SACRAMENTO –At the midway point of the season, the Dallas Mavericks are seven games better than they were at this time last season when they were 19-22.
However, proprietor Mark Cuban told Mavs.com: “We haven’t done anything yet. We hopefully will be healthy, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
“So just getting healthy, getting KP (Kristaps Porzingis) back on the court and everybody playing together, that’s first and foremost, and then hopefully making a run.”
Porzingis has missed the last nine games with right knee soreness and/or an illness. Meanwhile, after collecting 33, 24 and 33 wins in the past three seasons, the Mavs are currently in sixth place in the Western Conference and appear on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
“Obviously we’re better than we’ve been the last three years, and there’s a transition point,” Cuban said. “There’s a learning curve to go from losing most of the time to winning. So we’re going through that, and you kind of figure out your roles and your identity.”
By now, Cuban figures the players all know their roles and the Mavs know their identity. And that’s a formula for producing a successful win-loss record.
“We went from the beginning of the year where people really didn’t know their roles to guys really settling into their role,” Cuban said. “Now we just got to keep everybody healthy and we have a chance to be a really good team.”
Told that the Mavs won in Los Angeles when they snapped the Lakers’ 10-game winning streak, won in Milwaukee – without an injured Luka Doncic – when they broke the Bucks’ 18-game winning streak, and also emerged victorious in Houston and Philadelphia, Cuban countered that by saying: “We lost to some bad teams in our building.
“We’ve got to get that consistency that comes with learning how to win. We’re not there yet, but we will get there.”
CARLISLE PRAISES BARNES: Before Wednesday’s game against Sacramento, coach Rick Carlisle took time to praise Kings forward Harrison Barnes, who played for the Mavs from 2016-19.
“He’s one of the most consistent players I’ve ever been around — just consistent with everything,” Carlisle said. “Routine, work ethic, his dedication to improving.
“The fact that he continued to improve throughout his two and a half years with us, Sacramento’s got a real foundation piece in him.”
Carlisle acknowledged that it was difficult losing a player of the Barnes’ stature. Especially since Barnes also was very busy involving himself in worthy causes in the Dallas/Fort Worth communities.
“From a coaching standpoint the most important thing to have are guys that you know what they’re going to do and you know what they’re going to produce every single night,” Carlisle said. “Harrison was one of those guys that you can take an indelible marker and you could put in certain stats, but you knew that he was also going to bring a high level effort, he was going to be a great team guy, he was going to be a leader and he really cared about winning.
“You lose a guy like that, it’s hard to replace. Once again, I give Sacramento a lot of credit for seeing the value that he brings. He’s been great for these guys.”
TALKS WITH MCCARTHY UPCOMING?: When Mavs proprietor Mark Cuban was told that new Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy hails from Pittsburgh, Cuban’s eye lit up and he gleefully asked: “I didn’t know that. Then, I like him.”
McCarthy was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and his father – an officer for the Pittsburgh Police Department and a firefighter for the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau – raised him to become a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cuban also was born and raised in Pittsburgh and is a beloved fan of the Steelers.
Now that he knows he and McCarthy have a lot in common, Cuban said he would like to talk with the Cowboys’ new head coach. Cuban added that: “You can always represent The ‘Burgh.”