DALLAS — With rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. still sidelined due to a left hip strain and their team in need of a victory after a winless three-game road trip, reserves Dwight Powell and J.J. Barea elevated their play Tuesday night for the Dallas Mavericks to push them past the San Antonio Spurs.
Lifting the Mavericks (8-20) to a 95-89 win, Barea and Powell carried the second unit while sparking their team to a victory. Barea tallied 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting in less than 25 minutes off the bench, filling up the stat sheet with six rebounds and six assists to boot. Meanwhile, Powell also rose to the occasion in a reserve role, recording his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 12 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action. And with the Mavs now hopeful to venture back out on the road with a bit of momentum, the duo will look to continue energizing their squad away from home.
“Well, (Tuesday) we did a great job,” Barea said after the win. “In the second half, it wasn’t a good start. But we got some good rhythm, especially offensively there in the second half, and we kept attacking throughout the second half. I think that was the key.
“Me and Dwight, we’ve got a good connection here lately and the last couple of weeks, and he was great (Tuesday),” the veteran lead guard added. “He was diving, he was finishing and he was playing great defense, so we need that, especially from the bench. So, it was great.”
On the season, the 33-year-old Barea is averaging a career-high 12.2 points, career-best 3.1 rebounds and 5.4 assists an outing. He’s also shooting 43 percent from the field and career-high 39 percent from three-point range, giving the Mavericks consistency at the point guard position in the second unit. Meanwhile, Powell is averaging 6.2 points per game, a career-high 5.3 rebounds and career-best 1.0 assists an outing, shooting 50.4 percent from the field. And according to the athletic fourth-year big man, he and Barea are building a chemistry on and off the court that figures to be beneficial to the Mavs moving forward.
“I mean, I spend a lot of time talking to him and [Devin Harris] just about where to be, when to be there and just going over the smaller details,” Powell said of his relationship with Barea. “As my career develops, spending more time with those guys has been really crucial for my game. They’ve done a great job of kind of bringing me along.”
The play of Barea and Powell hasn’t gone unnoticed by their teammates and coach Rick Carlisle, garnering plenty of praise after Tuesday’s win. The Mavericks now hope the two spark plugs can ignite a much-needed road win Thursday night against the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. And according to Carlisle, one thing he knows is the two will certainly provide toughness, grit and energetic play as the Mavericks continue to rally together after a sluggish start to the season.
“[Powell] always gives us amazing energy, toughness and just gives us that team toughness. He is just so into the team and winning. Guys like him, you just can’t get enough of,” Carlisle explained.
“[Barea] came into camp in great shape. Last year, he didn’t play that many games, and so while he did have some injuries, there wasn’t a lot of wear and tear in terms of a lot of minutes except for early in the year. So, I think that may have had a little something to do with it,” the coach added. “But he’s a worker. So much of this is about keeping an edge, and a guy like him, who’s always had to fight for everything, is never going to give in and is always going to maintain that mental edge. He was fantastic (Tuesday), and he really fought on defense, too.”
Note: The Mavericks will now hit the road for a two-game trip that begins Thursday against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Warriors lead the season series 1-0 after a 133-103 win in Dallas on Oct. 23. The game will air nationally on TNT at 9:30 p.m. CT.
The Mavs return to their home floor next Monday night at American Airlines Center against the Phoenix Suns. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Dennis Smith Jr. (left hip strain) — out
Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out