Pacers vs. MavericksDevin Harris and Monta Ellis each scored 20 points against Indiana as the Mavs earned consecutive wins over a quality opponent Sunday night.
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DALLAS — After avoiding a fourth straight loss with a much-needed 103-98 home win over Portland on Friday, the Dallas Mavericks again faced a stiff challenge two days later as the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers came to town.
Looking to replicate an 81-73 road win back on Feb. 12, the Mavericks returned to their home floor hopeful to send the Pacers to a fourth straight defeat of their own. Meanwhile, the Mavs tried to build momentum before playing their next three outings on the road.
And behind a balanced performance the Mavericks (38-26) continued to trend in the right direction, sweeping the season series with the Eastern power after a 105-94 victory.
“In these two games we’ve run the gamut of virtually everything,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after claiming back-to-back wins. “You know, the early big lead, losing the entire lead, getting down, fighting back and having the character to fight back being down seven in the fourth against Portland. Tonight, this is a top-two team in the league. But we did it by keeping a real even and strong disposition and we were tied together very well collectively. We had great chemistry tonight. Guys were encouraging each other and helping each other, and that’s what it’s going to take.”
Jumping out to a 24-5 run to open Friday’s game, the Mavericks again looked to get off to a fast start. Center Samuel Dalembert would ensure the Mavs did just that, leading the charge as the Mavs jumped out to a 14-4 run from the opening tipoff. However, behind Pacers guard Lance Stephenson, the visitors would charge back. Still, with a boost from their bench, the Mavs took a 30-18 advantage into the second period.
Holding the Pacers (46-17) to just 7-of-18 shooting in the first quarter, the Dallas defense continued to scramble as the second stanza got underway. Meanwhile, the Mavs’ reserves began to have their way against the Pacers’ second unit.
But Stephenson would return to the court and single-handedly keep the visiting Pacers in the game. And with 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki struggling to find an offensive rhythm, the Mavs took just a 48-45 edge into the halftime intermission after leading by as many as 17.
With Stephenson on a tear and scoring 18 points through the first two quarters on 7-of-8 shooting, the Mavs found themselves outshot at the midway mark, 50 percent to 42.6 percent. To compound things, Nowitzki struggled through a 2-of-8 first half, stagnating Dallas’ offensive attack.
“I thought we set a great tone tonight again, taking the lead early, scrambling for each other and rotating on defense. That usually sets us up for a decent game. Even though they came right back in it, I thought our activity was great,” Nowitzki explained.
With Pacers point guard George Hill draining a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, the Mavs quickly found themselves in a dogfight. The Pacers soon took their first lead of the night at 52-50 on Paul George’s three-point play, only to see the All-Star swingman have to sit a short time later after picking up his fourth foul of the night.
The Mavs then seized the momentum back behind starting 2-guard Monta Ellis and reserve Devin Harris. And with Nowitzki coming alive, the Mavericks took a 76-71 lead into the fourth.
With second-year standout Jae Crowder ruled out the rest of the way due to an abdominal strain, the Mavericks needed to make an extra effort to keep the Pacers at bay. Sixth man Vince Carter’s hustle play for an offensive rebound would provide just that spark, leading to a 3-pointer by point guard Jose Calderon to lift the Mavs to an 84-75 lead while forcing an Indiana timeout with 8:56 left to play.
“Just trying to win the game,” Carter modestly said of the sequence. “I just love the game and just trying to do whatever it takes by doing my job for the team. That was a big possession for us, and we got something out of it.”
Still, Stephenson would stay on the attack, bringing the Pacers within two before Harris’ and-one score to settle the Mavs and make it 92-87 with 4:17 remaining. The Dallas defense took it from there, stringing together stops before Ellis’ back-to-back daggers lifted the Mavs to a 102-92 lead with 56.0 seconds remaining.
Harris’ 3-pointer off the feed from Ellis then gave the Mavericks all the breathing room they’d need the rest of the way, finishing the final 33.8 ticks with Nowitzki resting on the bench en route to the win.
Matching Ellis for team-high honors with 20 points off the bench, Harris finished a 6-of-9 shooting performance by hitting four of his six 3-point attempts. Harris also dished out five assists and collected four steals, providing the Mavs with perimeter play at both ends of the floor.
“Myself and Monta were able to get to the paint and score or create opportunities for other people,” Harris explained. “We pretty much could pick our poison — whether that was a short pass out to the big guys or kick out for threes — and we caused a lot of havoc at the end of the night.”
Nowitzki finished with 14 points 3-of-14 shooting and forward Shawn Marion added 12 points in the first unit. Meanwhile, Calderon and Carter pitched in 10 points apiece to give the Mavs six scorers in double figures.
“There’s nights like this, but the team picked me up,” Nowitzki confessed. “They were fantastic. … I thought it was a great team effort overall.”
George led four Pacers in double figures with 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting. The Pacers also outshot the Mavs as a team, 47.8 percent to 44.4 percent, but couldn’t overcome Dallas’ 26 points off 21 Indiana turnovers, a 42-41 rebounding edge and 41-4 advantage in bench scoring.
“Tonight, we played a solid game,” Carlisle said while summing up the win. “They made runs, we had some shotmaking droughts, which is going to happen, but we were real tired together and that’s what it’s got to be.”
“Everybody is locked in,” Carter concluded. “Everybody is really on board and giving their all with their minutes on the court. That’s all we can ask.”
