Mavericks vs. PacersThe Mavs head into the All-Star break after handing the Pacers only their third home-loss of the season Wednesday night, 81-73.
INDIANAPOLIS — What a difference a day makes.
Suffering their most lopsided loss of the season Tuesday night in Charlotte, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t have to wait long to spit the sourness out of their mouths. Just 24 hours after a 114-89 defeat at the hands of the Bobcats, the Mavericks faced yet another tall order, squaring off against the NBA-best Indiana Pacers to conclude a three-game road trip.
Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to enter the All-Star break on a high note, taking on the league’s best team record-wise after Indiana’s most dominant win of the season, a 119-80 home win Monday over Denver. And while handing the Pacers (40-12) just their third loss at home this season with an 81-73 victory, the Mavericks (32-22) showed how formidable they figure to be during the 28-game sprint to the playoffs.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t respect Charlotte,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said following the win. “I think it’s just we had such great respect for Indiana that we knew we were going to have to play at a super high level of physicality and determination to give ourselves a chance, and we did.
“If you look at the whole situation — us back-to-back and them waiting and all that kinds of stuff — this is a big win for us. It really is, and we really needed it. We had built up good momentum and seemingly last night we just let everything blow to smithereens. And this shows the guys understand the importance of playing together, playing tough and playing for each other. That’s what we did tonight.”
After having their season-best five-game win streak snapped in Charlotte, the Mavs tried to quickly get back on track. And while taking the court down a man as reserve guard Devin Harris sat out the contest due to a sprained right ankle suffered late in the second half of Tuesday’s loss, the Mavericks hoped to get plenty of production from their starting lineup.
Meanwhile, 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki battled through a sprained left ankle also sustained in Charlotte, quickly striking to get the Mavs on the board first. The game then took on a playoff-like feel as technical foul calls were handed out to Pacers guard Lance Stephenson and Mavs point guard Jose Calderon for arguing with officials. But Mavs sixth man Vince Carter would provide a spark off the bench, finding success from behind the 3-point arc as the Mavs battled the Pacers to a 19-all draw at the end of the first quarter.
After holding the Pacers to just 6-of-22 shooting in the opening period, the Mavericks continued to rely on their defense in the second stanza. Carlisle also turned to rookie first-rounder Shane Larkin to run the point with Harris unavailable.
The first-year guard would take advantage of the opportunity, finding backup big man DeJuan Blair inside for a three-point play to put the Mavs up 29-24. Starting 2-guard Monta Ellis took over the scoring duties from there, boosting the Mavericks to a lead as large as seven. And after a technical on Pacers big man David West for an altercation involving Nowitzki with just 58.6 seconds remaining in the half, the Mavs escaped into the intermission with a 44-42 edge.
Using a strong defensive performance through two quarters to gain the upper hand, the Mavericks held the Pacers to just 31.1 percent shooting as a team while forcing 11 turnovers. Meanwhile, Nowitzki’s 10 first-half points on 4-of-7 shooting helped the Mavs to connect on 41.3 percent from the field in a low-scoring affair.
“It was just that kind of game,” Nowitzki said of the physical nature of the night. “Both teams were battling and everything was contested. It was as physical a game as I’ve been a part of in a long time, but I like how we competed. We didn’t back down and kept competing on the defensive end.”
Exchanging haymakers to open the third quarter, the two teams would continue to find themselves in a dogfight as the second half got underway. Ellis then joined Nowitzki in double figures, controlling the ball-handling duties alongside Larkin as Calderon found himself in foul trouble.
Still, the Pacers would continue to charge ahead on their home floor while retaking the lead behind swingman Danny Granger off the bench. And despite a strong defensive presence in the period, the Mavs found themselves in a 62-60 hole entering the final quarter.
Trying to gain some leverage in the fourth, the Mavs received a boost when Larkin slid in front of Pacers backup point guard C.J. Watson to draw an offensive foul in front of the Dallas bench. Mavs big man Brandan Wright also stepped up in a reserve role, giving the visitors the slight advantage on the scoreboard with his athletic play inside.
Entering the bonus with 6:55 remaining on the clock, the Mavs would then have an opportunity to pad the lead at the free-throw line the rest of the way. They’d do just that, taking a 74-66 advantage with 3:47 left to play on Nowitzki’s 2-for-2 trip to the charity stripe to cap an 8-0 run.
But All-Star swingman Paul George would quickly answer with a 3-pointer to make it a 76-73 score before Ellis’ clutch free throws extended the lead to five with 35.9 seconds left. The Dallas defense would do the rest, scrambling and stringing together stops down the stretch before Ellis and Calderon again swished in shots at the foul line to secure the win.
“We wanted this win bad and we did whatever we needed to do to come out with the win,” Ellis explained. “We played with an edge. We knew we were coming into a tough ballgame, but we accepted the challenge and came out on top.”
Scoring 23 points on 7-of-18 shooting to lead three Mavericks in double figures, Ellis also grabbed down nine rebounds and dished out six assists to boot. Nowitzki added 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting and Carter pitched in 11 points off the bench.
Leading five Pacers in double figures was George Hill with 14 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense held George to just 4-of-17 shooting for his 12 points led by defensive catalyst Shawn Marion.
“So far this season we win when we outscore people. It’s good to see that we can battle defensively against record-wise the best team in the league,” Nowitzki said. “We showed that we can battle them and play good defense. You know, it starts with Shawn Marion, who did a fantastic job on Paul George again. He’s our best perimeter defender and he’s got tough matchups every night. … I thought he tried to make everything tough on Paul, and he did a good job.”
The Mavericks’ 35.7 percent shooting as a team also bettered the Pacers’ 32.1 percent while battling to a 37-all rebounding stalemate. The Mavs scored 20 points off Indiana’s 20 turnovers as well, surrendering 12 points off their own 13 giveaways.
