The Fast Break: Mavs at Grizzlies

Final: Mavs 95, Grizzlies 94

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

The Mavericks won the third quarter by 19 points, their best point differential in a third quarter since Nov. 28, 2015 against the Nuggets. That night, Dallas outscored Denver 25-5 in the third quarter of a home win.

The Mavs have now won three consecutive third quarters by nine points, 12 points, and 19 points.

It should be noted that Dennis Smith Jr. played every crunch-time minute in this game. The rook had a much smoother performance tonight than against the longer, more athletic Boston defense. Credit to the 19-year-old for bouncing back and producing in this one.

Notebook

  • How ’bout this?


  • This game was a tale of two halves. Memphis was the more energetic team in the first half and the Mavs couldn’t make their open shots, leading to a pretty bleak 56-39 score at the break. But then the third quarter came around; typically the Mavs’ Achilles heel became their greatest strength tonight. Dallas was a different team after halftime, playing with energy on defense and in transition, chasing down 50/50 balls, and attacking the rim. It was the complete opposite of the team’s first-half performance and continued their run of strong second-half play ever since the Minnesota game.

  • Harrison Barnes was a bad man tonight. After his potential game-winner rolled off the rim at the end of regulation against Boston on Monday night, Barnes admitted he’s got to do better as a closer. Barnes has actually been one of the more efficient crunch-time players in the league this season — by field goal percentage at least — but of course he’s going to be critical of himself after that shot rimmed out in a tough loss. He more than made up for it tonight, though, hitting a couple big shots late in the game to keep the Mavs in front, including the game-winner of course. Barnes finished with 22 points and nine rebounds.

  • Dennis Smith Jr. got off to another tough start from the field, but he was huge in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers and generally just running the offense better. This was Smith’s third meeting with the Grizzlies this season, so by now the opponent had a pretty thorough scouting report on his strengths and weaknesses. Things were difficult at the beginning. But whatever happened or was said at halftime seemed to light a fire under Smith, and he came out in the third quarter a completely different player: way more confident, way less hesitant. That’s the kind of player Dallas hopes he can be every night.

  • This win brought along a couple teachable moments. For starters, Dallas missed a few free throws in the closing seconds that would have completely changed the complexion of the game. Instead of Smith taking a shot to win with 10 seconds left, the Mavs would have been taking free throws to ice the game, for example. And Smith’s game-winner attempt probably came a few seconds too early, leaving enough time for the Grizzlies to go the other way and score to go ahead. But hey, the Mavs still won the game. Everyone feels great, and they should. When they go back and watch the film of that last minute, they’ll know there’s a happy ending on the other side of that rough patch. This is going to benefit them going forward.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (4-15) will play the Oklahoma City Thunder (7-9) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Celtics

    Final: Celtics 110, Mavs 102

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks won the third quarter by 12 points, 28-16. The +12 differential was the Mavs’ highest gap in the third quarter all season, and highest since Feb. 15, 2017.

    Wesley Matthews recorded four steals tonight, the most in a game by any Maverick this season and his most since swiping four on Dec. 14, 2016.

    This was the first time either team played in overtime this season.

    The last time the Celtics lost a game, the Mavs had a 0-0 record. Dallas’ home opener had barely begun.

    Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes is becoming pretty good. Tonight was one of those games as a go-to guy where you can impose your will on a defense. Barnes was magnificent in the third quarter, as the Mavs repeatedly forced Kyrie Irving to switch onto the bigger Barnes in the high-post. That led to a lot of drives and free throw attempts and really propelled the +12 third quarter. Brad Stevens is a smart fella, though, so when the fourth quarter began he slid Irving over to the Mavs’ off-guard and put the longer Jaylen Brown on Dennis Smith Jr., so anytime the Celtics would switch Barnes would still have a longer wing on him. That’s good coaching, and it took away what had been an easy play for Dallas. This is the kind of game you want to see from an emerging go-to player. He won his initial matchup convincingly and forced the defense to adjust. Barnes finished with a season-high-tying 31 points.

  • This morning, Wesley Matthews talked about the importance of random movement on offense leading to better, in-rhythm looks. That might not make much sense, but think about it this way: When you as the offensive player is moving randomly and not within the confines of a set play, the defender can’t anticipate the next move. Scouting is so advanced in this league that most teams know every other team’s set plays by heart. It’s tough to beat a five-man unit that knows exactly what you’re doing. When you incorporate random movement, as Rick Carlisle put it, your players are reacting instead of thinking. They take the open shot when it’s there and cut to the open spot when they see it instead of sticking to the script. It benefited Matthews’ game tonight; he hit four 3-pointers.

  • Here’s your feel-good highlight of the game: J.J. Barea was fouled attempting a 3-pointer and fell down. His entire team ran over to help him up.

    That might seem hokey or unnecessary but I assure you the Mavs coaches will be smile when they see that on the film tomorrow. Everyone is engaged and playing together and that reflected itself in the intensity and final scoreline against the best team in the league right now.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (3-15) will play the Memphis Grizzlies (7-8) on Wednesday at FexEx Forum at 7 p.m. Central.

  • J.J. Barea receives October NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente

    Inside Stuff: Puerto Rico’s Son, J.J. Barea

    Kristen Ledlow sits down with Puerto Rico native J.J. Barea to talk about how he and the Dallas Mavericks are helping hurricane relief efforts in his homeland.

    NEW YORK, Nov. 20, 2017 – Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea has received the October NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente in recognition of his continuous relief efforts in Puerto Rico following devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, the NBA announced today. The award recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities.

    Kaiser Permanente and the NBA are honoring Barea for his work to immediately initiate aid for Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. Coordinating five trips to the territory where he was born and raised, Barea used the Mavericks’ team plane, with help from owner Mark Cuban, to personally deliver much-needed supplies in the days after the hurricane. Working with partners in North Texas, Barea has provided more than 100,000 pounds of supplies to the island, including 32 generators, 14,000 pounds of water, 10,000 pounds of food and 3,000 pounds of medical supplies, diapers, clothing, cleaning products and toiletries on the first trip alone.

    Barea also launched a fundraiser on YouCaring.com for families affected by the hurricane that has raised more than $250,000, and personally raised nearly $500,000. Additionally, he worked with the Mavericks to donate 100 percent of all single-game ticket sales from their Oct. 25 game against the Memphis Grizzlies to Puerto Rico, generating an additional $114,000 for the island’s recovery.

    “Puerto Rico is such a small island and I think help is going to be needed there for at least the next year, maybe longer,” said Barea. “This effort is something I will carry with me forever, and anything I can do to help people put things back in order is a must for me.”

    Before the Mavericks’ home game against the Boston Celtics tonight, NBA Cares Ambassador Bob Lanier will present the award to Barea during an oncourt ceremony. In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 to the J.J. Barea Foundation.

    The NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. To learn more, please visit http://www.nba.com/communityassist/.

    About Kaiser Permanente
    Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, Kaiser Permanente has a mission to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 11.8 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal Permanente Medical Group physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: kp.org/share.

    The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Bucks

    Final: Mavs 111, Bucks 79

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Dirk Nowitzki opened up the second quarter by draining a corner 3-pointer, the 1,800th of his career. He’s the 14th player in NBA history to reach that milestone, and by far the tallest.

    Speaking of 3-pointers, Wesley Matthews hit a lot of them in this game. Matthews drained six treys, his 10th game with at least as many for the Mavericks. That’s second-most in franchise history (George McCloud, 15). Matthews also dished out eight assists, which ties for his most in a game since joining the Mavs.

    The Mavs have now won 10 of their last 11 games against the Bucks, including three straight.

    Notebook

  • Very early in the third quarter, Rick Carlisle turned to his veteran guards to stop what was beginning to be another rough third quarter. To be fair, J.J. Barea and Devin Harris earned their minutes tonight, as both played well defensively and both were making 3s. Barea had a great bounce-back game after his 2-of-9 outing last night. Those two just have such a soothing presence on the offense and find ways to keep everyone involved. Carlisle has said lately that he’s willing to try everything to help his team get a win, and tonight that meant subbing out starters extremely quickly. It certainly helped the results. Hopefully now that the Mavs have ended their losing streak, everyone can take a deep breath, relax, and get back at it. They won’t have a long respite between now and Monday’s date with the Celtics, who are riding a 15-game winning streak, but winning is sure to make everyone feel good. The Mavs earned it tonight.

  • The other side of Carlisle going with the vets: Dennis Smith Jr. was the player who got replaced. The rook had a rough second half last night and a tough first half again tonight, and that carried over to the beginning of the third quarter. When Carlisle sat him, it seemed like he wanted Smith to show some more energy on both sides of the ball. A minute or so after Smith checked back in, the Mavs called timeout and ran the ol’ “Roddy Oop” out of the timeout.

    That seemed to get Smith going. For two straight possessions to close the third quarter, Smith was electric on defense, blocking one shot and then stealing the ball the next time down.

    There’s no way around it: Losing is tough. Carlisle has said he’s made a big point to stay positive himself and to try to keep his players staying positive, but at times it can be tough to do that, especially for the younger guys who haven’t yet had a taste of winning — or, really, even an 82-game season. Some nights you won’t have a jumper or you might have a tough assignment (Eric Bledsoe ain’t easy to score on) but, as Mark Cuban says, the one thing in life you can control is effort. This isn’t to say Smith wasn’t trying in other games, but those two plays he made at the end of the third quarter are all effort. If he can make a few of those every night, that’s absolutely going to help his team win games. It was nice to see him respond to a tough situation in a positive way.

  • Salah Mejri continues to play harder than just about anyone else on this team. That guy flies around all over the place virtually every possession, whether he’s gliding from defense to offense to beat his man down the floor…

    …Or soaring in from out of nowhere to chase down and block the Greek Freak.

    Love that guy’s energy.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (3-14) will play the Boston Celtics (15-2) on Monday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • Antonius Cleveland ‘thankful’ Mavs brought him in, already getting to work

    It was a whirlwind 24-hour cycle for new Maverick Antonius Cleveland, a period that began with inking his first NBA contract and ended with him defending Andrew Wiggins during a meaningful stretch of a game.

    Cleveland, 23, signed with the Mavs on Friday afternoon and took the floor that night, checking into the game for the final possession of the third quarter to defend Wiggins, who took the inbound pass and ended up losing the ball before getting a chance to shoot it, thanks in part to Cleveland’s pressure.

    The rookie came a long way geographically to get to Dallas — joining the NBA squad via a two-way contract from the G League’s Santa Cruz Warriors — but in basketball terms he came even further: The 6-foot-6 Cleveland stood at just 5-foot-8 as a junior in high school. He grew six inches by the end of his senior year but had to spend a year at prep school to hone his skills before settling in (and continuing to grow) at Southeast Missouri State, where he spent four years playing college ball in the Ohio Valley Conference. Now he’s in the NBA.

    “It’s more of a humbling experience,” he said. “Everything feels so surreal right now. Everything’s just setting in. But I’m definitely thankful for the Mavericks organization for believing in me and bringing me in.”

    Cleveland broke his finger at the end of his senior season so he was unable to participate in the Portsmouth Invitational, a camp mostly for upperclassmen and mid-major standouts to make their case for the NBA in front of scouts from across the league. But his 6-foot-11 wingspan and soaring vertical — he doesn’t know exactly how high he can jump, because when he tried to measure it he cleared the rack — caught the eye of the Golden State Warriors, who invited him to camp before waiving and sending him to the G League affiliate. Before that, he played for the Trail Blazers in the summer league.

    With Santa Cruz, Cleveland averaged 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.3 steals in six games off the bench. Combined with his athleticism, those numbers were certain to catch the eye of NBA execs. Cleveland was aware he was establishing himself, but was surprised his call-up came so soon.

    “I felt as if I was playing pretty well down in Santa Cruz, but definitely not this early,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything this early but I knew if I kept it up, good things would come.”

    If he was surprised to even make an NBA team, it had to be jaw-dropping when he found out he’d be playing the same day he signed. Cleveland admitted he was starstruck when he met Dirk Nowitzki for the first time, but otherwise he got right to work with the Mavs coaching staff to learn as much of the playbook as possible. Before and after his pregame media session, he was watching film of the Mavs offense to cram as much knowledge as possible into his mind as quickly as possible.

    Dallas doesn’t necessarily need Cleveland’s offense, though, at least not right now. With Dorian Finney-Smith out “a while,” per Rick Carlisle, the Mavs desperately needed a longer player who could defend opposing 3s and 4s. That’s where the rook can contribute right away. Any offense is a bonus at this point.

