Game 80: Mavs at Pistons

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Motley Scores 26 Vs. Pistons

Johnathan Motley finishes with 26 points and 12 rebounds in an overtime loss to the Pistons.

DETROIT—The way rookie center Johnathan Motley made himself right at home against Detroit Pistons two-time All-Star center Andre Drummond should give every follower of the Dallas Mavericks a reason to smile.

Motley went toe-to-toe Friday night with one of the game’s most coveted big men at Little Caesars Arena and more than held his own. The Pistons won the game, 113-106 in overtime, but the performance by Motley stole the show.

In all, Motley scored a game-high 26 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and picked up a game-high tying two steals in 40 workmanlike minutes in easily his best showing in the NBA.

“I was just going out there trying to do the things I know I can do,” said Motley, who was 11-of-19 from the floor. “(Drummond) was giving me mid-range jumpers, so I was just shooting them and knocking them down.

“Then he had to come up, so I got a chance to drive and just do what I can do and make sure and I got on the boards.”

Motley said he wasn’t rattled by the fact that he’s just in his first season, while Drummond has a few sheepskins on his wall.

“He’s an All-Star, he’s a great player, (he’s) dominating the league. It was a really big challenge for me going to the (center position) and starting and playing a lot of minutes against him. I think it was a good test for me.”

In the last 15 years, Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, Josh Howard and Antoine Walker, alongside Motley, are the members of the Mavs to collect as many as 26 points and at least 12 rebounds in a game. Plus, Dennis Smith Jr, Rodrigue “Roddy B” Beaubois, Nowitzki and Motley are the only Mavs players since 2000 to score at least 25 points in a game before they reached their 23rd birthday.

“He played great and you’ve got to tip your cap to our player development people, our G-League people,” coach Rick Carlisle said. (Texas Legends coach) Bob MacKinnon coached him all year and got him ready for this opportunity.

“Look, he’s getting the minutes. Every player say, ‘Hey, if I got the minutes I can get it done.’ He’s getting it done and doing good things.”

It was a 3-pointer by Motley with 10.1 seconds left in regulation that tied the game at 101-101 and sent it into overtime. From there, Reggie Jackson tallied six of his 24 points in the overtime session and the Pistons increased their record to 38-41.

Besides Motley, the Mavs (24-56) got 15 points and 10 rebounds from Dorian Finney-Smith, 17 points from Harrison Barnes and 13 points and seven boards from Dwight Powell.

The lead changed hands 20 times and there were 18 ties.

Owner Mark Cuban, meanwhile, was so excited about Motley’s breakout moment against Drummond that he called him Karl Motlone — a direct reference to Utah Jazz Hall of Famer Karl Malone. Ironically, last year at Baylor, Motley won the Karl Malone Award, which is presented to the best power forward in college basketball.

Barnes’ 11 points helped stake Dallas to a 24-22 lead after the first quarter, and a jumper at the second quarter buzzer by Maxi Kleber kept the Mavs ahead, 54-53, at intermission. The game see-sawed back-n-forth from there, until that dramatic 3-pointer near the end of regulation by Motley sent this contest into an extra session.

“The craziest part is, he can play,” Finney-Smith said of Motley. “Just throw him out there and he’s going to find a way to put the ball in the hole.

“Just watching him play in the G-League, he’s been doing this all year.”

This time, Motley did it on an NBA stage. And against one of the game’s best big men.

