Game 13: Mavs vs. Cavaliers

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Smith Jr. Dunk

Wesley Matthews steals and dishes to Dennis Smith Jr. for the dunk.

DALLAS — Looking to carry over the success of Tuesday’s 113-99 win at Washington, the Dallas Mavericks found themselves battling rust and the defending Eastern Conference champions at American Airlines Center on Saturday night.

Hoping to build on Tuesday’s wire-to-wire win, the Mavericks tried continue clicking on all cylinders after a lengthy layoff. The Mavs also tried to get the better of four-time MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, looking for a coveted home win to begin a back-to-back that concludes Sunday in Oklahoma City. Instead, the Mavericks (2-11) would compete for 48 minutes before collapsing down the stretch, suffering a hard-fought 111-104 loss in the process.

“I mean, we lost. We had our chances and I thought we fought at times, but we had some bad stretches. We fought through it again and we were right there in the end, but a loss is a loss in this league,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after the defeat.

Attempting to build an early advantage in front of their home crowd, the Mavericks sent out a starting lineup of rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr., second-year standout Yogi Ferrell, swingman Wesley Matthews, leading scorer Harrison Barnes and Nowitzki. Barnes then tried to pick up where he left off at after scoring a season-high 31 points during Tuesday’s win.

Dennis Smith Jr. also continued his strong play after a career-high 22 points, eight rebounds and eight assists during Tuesday’s victory, swishing a three-pointer to give the Mavs a 9-4 start. Ferrell took matters from there, scoring inside before connecting on a three-pointer of his own as the Mavericks built a 14-6 advantage. However, after the Mavs surged ahead by 10, the Cavaliers (6-7) countered with a 13-0 run as big man Kevin Love caught fire from long range. Ten points apiece from Love and J.R. Smith in the first quarter then helped the Cavaliers take a 29-23 lead into the second stanza after Jeff Green’s late triple.

Getting a boost from backup guard Devin Harris off the bench, the Mavericks tried to stage a rally in the second quarter. However, after scoring just two points in the opening quarter, James went on the attack for the Cavaliers to keep the Mavs at bay.

The Mavericks countered with the interior play of backup big man Salah Mejri at the offensive end of the floor. Mejri’s athletic tip-in placed the Mavs back on top from there, giving the home team a 41-40 edge with 3:38 left in the first half. An emphatic slam by Dennis Smith Jr. kept the momentum in the Mavericks’ favor later in the quarter. And behind 22 combined points from the duo of Dennis Smith Jr. and Barnes, the Mavs took a 52-49 edge into the intermission.

Led by 9-of-18 total shooting from Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks’ 47.8 percent from the field as a team bettered the Cavaliers’ 42.1 percent. The Mavs also held a 24-19 rebounding edge, converting the Cavaliers’ 10 turnovers into 10 points to overcome their own eight giveaways in the half.

“I thought early in the first half some of our transition baskets led up to what happened towards the end of the game,” Barnes foreshadowed. “We battled, we competed, but it’s never what happens in those last few minutes that dictate the game. It’s what you do earlier, and unfortunately the deficit that we built we couldn’t really get past it.”

Surrendering the lead after back-to-back Cleveland scores to open the second half, the Mavericks gladly welcomed a three-pointer from Nowitzki to settle them down. Former Mav Jae Crowder and Barnes then exchanged three-point bombs as the two teams traded haymakers in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Love began to take charge again while willing his team back in front on the scoreboard. J.R. Smith and Crowder stepped up their aggression later in the quarter as the Cavaliers opened up a double-digit lead and threatened to pull away. And despite Barnes’ best efforts, the Mavericks faced an 83-74 disadvantage entering the final quarter.

“I think that third quarter is what cost us the game,” Dennis Smith Jr. confessed. “We let them go on a crazy run, and we dug ourselves in a hole that we never got out of.”

Starting the fourth-quarter scoring with a driving basket by veteran reserve guard J.J. Barea, the Mavs tried to make one more charge. But after a three-pointer from sharpshooter Kyle Korver, the Cavaliers assumed an 88-77 lead to force Mavs coach Rick Carlisle into a timeout with 8:58 left to play.

Harris was also ruled out for the remainder of the game due to bruised ribs. Another three from Korver followed a short time later to put the Cavaliers up by 11. But after back-to-back threes from Nowitzki and Matthews to cap a 10-0 run, the Mavericks pulled to within one, 91-90, with 6:43 left to play.

Not to be outdone, Korver quickly answered with a triple of his own to end the Dallas run in its tracks. Crowder’s score inside made the score 96-90 in Cleveland’s favor, forcing Carlisle into another timeout with 5:30 on the game clock. Carlisle then made a lineup switch with Barnes at center, staging a mini spurt after Dennis Smith Jr.’s breakaway slam brought the Mavs within two. A three from Matthews brought the Mavericks even closer, inching the home team within one again at 98-97. Dennis Smith Jr. again tried to bring his team back later in the quarter, finishing an athletic drive before answering James’ monster dunk with a three to make the deficit two, 104-102. However, after two free throws by Korver, the Mavericks burned their final timeout in a four-point hole with 36.8 seconds remaining. And after Dennis Smith Jr.’s miss on a drive at the other end, the Cavaliers padded their lead down the stretch at the free-throw line.

Scoring 23 points on 9-of-19 shooting, Barnes grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Mavericks in a losing effort. Dennis Smith Jr. added 21 points, five rebounds and seven assists in the first unit, and Nowitzki finished with 14 points inside. Matthews pitched in 12 points and six assists to give the Mavs four scorers in double figures.

Love led five Cavaliers in double figures with 29 points on 11 of 19 from the field, grabbing 15 rebounds as well. Meanwhile, James finished a 6-of-14 shooting night with 19 points and 11 boards. The Cavaliers also outshot the Mavs for the game, 43.2 percent to 42.4 percent, adding a 53-42 rebounding advantage to overcome their 17 turnovers.

“We had a lot of good looks that didn’t go down, and a lot of times it turns into a make-or-miss thing,” Carlisle concluded. “Look, our turnovers were low and we got hit on the boards, which hurt us. I thought we overcame a frustrating period where shots weren’t going down, they were getting some calls and they were making some plays. … The effort was great. We’ve just got to continue with that.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Oklahoma City for a matchup Sunday against reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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:

Devin Harris (bruised ribs) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

Cavaliers

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
J. Crowder, SF 34 4-13 1-6 6-6 3 4 7 3 0 0 0 2 9 15
L. James, PF 41 6-14 1-3 6-8 1 10 11 4 0 1 6 3 5 19
K. Love, C 35 11-19 3-5 4-4 4 11 15 3 0 1 1 1 13 29
J. Smith, SG 38 6-14 4-9 1-2 1 2 3 3 2 0 0 2 8 17
I. Shumpert, PG 37 2-5 0-2 2-2 1 7 8 1 3 0 2 3 7 6
D. Wade 14 0-5 0-0 3-4 0 4 4 3 0 1 5 2 -2 3
K. Korver 19 4-7 3-6 2-3 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 3 -5 13
J. Green 15 2-4 0-0 5-6 0 1 1 1 3 0 3 1 2 9
C. Frye 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 -2 0
J. Calderon 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
C. Osman 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Zizic 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Holland 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
L. Perrantes 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Rose 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
I. Thomas 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Thompson 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   35-81 12-31 29-35 10 43 53 18 8 3 17 18   111
    43.2% 38.7%                      

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Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
W. Matthews, SF 41 3-13 2-9 4-4 1 1 2 6 2 0 0 5 -7 12
H. Barnes, PF 39 9-19 2-5 3-4 1 11 12 1 0 0 3 3 -3 23
D. Nowitzki, C 25 6-9 2-2 0-0 1 4 5 0 1 1 0 0 -3 14
Y. Ferrell, SG 35 3-10 1-4 0-0 0 1 1 3 1 0 1 4 -4 7
D. Smith Jr., PG 30 8-16 2-6 3-4 1 4 5 7 2 2 1 2 -4 21
D. Powell 16 1-4 0-1 1-2 2 6 8 0 1 0 0 3 -11 3
J. Barea 21 3-10 1-5 2-3 0 2 2 3 0 0 2 2 -2 9
D. Harris 12 3-8 0-2 3-4 1 1 2 0 0 0 3 2 -3 9
D. Finney-Smith 6 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 3 0 0
M. Kleber 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Mejri 9 3-3 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 0 0 0 0 2 2 6
N. Noel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Withey 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
G. Clavell 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
S. Curry 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. McRoberts 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Motley 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   39-92 10-34 16-21 9 33 42 21 7 3 10 26   104
    42.4% 29.4%                      

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DALLAS — Facing the fourth-leading scorer in the NBA this season, the Dallas Mavericks know they’ll be challenged for 48 minutes on the defensive end of the floor while trying to contain four-time MVP LeBron James.

But with James also fourth in the league in assists per game this season, the Mavericks (2-10) will face an even more daunting task while trying to limit his effectiveness in multiple ways Saturday night.

Entering Saturday’s showdown in Dallas, James is averaging 29.3 points to lead the Cavaliers’ high-octane attack. The versatile forward is also averaging a team-best 8.9 assists per game, operating as the top scorer and playmaker for the Cavaliers (5-7) after the offseason trade of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston. And despite the reigning Eastern Conference champions’ sluggish start to the season, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says James will present several challenges as his team attempts to collect its second straight win.

