Game 82: Mavs vs. Suns

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Finney-Smith Slams The Oop

Kyle Collinsworth throws it up to Dorian Finney-Smith to throw down the alley-oop slam.

DALLAS – A long and frustrating season for the Dallas Mavericks finally came to an end Tuesday night when the Phoenix Suns defeated the Mavs, 124-97, before a sellout crowd of 20,041 at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs finished the season with a 24-58 record, and likely will be tied with both Orlando and Atlanta for the No. 3 spot in the NBA Draft Lottery.

Phoenix got a career-high 36 points form Alec Peters and outscored the Mavs, 80-43, in the second half and ended the season with a 21-61 record. The 80 points are the most the Mavs have allowed in any half in franchise history.

“It’s good that it’s over with,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It’s a tough year, there were a lot of things accomplished and we can talk about that tomorrow (during the exit interviews).

“It’s been usual, and the wins and losses part of it has been no fun.”

The Mavs shot just 38.5 percent from the field and 24.2 percent from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Suns converted 63.2 percent of their shots and half of their 3-point field goal.

“Obviously we had trouble stopping Larry Bird dressed up as Alec Peters, and that was some performance,” Carlisle said. “You’ve got to hand it to him.

“He wasn’t just hitting outside shots. He was making good reads on the inside. Guys like him, that’s what these kinds of opportunities do – they make careers. We had problems with him.”

The Mavs had problems when they got scored in the third quarter (39-22) and in the fourth quarter (41-21).

“It’s been a long season,” said guard Yogi Ferrell, who was the only member of the Mavs to play in all 82 games this season. “I’m just glad to be here. I cane out of the season healthy – no injuries or anything major.

“So I’m just blessed to be able to play all 82 for the first time.”

The Mavs led this game 54-44 at the half. Then the bottom fell completely out in the second half as the Suns, led by Shaquille Harrison and Peters, helped Phoenix salt this one away.

Dwight Powell started at center against the Suns, played 21 minutes and finished with eight points, five rebounds and two steals. And his attention went to the offseason and his desire to improve his game,

Powell said: “Offensively and defensively, on or off the court that I’ve learned this season, hopefully I can maximize this long offseason to get better and find a way to improve for next season and find a way to help this team win more games.”

Johnathan Motley led the Mavs with 21 points and six rebounds in 28 minutes, Aaron Harrison played the entire 48 minutes and finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting, Jalen Jones had 15 points and five boards, Dorian Finney-Smith collected 14 points and seven rebounds, and Maxi Kleber tallied 10 points.

Also for the Mavs, Kyle Collinsworth was on triple-double watch as he finished the game with 10 points, a season-high 11 rebounds and eight assists.

“The opportunities were there (for a triple-double), but I think guys, including myself, got a little tired on our shots in the second half,” Collinsworth said. “There’s enough plays to get a triple-double, but from college and from experience sometimes – rebounds – the ball bounces your way and can you get double digits or assists, shots go in or they don’t.”

Overall, the Mavs lost 34 games by seven points or less this season. A thought not lost on Powell.

“At the end of the day a win is a win and a loss is a loss,” Powell said. “They don’t really put the score on everyone when it comes down to just tallying them up.

“The games we lost, we lost. We need to figure out a way to win those games, regardless sof what the final score was or how close we might have been. Moral victories don’t really count for much. I think those close games are where most of the lessons lie as far as execution and what we need to do individually, especially defensively to be there and seal the deal. I think, like I said before, a lot of lessons can be taken away from this season just because of the way things went.”

Notes: The Mavs will have their exit interviews tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. Then the players will disperse for the offseason. . .Coach Rick Carlisle can’t wait for next year to get started, especially since Dirk Nowitzki will be back for a 21st season. “I believe we will be better next year, but there are no guarantees in this,” Carlisle said. “Whatever the case is, however the team is constructed, having Dirk Nowitzki as a part of it is extremely important to me. I’m really just amazed at how he played this year with everything. He was so consistent, the shooting numbers were just unbelievable for a guy at this stage of his career, and really just about all jump shots. There weren’t many post-ups, there weren’t many layups. They were threes or mid-range (jumpers), and he’s still getting it done at an amazing level.”. . A reporter asked Dirk Nowitzki about all the fans who were clamoring for him to come back next season. Nowitzki intervened and said: “I get both. After every game I’m on Twitter and one guy says, ‘Oh my gosh, please retire.’ ” Nowitzki laughed after sharing that information with the media. . .Dirk Nowitzki’s 2018 Heroes Celebrity Baseball Game will be held June 8 at 7 p.m. at Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. Tickets went on sale Tuesday and are priced at $9, $18 and $23, and can be purchased at TicketReturn (972-334-1993), ticketreturn.com, or at the Dr Pepper Ballpark Box Office during office hours. Proceeds benefit the Dirk Nowitzki Foundation and the Heroes Foundation. . .Coach Rick Carlisle was asked about Dirk Nowitzki being so efficient this season with just one ankle. “Well, he’s got two ankles<' Carlisle said. "But one just isn't moving the way he would like it. But really this has been a gradual thing throughout his career. It's gotten a little bit more pronounced each year.". .Dirk Nowitzki on rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr.: "I think Dennis is going to be fun to watch for a long, long time. I thought he had an incredible rookie season with some ups and downs, of course. But the kid's got fire and confidence and the game to back it up. So I'm looking forward to obviously getting better and watching him hopefully in a Mavs uniform for a long, long time."

