Game 47: Mavs vs. Wizards

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 98, Wizards 75

Harison Barnes gets a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Mavericks get the win over the Wizards, 98-75.

Game 46: Mavs at Trail Blazers

Yogi reminisces in Portland

Yogi Ferrell looks back on the last time he played in Portland, where he went off for nine three-pointers!

Mavs know they’ll need to hit first Saturday in Portland after narrow defeat at Denver

DALLAS — Despite rallying back from a 23-point deficit to pull within one during the final minute of Tuesday’s 105-102 loss at Denver, the Dallas Mavericks know it was a missed opportunity to claim a coveted road win after putting themselves in an uphill climb.

The Mavericks (15-30) outscored the Nuggets during the fourth quarter, 33-19, led by rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. posting 11 of his 25 points in the final period. The Mavs also trailed by just one at 103-102 after Smith’s driving three-point play with 10.4 seconds remaining. Still, despite the valiant comeback, the Mavericks know they’ll have to avoid putting themselves in that position Saturday night on the road against the Portland Trail Blazers.

“We already know we’re going to come back, but we shouldn’t have been in that situation,” Mavs veteran swingman Wesley Matthews proclaimed before playing his former team. “[The Nuggets] are a good team, and [Denver] is obviously a tough environment to play in, but we did what we were supposed to do. I wish we could have taken care of business a little earlier in the game and not make it so close, but they’re a good team. We’ve got to be better come Saturday.”

Since capturing four straight wins from Dec. 26-31, the Mavericks have dropped five out of seven games by a combined 19 points. Nine of their last 12 games have also been decided by five points or less, going 6-6 during that span. That trend could continue if the Mavs find themselves in another dogfight in the fourth quarter Saturday night during their first matchup of the season with the Trail Blazers (24-21). But according to Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes, it’s imperative that his team gets off to a better start in order to avoid another narrow defeat.

The Mavericks have been outscored in the first quarter during six of their last seven games by a total of 211-171. The outcome has been a 2-5 record during that stretch, falling by an average of 3.8 points in the five losses. That said, the Mavs can credit their sluggish starts to games for their recent slide. And as Barnes points out, the Mavericks will need to come out aggressively to capture a win Saturday night.

“I mean, it’s realizing that, although we can fight back, we always can’t get the lead and just can’t get the win. So, it’s about starting the game out the right way,” Barnes explained. “We obviously have had a lot of different lineups in. But as a group with the starting unit, we’ve just got to do a better job of starting out the game the right way, holding down the fort and setting the tone.

“I mean, one way to look at it is we’re in a lot of close games, and we just can’t get over the hump. The other way to look at it is we’re 15-30, so I think the biggest thing we have to do is we just have to convert late-game,” he added. “Whether it’s defensive execution or offensive execution, I think we’ve won and lost games down the stretch almost every imaginable way. So, I think collectively it’s our starts. I think that’s where it’s happening. The starts in the first (quarter) and the starts in the third (quarter). It’s not always what happens late-game.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Portland for Saturday’s matchup against the Trail Blazers. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Jan. 22 against the Washington Wizards. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 113-99 road win on Nov. 7. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

J.J. Barea (left groin strain) — day-to-day
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

For Dirk Nowitzki, finishing games has come secondary to Mavs’ young core getting crunch-time minutes

DALLAS — Although he admits that not being out on the court during crunch time for the Dallas Mavericks is something he’s yet to get accustom to, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki has willingly sacrificed his playing time late in games to allow the team to develop its young contributors.

This season, Nowitzki is averaging just 12.2 points per game, which is his lowest total since his rookie year during the 1998-99 campaign. He’s also shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 41.2 percent from beyond the three-point line. However, with his fourth-quarter playing time limited to allow the Mavericks’ young contributors to gain experience, Nowitzki has been rendered to being the team’s lead cheerleader late in games. And while he admits that it’s been an adjustment, the 20-year veteran says he’s taken on a different role to help the franchise move forward in seasons to come.

“You know, it’s different. I mean, the new timeout rule hurts it a little bit, ’cause you used to have a million timeouts down the stretch, and you could just score one and get out. If they scored, then get out or get in. It’s just not happening anymore. It’s a little more free-flowing. You don’t have as many timeouts down the stretch, and it’s usually better for us to have a defensive lineup out there with Dwight (Powell) or Maxi (Kleber) some,” Nowitzki explained. “Usually teams all go small nowadays, especially down the stretch, and there’s five shooters out there, a lot of pick-and-rolls, and we feel like we need a little more mobile guy out there. And at times where there is a timeout, I’ll come back in and maybe spread the floor to help the guys score. But I’ve just been supporting the guys and trying to help them get the job done to get some wins.

“I mean, we’re losing, so most of the time it’s obviously hard to watch. I wish we’d be winning more, but we haven’t been great down the stretch. We’ve got to find ways to get the big stops. … And of course, it’s tough.”

This season, the 39-year-old Nowitzki is averaging 6.0 minutes in the fourth quarter, scoring 3.2 points per outing in the period on 49.1 percent shooting from the field and 41.2 percent from three-point range. According to NBA.com, that’s drastically down from the Mavericks’ 2010-11 title season when Nowitzki averaged 6.4 points on 49.8 percent shooting and 33.3 percent from three in 9.3 minutes per outing during the fourth quarter. That trend is likely to continue, coach Rick Carlisle admits, as the Mavericks (15-30) try to develop their young core. However, Carlisle also adds that Nowitzki could see additional time in the fourth period if the Mavs’ young contributors continue to struggle closing games.

