Game 81: Mavs at Sixers

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Motley Putback Dunk

Johnathan Motley catches it off the Harrison Barnes miss and throws down the putback dunk.

PHILADELPHIA – The Dallas Mavericks had three players finish Sunday’s high-octane game against the Philadelphia 76ers with a double-double. But that wasn’t enough to overcome a dominant showing by Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons.

Utilizing his 6-10 height and skill set, Simmons collected 16 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and four steals as the Sixers won a franchise-record-tying 14th straight game by upending the Mavs, 109-97, before a sellout crowd of 20,846 at Wells Fargo Center.

The loss meant the Mavs (24-57) got swept on this three-game road trip. And coupled with Atlanta’s win over Boston, the Mavs, Atlanta and Orlando are all tied for the third fewest wins in the NBA.

Simmons was in control all day, spinning for buckets around the rim and finding open teammates whenever possible. He was a tough challenge for the Mavs, who will finish the season Tuesday at home against Phoenix.

“Simmons is a tremendous young player,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s got a very unique skill set. (Sixers coach) Brett Brown has done an amazing job of putting him in position to really take advantage of his strengths.

“They have a very creative approach to how they run their team, and they utilize him at the point position. He’s always causing problems – either putting pressure on you downhill or ducking in front of your smaller players. His vision is great, he rebounds great. As he goes along, his outside shooting will become better and better and I don’t know how you’re going to play him at that point.”

With Simmons wheeling and dealing, the Sixers (50-30) mounted a 72-55 lead with 7:33 remaining in the fourth quarter. But a pair of 3-pointers from Harrison Barnes and one each by Dennis Smith Jr. and Dwight Powell helped the Mavs chop their deficit down to four points (80-76) with 1:10 to go in the third quarter.

However, the Sixers were off to the races again – with Simmons leading the charge — and used a spirited 26-10 run to build a 106-86 cushion with 2:41 left in the game.

“I knew that this was going to be a game that was going to be characterized by a lot of high energy (and) some not so graceful stretches,” Carlisle said. “Philadelphia really thrives in that kind of game, and with our younger guys we’re pretty good in it, too.”

Dennis Smith Jr. led the round of double-doubles for the Mavs with 20 points and 11 assists, Dwight Powell contributed 13 points and 10 boards, and Maxi Kleber added 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“My teammates did a good job of making shots (and) rolling to the rim,” Smith said. “That opened up a lot of opportunities for me to find a man in the corner, or even find a roller.

“They did a pretty good job of helping me out.”

The game featured some of the league’s recent high draft picks. Simmons was the No. 1 overall in the 2016 NBA Draft, Sixers point guard Markelle Fultz (eight points) was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and Smith was the ninth pick of the ’17 draft.

“I knew they were going to come out and bring it,” said Smith, who also contributed three steals and two blocks. “So I’ve got to come out and give it all I got.”

Harrison Barnes started slow for the Mavs as he missed 13 of his first 16 field goals. But Barnes converted six of his last nine shots and finished with a game-high 25 points in a season-high 43 minutes.

“I can’t remember the last time I played (43) minutes,” Barnes said. “It’s been a while.

“I felt it, but it was good. The shots didn’t fall early, but this season has come with its own adversity.”

When the Sixers led 28-20 after the first quarter, six of those points came from Simmons, who towers over a lot of defenders.

“He uses his body well and he gets in the lane and does a good job of finding shooters,” Powell said. “They surround him with some guys who can score, so that makes it tough, too.”

Currently the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race, the Sixers out-shot the Mavs from the field, 50.5 percent to 42.6 percent. But the Mavs dispensed 24 assists and flipped 11 Philadelphia turnovers in 16 points.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Carlisle said. “This is s a very hard team to play.  And defensively, they’re very persistent, so it’s not super easy to get shots, so it was a tough game.

“Playing these guys today was very similar to a playoff atmosphere. A wild building, they’re going for their 14th in a row, they’re trying to clinch a high (playoff) seed. This is great simulation for what playoff basketball is going to be like for us in the future.”