Suns

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
D. House, SF 39 7-12 1-3 1-2 1 7 8 3 0 0 1 1 30 16
D. Bender, PF 37 5-6 3-4 2-3 1 12 13 2 0 2 2 3 32 15
A. Len, C 26 8-10 0-0 2-4 1 4 5 6 0 1 2 2 3 18
D. Reed, SG 11 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 2 -9 2
S. Harrison, PG 35 8-11 0-2 2-3 1 3 4 10 2 0 4 3 38 18
J. Dudley 31 2-4 0-1 1-2 0 6 6 4 0 2 1 3 19 5
T. Ulis 28 5-10 1-3 3-3 0 0 0 8 2 1 2 1 2 14
A. Peters 28 12-20 8-13 4-4 1 8 9 2 1 0 1 1 20 36
D. Booker 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Daniels 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
J. Jackson 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Chandler 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M. Chriss 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
B. Knight 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
E. Payton 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
T. Warren 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
A. Williams 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   48-76 13-26 15-21 5 41 46 35 5 6 14 16   124
    63.2% 50.0%                      

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Mavericks

All Stats

PLAYER MIN FG 3PT FT OREB DREB REB AST STL BLK TO PF +/- PTS
D. Finney-Smith, SF 40 6-17 1-7 1-2 2 5 7 4 1 0 2 3 -24 14
J. Motley, PF 28 9-19 0-2 3-4 4 2 6 1 0 0 3 4 -9 21
D. Powell, C 21 3-6 0-1 2-2 3 2 5 3 2 0 0 1 -17 8
A. Harrison, SG 48 5-18 2-9 4-6 2 2 4 1 2 0 0 4 -27 16
K. Collinsworth, PG 44 4-13 0-2 2-4 3 8 11 8 1 0 2 2 -25 10
J. Jones 34 5-14 2-6 3-4 4 1 5 2 2 0 1 5 -31 15
M. Kleber 14 4-7 2-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 1 0 0 1 10
Y. Ferrell 7 1-3 1-2 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 -3 3
D. McDermott 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
H. Barnes 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
D. Smith Jr. 0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
TEAM   37-97 8-33 15-22 18 22 40 20 8 1 8 19   97
    38.1% 24.2%                      

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Harrison To Motley For The Dunk

Aaron Harrison feeds Johnathan Motley for the rise and dunk.

DALLAS – What Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle witnessed from point guard Dennis Smith Jr. in Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers is precisely what he likes to see from his overly gifted rookie on a regular basis.

Dogged by some of the best young defenders in the NBA, Smith responded by scoring 20 points, distributing a career-high tying 11 assists, collecting a career-high tying three steals and blocking a career-high tying two shots during the Mavs’ 109-97 loss to the Sixers. Although they didn’t walk away victorious over the Sixers, the Mavs and Carlisle certainly logged a personal victory because of what Smith was able to accomplish.

“I love these kinds of games where Dennis has double-figure assists and double-figure points,” Carlisle said. “He’s going to have to be a potent scorer for us without question, and his assists numbers have steadily risen as the season have gone along, and those are important things going forward. He knows that.

“Next year we’ve got to try to get a situation going where his assists can be up closer to 10 than five. And he’s going to score because he’s a scorer.”

Smith has enjoyed just 14 games this season where he collected eight or more assists, and has averaged 16 points and 9.1 assists in those games. By contrast, the rookie from North Carolina State played in 37 games where he contributed five or fewer assists.

Knowing that the most difficult position to play in the NBA is the point guard position, forward Harrison Barnes applauds Smith for standing tall against some of the best players the league has to offer.

