DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks enjoyed their first game in front of fans at their arena like never before since last March.
There were only 1,500 people from the first front working for health and safety, but for the players it felt like a full house and a touch of what used to be normality.
The Mavericks beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 127-122 at their American Airlines Center in Dallas on Monday night.
“It was great. We’ve all been waiting for it [la presencia de fanáticos]”Mavericks guard Luka Doncic said in a video conference. “I hope we can have some more… This is a big thing for us. They (the fans) turn us on, even if they are so few. They give us energy. We hope to have more and more.
For the Mavericks, it was the first time playing in front of fans since 20,302 people paid a ticket to see their 113-97 win over the Denver Nuggets on March 11, a day before the NBA stopped its activities because of the pandemic. .
“This helps bring a bit of normalcy,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said in a video conference. “These people are special, they have been fighting and risking their lives to help many people. They will always be welcome ”.
The night was round for the Mavericks, who came to have an advantage of up to 25 points; center Kristaps Porzingis had his best night of the season with 27 points, 16 rebounds and six assists.
“I felt fresh all the time and that’s important, especially coming back from injury,” said Porzingis, who played 31 minutes. “They (the medical team) want to be sure that I am fresh on the court. Now I am playing multiple games and every time I feel better.
“I’m playing for longer periods, like I played in the bubble, which was my best basketball since I came here to Dallas. I feel more and more comfortable ”.
The Mavericks (11-14) didn’t even need their customary share of Doncic as top scorer against the Timberwolves (6-18); the star point guard finished with 26 points, eight rebounds and five assists.
But they had Tim Hardaway Jr. with 24 points coming off a cooperating bench with 44 points overall.
“It was incredible,” Hardaway said of the people who were in the arena to support them. “The atmosphere was obviously better. You can even listen to crickets when no one is in the building. We are happy to have delivered a good performance for them ”.
The Mavericks host the Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday.