Clippers coach grabs mic to salute Dirk Nowitzki for 1,500th career game

Fully recovered from a stomach bug that slowed him a day earlier, Montrezl Harrell brought his trademark energy against Dallas.

Harrell scored a career-high 32 points, Lou Williams added 21 and the Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Mavericks 121-112 on Monday to move into the seventh spot in the Western Conference playoff picture.

Harrell had eight dunks, rattling the rim with one- and two-handed jams, including five in the first half.

“The win, that’s what it’s about right now,” Harrell said. “That’s more important than those stats.”

Rookie Luka Doncic returned after missing two games with a sore right ankle to post his fourth triple-double for the Mavericks, who lost their fifth in a row. He had 28 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

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Danilo Gallinari added 20 points for the Clippers. Williams had 10 assists.

Led by Harrell and Williams, the Clippers’ bench scored 71 points.

“He dominated his position,” Williams said of Harrell.

Los Angeles led by nine points early in the fourth, with Harrell storming the lane for two more dunks.

The Mavericks closed to 105-103 on seven straight points, including Tim Hardaway Jr.’s three-pointer.

Dallas never got closer.

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The Clippers got three-pointers from Williams and Patrick Beverley, and Harrell completed a three-point play to extend their lead to 116-108.

“We didn’t do a good job,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “When you have a guy like Williams out there that you run around trapping, the Harrells of the world are going to be more effective.”

Doncic’s three-pointer tied the game at 78-all in the third, when he had 11 points.

Harrell and Williams combined to score 12 of the Clippers’ last 15 points of the third, giving them a 91-88 lead going into the fourth.

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Dwight Powell had 24 points and Hardaway Jr. finished with 20 points for the Mavericks.

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Doncic’s turnovers

Doncic had nine turnovers, something Carlisle says he’s prone to because he gets trapped every game.

“He thinks he can thread any needle and throw the ball through one guy’s nose and out his rear end,” the coach said. “You just can’t do that in this league on a consistent basis.”

West can’t wait

Clippers consultant Jerry West says he “can’t wait for summer to get here.” That’s when the Clippers are expected to be a major player in the free agent market. West told a pregame gathering of select Clippers fans that he’s “shocked” in a good way by the team’s 34-28 record.

“We have guys with no ego on this team. The future is bright,” West said.

Honouring Dirk

With nine seconds to go in the game, Clippers coach Doc Rivers grabbed the public address announcer’s mic to salute Dirk Nowitzki, who received a standing ovation.

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“I just felt he deserved that,” Rivers said.

Nowitzki scored 12 points on three-of-10 shooting in his 1,500th career game.

“I got the game ball,” he said. “Coming in 20 years ago, my first year struggling like that, I never thought I’m getting to 1,500 NBA games. It’s been a great roller-coaster career with a lot of ups and downs.”

The 14-time All-Star hasn’t announced that he’s retiring, saying only that he’ll wait to make the decision based on how his body feels at season’s end.

Los Angeles Clippers forward Danilo Gallinari, right, congratulates Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, for playing in his last game against the Clippers during the second half of an NBA basketball game, to honour Nowitzki, in Los Angeles, Monday, Feb. 25, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo). Canadian Press

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