Notes: The Mavs will end this three-game road trip Sunday at 12-noon CT in Philadelphia against the 76ers. After that, Dallas will play its last game of the regular season at home on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns. . .The Mavs knew all along that superstar forward Dirk Nowitzki would undergo left ankle surgery, which took place this past Thursday. “This was pre-planned,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We didn’t view it as serious. It’s just something to help facilitate him feeling better for next year.” Forward Harrison Barnes also said it was no secret that Nowitzki would have surgery on his left ankle at some point. “We kind of knew he was going to get surgery, so it wasn’t necessarily surprising,” Barnes said. “But obviously you want him to recover well. Twenty years of wear and tear has its effect, so hopefully surgery will give him some relief in his ankle and he’ll feel better coming in Year 21.” Is it a given that Nowitzki will play a 21st year next season? “That’s his decision, and pending the outcome (of the surgery) and how he feels, that’s something that’s all going to play into it,” Carlisle said. “But the idea was to help create a situation where it was better for next year.” . .Before Friday’s game against Detroit, coach Rick Carlisle discussed how forward Harrison Barnes has become a leader on his team. “Each year that he’s here he built more equity with our guys with his work ethic and how he plays,” Carlisle said. “And there’s an awful lot to be said for the kind of consistency that he brings every day on the floor in practice, in games. And his stats, you can virtually write in the numbers that he’s going to get. He’s been that consistent.”. .Carlisle also praised rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. for his leadership skills. “He’s worked hard and he’s built up respect in the locker room with his approach,” Carlisle said. “By nature, he’s a competitor and a guy that’s categorially a leader type. First-year players go through a certain part of the year and they’re like deer in the headlights, no matter what. That’s just how it’s going to be. A lot of them hit the wall physically and mentally. He hasn’t hit a physical or mental wall this year. He’s fresher and more spry physically now than he was early. And mentally his head is clear and he’s ready to go every day. So those traits bode extremely well for him to be a terrific leader for our team for a long time.”

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
J. Motley, SF 40 11-19 1-3 3-3 3 9 12 2 2 0 2 2 -9 26
H. Barnes, PF 31 6-13 2-6 3-4 2 2 4 0 0 0 0 2 0 17
D. Powell, C 27 4-10 2-8 3-3 0 7 7 2 1 1 1 1 -3 13
D. Finney-Smith, SG 37 6-12 3-6 0-0 3 7 10 4 1 0 2 4 -12 15
D. Smith Jr., PG 31 2-12 0-3 3-4 1 2 3 8 1 0 2 3 0 7
D. McDermott 18 2-3 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 5 5
M. Kleber 16 3-4 1-2 0-0 1 5 6 2 0 1 1 2 5 7
Y. Ferrell 11 2-6 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 4 1 1 1 1 -1 5
J. Jones 12 1-3 1-2 1-4 0 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 -5 4
A. Harrison 20 1-6 1-5 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 3 -13 3
K. Collinsworth 18 2-4 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 3 0 2 1 2 -2 4
S. Mejri 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
N. Noel 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Barea 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
W. Matthews 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Nowitzki 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   40-92 13-39 13-18 10 36 46 26 7 5 12 20   106
    43.5% 33.3%                      

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Pistons

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
S. Johnson, SF 39 4-10 1-3 2-3 1 5 6 4 2 1 0 2 3 11
A. Tolliver, PF 34 6-9 4-6 0-0 1 2 3 2 1 0 2 4 5 16
A. Drummond, C 42 9-13 0-1 1-6 2 14 16 5 1 2 2 3 9 19
L. Kennard, SG 27 1-5 0-2 0-0 0 5 5 2 0 0 2 2 -2 2
R. Jackson, PG 35 11-18 1-3 1-2 0 0 0 7 0 0 1 2 12 24
I. Smith 17 4-6 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 3 1 1 2 3 -5 9
E. Moreland 10 1-4 0-0 0-0 2 5 7 0 0 0 0 1 -2 2
L. Galloway 25 5-14 4-7 1-2 0 4 4 1 1 0 0 1 9 15
H. Ellenson 18 4-10 1-5 2-2 0 5 5 0 0 0 2 1 2 11
J. Ennis III 13 1-3 0-1 2-2 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4 4
D. Buycks 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R. Hearn 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Nelson 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
R. Bullock 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
K. Felder 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B. Griffin 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Leuer 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   46-92 12-30 9-17 6 43 49 24 6 4 11 19   113
    50.0% 40.0%                      

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Barnes For Three

Harrison Barnes dribbles back before pulling up and draining a three-pointer.

Barnes Fadeaway Jumper

Harrison Barnes backs down Reggie Jackson and turns around to swish a fadeaway jumper.

McDermott Goes Backdoor

Doug McDermott cuts along the backdoor for a two-handed slam.

DETROIT – Apparently, the left ankle surgery Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki underwent on Thursday morning was a procedure that will help him become a much more efficient player next season.