    “I’m trying to learn as much of the playbook as I can, but on the defensive end I feel like that’s where I want to contribute and help,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s just basketball as well. The coaches have been preaching to me on my first day that it’s just basketball, at the end of the day.”

    Cleveland will likely get into the game again tonight, and this test will be even tougher than checking Wiggins. The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the front-runner for the MVP right now, and there’s a pretty good chance that Cleveland will have to defend him. His first 24 hours in the league might prove to be easier than Day 2, but Cleveland will be up for the challenge all the same.

    The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Timberwolves

    Final: Wolves 111, Mavs 87

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    With a made bucket at the 11:45 mark of the second quarter, Dirk Nowitzki (10,751) moved past Hakeem Olajuwon into eighth place on the all-time career made field goals list.

    The Mavericks allowed just 43 points in the first half, a new season-low. The previous lowest was 44, done three times.

    Notebook

  • This was a tale of two halves in many ways for rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. and his team. The Mavericks took a 55-43 lead into the break thanks in large part to Smith’s play, but then the third quarter reared its ugly head and the offense took a turn for the worse. On the positive side, the ball was flying all over the place in the first half and a lot of that has to do with how Smith was willing to share the ball. Dallas is at its best when the ball doesn’t stick and instead finds itself in the hands of players at every position in all areas of the floor. On two occasions, Smith was able to use a downhill attack to open things up for a shooter. First, he drove it and forced the defense to collapse before finding Wesley Matthews.

    Then, for the first time his rim-running off the ball created some gravity to pull Harrison Barnes’ defender into the paint and leave Barnes open for 3.

    Typically only a big man will have such an extreme effect on a help defender when moving toward the rim, but Smith has become a pretty fearsome dunker so it was only a matter of time before defenses started showing him respect in those situations. That’s what worked well for Dallas in the first half.

  • There are still growing pains with Smith — as to be expected for any teenager playing heavy minutes in a position of responsibility at this level — and many of those things showed up in the second half. The Dallas offense slowed down quite a bit after halftime, which hurt the inside-out game that the Mavs thrived on in the first two quarters. It’s much tougher for the Mavs to attack early in the shot clock off a make than it is a miss, and it’s tougher for them to stop the other team off a miss than a make, so that chain presents a problem when shots aren’t falling: The offense isn’t helping the defense, which isn’t helping the offense, which isn’t helping the defense, and so on. The Mavs have to improve in the third quarter. It’s certainly unfair to blame Smith any more than you would blame another player on the roster; Rick Carlisle himself said the entire team is at fault for something like this. Part of Smith’s development is finding ways to continue attacking a defense after the halftime break, during which opposing teams regroup and make adjustments. I suspect as time goes on he’ll improve in that area.

  • In yet another lineup shake-up, Maxi Kleber got the first start of his career, joining the typical core of Smith-Matthews-Barnes-Dirk. Kleber has been a pretty consistent on-off positive for the team most of this season, and frankly he earned more minutes after his performance Tuesday night against San Antonio. Kleber had a pretty quiet night on the stat sheet but sometimes that’s going to happen to you when you go up against a star like Karl-Anthony Towns. It’ll be interesting to see who gets the start tomorrow night against Milwaukee.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-14) will play the Milwaukee Bucks (8-6) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 8 p.m. Central.

  • Mavericks sign Antonius Cleveland to two-way contract; waive Clavell

    Antonius Cleveland 2016-2017 highlights

    Check out highlights from Antonius Cleveland's senior season at Southeast Missouri State!

    DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have signed guard/forward Antonius Cleveland to a two-way contract. In a related move, the Mavericks requested waivers on guard Gian Clavell.

    A native of Memphis, played four seasons at Southeast Missouri State University (2013-17) before going undrafted in 2017. As a senior in 2016-17, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals and 32.9 minutes in 33 games (all starts) for the Redhawks on his way to being named All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team.

    Cleveland played on Portland’s summer league team in 2017 and spent the 2017 preseason with Golden State. He appeared in six games for Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, in 2017-18, averaging 14.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals in 25.9 minutes.

    He will wear number 44 for the Mavericks.

