Dallas Mavericks

Dirk Nowitzki's legendary NBA career took off during Oracle Arena debut

Dirk Nowitzki's legendary NBA career took off during Oracle Arena debut

On Tuesday night, the NBA said goodbye to one of its legends.

After 21 seasons, Dirk Nowitzki officially announced his retirement after pouring in 30 points in the Dallas Mavericks' win over the Phoenix Suns.

Nowitzki, a 14-time All-Star and the 2007 NBA MVP, was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the No. 9 pick in the 1998 NBA Draft but was sent to the Mavs in a multi-team trade that saw Dallas also land Steve Nash.

During his illustrious NBA career, Nowitzki took the Mavericks to 15 playoff appearances, including the franchise's first NBA Finals appearance in 2006 and its first title in 2011. He scored 31,540 career points, good for sixth all time and is widely regarded as one of the best power forwards to ever play the game.

Did we mention Dirk's legendary career got off the ground at Oracle Arena?

Nowitzki made his NBA debut on Feb. 5, 1999, against the Seattle Supersonics, scoring two points while going 0-for-5 from the floor.

His next game, at Oracle, was a different story.

Nowitzki's first NBA field goal was a baseline jumper over Warriors forward Jason Caffey that came off a pass from Mavs center Shawn Bradley. The young German prospect would go 6-for-10 from the field in his Oracle debut, tallying 16 points and 12 rebounds in 102-99 Mavericks win.

[RELATED: NBA playoff scenarios: Warriors' first-round opponent still undecided]

For 21 seasons, Nowitzki's patented one-legged fadeaway has been a staple of the NBA. He's endured heartbreaking losses (shoutout to the "We Believe Warriors" and Wade's 2006 Miami Heat), but it made his greatest triumph all the sweeter. During the 2011 NBA Finals, Nowitzki, surrounded by a team of talented role players that included J.J. Barea, Jason Terry, Shawn Marrion and an aging Peja Stojaković, went toe-to-toe with LeBron James, Wade and Chris Bosh's first "Heatles" team. Dirk vanquished them, averaging 26 points and 9.7 rebounds while earning NBA Finals MVP honors. 

In the era of the "Superteam," Dirk will likely be the last star to truly win a title without the help of other NBA legends.

It's fitting that in the same year the NBA says goodbye to Dirk, it also says goodbye to his biggest rival (Dwyane Wade) and the building that launched his Hall of Fame career.

Enjoy retirement, legend.

Kings Under Review: De'Aaron Fox dominates last minutes in win over Mavericks

Kings Under Review: De'Aaron Fox dominates last minutes in win over Mavericks

DALLAS -- The Sacramento Kings have a goal. They are disappointed that their playoff hopes are on life support, but they would still like to finish this season on a high note and possibly a .500 record.

Tuesday evening in Dallas, the Mavericks tried to damage that dream. They pulled away in the fourth quarter on the back of rookie Luka Doncic and looked like they would send Sacramento to a second straight defeat. And then De'Aaron Fox happened.

A win is a win and the Kings continue to add to their total. The 125-121 victory pushed the Kings back to the .500 mark at 37-37. While it could have been a cleaner win, it’s all positives following the road victory.

POSITIVE

Attack Mode

De'Aaron Fox is finishing the season the right way. He's hit the gas down the stretch and giving a glimpse of what teams might see in year-three.

Against the Mavericks, he was frustrated early. He wasn't getting the calls he thought he deserved. He wasn't even getting the calls that Doncic was getting.

At one point, head coach Dave Joerger picked up a technical foul trying to come to Fox's defense. Joerger jokingly said in postgame that he hoped to split the fine with his starting point guard.

With five minutes remaining in the game and the Kings down five, Joerger turned to Fox to finish the game and that is exactly what the 20-year-old did. Fox forced the issue and forced the officiating crew to make a call with his aggressive style.

Fox scored 12 of his 23 points in the final five minutes of the game. He attacked the rim, hit his jumper and finally started to get to the line. He added eight assists and five rebounds to help propel the Kings to victory.

The speedy guard has taken a tremendous step forward in his second NBA season, but he has plenty of room to improve. That's a good thing for Sacramento.