“Well, we’ll just try to make it hard on him,” Carlisle said of defending James following the Mavericks’ Saturday morning shootaround. “Look, LeBron’s a great player. He’s so smart and he’s so skilled, and he’s playing virtually every position on the floor for them right now, which is pretty unprecedented if you really think about it. So, it’s a major problem from a game-plan standpoint every time he steps on the floor opposite of your team. You’ve got to try to make it as hard as possible, and you’ve got to try to take the easy dunks and the layups out of the game and make him shoot contested shots from the perimeter. If he gets in the lane, then he’s got the option to finish and also hit guys who are great shooters, so it’s just one of those really tough challenges that you’ve got to love. You’ve got to love taking it on, and try to make it difficult on him.”

Hoping to carry over their success from Tuesday’s 113-99 win at Washington, the Mavericks will try to come out aggressively in front of their home crowd. The Mavs will also try to keep their edge after a lengthy layoff in the schedule. That said, the Mavericks know they will face a Cleveland team capable of going on runs after seeing the Cavaliers fight out of a double-digit hole during their 117-113 loss Thursday in Houston. Mavs leading scorer Harrison Barnes now says the team will have draw from its win on Tuesday to help prepare for the challenge that awaits.

“I mean, this team, they look to get up and down, and they like to shoot a lot of threes. They have the talent to make a lot of shots, and they can go on runs like they did in Houston,” Barnes explained. “I think in the Washington game we kept our composure and we kept sticking to what we do. Defensively, we were getting stops, and that’s going to be big for us tonight, too.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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:

Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

Oop Mejri

Yogi Ferrell lobs the ball up to Salah Mejri for the alley-oop dunk.


Barea Drives in Traffic

Wesley Matthews finds J.J. Barea who drives to the basket and finishes with the layup.


Nowitzki Knocks Down Three

Dirk Nowitzki hits the jumper for three.


One-on-one with Salah Mejri

Earl K. Sneed goes one-on-one with Salah Mejri prior to tonight's game against the Cavs.


Shootaround: Rick Carlisle

Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle looks ahead to tonight's matchup against the Cavs.

DALLAS — After using a spirited practice to ignite their fuses and spark a wire-to-wire 113-99 road victory Tuesday over Washington, the Dallas Mavericks will try to keep their intensity high Saturday night at home while welcoming in the reigning Eastern Conference champions.

Hosting four-time MVP LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Mavericks (2-10) will try to use the lengthy layoff between games to their advantage and come out energetically in front of their hometown fans. The Mavs will also try to carry over what they did well in Tuesday’s win, hoping to lock in at the defensive end of the floor. However, with James currently fourth in the NBA in scoring and assists while averaging 29.3 points and 8.9 assists per game, the Dallas defense will be tested once again for 48 minutes. And according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs will also have their hands full with the Cavaliers’ supporting cast.

“Especially for our fans, it should be a fun atmosphere to play in,” Nowitzki proclaimed. “Saturday night fever and a great team with great players coming in. Hopefully we can build on some of the stuff we practiced on before the Washington game and execute better defensively than we have in the first 12 games. I mean, with Tristan (Thompson) out, they’re going to have a lot of tough lineups to guard out there with (Kevin) Love at the five and sometimes (Channing) Frye or (Jeff) Green playing the backup five. It’s going to be a lot of small lineups out there, and we’ve got to make sure that we get back in transition, hopefully load up on them some and play one of our best games of the season. That’s what we’ve got to do, especially defensively, if we want to have a chance.”

Like the Mavericks, the Cavaliers (5-7) have gotten off to a sluggish start to the season after competing in three straight NBA Finals. Cleveland has also tried to integrate new faces with the additions of former Finals MVP Dwyane Wade, former league MVP Derrick Rose, the athletic Green, ex-Mav Jae Crowder and the injured Isaiah Thomas after trading point guard Kyrie Irving to Boston. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers travel to Dallas after a heartbreaking 117-113 loss Thursday in Houston. That said, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle expects to his team to face a motivated Cleveland squad on Saturday night.

“Cleveland is really, really talented, and LeBron James is really, really great. And the supporting cast can’t be overlooked,” Carlisle said. “You know, when Green goes for 32 (points), that’s a pretty significant thing. They’ve got two Hall of Famers with Wade and James, and they’ve got a lot of other guys that can really play their roles. As shooters, (J.R.) Smith and (Kyle) Korver are two of the best in the game. Love is as good a shooting five as there is in the game. He and Dirk are the two best three-point shooting fives, and their small lineups are very taxing on your defense.

“Their motivation can’t be anything but high,” the coach added. “Ours is certainly high, and we’re looking forward to playing. I mean, look, it’s been three days since we played, and it feels like we’re in the middle of an All-Star break here with the way our season started with the frequency of games. I mean, this is a nice break to have, but it’s time to play again.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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:

Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out