Dallas Wang Zhizhi has a lot to learn about playing in the NBA.
But he's already got down one key ingredient about playing in Dallas: The Chalupa Shot.
The first NBA player born in China overcame some early communication problems to score six points and grab three rebounds as Dallas beat Atlanta, 108-94, Thursday night.
Juwan Howard led Dallas with 20 points and reserve Shawn Bradley had 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Mavericks moved into a tie with Utah for the fourth spot in the Western Conference. The Jazz play in Dallas on Saturday night.
Wang's eight-minute debut was highlighted by a top-of-the-key jumper for his first basket and two free throws.
However, it was a short shot by the 7-foot-1, 255-pound forward that put the Mavericks over 100 points that meant to the most to the fans because it earned them a free chalupa from Taco Bell. The basket drew the loudest roar in a night filled with cheers for Wang.
"He went from the new guy from China to the Chalupa Boy, and that's pretty special around here," said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who earlier this season ran on the court to break up a chalupa-related brawl.
Wang, who said he'd been told about the Mexican food promotion, finished 2-for-5, including a miss on a three-pointer.
"I felt so happy I could score," Wang said. "It made me feel I can score more in the future."
His first shot attempt was ruled a block, although it was as much a strip as the ball never came above his waist.
"I was a little nervous," said Wang, whose parents and an estimated 300 million Chinese were watching on television. "I was trying to score as soon as possible, and that's why I got the turnover."
There were some other rocky moments. Such as with 5:55 left in the second quarter when Wang took off his warmup clothes because he thought he was being called into the game. Instead, coach Don Nelson was asking for "Juwan" Howard, not Wang (pronounced "Wong").
Then, with 26.8 seconds left in the first half, Wang really did get the call. He went in to a standing ovation.
His teammates wanted him to break the ice immediately. Michael Finley tried running a pick-and-roll, but Wang was too excited and lost the ball.
He didn't return until there was 7:40 left and Dallas was up 91-71.
Knicks 93, Wizards 80
New York Marcus Camby converted an alley-oop dunk with 3:07 left to complete a late 9-0 run that led New York to a tougher-than-expected victory over Washington.
Kings 92, Jazz 86
Salt Lake City Chris Webber scored 26 points and Peja Stojakovic added 25 as Sacramento beat Utah. Utah trailed by nine points early in the fourth quarter but pulled within 87-86 when John Stockton scored on a fast break with 48.3 seconds remaining.
Lakers 100, Bulls 88
Chicago Hack him, smack him, double him, grab him or try to pin his arms down. Whatever the Chicago Bulls tried Thursday night against Shaquille O'Neal, it didn't work. O'Neal powered his way to 39 points, and Los Angeles shot 56 percent.
Spurs 101, Nuggets 80
Denver Tim Duncan scored 15 of his 36 points in the third quarter and had 13 rebounds as San Antonio beat Denver. Derek Anderson added 17 points to help the Spurs maintain their 21/2-game lead over Sacramento for the top spot in the West. San Antonio (53-22) also is one game ahead of Philadelphia (52-23) in the push for the NBA's best record.
Rockets 91, Sonics 88
Houston Kenny Thomas blocked a Ruben Patterson shot with 10 seconds to play and then slammed it into the basket on the other end to seal Houston's victory over Seattle.