“He has a lot on his plate just in terms of being a rookie, having to learn a complex system on the fly and a lot of different challenges, especially the point guard position,” Barnes said. “I think he’s doing a good job of adjusting and remaining consistent — which is tough to do as a rookie — and he’s battled through that.”

Smith has only one more game in his rookie season to battle through when the Mavs close out the regular season Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CT at American Airlines Center against the Phoenix Suns.

Barnes insists that he never saw Smith hit a so-called rookie wall, where first-year players tend to start languishing around the time the games exceeded the number of games they played in college. Barnes noted that he only saw Smith continue to grow and take larger bites out of the apple as the season progressed.

“Not just (Sunday), but this season he’s been playing terrific,” Barnes said. “As a rookie, for him to come in and play consistent, there’s a lot of responsibility in being a point guard, especially in this system.

“So I thought he’s handled it well and he just continued to get better.”

Overall, Smith averages 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds and 5.2 assists, and is shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from 3-point territory. Carlisle places his prize pupil in the same classification as Sixers rookie point guard Ben Simmons, who is heavily favored to win this season’s Rookie of the Year award.

“He’ made a lot of improvements from the beginning of the season until now,” Carlisle said of Smith. “And again, I put him in the category with Simmons — a guy that hasn’t hit the rookie wall from the early stage of the season, physically or mentally.

“If anything (Smith has) gotten stronger and tougher both physically and mentally. You look at his stats from the last month, they’ve been terrific.”

In the 16 games he’s played in since Feb. 28, Smith has averaged 17.2 points and 6.4 assists while establishing himself as a solid force in the Mavs’ rebuilding foundation. Also in that 16-game span, Smith is shooting a respectable 48.4 percent from the field (109-of-225) and 33.3 percent from 3-point range (26-of-78).

“I just worked on the shots that I get in the game,” Smith said. “It’s just something I do every day and every night.”

Smith’s evolution from being a wide-eyed rookie to a playmaker who performs like an astute veteran has let Mavs fans know the future of the point guard position is in very capable hands.

“Smith, he ain’t backing down from nobody,” Carlisle said. “He’s made great adjustments as the season has gone along, his shooting continues to improve and he’s a problem for the defense because of his ability to get by you, his quickness, and his ability to attack at different speeds.

“He’s going to keep fighting. He’s obviously got a lot of ability and I really like what he’s done in terms of establishing himself as a leader on this team going into the future.”

Notes: The Mavs (24-57) will entertain the Phoenix Suns (20-61) on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CT at American Airlines Center. . .The Suns have won five of the last six regular season games against the Mavs, including the past four. . .Phoenix is 2-0 against the Mavs this season. The Suns rallied and defeated the Mavs, 97-91, in Dallas, behind 14 points and 14 rebounds off the bench from Alex Lin. The Mavs led that game, 71-59, with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter, but got outscored 38-20 the remainder of the game. . .The Suns also beat the Mavs, 102-88, in Phoenix on Jan. 31, behind 21 points and eight rebounds from Josh Jackson. In that game, the Suns set the table very early by outscoring the Mavs in the first quarter, 36-17. . .The Mavs are trying to avoid being swept in a season series by the Suns for the first time since the 1997-’98 season when Phoenix posted a 3-0 record against Dallas. . .Forward Harrison Barnes, who isn’t scheduled to play Tuesday against Phoenix – he’ll receive a rest game — summed up his individual season by saying: “The latter part of the season I definitely felt like I’ve had more confident in my three (-point shot) just off the dribble. (I was) shooting more threes, playing more pick-and-rolls. It’s kind of a different position than last year. My playmaking has improved a little bit. Overall, I feel like I got better as a player, so the goal is to continue to get better, spend another summer of trying to get better and come back more improved next season.”. .Although no postseason spot is on the line when the Mavs and Suns meet Tuesday, center Dwight Powell disclosed what it means to end the season with a home game. “We’ve got a bunch of loyal fans that have supported us through ups and downs, and as of late during a few tough times,” Powell said. “So we owe it to them to come out and play hard and put on a show for them.”. .Coach Rick Carlisle discussed how his younger crop of players had a lot of teams sweat in order to get a victory against the Mavs this season. “We’ve got a persistent group,” Carlisle said. “Our young guys have gained some really invaluable experience. They’ve toughen up as the year has gone along.”. .The Mavs will host a Fantastic Finale prior to Tuesday’s game. Season-ticket holders are invited for an exclusive pre-game happy-hour at 6 p.m. in the EIGHTEEN 76 Bar at American Airlines Center, where they’ll also receive a few free gifts.

Injury updates

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