Warriors seek sweep of slumping Mavericks

OAKLAND, Calif. — Dirk Nowitzki will start a game as a 50,000-minute NBA veteran for the first time when the Dallas Mavericks visit the suddenly struggling Golden State Warriors on Thursday night.

As opposed to Monday night, when he reached the milestone, Nowitzki hopes to have his name spelled correctly on the back of his uniform. It said “Nowitkzi” during his 12-point, six-rebound effort in Monday’s 104-101 loss to the Clippers in Los Angeles.

“I actually just saw it. I had no idea,” he told reporters after the game. “It happens. I guess it kind of sums up our season.”

Surely, Monday’s game qualified as a scrambled finish as the Mavericks were outscored 13-0 to end a game they led by 10 with just 4:42 remaining. They missed seven shots and interspersed four turnovers in their game-ending drought.

Earlier, Nowitzki became just the sixth in NBA history to reach the 50,000-minute milestone, joining all-time leader Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (57,446), Karl Malone, Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd and Elvin Hayes.

Hayes played exactly 50,000 minutes in his career, so Nowitzki was able to pass him and move into fifth place on the all-time list on the same night he reached the milestone.

The loss was the Mavericks’ sixth in their last seven games, a stretch during which they’ve been more competitive than the results might indicate. Their last six losses have come by an average of just 7.8 points per game.

Dallas also suffered a narrow loss the last time it faced the Warriors, falling victim to a late 3-pointer by Stephen Curry in a 125-122 home defeat last month.

Golden State had earlier blitzed the Mavericks 133-103 in Dallas and 112-97 at home, and will take a nine-game winning streak in the rivalry into Thursday’s contest.

The Warriors figure to be in an angry mood when they seek to complete a second consecutive season-series sweep over the Mavericks.

They are coming off a 125-105 blowout at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, a game in which the Warriors drew five technical fouls, including an ejection-prompting two on Draymond Green, the league leader in both T’s and ejections.

Steve Kerr, who was in no mood to celebrate his 300th game as the Golden State coach afterward, insisted the referees weren’t the reason his club had suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time this season.

Rather, having committed 25 turnovers for the second time in three games, one off their season-worst, conspired with a lackluster defensive effort to produce the blowout loss.

“It didn’t feel like us, that’s for sure,” he analyzed. “Ball wasn’t moving, and when it was moving, it was generally moving to the wrong team. We are out of whack right now. We are not playing the way we normally do. The defense has not been good, either. It’s been a struggle.”

It’s possible Warriors fans will miss out on two potentially interesting story angles Thursday.

Mavericks guard Seth Curry remains out with a stress fracture in his left tibia, meaning a head-to-head with brother Stephen won’t occur.

And Mavericks forward Harrison Barnes, the odd-man-out after two Warriors trips to the NBA Finals because of the addition of Kevin Durant, remains questionable for his twice-a-year homecoming despite practicing Wednesday because of a left ankle injury that kept him out of the Los Angeles game on Monday.

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