DENVER — Less than 24 hours after jumping out to a 28-point lead and holding on late for a 103-93 win Friday over the Utah Jazz, the Dallas Mavericks had little time to think about their inconsistent play from the night prior.
That’s because the Mavericks found themselves right back in action the very next night while looking to accomplish something they never did last season, attempting to run their winning streak to five in the Pepsi Center against the Denver Nuggets.
But while beginning their home-and-home series with the Nuggets the Dallas team would come out on tired legs, completing the fifth back-to-back in the month of November. The Mavs then found themselves playing minus their leader, after coach Rick Carlisle was ejected in the second quarter.
And despite overcoming a 17-point deficit, the Mavericks (9-5) would come up short in the final seconds while seeing their winning streak halted at four following a 102-100 defeat.
“I guess there’s no way of knowing if we would have put the game away yesterday quicker, like we should have in the second half, maybe we would have had more energy. But that’s a lot of ifs, and bottom line was we were right there,” 11-time All-Star power forward Dirk Nowitzki admitted while questioning the carryover effect from the night before.
Leaning on Nowitzki early in the opening quarter, the Mavs once again tried to get off to a fast start. But the Nuggets (6-6) would return fire behind their balanced attack, going on a 22-6 run after the Mavericks held a 16-13 edge. And after committing four turnovers and going 9-of-22 from the field in the first period, the Mavs quickly found themselves down by 13, 35-22.
“We got a slow start and we weren’t rebounding,” Carlisle said of his team’s early deficit. “We were doing some other things well, but we couldn’t finish off possessions. You know, it got us off to a bad start.”
Back-to-back scores by Nowitzki would get the Mavericks going to start the second stanza. The pick-and-roll execution of rookie point guard Shane Larkin and backup big man DeJuan Blair then lent Nowitzki some help as the Mavs began to rally. But again the Nuggets would have an answer as Nate Robinson’s 3-pointer forced a timeout by Carlisle with his team down 10, 42-32, with 7:49 left in the first half.
Randy Foye’s 3-pointer to put the visitors in a 48-33 hole would then be Carlisle’s breaking point, assessed back-to-back technical foul calls with 5:14 remaining in the half to earn his early exit for arguing a no-call by officials after Mavs leading scorer Monta Ellis’ drive led to contact by Foye at the rim.
“I thought the foul was excessive,” Carlisle later confessed. “I thought he fouled him and he came down on him extra hard, and I’m going to stand up for my players.”
“I know Coach was very made about that, and that’s why we fought so hard to get back in the game,” Ellis added. “He did a lot to get thrown out, so I think we owed that to him. Even though we weren’t playing good ball when he did that, we got a spark and we started chipping away.”
Defensive coordinator Monte Mathis then took the reins as Ellis did his best to close the gap, before the visiting team looked up to a 65-53 disadvantage entering the halftime intermission.
Despite Ellis’ 19 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting, the Mavs were outshot by the Nuggets through two quarters, 50 percent to 44.2 percent, as Denver also connected on 9-of-20 from behind the 3-point line. Meanwhile, Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson carved up the Dallas defense with 13 points and seven assists at the midway mark. The Nuggets also held a decisive edge on the boards with a 27-14 rebounding advantage and an 8-0 margin in second-chance points.
With the scoring duties divvied up between Nowitzki, Ellis and point guard Jose Calderon, the Mavs attempted to keep pace with the Nuggets to open the third period. Sixth man Vince Carter then got into the act, catching fire from long range after a 1-of-7 first half and bringing the Mavs within three, 78-75.
Carter then quieted a 6-0 Denver spurt with a 3-pointer, passing ex-Mav Steve Nash (1,682) for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time 3-point field goals made list. Still, the Mavericks entered the fourth down six, 86-80.
“We wanted to win,” Carter said after his team began to rally. “We were down and didn’t want to give up. We brought better fight, better focus and better energy in the second half and started to see shots going in, me in particular. I felt like I needed to get back to who I am as a player and just be aggressive. … I think we were just a step behind and a little lethargic. We were just a different team in the second half, and I was proud to see everybody stick together.”
After two free throws by Nowitzki brought the Mavs within four to open the final 12 minutes of play, Carter again stepped up with a 3-pointer off of a long offensive rebound to make it a one-point game. Ellis then fed Blair inside before taking matters into his own hands, giving the Mavs the lead at 89-88 for the first time since having a 16-15 edge in the first quarter.
But it would take three free throws by Nowitzki after a foul by Kenneth Faried on his 3-point attempt to quiet Denver’s 8-2 run to regain control. Two free throws by Ellis and a vintage fadeaway by Nowitzki then tied the game at 98-all, prior to No. 41’s jumper to put the Mavs up two while forcing a Denver timeout with 2:02 left to play.
