Spurs rout Mavs in Nowitzki's return from surgery
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Dirk Nowitzki wasn't expecting to play much during his season debut Sunday night 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 completely out of hand.
"In the middle of the third we were down by 80, so I didn't really have to go back in," Nowitzki said, exaggerating the Mavs' largest deficit just a bit.
Danny Green scored a career-high 25 points and the Spurs spoiled Nowitzki's season debut with a 129-91 rout of the Mavericks.
San Antonio's largest lead was actually 46, but the deficit seemed larger to Dallas.
"We got a (butt-kicking), that's it," Shawn Marion said. "No need to explain it ... it was an old-fashioned (butt-kicking)."
The Spurs set a franchise record with 20 3-pointers, besting the record of 19 they set Dec. 8 in Charlotte. San Antonio also set a season high for largest margin of victory.
Tony Parker had 18 points, Kawhi Leonard added 17, Tim Duncan 15 and Stephen Jackson 14 for the Spurs (21-8).
Darren Collison scored 15 points to lead Dallas (12-16), which lost its third straight. Vince Carter added 13 points and Chris Kaman had 10.
San Antonio also had 33 assists, a season-high 17 steals and forced 20 turnovers.
"We don't create that many turnovers normally," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "So that's a heck of a night for us as far as steals are concerned. That's not going to happen very often. 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."
It came on the night Nowitzki returned following surgery on his right knee Oct. 19 after battling soreness the previous season.
He entered with 6:28 left in the first quarter to a hearty mix of cheers and boos. The former MVP quickly picked up a rebound for Dallas and finished with eight points — going 3 for 4 from the field — and six rebounds in 20 minutes.
Nowitzki decided to play less than an hour before tipoff after testing the knee during practice last week.
"Before the game I felt decent, so I said I'm going to give it a go," Nowitzki said. "I felt actually good out there. I thought the wind was OK, but my legs were a little heavy there after a couple of trips up and down but I thought I fought through it OK."
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