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Vince Over Bird, Mavs Over Kings
Vince Carter was a minor revelation a season ago for the Dallas Mavericks, giving more than most expected of him. This season, he's continued to impress, perhaps even surprise, emerging as one of the better sixth men in the league, easily surpassing last year's level of contribution … and ultimately, in Wednesday's 123-100 home win over the Kings, passing the all-time scoring level of none other than Larry Bird.
"There were a couple of times, I was wide open, and I was like, ‘Well, they left me open so I'm going to shoot it,' said Carter, who finished with 26 points. "And they ended up going in so it was just a great feeling.''
Carter's total is the second most he's scored as a Mav. The 36-year-old was 9-of-15 on field goals and 6-of-9 on 3-pointers (those six makes a season high), with five rebounds and two steals. The veteran was at his best when he took over the third quarter, scoring 17 points by hitting 6-of-9 shots, including 5-of-7 behind the arc.
In that third quarter, with 27.9 seconds to play, Carter drained the second of what would be three straight 3-pointers, giving him 21 points for the game … and more importantly, tying him with Bird for the 29th most career points in NBA history.
With 2.9 seconds to play in the third, he nailed another three and moved into sole possession of the 29th spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Carter finished the game with 21,796 points, five more than Bird and 17 points shy of tying Gary Payton at the 28th spot.
"The rim,'' Carter said, "looked like a lake.''
Part of that was the suspect defense of the Kings, who have now lost 18 straight games in Dallas. But much of it was Carter being on a roll: In the last 11 games, Carter's averages are 17 points, 48.8 field-goal percentage, 54.4 3-point percentage, 3.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.4 steals and only 0.9 turnovers.
"He's been a great player in this league and he still has the ability to have stretches where he can be that kind of great player in terms of his high impact with streaks of shot-making, some of the playmaking things that he's able to do," said coach Rick Carlisle, whose Mavs (23-29) go into the All-Star Break having won three of four. "It'd be hard to tell you how important he is to our team. He's still a special player."
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