“This was pre-planned,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Friday’s shootaround at the Little Caesars Arena. “At least a little long ago. Not that long ago.

“We didn’t view it as serious. It’s just something to help facilitate him feeling better for next year.”

So is there any doubt that Nowitzki plans to return next season for a 21st season?

“That’s his decision, and pending the outcome and how he feels, that’s something that’s all going to play into it,” Carlisle said. “But the idea was to help create a situation where it was better for next year.”

Nowitzki’s surgery was performed at the Carrell Clinic in Dallas by Dr. Eugene Curry and Dr. Daniel Worrel. And from every indication, it was not a complex operation.

“He’s got a lot of bone spurs,” Carlisle said. “I’m not really authorized to get into the discussion about what’s going on in the ankle. Look, he’s had them ever since I’ve been here, and that’s 10 years.

“We’ve got a great orthopedic surgeon in Dr. Worrell. He did my knee, he’s done a lot of our other guys with great results. He’s the best of the best. And again, this was, from what everyone understood and from what I understood, a simply procedure.”

Nowitzki set an NBA record this season for playing the most games (77) by any player in his 20th season. He also finished this season averaging 12 points and 5.7 rebounds in 24.7 minutes, and shot 45.6 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from 3-point range at the tender age of 39.

“Very few folks outside the NBA world understand the amount of work that goes into being able to do that,” Carlisle said. “But that’s just who he is.

“He loves the daily challenge of keeping his body tuned, keeping his skills as good as they can be, and everything else. And again, most superstars get their due, and I really feel like what Dirk’s doing, what Dirk continues to do at this advanced age, the majority of the basketball world is finally taking notice of this guy’s level of total greatness, which is great.”

Nowitzki, teammate, center Dwight Powell, sure has taken notice of the greatness of Nowitzki and all that he has meant to the Mavs and to the NBA.

“This speaks a lot to his character as a pro and how much time he’s given to this game over the years,” Powell told Mavs.com. “Regardless of the situation we find ourselves in as a team, he’s still a professional and showed up every day trying to improve.

“He brought a lot to this franchise and to this team this year. Obviously it’s a good thing he’s going to get healthy, and I’m excited to see him back healthier and better than ever.”

Carlisle was reminiscing about the record-breaking statistics Nowitzki has stacked up and couldn’t help but take his own personal walk down memory lane.

“I don’t know that the numbers have stacked up with the rest of the guys that have played in the history,” Carlisle said. “But in your 20th year, I can’t imagine anybody is close.

“What can you say? He continues to make it look easy, and it’s not easy. It’s really hard.”

Notes: The Mavs (24-55) will face the Detroit Pistons (37-41) tonight at 6 p.m. CT in Detroit at the Little Caesars Arena. The game will air locally on KTXA Channel 21 and on 103.3 FM ESPN. The game can also be heard in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. . .This is the second game of a three-game road trip for Dallas. The Mavs started this trip Wednesday with a 105-100 loss in Orlando. . .The Mavs are 33-40 all-time against the Pistons, including a 16-21 record on the road. Overall, the Mavs are 13-5 in their last 18 games with the Pistons. . .Harrison Barnes scored 25 points and Dennis Smith Jr. added 15 points, five rebounds and five assists to pace the Mavs to a 110-93 blowout victory over the Pistons in Dallas on Dec. 20. Anthony Tolliver hit 4-of-6 shots from 3-point land and tallied a team-high 18 points in that game for Detroit, and Andre Drummond had 11 points and 13 rebounds. . .Mavs coach Rick Carlisle started his coaching career with the Pistons (2001-’03) and led them to the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, where they were swept by Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets. The Pistons were 100-64 under Carlisle and won a pair of Central Division titles while he was their head coach. Of course, at that time the Pistons played at The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Auburn Hills, Mich. Now, they’re in their first season playing in downtown Detroit at the Little Caesars Arena. “It’s beautiful,” Carlisle said of the new arena. “This is as good looking of a building as I’ve seen. The Palace held up for close to 30 years and it was always a super nice building, but this is just another level.”. .Rick Carlisle has been very impressed with rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. “What I’ve been most impressed with is that while most rookies lose steam as the season goes along, he’s gained it,” Carlisle said. “He’s gained momentum, he’s gained strength, his enthusiasm level has increased. He’s established himself on this team as a real leader. I couldn’t be more pleased, really, and it hasn’t been easy. There’s been a lot of difficult patches along the way. That tough schedule the first 30 games that everybody had to go through it, and he was the starting point guard. It doesn’t get any harder than that for a rookie. All things considered, he’s in a tremendous place.”. . .Center Salah Mejri (right knee contusion) said he’s not sure if he’ll play tonight against the Detroit Pistons. Mejri told Mavs.com: “My knee hurts.” Coach Rick Carlisle said of Mejri’s availability for tonight’s game: “I’m going to talk to him and get a better feel for that. He’s a little banged up, but he’s been a soldier. I’ll talk to him and I’ll let you know better tonight.”

