DALLAS (AP) -- Don Nelson has walked off a basketball court with
a hand on the shoulder of his pal Del Harris plenty of times.
Never under circumstances this wild, though.
Nelson and the Golden State Warriors crashed the Dallas
Mavericks' celebration of last season and continued their slow
start to this season with a 107-104 victory Monday night.
While Nelson's return to his old stomping grounds was the major
story line, the Mavs added to the drama with forward Josh Howard
spraining his ankle, coach Avery Johnson and point guard Jason
Terry getting ejected, then botching a final sequence -- with no
help from the officials.
The Mavericks lost to the Warriors Monday, dropping them to 0-3 on the season. Over the last 25 seasons, the only other team to lose its first three games of a season following an appearance in the NBA Finals was the 76ers, who dropped their first five games in 2001.
"I never expected this win," said Nelson, who came out of
retirement late this summer to take over the Warriors. "I didn't
think we'd be able to beat a good team at this point of the season,
but I was wrong. I'm very proud of my squad. You take the win when
you can get it."
Nelson and Mavs owner Mark Cuban are squabbling over $6 million,
which is likely why there was no formal recognition for the
winningest coach in Mavs history. Still, he received a warm ovation
from fans and took pride in the unveiling of a banner recognizing
Dallas for being the 2005-06 Western Conference champions.
"At 66, you don't find a lot of emotion except for love and
death. But it was a special (night) for me," Nelson said.
Jason Richardson put Golden State ahead 107-97 with a layup with
2:26 left, but Dallas rallied to get within a 3-pointer of forcing
Jerry Stackhouse missed one with about 5 seconds left, then
Anthony Johnson got the rebound and headed for the 3-point line. He
instead passed to Devin Harris in the corner. Harris passed it back
and time expired before Johnson could shoot.
All the while, Del Harris -- who took over when Avery Johnson was
tossed before halftime -- was near midcourt screaming for a timeout.
He had been hollering since before Stackhouse's shot.
"You could pretty much hear him through the monitor," said
Johnson, who was watching on television.
When Harris complained to official Dan Crawford, he apologized
and gestured that he couldn't hear Harris over the crowd. Nelson
smiled, laughed and gave Harris a pat on the back, then they left
the court together.
"It was like a player being traded, coming back and wanted to
do well against his old team," said Richardson, who scored 22
points. "He wanted this game and we wanted to play hard and get it
Baron Davis scored 26 points and Troy Murphy added 20 as the
Warriors beat the Mavericks for the four straight time and fourth
in a row in Dallas. Golden State was the only team that beat the
Mavs three times last season.
"I don't know what it is," Richardson said. "Maybe we just
like these rims."
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 26 points and Harris scored 17 in
his first start of the season. Terry had 15 after scoring only one
the previous game, but was ejected with 3:05 left to play for a
hard takedown of Golden State's Monta Ellis on a drive to the
The Mavericks fell to 0-3 for the first time since 1993-94 and
are in jeopardy of the first 0-4 start in franchise history, not
exactly the start the club expected coming off its first trip to
the NBA finals.
"It's still early, we've got 79 games left," forward Greg
Buckner said. "But we've got to press a little bit. We can't keep
saying `It's still early' and lose six more."
The Mavs will be on the road for three games in six days, which
could be the bonding time they need to work out the kinks. However,
they could be forced to do so without Howard, their second-leading
scorer. He left wearing a walking boot and is scheduled to have an
MRI on Tuesday.
"It's not looking too good," Avery Johnson said.
Nelson and Harris last coached against each other in
February 1998, when Nelson was with the Mavs and Harris was running
the Lakers. Los Angeles won 101-88. ... Nelson had his fourth
different starting lineup in as many games. In this one, Mike
Dunleavy Jr. didn't start for the first time. ... Harris replaced
Buckner in Dallas' starting lineup, but Buckner started the second
half in Howard's place. ... The curtain covering the Western
Conference champion banner got stuck about halfway up. A worker had
to walk across a catwalk and give it a stiff tug to free the snag.