POSITIVE

Lob Party

Despite standing 7-feet tall, there are times when the Kings forget that center Willie Cauley-Stein is on the court. That was not the case in the third quarter in Dallas.

Sacramento came out of halftime energized. Dallas made an adjustment to slow the Kings' guards and that opened the alley-oop for Cauley-Stein.

The soon-to-be free agent put on his jumping shoes and posted a 10 of his 16 points in the third. He was active and even made a few nifty passes.

When asked about the scoring outburst following the game, Cauley-Stein had a brief answer, "They passed it to me."

He elaborated when pressed, "Real s---. They passed it to me, they threw the lop and it opened up the rest of the game. Then they had to come tag, now you got the spray pass. It's hard to stop."

In the Kings' high scoring offense, Cauley-Stein and his incredible ability to finish the lob is often forgotten. He's the fourth or fifth option in the offense and sometimes he goes hungry.

POSITIVE

The Return

Harrison Barnes thought he would be in Dallas for another season after this one, but sometimes the NBA throws you a curve ball.

The 26-year-old returned to the American Airlines Center for the first time since being traded by the Mavs to the Kings at the deadline. Dallas ran a tribute video to their former forward during the first quarter, highlighting some of Barnes' accomplishments both on and off the court.

After struggling to find his way initially with the Kings, Barnes is now averaging 15.1 points and six rebounds in 20 games in purple and black. He's shooting 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from long in 35.2 minutes over his 20 games in Sacramento.

Barnes has also brought a defensive edge to the forward position that the Kings desperately needed. Against his former team, he dropped in 18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, including three makes from long range.

POSITIVE

Saying/Doing the Right Things

Rookie Marvin Bagley has been dominant since returning from injury. A tough outing against the Mavs had him scoring 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting with a pair of rebounds.

There is unlimited potential in the 20-year-old, which is why the Kings chose to select him with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft.

While he refused to jump into a debate over who should have been drafted by the Kings, the rookie earned plenty of friends in the Sacramento community with his post-game comments about playing for the Kings.

[RELATED: Fox switches to "attack mode"]

"I love Sacramento," Bagley said. "I think it's a great fit for me. The city is nice. I love the people around. I meet new people almost every day. The environment there is pretty special. I'm excited about what I can do here and what we can do as a team."

Bagley is quickly mastering the art of the NBA, both on and off the court.

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 125-121 road win over Mavericks

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AP

Kings takeaways: What we learned from 125-121 road win over Mavericks

DALLAS -- No one is going to lay down and hand the Sacramento Kings a victory down the stretch. They learned that the hard way Tuesday night at American Airlines Arena.

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks played with pride and energy in front of their home crowd. The rookie dropped in a huge 28-point, 12-assist, 12-rebound triple-double, but it wasn’t enough.

Playing their third game in four nights, the Kings showed heart and somehow found a win to pull one out, taking the Mavs down on their home floor by a final of 125-121.

Here are three takeaways as the Kings moved back to the .500 mark on the season at 37-37:

The Finisher

De’Aaron Fox shook off the tired legs and went to work in the fourth quarter. With the game on the line, the Kings’ starting point guard scored 10 of his 23 in the final five minutes.

He wanted the ball in his hands and went into attack mode. He set up his teammates as well, dishing out a team-high eight assists while adding five rebounds in the win.

If this is a preview of next season, the Kings are going to be very difficult to deal with.

Dunken-Stein

Willie Cauley-Stein had a quiet start to the game, but in the third quarter, he went to work. Sacramento’s starting center ran the floor and his teammates found him with lobs throughout the stanza.

The 7-footer hit Dallas for 10 points in the third, all on alley-oops or dunks in the post. He went 7-for-8 from the field on the evening to finish with 16 points and seven rebounds.

When he is active, Cauley-Stein can be a difference maker.

Thanks for the tribute ...

Dallas ran a tribute video for Harrison Barnes in the first quarter and he said thank you by going off on his former team.

Barnes tied for the Kings’ scoring lead in the first half with eight and then went to work after the break.

The veteran forward finished the night with 18 points on 3-of-5 shooting from long range. He added three rebounds and played solid defense on Doncic for much of the evening.