    The 2017-18 season will mark the first year NBA two-way contracts will be implemented. NBA teams are allowed to have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the NBA G League and not more than 45 days with their NBA team.

    Two-way players are paid a corresponding daily amount based on the number of days they play in each league. Only players with four-or-fewer years of NBA experience are able to sign two-way contracts, which can be for either one or two seasons.

    Clavell saw action in seven game for the Mavericks this season averaging 2.9 points and 1.0 rebound in 9.1 minutes per game.

    Mavs believe less dribbling, more ball movement could lead to more efficient offense

    The common theme echoing throughout the Dallas locker room after Tuesday’s 97-91 loss to San Antonio was an acknowledged need to see more ball movement.

    Look through the Mavs’ season game log and you’ll notice one thing: Dallas recorded 26 assists in last week’s win at Washington. That’s the only game since the season opener in which the Mavericks have handed out more than 22 assists. Rick Carlisle’s offense is designed to get players going downhill and forcing the defense to react, leaving either a shooter or a roll man open. But the ball has been prone to sticking on that end of the floor recently, which means there are fewer assist opportunities and more one-on-one basketball.

    Carlisle believes the ball should hit the floor as little as possible on offense. “The dribble has to be used when needed,” he said. Some players — like J.J. Barea, for example — dribble the ball quite a bit but there’s a method to his madness. Barea is a master at kicking off a possession by using the ball-screen and then reading the situation. If he doesn’t like what he sees, he keeps the dribble alive and calls for a re-screen. He repeats until something desirable unfolds.

    That’s a situation where dribbling is more acceptable, because the pick-and-roll is a set that involves two players and leaves open the possibility of a cutter or shooter becoming involved. Too often lately, however, the Mavs have fallen victim to switch-heavy defenses turning the offense into five games of one-on-one.

    Take Saturday’s game against Cleveland, for example, when the Cavs’ shortest starter was 6-foot-5 Iman Shumpert. At all times, the Cavs had no fewer than four players who could freely switch to defend at least three positions, sometimes more. Dallas is a team that wants to target size or speed mismatches, but some teams are able to wipe out those weaknesses by fielding lineups of similarly sized players. The same thing happened the next night in Oklahoma City, where Paul George and Andre Roberson and their massive wingspans were able to keep Dennis Smith Jr. from getting past them. All of this results in grind-it-out possessions featuring a lot of isolation, which the Mavs want to avoid.

    “That’s what happens when teams switch. That’s what they want you to do,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “They want you to slow the game down, get into a lot of one-on-one, shoot step-back jumpers, contested 2s. That’s where the game’s going. A lot of teams are switching now. A lot of teams are playing the same-sized guys — four, five, six, seven 6-9 guys switching everything. We’ve got to get better and attack that. We have shown flashes where we keep moving, cutting, finding open shooters, penetrating and kicking.”

    Switch-heavy defensive units harm two players in particular: Smith and Harrison Barnes. Smith is a 19-year-old rookie point guard with otherworldly athleticism and already a strong feel for the game for such a young player. He’s having to learn a ton on the fly, though — the Mavs have played the most games in the league, so there’s been very little practice time, and 10 of their 15 games have come against teams with winning records — so he simply hasn’t had a lot of time to gain an understanding of what to do when a wing switches on him. He’s already shown that he can blow by most big men, though.

    That’s an easy read for Smith. Pau Gasol is a brilliant player but he’s simply not quick enough to stay in front of the Mavs rookie. But every other team in the league has seen him do this to guys too many times already, so they’re beginning to make adjustments. When Gasol becomes Danny Green, Andre Roberson, or LeBron James, Smith’s read isn’t as easy because those guys are longer than him and also about as athletic. That’s where more practices — and time, in general — will help him.

    “It’s something that we’re working on learning — well, at least me,” Smith said. “I’ve got a lot to learn about that, trying to get into the paint and still not dribble too much. It’s just taking some time. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I’m sure it’ll come around though.”

    Smith, to be fair, scored a career-high 27 points against the Spurs, although many of those points came toward the very end of the game as the Mavs were hoisting shots in a hurry to erase a double-digit lead and San Antonio was backing off. Still, he’s scored at least 15 points in seven straight games and at least 20 in three of his last four. The rookie has come a very long way in a short period of time as a scorer, but his line of six turnovers against two assists reinforces his words: He needs some time to figure it out.