“We limited mistakes and we were able to make enough plays,” Carlisle concluded. “Our physical disposition was good tonight. It was not good last night in Charlotte, and it was just a very competitive game from start to finish. There was a lot of attitude in the game, which is great. It was like a playoff-type simulated game. Both teams were competing hard, and we were able to get out of here alive. It’s a great win for us after a very disappointing night last night.
“It’s one in the left column, and the break is coming at a good time. We’ve been playing well, but we need the rest. This win is an upbeat way to head into the break. And then we’ve got Miami coming out of the break, so it’s not like there’s any picnic going on here. The games are all going to be hard.”
Note: After the All-Star break, the Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday, Feb. 18, facing off against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. Miami leads the season series 1-0 after handing Dallas a 110-104 road loss back on Nov. 15. 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||37||4||2||1||0||5||4||1||1||2||-4||2-9||0-1||0-0|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||34||18||1||2||1||6||4||2||1||3||10||7-14||1-3||3-4|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||20||4||0||1||0||7||6||1||2||2||-8||2-8||0-0||0-0|
|Monta Ellis, G||41||23||6||1||2||9||7||2||4||2||2||7-18||0-3||9-10|
|Jose Calderon, G||22||4||2||0||1||4||3||1||3||4||9||1-7||1-5||1-2|
|Paul George, F||38||12||2||1||1||7||6||1||1||4||-4||4-17||1-6||3-3|
|David West, F||34||12||6||1||0||5||5||0||3||4||0||5-12||0-0||2-2|
|Roy Hibbert, C||33||4||1||0||2||7||3||4||1||2||0||2-6||0-0||0-0|
|Lance Stephenson, G||37||13||2||1||0||10||9||1||3||2||-7||6-16||0-3||1-1|
|George Hill, G||33||14||5||1||0||2||2||0||3||2||-4||5-11||3-8||1-2|
Put It In ReverseMonta Ellis receives the pass on the baseline and finishes with the high-flying reverse layup.
Shoot the GapMonta Ellis steps into the passing lane for the steal and slam.
INDIANAPOLIS — After having their season-best win streak fall by the wayside, things don’t get any easier for the Dallas Mavericks Wednesday evening.
Seeing their five-game win streak end Tuesday in Charlotte and losing to the young Bobcats franchise for only the second time ever following a 114-89 defeat, the Mavericks (31-22) now have just one final test before heading into the All-Star break. However, that final showdown may prove to be the most daunting task of their three-game road trip, taking on the NBA-best Indiana Pacers, who have only lost twice on their home floor all season long.
“(Tuesday) was definitely a step back,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki admitted. “You know, we’ve got to finish strong before the break now and hopefully have a good outing (in Indiana) against a very, very good team.”
With Nowitzki playing through a sprained left ankle suffered in the first half of Tuesday’s loss and second-leading scorer Monta Ellis continuing to battle through a strained right hamstring, the Mavericks wouldn’t be able to manufacture enough offense against a stingy Charlotte defense. But it’s the Dallas defense that gave Mavs coach Rick Carlisle the most reason for concern, after allowing the Bobcats to dish out a franchise-record 42 assists on their 45 made field goals.
“We didn’t put up enough resistance defensively, our rebounding wasn’t there and the shotmaking was off,” Carlisle confessed. “But, if you give up 42 assists, that’s really not getting it done defensively. We deserved to get thrashed, and we did.”
The Mavs will try to make the proper corrections one night later, while the Pacers (40-11) put their 25-2 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on the line following Monday’s 119-80 home win over Denver. And with the Mavericks trying to bounce back from their most lopsided loss of the season, the Indiana squad will be lying in wait after sprinting to its most dominant performance through 51 games.
Note: The Mavericks will now make the final stop on their three-game road trip Wednesday in Indianapolis, taking on the NBA-best Indiana Pacers for the first time this season. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.
After the All-Star break, the Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Tuesday, Feb. 18, facing off against the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. Miami leads the season series 1-0 after handing Dallas a 110-104 road loss back on Nov. 15. 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.
On the win – “We limited mistakes. We were able to make enough plays. Our physical disposition was good tonight, it was not good last night in Charlotte. It was just a very competitive game from start to finish. There was a lot of attitude in the game, which is great. We were able to get out of here alive. It’s a great win for us after a very disappointing night last night. (On Dallas’ defense) Everything was different. It wasn’t that we didn’t respect Charlotte, it’s that we had such great respect for Indiana. We knew we were going to have to play at a super high level.”
On the defense – “The defenses tonight were unbelievable. Both teams were in the thirties with their shooting. We knew it was going to be a physical battle. Last night (in Charlotte) they got whatever they wanted and Coach got on us pretty good this morning and I thought we responded tonight. The Pacers have a physical front line but we knew if we rebounded with them and defended, that it would put us in a position to win the game. If the Pacers aren’t the best defensive team in the league, they are definitely one of them. They are long at every position and they are difficult to score on with Roy Hibbert back there. I thought Monta (Ellis) did a good job in the fourth quarter by continuing to attack them. I can’t remember a time where we won a game shooting 36 percent. Every shot and every catch was contested. It was probably the most physical game I’ve been in in a long time. I thought Shawn (Marion) did a great job on Paul George. Usually we win when we outscore people. But tonight we showed we could win a different way.”
On the physical nature of the game – “The Pacers are a defensive minded team. We knew we need to be aggressive, we knew we needed to be physical. We knew the kind of game we were walking into tonight. We knew we needed to give great effort, not like last night against the Bobcats. That was a rough one. Everyone stepped up to the plate tonight and was ready to fight and do battle.”