Note: The Mavericks will now play their next three games on the road, touching down in Oakland, Calif., for Tuesday’s matchup against the Golden State Warriors. The season series is tied at 1-1. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return to action at American Airlines Center next Monday, hosting the Boston Celtics. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 102-91 road win back on Feb. 9. 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.
|Paul George, F||30||8-14||2-5||9-9||2||9||11||2||0||0||1||4||-8||27|
|David West, F||32||2-9||0-0||4-6||2||5||7||3||1||0||4||3||-3||8|
|Roy Hibbert, C||37||6-9||0-0||2-2||3||2||5||0||0||1||4||4||-14||14|
|Lance Stephenson, G||36||8-10||3-3||2-2||1||4||5||3||2||0||6||4||-3||21|
|George Hill, G||38||7-16||2-5||4-6||2||3||5||3||2||0||1||3||2||20|
|Shawn Marion, F||34||6-9||0-0||0-0||1||2||3||2||0||2||0||3||-4||12|
|Dirk Nowitzki, F||35||3-14||1-4||7-7||1||7||8||1||2||0||3||0||19||14|
|Samuel Dalembert, C||18||4-9||0-0||0-0||4||4||8||0||0||0||2||5||-3||8|
|Monta Ellis, G||38||6-16||0-2||8-9||2||6||8||2||1||0||1||2||2||20|
|Jose Calderon, G||30||4-8||2-5||0-0||1||2||3||7||0||0||1||2||-7||10|
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Calderon to DalembertJose Calderone throws the alley-oop to Samuel Dalembert for the big dunk.
Block and BreakShawn Marion gets the shot block and it leads to a Monta Ellis bucket on the Mavericks break.
DALLAS – After ending their own three-game losing streak with a valiant performance, the Dallas Mavericks will try to keep the Indiana Pacers from snapping their current three-game skid. Looking to build on Friday’s 103-98 home win over Portland, the Mavericks (37-26) will try to continue the Pacers’ season-worst slide. However, after heading into the All-Star break with an 81-73 victory on the Pacers’ home floor back on Feb. 12, the Mavs know they face a daunting task while attempting to keep the Eastern Conference power from returning the favor Sunday at American Airlines Center. “They didn’t play their best game,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of the first meeting between the two teams. “You know, they’re coming off some consecutive losses here, so they’re going to be loaded up and ready. We know that, and so we’re going to have to be the same. That’s the bottom line.” Showing they can win a physical affair on the road back in that February meeting, the Mavericks will again be prepared for a dogfight as the East-leading Pacers (46-16) come to town. Meanwhile, the Mavs will again try to exceed Indiana’s physicality as the two teams pick back up where they left off at following a playoff-like showdown the first time around. The Mavericks held All-Star swingman Paul George to just 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Perhaps more importantly, the Dallas defense held the Pacers to their lowest-scoring outing and worst field-goal percentage of the season. The Mavs will try to duplicate that performance Sunday, looking to improve their playoff positioning as they enter the night in the eighth spot of the Western Conference standings. “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,” 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after holding the Pacers to 32.1 percent shooting. “We showed that we can battle them and play good defense.” “I think defensively we were on a string,” sixth man Vince Carter added, “and that’s what we’re going to have to do. They’re still one of the best in the NBA, not even in the East, so we know we still have a challenge. It doesn’t matter how they’ve been playing. They’re still good enough to win games.” Note: The Mavericks return to action at American Airlines Center Sunday, hosting the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after an 81-73 road win back on Feb. 12. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
Mavericks Head Coach Rick Carlisle
What did you like best about Devin Harris’ performance tonight?
“What was not to like? He was active defensively, he was hitting shots, making plays and he brings an extra dimension to our guard rotation. I thought all of our guards played well. But he stood out because he had the ball a lot, and he made good decisions and timely plays at both ends all night.”
(Has Devin been working on his 3-point shot?)
“He has and this is kind of the second phase of his come back. He’s gone through about six weeks of being able to play in games and work on rhythm and conditioning and this is like his second wind. He’s starting to feel better, and he’s working hard. He comes in and shoots at night, and he’s putting the work in and it is obviously paying off.”
With Dirk going 3-for-14, how much did you need everyone else to step up?
“We needed everybody, particularly with our foul situation in the Center spot. I thought Blair gave us real valuable minutes even though his stats aren’t gaudy, he was a physical presence, and he was active. Sam played well. He got a couple of marginal foul calls, but he was erring on the side of aggression, which is good. Wright filled in and did some good things when he was in there. So that position is a depth position and we need all of those guys.”
On the team’s developing character
“We’ve responded well to the debacle on Wednesday night. That was very disappointing. We put up very little resistance against Denver. If we play like that, collectively, we’ll get our butts kicked, like Bella Thorne (from Disney’s Shake it Up) in an arm wrestling contest. This is where we’ve got to be. Tonight we played a solid game. They (Indiana) made runs, we had some shot-making drops, which is going to happen. But we were real tied together, and that’s what it’s got to be.”
“We really responded after losing those three in a row. We needed to get back on track starting with the last game. Obviously, we started off well and ended well, but had some trouble in between, and we had to fight throughout the game.”
“We were getting a little bit of space on our screen, so it created a little separation. Myself and Monta were able to get to the paint and score or create opportunities for other people. We pretty much could pick our poison, whether that was a short pass out to the big guys or kick out for threes, and we caused a lot of havoc at the end of the night.”
On his shooting…
“It was very frustrating. It was good to see a couple go in. I really needed that last game to boost my confidence a little bit and figure out what I’m doing out there. I feel like I’ve got a good feel; I’ve just got to keep it going.”