DALLAS, March 19 (Ticker) --
The first day of the rest of Avery Johnson
life began with a win.
Hours after permanently succeeding Don Nelson as coach, Johnson
guided the Dallas Mavericks to a 104-93 victory over the
expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who have lost 10 in a row.
NBA TV highlights from |
Nelson news conference:
made the transition easier with 33 points for the
Mavericks, who had lost six of their last 11 games. That
prompted Nelson to say at an afternoon news conference that the
team needed "a new voice" as he resigned, second on the all-time
wins list with 1,090.
That voice will be the unique drawl of Johnson, who was being
groomed as a successor to Nelson. He filled in one game earlier
this season, went 7-3 in January as Nelson recovered from
shoulder surgery and won two of three last week as his mentor
left to be with his wife, who had undergone surgery.
"It was an emotional day for me," Nowitzki said. "To know that
I'm not going to see him every day is going to be weird.
Obviously he's going through a tough time in his life with his
health and his wife, too. He doesn't have that fire anymore, so
I guess it's a good time for him to step down."
Under Johnson, the Mavericks did not look much different. They
still ran the floor on offense, appeared inattentive on defense
and struggled at home against a subpar foe.
"We still didn't reach our goal. Our goal is to hold teams to
20 points in each quarter and we didn't get that done tonight,"
Johnson said. "Defense is the key. If we're going to go far in
the playoffs, we have to play defense."
"Defense has always been one of our problems," Nowitzki said. "We
always have had great lineups out there that can get it done
offensively. Defensively when it came down the stretch, we
never really found the big stops in the playoffs. Obviously I
still think we have a long way to go."
After Nowitzki gave up an easy basket early in the third period
to Bobcats center Primoz Brezec
, who scored 16 points, Johnson
pulled him for a few minutes.
"He got kind of yanked out of the game early in the third
quarter because I was not pleased with his defense," Johnson
said. "But we're on the same page."
"I didn't do my job defensively," Nowitzki said. "I let the guy
get the ball too deep and (he) scored right on me. That's a
message that he's sending to me and to everybody that nobody is
getting a break out there. I came right back in and I thought I
did a better job. I think we all have to believe in the system
and believe in Avery now and if he makes a point, we all have
to take it. I think it was well-taken."
Nowitzki made 12-of-20 shots, including a pair of hoops in a
decisive run at the end of the third quarter and two more down
the stretch to seal the win.
had 18 points and nine assists and Marquis Daniels
scored 17 points for the Mavericks (43-22), who continue to play
through injuries as they march toward their fifth straight
"I felt very confident going into tonight," Terry said. "Like I
said this afternoon, the coaching change was not a distraction
"Avery really gave him a lot of confidence in doing it now,"
Nowitzki said. "Avery is really ready. He's been showing it
over the past couple of weeks when he had to take over."
made six 3-pointers and scored 27
points for the Bobcats, who also have lost 11 straight road
games. They used just eight players, with six scoring in double
"Bogans had a big night on us," Johnson said. "We will watch
every one of his six threes on film tomorrow."
Nowitzki scored 20 points in the first half as Dallas opened a
61-50 lead. Charlotte got back in the game with a 10-0 burst
and actually took a 69-68 edge before a basket by Daniels
triggered an 11-4 surge to close the quarter.
"I was very disappointed with our defense in the first quarter
and pleased with it in the fourth quarter," Johnson said.
A pair of 3-pointers by Bogans around two free throws by Daniels
cut the deficit to 92-88 with 4:32 left. Over the next two
minutes, Nowitzki made two free throws and two jumpers to
rebuild the advantage to 99-89 with 2½ minutes to go.