“Well, you know, he can be (out there). A lot of it depends on situational matchups. You know, in our present situation, in many ways I feel it’s important for our young guys to experience these kinds of situations and go through it,” Carlisle confessed. “I’m very careful about extending his minutes, playing him crazy amounts of minutes in games where we quite frankly have to look at our overall picture and have to look at developing these young guys. Now, if the young guys just aren’t playing well, there’s going to be other guys in there. … But those guys need to go through it, learn and get better.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Portland for Saturday’s matchup against the Trail Blazers. The game will tip off at 9 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Jan. 22 against the Washington Wizards. Dallas leads the season series 1-0 after a 113-99 road win on Nov. 7. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

J.J. Barea (left groin strain) — out
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

Game 45: Mavs at Nuggets

Game 44: Mavs vs. Lakers

Harrison Barnes beginning to relish role as Mavs’ go-to closer down stretch

DALLAS — Putting the Dallas Mavericks on his back Wednesday night and lifting them to a hard-fought 115-111 victory in Charlotte, versatile forward Harrison Barnes continued to show he’s able and more than willing to carry the team down the stretch of games.

Scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter, including a stretch of nine straight Dallas points at one point, Barnes finished a 9-of-13 shooting night with 25 points and 11 rebounds. He also lifted the Mavericks (15-28) to a second straight win to complete a difficult home-road back-to-back. And according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, the 25-year-old Barnes once again showed why he’s taken the torch from 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki as the team’s No. 1 option late in games.

“[Barnes] closed the game. I mean, he was absolutely brilliant,” Carlisle proclaimed while praising the forward’s late-game execution. “He hit on a variety of shots — twos, threes, drives. And look, that’s what great players do. I was real proud of him. You know, he had a pretty good rhythm going all night, and we just needed to get the ball in his hands.

“He’s the guy that’s going to be that guy,” the coach added. “You know, he’s going to be involved in some kind of action. He’s either going to touch the ball, or he’s going to be a key screener and probably touch the ball. Look, he’s had a year and a half of this now. Last year was a good initiation for him on a team that had struggles, had injuries and a tough schedule early. He was really thrown into the fire early and learned a lot about what it’s all about. But don’t forget he’s a former starter on a championship team, and he was a great player in college. This shouldn’t surprise anybody.”

Last season, Barnes produced a career campaign after spending his first four years with the Golden State Warriors. He also came into his own after inking a reported four-year deal worth $94 million that summer during free agency.

With Nowitzki sidelined for 25 of the Mavericks’ first 30 games during the 2016-17 schedule due to a nagging right Achilles strain, Barnes averaged a team-high and career-best 19.2 points per game while connecting on 46.8 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from beyond the three-point arc. He also clocked a career-high 35.5 minutes per outing, playing in the team’s first 79 games before being shut down for the remainder of the season. Barnes led the Mavs in scoring 37 times last season after doing so with Golden State just six times in 307 games, posting seven 30-point performances in ’16-17 after just one such outing during his first four years. He’s since picked up where left off at this season, averaging a team-high 18.8 points, career-best 6.7 rebounds and career-high 2.1 assists per game while suiting up in all of the Mavs’ 43 outings thus far. And as Wednesday night demonstrated, Nowitzki believes Barnes has emerged as the team’s top closer late in games.

“Well, that was already obvious for us last year. We run everything basically down the stretch through him,” Nowitzki said while praising Barnes’ late-game closing abilities.

“You know, down the stretch when we need a bucket, usually we put it in Harrison’s hands. And he was fantastic (Wednesday night),” Nowitzki added. “I mean, his three ball was on, his midrange and his post-up game. He was fantastic.”

Operating as the team’s closer has been a process for Barnes, going from a role player with the Warriors to the No. 1 option in Dallas. However, it’s a role Barnes now says he’s beginning to relish.

Barnes is averaging 2.3 points and ranks just 45th in the NBA in clutch situations this season, which measures the last five minutes of a game that’s decided by five points or less. He’s also shooting 49 percent from the field in those situations and 37.5 percent from three-point range, leading the Mavs to a 7-21 record under those circumstances. Still, as Wednesday night showed, Barnes is ready for the big moment when his team needs him most. And according to Barnes, he’s gradually progressed into a better closer for the Mavericks throughout this season.

“You know, I liked the matchup with (Frank) Kaminsky. I just tried to be aggressive and attack the rim,” Barnes said while summing up Wednesday night. “Once I saw a few shots drop, I was kind of in a rhythm after that. Coach [Carlisle] kept going to me, and I was able to convert.

“It’s been a journey,” Barnes candidly added. “I’ve fallen short in that capacity a lot more times than I’ve come through, so I definitely have an appreciation seeing both sides. But I’m just thankful, like I said, for the trust. I mean, to have teammates and coaches work with you, take the time, help you understand angles and help you understand which shots to get to. In those situations, you’re probably not going to get a layup, so that’s one thing I’ve had to do. But just figuring out how to get enough space and how to get a clean look, I think that’s the progression for me. I feel like I’ve improved at that this season.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Los Angeles Lakers. The game will tip off at 1 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

Injury updates:

Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

Game 43: Mavs at Hornets

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 115, Hornets 111

Harrison Barnes scores 25 points with 11 rebounds to top Kemba Walker's 41-point output, as the Mavericks edge Charlotte, 115-111.

Game 42: Mavs vs. Magic

GAME RECAP: Mavericks 114, Magic 99

Dennis Smith Jr. drops 20 points and grabs seven rebounds to help lead the Mavericks to a 114-99 win over the Magic.