Notes: The Mavs will play their final game of the season on Tuesday at home against the Phoenix Suns. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. CT. . .After playing the 2016-’17 season with the NBA G-League’s Texas Legends, guard Kyle Collinsworth was going to explore basketball options overseas. But Legends coach Bob MacKinnon talked him out of it. Now, Collinsworth has a three-year contract with the Mavs. “I remember this (past) summer we had a conversation about my future and what I was going to do,” Collinsworth said of MacKinnon. “I had overseas options, one more year in the G-League and try to get here (to the NBA). I believed I could get to this point, but (MacKinnon) believed in me, too. And he said, ‘You need to come back. Don’t even think twice about it.’ That’s what I wanted to do, but he definitely solidified my decision and he told me to come back and I could get to this point. So he’s just been a constant believer in me, a motivator, he pushed me, he taught me how to be a pro early my rookie year. He’s the ultimate player’s coach. He just gives us the freedom to play and the belief as a player, and that’s all you can ask for.”. . Center Salah Mejri (right knee contusion) said he may play in the regular season finale on Tuesday. Then again, Mejri said of his knee: “It’s painful. We don’t want to make it worst. Let’s say the knee hurts and my head hurts.” By the way, Mejri also said he plans to attend the World Cup in Russia this summer. . .Coach Rick Carlisle pointed out a few of the improvements rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. must make this summer. “In the NBA at the point guard position you’ve got to improve on everything all the time,” Carlisle said. “This summer will be an effort to refine skills, shooting floaters, reads — all those kinds of things. Defensively, he’s come light years. That might be his biggest area of growth, which is a big statement, because he’s grown a lot on the offensive side as well.”. .Sunday was just the third time all seaosn that Harrison Barnes has played at least 40 minutes in a game. Barnes played 41 minutes on Nov. 20 against Boston, 40 minutes on Mar. 16 against Toronto, and 43 minutes in Sunday’s game against the Sixers.

Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
H. Barnes, SF 42 9-25 2-9 1-3 0 3 3 2 0 0 2 0 0 21
J. Motley, PF 16 2-6 0-0 0-0 2 3 5 1 0 0 0 1 -1 4
D. Powell, C 35 4-9 2-5 3-6 2 8 10 4 1 1 1 1 4 13
D. Finney-Smith, SG 26 4-8 2-4 0-0 1 2 3 1 1 0 1 2 -10 10
D. Smith Jr., PG 40 9-19 1-6 1-2 1 4 5 11 3 2 3 3 -8 20
M. Kleber 20 5-8 1-4 0-0 3 7 10 1 0 1 2 0 -19 11
Y. Ferrell 24 2-8 1-5 1-2 0 1 1 3 1 0 1 1 -10 6
D. McDermott 25 4-10 2-7 0-0 0 3 3 0 0 1 0 1 -12 10
K. Collinsworth 7 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 1 0 1 1 0 -4 2
A. Harrison 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Jones 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
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   40-94 11-40 6-13 10 33 43 24 6 6 11 9   97
    42.6% 27.5%                      

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76ers

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
R. Covington, SF 33 5-9 3-6 2-2 0 10 10 3 2 2 1 1 23 15
D. Saric, PF 26 4-10 1-5 0-0 1 4 5 5 0 0 0 3 15 9
A. Johnson, C 17 3-3 0-0 0-1 1 3 4 2 0 0 0 3 14 6
J. Redick, SG 30 6-14 2-6 4-4 0 2 2 4 0 0 0 0 8 18
B. Simmons, PG 30 7-10 0-0 2-6 2 5 7 9 4 1 3 3 15 16
M. Belinelli 27 7-15 0-3 1-1 1 3 4 2 1 1 3 2 9 15
R. Holmes 21 4-5 0-0 0-0 0 5 5 1 1 0 0 1 -3 8
E. Ilyasova 23 5-10 1-4 0-0 3 9 12 3 0 0 1 2 1 11
M. Fultz 21 4-11 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 3 1 0 2 4 -4 8
J. Anderson 2 1-2 1-2 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 -6 3
T. McConnell 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -6 0
F. Korkmaz 2 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -6 0
J. Bayless 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Embiid 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
D. Jackson 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Luwawu-Cabarrot 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   46-91 8-27 9-14 9 43 52 32 9 4 10 19   109
    50.5% 29.6%                      

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Barnes Pushes Through

Harrison Barnes backs up Markelle Fultz to get to the basket for the layup.

PHILADELPHIA – Less than 24 hours have passed, and the Dallas Mavericks are still basking in the glow of that dominant performance turned in Friday night by forward Johnathan Motley against the Detroit Pistons.

And it’s not just the game-high 26 points Motley scored, or the 12 rebounds he snared that got everyone’ undivided attention. It was who he did it against, how he did it against him, and how he played like a wily veteran instead of a wet-behind-the-ears rookie from Baylor.

Matched up against two-time All-Star Andre Drummond, Motley played like he was back with the Texas Legends of the NBA’s G-League. Or like he was back at Baylor, or back at Houston North Shore High School.

In other words, just like he dominated at North Shore, Baylor and with the Legends, Motley was dominant against Drummond and the Pistons. And that has to be a breath of fresh air for a Mavs franchise who has been searching for a dominant big man ever since Tyson Chandler left this franchise for the Phoenix Suns via free agency in the summer of 2015.

“He fought (Drummond) all night, even on the rebounds,” rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. said. “Drummond, like you said, is an All-Star. (Motley) fought him on both ends.

