Dirk and Nash Arrive; New Cornerstone Is Complete
For Dallas fans, each home game during the 1998-99 season was a chance to watch one of the NBA's best young players and, more often than not, to see a Mavericks victory. Although the Mavs went 19-31, they posted a winning home record (15-10) for the first time since 1989-90. Dallas finished up strong with an 8-7 overall record in April as they beat playoff-bound teams from San Antonio, Phoenix, Minnesota and Houston (twice).
Fourth-year guard Michael Finley, a star on the rise, scored 20.2 points per game and was one of only 10 NBA players with at least 1,000 points in the lockout-shortened season. Forward Gary Trent also played well, averaging 16 points and 7.8 rebounds.
Cedric Ceballos had a solid start to the season, averaging 12.5 points in 13 games. But the veteran forward missed the rest of the season after breaking both wrists Feb. 25 against Denver.
Won 19, lost 31 (fifth, Midwest)…Dallas’ .381 winning percentage extended over 82 games would have equated to 31 wins…the winning percentage was the highest since a 36-56 (.439) record in 1994-95…the Mavericks finished with a 15-10 record at Reunion Arena, their best home mark since going 30-11 in 1989-90…For the second year in a row, Michael Finley led the Mavericks in scoring (20.2) and minutes (41.0)…Hubert Davis finished the season ranked third in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage (.451)…Finley ranked third in the NBA in minutes…Shawn Bradley finished the season with 159 blocks...he was second in the NBA (behind Alonzo Mourning) with 3.24 blocks per game…Dallas missed 144 player games due to injury/illness…the Mavericks finished April 8-7, their first winning month since going 10-6 in March of 1995…rookie Dirk Nowitzki capped off his season with 8 double-doubles in his last 12 games.
THE RECORD: The Mavericks finished their 19th campaign with a 19-31 record, fifth in the Midwest Division. They were the eigth most improved team in the league this season, and tallied nine wins over playoff teams: Atlanta, Orlando, Sacramento (2), Houston (2), Minnesota, Phoenix, and San Antonio. Dallas won all three of its home games against Eastern Conference opponents and closed the season with four straight home wins.
HOME SWEET HOME: On April 26 the Mavs topped the Bulls 101-93, improving Dallas to 13-10 at Reunion Arena. The win assured the Mavs of a winning record at home for the season, the best home record since Dallas went 30-11 at home in 1989-90. Dallas went on to finish with 15-10 at home, including winning their final three home games. Attendance was also up by 1,305 fans per game (a 9.8% increase)- giving Dallas the second highest percent increase in the NBA behind Sacramento.
APRIL SHOWERS: The Mavericks finished April with a 8-7 record, their first winning month since going 10-6 in March of 1994-95. The Mavs registeredfive wins in April against Western Conference playoff teams (San Antonio, Phoenix, Houston, and Minnesota), scoring 100+ five times. Dirk Nowitzki nearly doubled his scoring average (12.1 ppg, up from 6.1) and rebounds (5.1, up from 2.7) during April.
LEAGUE LEADERS: For the second year in a row the Mavericks had three players ranked among the top five in league leader scoring. Shawn Bradley finished the season ranked second in blocked shots (behind Mourning) with 3.24 per game; Michael Finley ranked third in minutes, logging 41.0 minutes per game; Hubert Davis ranked third in the NBA from long-range accuracy (.451). Additionally, Finley ranked 13th in scoring with 20.2 ppg.
LINEUPS: Dallas used 20 different lineups this season, with the most frequent being Trent/Green/Bradley/Finley/Nash (9 times). Robert Pack and Bruno Sundov were the only Mavericks not to start a game. Michael Finley was the only Maverick to start every game this season, with A.C. Green and Hubert Davis joining him as the only Mavericks to play all 50 games this season.