Injury updates

J.J. Barea (left rib muscle strain) — out
Seth Curry (left leg surgery) – out
Wesley Matthews (right proximal fibula fracture) – out
Salah Mejri (right knee contusion) – questionable
Nerlens Noel (league suspension) – not with team
Dirk Nowitzki (left ankle surgery) – out
Dwight Powell (left knee bursitis) – questionable
Dennis Smith Jr. (left knee soreness) — questionable

DETROIT – With only three games remaining in a season that hasn’t gone all that well for the Dallas Mavericks, they know the time is ripe for them to turn the proverbial page and focus on the continued development of their younger players.

Especially with veterans Dirk Nowitzki and J.J. Barea lost for the remainder of the season.
Nowitzki underwent season-ending surgical debridement of his left ankle on Thursday morning, while Barea will miss the final three games with a strained left rib muscle. That opens the door for the Mavs to give more minutes to their younger players.

Even when Yogi Ferrell and Maxi Kleber were playing particularly well during Wednesday’s 105-100 loss to the Orlando Magic, they were pulled from the game in order for the Mavs to see how other younger players have progressed.

“I already know what those guys can do,” said coach Rick Carlisle, referring to Ferrell and Kleber. “This is a chance for the Jalen Jones’ and the (Kyle) Collinsworth’s and those guys to get a shot.

“And Aaron Harrison, he stepped up and played well. We’ve got this opportunity (and) we’re going to look at those guys.”

Harrison played a game-high 42 minutes against the Magic, collected 13 points and was 5-of-10 from the field and 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

“He got some shots to go in,” guard/forward Dorian Finney-Smith said. “I felt like he was pressing a little bit.

“I played against him in college, so I know he can score. I’m just happy he got the ball to go in.”

Harrison, who signed a 10-day contract with the Mavs on Mar. 22 and a season-ending contract this past Sunday, said he’s just “grateful” for this opportunity. But he’s also worked on shoring up other aspects of his game besides his offense.

“I’ve really been working hard on defense, which I wasn’t known for,” Harrison said. “But I think I’m making a name for myself on defense just by playing hard and competing, and it’s a great feeling.”

Another player who has shown his competitive side is center Johnathan Motley. Against the Magic, the rookie from Baylor contributed 14 points and eight rebounds in 41 minutes and at times looked like a man among boys.

“Motley, he impacts the game,” Carlisle said. “His nose for the ball, his soft hands, ability to get it in the hoop (is solid).

“He rebounds well, he makes things happen and he’s got a very good feel for the game. I like what he did. Look, we’ve got three more games and he’ll likely get some more minutes. Maybe some spot minutes here and there, maybe some long runs like (Wednesday). We’ll see.”

Motley had played a total of 49 minutes in seven games for the Mavs before being stretched for those 41 minutes against Orlando. The 6-10, 230-pounder wants his number to be called many more times before this season ends, starting with Friday’s 6 p.m. contest against the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena.

“I just want to finish strong,” Motley said. “I’ve got a lot of things to work and I can do better, but I think I played pretty good (on Wednesday).”

Finney-Smith, who has played a lot at shooting guard lately, was overly impressed with what he witnessed from Motley against Orlando.

“Motley, he’s going to be good,” Finney-Smith said. “You throw it down there, he can give you a post presence and he also can switch on defense.

