incredible. In that same vein, his understated play led the Mavs once again in this one, and he had all kinds of help against the hapless Jazz.
Monta Ellis had a nice supporting day with 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting, but it was a dominant rebounding edge (48-37) and a 10-for-18 barrage from 3-point distance that were the most important in leading Dallas to the win. In addition, the Mavs held Utah to just 40% from the floor and created 15 turnovers while building a lead large enough to place things in pure cruise control down the stretch.
At 30-21 on the year, Dallas is still in the 8th spot in the West, but with just a half-game separating the 6-through-8 spots, they have significant upside in the short term, and with Dirk in the lineup, anything seems possible.