“I think he proved he belongs in the league. He’s a really good player, hard worker. He’s a good teammate as well, so we like having him around.”

Despite doing exceptional yeoman’s work inside the paint against Detroit, Motley also showed he can step out and be a factor from long distance. That’s exactly what he did against the Pistons when he nailed a crucial 3-pointer with just 10.1 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.

Afterwards, Motley flatly said of his critical 3-pointer: “You can’t make the ones you don’t shoot.”

Coach Rick Carlisle took that analysis by Motley a step farther.

“The first play of the game was set up to get him a three,” Carlisle said. “He missed that one, but this guy’s got a knack for hitting big shots. We saw it in the summer league.

“He even hit a game-winner in the exhibition season and he hit the three to get us to overtime (Friday). You’ve got to admire guys that when their moment and their opportunity come, they’re ready — and he was ready.”

Knowing that the NBA places a lot of emphasis on the stretch-fours – that is, a big man’s abilities to move outside the key area and drain 3-pointers – Motley started developing that aspect of his game while playing for coach Bob MacKinnon’s Texas Legends.

“Towards the end of the season I was shooting a lot (of 3-pointers),” Motley said. “Coach Mac, he does a great job of just making sure I stay in that gym shooting.

“I shot like 100 threes after practice every day when I was down there, so I got a lot of reps.”

Forward Dorian Finney-Smith and Smith can certainly attest to the reps Motley has received on the NBA level. That trio are practically joined at the hip as far as working out goes and the bond they’ve created among themselves.

“You go in the gym late at night – me, Dennis and Mot – and (Motley is) putting in the work,” Finney-Smith said. “I’m just happy he’s out there and he’s showing them.”

Smith, who has practically been given the keys to run the Mavs’ offense, can certainly appreciate having a big man he can dump the ball to inside the paint. And his eyes lit up when asked about what having such a luxury means going forward.

“I’m excited,” Smith said of Motley. “It’s a big man that I get along with off the court as well.

“Me, him and (Finney-Smith), we’re road dogs off the court. So that camaraderie on the court is really good between us three.”

One of the Mavs’ two players on a two-way contract, Motley collected 40 points and 20 rebounds and is 17-of-30 from the field in the last two games. In essence, his confidence level after just his ninth NBA game is off the charts.

“Everybody knows I’m confident in my abilities,” Motley said. “I think I can play, I think I can have a role in this league.

“I think I can be a good player in this league. My confidence doesn’t waver for nothing.”

Not even when playing against a two-time All-Star like Andre Drummond.

Notes: The Mavs (24-56) will play the Philadelphia 76ers (49-30) Sunday at 12-noon CT in Philadelphia at the Wells Fargo Center. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest and on 103.3 FM ESPN. The game also can be heard in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. . .The Mavs own a 37-35 all-time record against the Sixers, and are an even 18-18 in games played in Philadelphia. The Mavs went through a stretch where they were 18-3 against the Sixers until Philadelphia won the last two meetings between the two teams. . .Back on Oct. 28 at American Airlines Center, the Sixers nipped the Mavs, 112-110. The Mavs had a legitimate chance to tie the game. But with just 0.2 seconds left, Yogi Ferrell missed the first of two free throw attempts, and then had to intentionally miss the second one to give the Mavs a chance to send the game into overtime. Rookie of the Year candidate Ben Simmons led the Sixers in that game with 23 points (10-of-15 field goals), seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals, while Harrison Barnes scored a game-high 25 points for the Mavs. Also in that contest, the Mavs converted 19 of their 40 shots from 3-point territory, while the Sixers were 16-of-35 from downtown. . .This is the finale of a three-game road trip for the Mavs, who lost in Orlando (105-100) on Wednesday and in Detroit (113-106 in overtime) on Friday. The Mavs play their final game of the season on Tuesday night at home at 7:30 p.m. CT against the Phoenix Suns. . . Lately, coach Rick Carlisle has moved forward Dorian Finney-Smith into the starting two-guard spot. This has enabled Finney-Smith to expand his game two-fold. “This is a great experience for him, because he is not only guarding the best player on the wing position for the opponent, but he’s getting a chance to make plays,” Carlisle said. “He’s making good reads and getting some really unique opportunities. If we’re going to be in this situation where we’re out of the playoffs and the games don’t have a lot of meaning in terms of wins and losses, we’ve got to get these guys in situations where they can get better.” Finney-Smith appreciates Carlisle giving him an opportunity to shine. “I just try to go out there and shoot the ball with confidence,” Finney-Smith said. “Even when I haven’t been making shots, everybody be like you need to shoot it. I guess they see the work that I put in.” Against the Pistons, Finney-Smith scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and distributed four assists in 37 minutes. The second-year veteran was 6-of-12 from the field, including 3-of-6 from beyond the 3-point arc.

Injury updates

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