FINLEY STRIKES AGAIN: For the second year in a row, Michael Finley lef the Mavs in scotinh (20.2) and minutes (41.0). While both averages are down from the year before, Finley is the only guard in the NBA to average at least 20 pph and 5.0 rebound per game and for the second straight season is the second-highest scoring guard in the Western Conference (behind Gary Payton's 21.7 ppg. His scoring average is 13th in the NBA and he ranks third in NBA minutes per game. He is one of only 10 players in the league to score at least 1,000 points in the 50 game season. In his final 14 games he led Dallas to an 8-6 record, scoring 352 points (25.1 ppg) on 131-of-254 shooting in 607 minutes.
TRENT MAKES CASE FOR MOST IMPROVED: Mavericks forward Gary Trent improved his scoring and rebound averages each of his first three NBA seasons, and his play mirrored that trend...he finished third in balloting for the league's Most Valuable Player Award. He had the 6th largest increase in the NBA, averaging 16.0 ppg comapred with 11.7 last season. He also increased his rebounding average from 6.3 rpg to 7.8 rpg, which was also second on the team. Trent scored in double-double figures 35 times, had 14 double0doubles on the season and led or tied the team in scoring 16 times. He also set career-high points (33 vs. Golden State on April 10) and tied his career high in rebounds with 16 (seven times). His 33 point outburst at the time was the highest point total by a Maverick since Finley scored 38 points at Denver on 1/31/98.
NOWITZKI BLITZ: Mavericks rookie Dirk Nowitzki came on strong down the stretch...in his final 12 games he tallied double-figures eight times: 174 points (14.5 ppg) on 63-of-133 (.474)shooting with 57 rebounds (4.8 rpg) in 399 minutes (33.3 mpg). In the 19 games where he logged 20 plus minutes, Mowitzki had 255 points. His top performance came a Phoenix on April 16 when he tallied 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting with eight rebounds, three steals, and two blocks in 44 minutes. He has two career double-doubles-at Golden State on Feb 7 and vs. San Antonio on April 13-both resulted in Dallas wins.
DAVIS IS DEADLY: Mavs guard Hubert Davis, who ranks fourth in NBA history in career three-point percentage, finished the season ranked third in the NBA (.451). Following the injury of startng guard Steve Nash, Davis came on strong in the final 1 0 games, scoring 156 points, including 24-of-51 from long-range with 41 assists in 481 minutes. Davis is the Mavs all time club leader in three-point field goal percentage connecting on 167-of-374. Davis also led the Mavericks from the free throw line for the second-straight season shooting a career high .880 from the charity stripe. That was the highest free throw percentage from a Maverick since Rolondo Blackman shot .898 in 1991-92. He would have ranked 7th in the NBA if he had enough attempts to qualify for league leaders.
JUNIOR IRON MAN: Michael Finley has never missed a regular season game, playing 297 straight, fourth on the active Iron Man list. His Iron Man stature is significant also because he led Dallas and ranked third in the NBA in minutes, playing 2051 minutes (41.0 mpg). On May 1st vs. Golden State he logged his fourth complete game of the season and his 12th career complete game with the Mavericks. Last seaosn he led the NBA in minutes, logging 41.4 mpg. He was the only Maverick to start every game this season, his second-straight season starting all possible games.
BRADLEY'S BLOCK PARTY: Mavericks center Shawn Bradley finished the season with 159 blocks...this was the 6th straight season he had bloacked more than 100 shots. He was second in the NBA with 3.24 blocks per game. This is his fifth straight season to finish in the top three among NBA shot blockers. He donated $25 for each block to Bryan's House, for a total donation of $3975.
INJURY/ILLNESS: Dallas missed 144 player games due to illness/injury, including 37 for Cedric Ceballos, who broke both wrists on a flagrant foul vs. Denver on Feb. 25. Second round draft choice Ansu Sesay missed all 50 games wirh a broken right foot and Robert Pack missed 24 games on two separate stints with a torn right hamstring and a separated left shoulder. Steve Nash missed the final 10 games of the season with a lower back strain.
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