NEW YORK: Dirk Nowitzki scored 25 points as the Dallas Mavericks put rookie Kristaps Porzingis and the New York Knicks in their place with a 104-97 victory at Madison Square Garden on Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
Latvian rookie Porzingis — who idolized German star Nowitzki as a schoolboy — top scored with 28 points in a furious late onslaught for New York but it was not enough to overhaul Dallas.
The towering 7ft 3in Porzingis, one of the standout rookies of the season so far, helped slash a 98-81 deficit with 5:52 left in the fourth quarter to just 101-97 with 43 seconds on the clock.
But just as memorable comeback was on the cards, the Mavericks reasserted themselves through Nowitzki and Deron Williams to hold on for the win.
Nowitzki had six rebounds along with his 25-point haul while Williams finished with 20 points and seven assists.
Porzingis sank 13 of 19 shots from the floor and also contributed two blocks.
Team-mate Carmelo Anthony added 17 points with eight assists and six rebounds.
Hornets sting Pistons
In Charlotte, the Hornets romped past the Detroit Pistons 104-84 in a surprisingly lopsided victory.
Center Cody Zeller ran the show for the Hornets, missing starter Al Jefferson who is nursing a calf injury.
Zeller chipped in with 20 points and six rebounds in a commanding display as the Hornets shrugged off the absence of Jefferson.
“I think this whole team has to step up, and it’s got to be a group effort,” Zeller said.
“We had a lot of different guys play well tonight, and that’s what we need until Al gets back.”
The victory improved the Hornets to 12-8 for the season, while their home record now stands at a respectable 9-3.
Hornets coach Steve Clifford meanwhile praised the contribution of Zeller, now fully fit after recovering from a niggling shoulder problem.
“I think he’s starting to reap the benefits of all the hard work he has been putting in,” Clifford said.
“He’s put a lot of work in. If you saw him in practice every day, you wouldn’t be surprised that he is doing this. I think the carry-over into the game now is starting to come.”
Philadelphia’s miserable campaign suffered another embarrassing low point meanwhile as a weakened San Antonio Spurs thrashed them 119-68 in front of the 76ers home crowd.
The Spurs could afford to rest both Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobli even in the absence through illness of Kawhi Leonard. Yet San Antonio still had far too much firepower for an out¬matched Sixers side, with several Spurs players taking the opportunity to pummel the home team and rack up the points.
LaMarcus Aldridge topscored with a season-high 26 points, one of four San Antonio players to finish in double figures.
The scoring frenzy included 18 points from Spurs backup Boban Marjanovic, in just over 17 minutes.
“I’m really happy, because the fans really support me,” Marjanovic said.
Spurs veteran Tony Parker, who played only the first half, said he was encouraged by the performance of so many of San Antonio’s reserves.
“Our young guys are good, and they want to play, too,” said Parker, who added 12 points. “They want to show how they can play.”
The Sixers are now 1-21 for the season while the Spurs climbed to 18-4.