Mavericks’ big man Dwight Powell isn’t one to belabor any point about his physical condition.
“If I’m on the court, I’m fine,” is his standard line.
But since his return from a hamstring strain that cost him virtually all of training camp, the preseason and the first three games of the regular season, Powell has looked very much like he’s working himself into shape.
Wednesday’s runaway 142-94 win over Golden State was his 11th game, which means he’s had about three weeks to knock off rust and work his way through the equivalent of what would have been his training camp.
“I think he’s finally getting to the point where he finally feels 100 percent,” coach Rick Carlisle said before the blowout win. “His stats aren’t what they’ve been, but the structure of the team is quite different. That certainly plays into it.”
Powell certainly passed the eye test on Wednesday.
He was in the starting lineup Wednesday against Golden State and in the first quarter, which pretty much decided the game, he was very active. Powell got loose on a pick and roll with Luka Doncic for a dunk, blocked a Warriors’ shot, rolled to the rim on another possession for a lob pass that he dunked and basically played like he did so often last season.
He was a major part of the Mavericks’ 44-16 lead after a quarter, although Luka Doncic’s 22 points, five rebounds and five assists may have helped.
By the end, Powell’s numbers were not gaudy, but they were efficient: 6 points on 3-of-4 shooting, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and a massive plus-41 in the plus-minus department.
It was another night where Powell moved a little better and looked a little more comfortable.
In his 11 games, he’s started eight of them, but the role matters less than feeling good physically because the Mavericks are going to need his presence this season.
“Due to matchups, we’ve had nights where he’s come off the bench,” Carlisle said. “But with him, it’s never really about stats. It’s about the force he plays with and his pursuit of the ball and how he screens and sets up for teammates. I feel good where he’s at.”
Passing it on: Everybody has been wowed by the performances Luka Doncic has had so far this season.
But with the Golden State Warriors in town Wednesday, it was a good time for everyone to pay homage to the trendsetter who made possible a lot of what Doncic does.
Steph Curry wasn’t with the Warriors. He was back in the Bay Area recovering from a left hand fracture. But his influence on the NBA is having a clear trickle-down effect on players like Doncic.
Curry made it fashionable to step back 3, 5 or even 8 feet behind the 3-point arc and let it fly.
“I don’t think there’s any question that Steph Curry has had a major impact on the overall game,” Carlisle said. “When you look around the league and see teams almost top to bottom that have some kind of auxiliary line back beyond the regular 3-point line – some teams call it a 4-point line or spacing line, whatever – but the trend in the game now to create more space is to shoot from further out. And it’s become a fact of life.
“Steph’s a big part of it, (Kevin) Durant’s a big part of it. Klay Thompson certainly. (James) Harden is a big part of it. And Luka’s a big part of it now, too. I do believe Steph’s had an influence on that, for sure.”
Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr, by the way, had this to say before Doncic torched his team with 33 first-half points.
“He was already a great player last year, a borderline all-star and he’s a sure all-star this year. He’s taken a step that a lot of players take between their first and second years. To me, that’s the biggest leap because you know what the league is all about. It allows for more room for your confidence and your game to grow.
“He just looks like he knows he’s the best player on the floor. Very impressive.”
Fooling the fans: With chants of “J.J., J.J.” echoing through American Airlines Center in the waning minutes of the blowout, J.J. Barea gave everybody in the arena a little thrill, then pulled the rug out from under them.
Barea got off the bench and headed to the scorer’s table. Then, as he passed coach Rick Carlisle, he did a U-turn and went back and sat down next to Doncic, who was laughing hysterically.
Barea said afterward it had already been discussed before the game that he would probably not play, a point Carlisle confirmed.
“He was not available because of an injury situation,” Carlisle said. “He was going to be an absolute emergency-only. We talked about it before the game.”
Briefly: Guard Seth Curry did not play Wednesday night. He became ill and missed practice on Tuesday and was in no condition to play against the Warriors. “We don’t think it’s serious, and is feeling better today, but not great,” Carlisle said. “Tonight was an opportunity to start (Tim Hardaway) with Seth not being available. Going forward, if Seth is available Friday, I see him starting. I don’t think you lose your starting job because you’re sick and you got a minor ankle thing, which I think he’s going to be fine with.” . . . With Curry out, Ryan Broekhoff was active and saw action in just his third game of the season. He responded with nine points.