The Nuggets would again have an answer, however, retaking the lead on a 3-pointer by Foye. Nowitzki’s miss at the other end and a defensive rebound by Faried then led to a 1-of-2 trip to the free-throw line for the Nuggets’ big man after Blair’s foul with 14.7 seconds left. The Mavs then secured the rebound and called for timeout with 14.2 ticks remaining, drawing up a play for Ellis and Nowitzki to work their two-man game at the top of the key.
But Ellis’ drive would come up short before the ball remained in Dallas’ possession after getting tipped out of bounds with 7.1 seconds still on the clock. This time the ball would go to Carter, who then fed Nowitzki for a jumper that bounced off the front off the rim with Blair unable to get a tip to go before the final buzzer.
“We ran a good play. I thought Vince was halfway open and decided not to shoot. We ran a little pick-and-roll, and then the clock was already going down. I had to heave one, but it was still a decent look to tie it. It just didn’t go in,” Nowitzki said of the final sequence.
Leading the way in the loss was Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting while also snatching down nine rebounds. Ellis added 25 points and Carter pitched in 16 points off the bench, while Calderon made it four Mavs in double figures with his 11 points.
Lawson led six Nuggets in double figures with 20 points on 5-of-10 shooting to go along with nine assists. The Nuggets’ 44.3 percent shooting as a team also bettered the Mavs’ 41.2 percent, adding a 44-39 rebounding edge to boot. The Nuggets overcame their own 18 turnovers as well, which led to 13 Dallas points, while the Mavs ended the game with 12 giveaways.
“It was a tough game,” Ellis concluded. “We fought. We did everything we could to get back in the game and take the lead. … But there’s nothing we can do. We can’t hold our heads. We’ll just wait till Monday.”
Note: The Mavericks will now host the Nuggets at American Airlines Center on Monday. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
|Shawn Marion, F||32||6||2||1||0||5||5||0||2||2||-2||2-8||0-3||2-2|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||34||27||1||0||1||9||9||0||0||2||10||9-22||0-2||9-9|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||21||3||2||1||0||3||2||1||0||2||2||0-0||0-0||3-4|
|Monta Ellis, G||34||25||2||2||0||6||6||0||4||1||1||8-14||2-3||7-8|
|Jose Calderon, G||34||11||5||1||0||2||2||0||0||3||1||5-10||1-4||0-0|
|Wilson Chandler, F||30||10||3||1||0||4||3||1||2||3||-8||4-15||1-9||1-2|
|Kenneth Faried, F||30||18||1||1||2||14||9||5||3||1||2||7-7||0-0||4-6|
|JJ Hickson, C||29||6||0||0||0||5||3||2||2||3||-12||3-8||0-0||0-0|
|Randy Foye, G||29||17||2||1||0||5||5||0||2||3||2||5-13||5-12||2-2|
|Ty Lawson, G||38||20||9||1||0||3||3||0||4||0||4||5-10||2-3||8-14|
DENVER — Despite riding a four-game winning streak after improving to 7-0 at home for the first time since winning their first 10 games at American Airlines Center during the 2003-04 season, the Dallas Mavericks took little satisfaction out of Friday night’s 103-93 victory over the Utah Jazz.
That’s because after sprinting out to a 28-point lead in the first half against the NBA’s worst team the Mavericks (9-4) allowed the Jazz to creep right back into the game, scratching and clawing in the fourth quarter to put the 1-13 Utah team away.
Saturday, after traveling to Denver for the second outing of the fifth back-to-back in the month of November, the Mavs hope to put together a more complete four quarters while beginning a home-and-home series with the Nuggets (5-6) that wraps up Monday in Dallas.
“It was disappointing, but wins are hard to get, so it’s a good win from that perspective,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Friday’s victory. “Our execution was poor in the second half at both ends. It was pretty obvious. But hey, right now we’ve got to get on a plane and play another team. That’s where we are.
“Look, it’s a win and we’ll take it. You know, I don’t like the way we played in the second half, but we’ve got between now and (Saturday) at 8 o’clock CT to straighten some things out.”
Holding the Jazz in check for two quarters, the Mavs would let the visitors back into the game behind their own miscues, after both teams finished the night giving up 22 points on 17 turnovers. But again the Mavericks’ newcomers would save the day as leading scorer Monta Ellis finished with a game-high 26 points on 8-of-19 shooting, while starting center Samuel Dalembert tallied up a season-high 18 points and 12 rebounds for his first double-double with his new team.
The Mavs may again need big performances from their new additions one night later, however, against a Denver team that’s 4-2 at home and looking to get to .500 for the first time this season.
“We’re on a back-to-back, and we had to play so hard to get this win (Friday night). We’ve really just got to get our legs up under us, play Mavs basketball and stay within our system,” Ellis said as the Mavs try to improve to 3-4 on the road.
Note: On the second night of a back-to-back, the Mavs will now travel to Denver to begin a home-and-home series against the Nuggets on Saturday. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 8 p.m. CT.
The Mavericks will then host the Nuggets at American Airlines Center on Monday. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.