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Nets end 16-day road trip in Dallas

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Indiana Pacers v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Almost had it. The Brooklyn Nets hung tough with the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night, but couldn't get over the hump and lost by four points. After tonight, the team heads back to Brooklyn for a bunch of home games. The total: 16 days, eight games, 8,100 miles.

Waiting for the Nets will be the Dallas Mavericks. About a month ago, it looked as if the Mavs were on their way to having one of the worst records in the league. However, they’ve turned things around in a major way and are within striking distance of the eighth seed. They’ve won three straight and five out of their last six after beating the Lakers on Tuesday night. They play the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night before heading out of town for a four game road trip.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV. WFAN 101.9 FM on radio. Tip off after 9.

Injuries

Joe Harris is out with a concussion and Brook Lopez is out with a sprained right ankle. The sprain is not seen as serious.

Nerlens Noel (sore left knee) is out. JJ Barea has been dealing with a calf injury, but hopes to play tonight.

The game

History was made on Tuesday night. Dirk Nowitzki became the sixth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000 point mark in his career, joining Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, and Wilt Chamberlain. There’s been a lot written about Dirk and this snippet from Josh Bowe at Mavs Moneyball stood out to me:

Legends are supposed to be better than us — not make the same human mistakes us schmoes make on a daily basis. I think that’s why we love Dirk so much. He does seem better than us. Not once in his career have you ever felt bad about going hog-wild in fandom for him.

We asked everything of him, and he did it.

We asked him to be an All-Star after being a top-10 pick. He did it. We asked him to be a franchise player after Steve Nash left. He did. We routinely asked him to carry rosters without All-Stars deep into the playoffs. He did it and then some. We asked Dirk to be perfect in almost every way.

Dirk is one of the greatest players of all time and it’s great to see the outpouring of love from everybody in the basketball community.

The Mavs may have pulled off the steal of the trade deadline. They got Nerlens Noel from the Philadelphia 76ers in exchange for Justin Anderson, Andrew Bogut (who was released shortly afterwards) and a first round pick. Noel was being misused in Philly and being in Dallas will do wonders for him. Trevor Booker will probably get the start and it'll be up to him to keep Noel off the boards.

Without Lopez, the Nets will have to rely on Jeremy Lin to carry them this evening. Lin has gotten better each game he's been back from injury. He played 24 minutes on Wednesday and should be around that again tonight. He'll be assigned to former Net Yogi Ferrell. Yogi came out incredibly hot when he first got to Dallas and has settled into his role. He’s also dropped off a bit.

Over the last 10 games, the 6’0” rookie is averaging a little more than 10 points a game on 44 percent shooting overall, 35 percent from three, while handing out 5.4 assists. The player the Nets signed after waiving Ferrell, Spencer Dinwiddie, is averaging 8.6 points and 4.3 assists over the last 10 in five fewer minutes per game. He’s shooting 45 percent overall, 42 percent from three. With Lin back, he’s seeing fewer minutes of late.

One thing that immediately jumps out when looking at Ferrell’s statistics is the turnovers. When he was a Net, he turned the ball over 20 percent of the time he had it. With the Mavs, it's only 13 percent. Young guards tend to be turnover prone, and as they get more experience and playing time, they become better decision makers.

Same holds true for Dinwiddie.

Player to watch: Seth Curry

He wears number 30, played college ball in the state of North Carolina, and has taken part in a three point contest. No, I’m not talking about Steph Curry. I’m talking about Seth Curry. The younger Curry is finally getting his chance to showcase his skills, and has been making the most of it. Since he was inserted into the starting lineup, Dallas is 16-9, plus-4.6 points per game against opponents.

He’s shooting a career high 45 percent from the field while making 43.5 percent of his attempts from three point range. I have a soft spot for D-League players who make it to the NBA, so I always find myself rooting for Seth to succeed.

Tonight will present a good opportunity for Caris Levert. The Nets will be without their top scorer so there should be more field goal attempts awaiting him. His season high in FGAs is 12 and he should surpass that.

From the Vault

We’re taking three (!!) trips to the Vault today. The first trip is in 2008 when he became Dallas’ all time leading scorer (shout out to Rebecca Lawson of Mavs Moneyball for that fun fact)

The second is when he passed Moses Malone for sixth on the all time scoring list

And the last one is in 2001 when he scored 30 points in a playoff game for the first time.

More reading: Mavs Moneyball