    Barnes, meanwhile, continues to excel at exploiting size mismatches in isolation. He ranks in the 73rd percentile in iso scoring against a switch this season, per Synergy Sports, and last season he ranked in the 83rd percentile, scoring 1.125 points per possession. Smaller players simply aren’t tall enough to challenge his shot, and bigger players aren’t quick enough to stay in front of him. Barnes has developed into the kind of player who can terrorize size mismatches, but — like Smith — he and the Mavs are still finding ways to get him going against longer, switch-heavy teams.

    “The mentality’s still the same,” Barnes said. “You still want to attack. You still want to get to the basket.”

    Between Smith, Barnes, Barea, and Nowitzki, the Mavs have some of the most dangerous players in the league against physical mismatches. But when the opponent can erase those problems by throwing out a ton of wings on the floor, over-dribbling can happen.

    “There has to be balance,” Barnes said. “I think we have guys on this team who can create off the dribble, who are good at that. But at the same time, I understand what (Carlisle is) saying, just in terms of moving, making sure everyone’s touching it, getting a flow to the offense. I think there’s a balance to be had with both. Right now, in trying to get out of this rut, I think we’re trying to figure that out.”

    The Mavericks have shown glimpses of being able to score at will. For stretches of the games against the Wizards and Cavs, especially, Dallas became red-hot and the ball was flying all over the place. It certainly hurts that the team has been without Seth Curry all season and Devin Harris has missed some time, too, which limits the number of playmakers available; much of the ball movement problems can be solved organically with their return. In the meantime, however, the responsibility appears to have fallen on Smith’s and Barnes’ shoulders, as the two players most heavily involved in initiating the downhill movement this offense thrives on. It just so happens that they collectively have fewer than two full seasons worth of experience as featured players on an NBA team, so there’s definitely a learning curve.

    They’re working through it right now, and so are the rest of their teammates. The Mavs recognize the problem and have identified the solution, and with two practices before their next game, they have some time to smooth some things out.

    The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Spurs

    Final: Spurs 97, Mavs 91

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    This was by far the slowest game in terms of possessions the Mavs have played in a while. The Spurs rank toward the bottom in pace and the Mavs aren’t too far ahead of them, so you know when two slower teams meet, the possessions will be few. That means they come at a premium, because you’re not going to get too many chances with the ball. Things like turnovers and allowing offensive rebounds can be even more costly in a game like this

    JJ Barea had been shooting just 2 of 10 on 3-pointers in his last two games before this one, but tonight he shot 3 of 6 to get back on track and bust the slump.

    This was Dennis Smith Jr.’s seventh straight game with at least 15 points. It’s the longest such streak by a Mavs rookie since Jamal Mashburn did it 15 consecutive times from February to March 1994. Keep the team’s rookie record book and an eraser handy, because Smith is going to find his name on more and more all-time franchise lists. He finished with a career-high 27 points tonight.

    Notebook

  • Harrison Barnes has said many times in his years as a Maverick that having to bang with bigs in the post on defense takes a toll on his legs when it comes time to hoist jumpers on offense. You never want to assume, but Barnes’ shooting line tonight makes you wonder if having to defend LaMarcus Aldridge down low affected him on the other end. Make no mistake: Barnes is fully capable of exploiting a quickness advantage against bigger, slower defenders, but the Spurs are so good defensively that as a unit San Antonio is capable of making up for that and still forcing difficult shots. Barnes still managed to break into double-figures and went to the free throw line five times, which was good to see. The good news is there aren’t many teams in the NBA who have the combination of system and personnel that the Spurs do. Most nights, Barnes, has the edge in this kind of matchup.

  • Maxi Kleber got some significant playing time tonight due to the absences of Devin Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith. The German rookie was effective in his time on the floor, too, scoring five points and blocking a shot. He threw down one of the better dunks we’ve seen in the building this season:

    And he soon after followed it up with a blocked shot and another dunk:

    Rick Carlisle said this morning that Finney-Smith will be out “a while,” and while Harris likely won’t miss too much more time, the fact remains that there are wing minutes to be had on this team. If Kleber can continue to be productive, he could be the one to claim that playing time.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-13) will play the Minnesota Timberwolves (8-5) on Friday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.