“(On Wednesday), he and I switched every ball-screen, so it just shows you how versatile he is on defense. I think he did good for this really like being his first real game. (Orlando center) Bismack (Biyombo), that’s a big test right there. That’s a big dude, but I think (Motley) held his own.”

Rookie guard Kyle Collinsworth also held his own against the Magic as he maximized his 35 minutes and turned it into 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists. At times against Orlando, Collinsworth noted, it looked like a G-League reunion had broken out as former Texas Legends teammates Motley, Jones and Collinsworth all frequently shared time on the court at the same time.

“Some of us weren’t used to extended minutes like that, especially consecutive,” Collinsworth said. “But that’s a good problem to have, so I’ll take it every night.

“Again, that’s why I’m proud of the guys on the floor. Some of us hadn’t really played a lot the last five or six games, if at all. And then we were getting 25-30, whatever minutes we played. We battled, everyone competed and we competed all the way to the buzzer, so I’m proud of our guys.”

Notes: The Mavs (24-55) will face the Detroit Pistons (37-41) on Friday night at 6 p.m. CT in Detroit at the Little Caesars Arena. The game will air locally on KTXA Channel 21 and on 103.3 FM ESPN. The game can also be heard in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. . .This is the second game of a three-game road trip for Dallas. The Mavs started this trip Wednesday with a 105-100 loss in Orlando. . .The Mavs are 33-40 all-time against the Pistons, including a 16-21 record on the road. Overall, the Mavs are 13-5 in their last 18 games with the Pistons. . .Harrison Barnes scored 25 points and Dennis Smith Jr. added 15 points, five rebounds and five assists to pace the Mavs to a 110-93 blowout victory over the Pistons in Dallas on Dec. 20. Anthony Tolliver hit 4-of-6 shots from 3-point land and tallied a team-high 18 points in that game for Detroit, and Andre Drummond had 11 points and 13 rebounds. . .Mavs coach Rick Carlisle started his coaching career with the Pistons (2001-’03) and led them to the 2003 Eastern Conference Finals, where they were swept by Jason Kidd and the New Jersey Nets. The Pistons were b100-64 under Carlisle and won a pair of Central Division titles while he was their head coach. Carlisle was named the NBA Coach of the Year during his first year coaching the Pistons. . .And what will Mavs guard Kyle Ciollinsworth be looking for in the final three games of the season? “Just do what I do and play hard and just keep going,” he said. “Sometimes you can’t control a lot. There’s a lot that goes on in basketball we can’t control. I’m just focusing on my effort, trying to be a better leader and keep learning as I watch guys like J. J. (Barea) and some of the vets.”. .The Mavs know they could have bene a playoff team if not for losing 34 games by seven points or less. Following Wednesday’s 105-100 loss in Orlando, rookie center Johnathan Motley said: “It’s frustrating, because a lot of us out there, we all played on the same G-League team and we’re used to getting wins when we’re playing together. I think its a few things we did down the stretch that we could have changed to get the W, but it’s a learning process and we’re just learning.”. .Jalen Jones and Motley are the Mavs’ two-way players. This is the first season the NBA has utilized the two-way system, and coach Rick Carlisle gives it two thumbs up. “From what I’ve seen,” Carlisle said, “it’s been a game-changer for kind of the approach that young players take with respect to whether to stay home and play in the G-League and play two-way deals, or to go to Europe for slightly more money. I view it as very positive. Our two-ways have given us a lot of flexibility to look at guys. I like Jones a lot, Motley’s had a very good year and did good things tonight. As times go on, teams will figure out other strategies to maximize it even more. But I’ve been in favor of it for a long time and I’m glad to see that it’s in place.”

Injury updates

J.J. Barea (left rib muscle strain) — out
Seth Curry (left leg surgery) – out
Wesley Matthews (right proximal fibula fracture) – out
Salah Mejri (right knee contusion) – questionable
Nerlens Noel (league suspension) – not with team
Dirk Nowitzki (left ankle surgery) – out
Dwight Powell (left knee bursitis) – questionable
Dennis Smith Jr. (left knee soreness) — questionable