GAME RECAP: Mavericks 116, Thunder 113
Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks with 24 points as Dallas takes down Oklahoma City 116-113. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double for the Thunder with 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.
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GAME RECAP: Mavericks 116, Thunder 113
Harrison Barnes leads the Mavericks with 24 points as Dallas takes down Oklahoma City 116-113. Russell Westbrook had a triple-double for the Thunder with 38 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.
DALLAS — Ninety-four feet. It’s the full length of an NBA court. And if the Dallas Mavericks have their way this upcoming season, it will be the full distance their defense will cover on a nightly basis.
Taking the court with plenty of depth in the backcourt, the Mavericks hope to use their quickness and agility to their advantage this season. The Mavs also intend to make defense their calling card after ranking near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories last season. And with five point guards on the roster, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle can see the team’s perimeter players picking up opposing teams for the full length of the court to increase the defensive intensity.
“Well, we’ll make the defensive game their style of game, which means use your quickness 94 feet and make it a 94-foot game on defense, instead of making it a half-court game where a size disadvantage can become a problem,” Carlisle explained. “Quickness is such an important part of today’s game. I don’t worry that much about mismatches in the post and things like that. I mean, those things are arduous and they take time, and generally they don’t produce that much. But if you’re quick and you have the ability to cover ground, then get up and make this a 94-foot problem for the offensive guards. That’s the thing we’re asking these guys.
“We’re going to have the option (to press full court), you know, with our depth at the perimeter positions. And look, these guys are some of our better players, so we’ve got to keep them playing. We’ve got to keep them on the floor.”
Last season, the Dallas squad showed that it could get back in transition after miscues at the offensive end of the floor, surrendering the fourth-fewest baskets off of giveaways while allowing 14.0 points a game following turnovers. The Dallas defense also ranked fifth while allowing just 11.6 second-chance points a game inside. And after allowing just 39.5 points in the paint per game to rank third in that department, the Mavericks will attempt to elevate their perimeter defense by implementing a full-court press.
The Mavericks allowed 13.6 fast-break points per outing to rank 17th in the league last season. The Mavs forced just 7.5 steals per game as well, ranking 19th in the NBA in that category. However, with the addition of first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. to the backcourt and 23-year-old center Nerlens Noel anchoring the interior, the Mavericks expect to see more success at the defensive end of the floor. And after the Mavs ranked 22nd in the league with a defensive rating of 106.3, the team sees a full-court press as the key to a turnaround on that side of the ball.
“It’s going to help a lot. A lot of times people don’t want to press full, ’cause they might get tired and want to come out of the game. But we’ve got so many good guards, we’ll be able to give it 100 percent every single play,” Smith proclaimed.
“You know, I think it’s going to open a lot of things up, especially for me to be able to show my defensive abilities,” Noel added. “When they’re up pressing, those guards are not going to be able to go right by them and get a clear lane to the rim. So, you know, it’s giving your guys that comfortability to be able to scramble things up.”
Offense sells tickets and gets us to tune in on TV. Offense goes viral on Twitter. Offense is beautiful art. For most of Dirk Nowitzki’s career, the Mavericks have played more aesthetically pleasing basketball on that side of the floor than any other team in the NBA.
Basketball fans love to watch offensive highlights. If you’re one of those people, I would tell you there’s no better place to take in all of those Mavs replays than this site.
Too often, though, we forget that there’s another side of the game, and it’s arguably much more important than the part where your favorite team scores its points. Defense matters a whole heck of a lot. I think we all agree on that. But I think we will all also agree that unless you’re a defensive-minded coach, there aren’t many plays made on that end of the floor that will compel you to buy courtside seats or pound the retweet button. Big blocks are great and smooth steals are cool, but most of the very best defensive players in the league won’t make a single highlight-caliber play on any given night. In fact, the only highlights you might see involving those guys will be of the player they’re defending making tough shots on them. You’ve got to remember that even if you play unbelievable defense against LeBron James or Kevin Durant, they’re still probably gonna make at least 10 shots on you.
We need to admit that defense isn’t necessarily as “fun” to watch as offense. Defense is disruptive by nature; the point is to make things look bad. It’s also not as easy to understand as offense. We all know what it means when Dirk pulls off a one-legged fadeaway, but unless you’re sitting in on the gameplan meeting, none of us really knows who’s supposed to do what when defending against the pick-and-roll. Playing defense requires five players to be on the same page, so it’s not as easy to shine the spotlight on one player the way you can on offense. Some guys, however — the lockdown guys — play a ton of one-on-one defense, and that’s where, if you pay enough attention, you’ll see some real highlight plays.
The Mavs’ lockdown guy is Wesley Matthews. After watching him scratch, claw, and battle through every possession for two full seasons, I feel comfortable saying there might not be another player in the NBA who so obviously tries as hard as he does on defense. It’s not always pretty (defense never is), but if you really pay attention, it’s easy to appreciate.
Here’s a series of Matthews defensive plays that put into perspective not only how hard he works, but how effective he is as a perimeter defender.
One of Mark Cuban’s favorite sayings is “the only thing in life you can control is effort.” That resonates when watching Matthews work on the defensive end. He isn’t the fastest or most explosive player at his position, but every night he’s tasked with defending supreme athletes at positions 1-3. He makes up for it with a try-hard attitude and a little physicality.
Because he often guards players who can both score and distribute, Matthews runs through mazes of screens on almost every possession. Not only does he have to worry about contact his own man will create, but he’s also got to keep in mind that 7-foot, 270-pound centers are always sneaking up behind him with the goal of laying him out to clear up some room for their teammate.
That doesn’t prevent him from attacking his man, however. As part of the Mavs’ general defensive plan, Matthews often runs into or over the screen as opposed to under. By doing that, he’s inviting his man to dribble inside the pocket of space between the 3-point line and the Mavs’ center, who stays way below the play near the paint. Dallas willingly creates space for opposing wings to shoot pull-up 20-footers, as those are the most inefficient shots in the game. Those players obviously don’t want to settle for those shots, but by the time they’ve recognized what’s happening, Matthews has already recovered from the screen and is in their face again.
In the play above, Matthews fought through three Robin Lopez screens to stick with Jimmy Butler. The end result is Butler taking an off-balance, contested mid-range J late in the shot clock. This is a masterful defensive possession by Matthews and his big man partner Andrew Bogut, who patiently camped out in the lane instead of lunging out at Butler, risking a blow-by or a foul. Sometimes great defense is more about the shots you don’t allow than the shots you surrender. Butler easily could’ve gotten to the basket or at least to the free throw line, but the Mavericks didn’t allow it.
Matthews was one of only two Mavs last season to average more than one mile traveled per game on the defensive end. That might not seem like much, but when you think of how small a basketball court is, it’s hard to even imagine how covering that much ground would be possible. Then when you watch him play, it’s clear as day. Matthews hustles and keeps hustling until either the play is over or he ends up on the ground.
Matthews ranked 34th in the NBA in total deflections last season, per NBA.com, and tied for 14th in charges drawn. He’s not afraid to sacrifice his body in order to make a play, and it’s that unselfish defensive mindset that makes offensive mistakes easy to forget about.
He also finished seventh in the NBA among players 6-foot-7 or shorter in shots contested per game. Centers typically rank at the top of the list because they challenge a dozen layups a game or more, but smaller players generally only contest shots on the outside. Remember how he invites players to take those pull-up jumpers? Sometimes they’re open looks, but usually they’re not.
The Mavs’ strategy of inviting those pull-up jumpers accomplished two things. First, it led to Dallas allowing the fewest attempts from the restricted area per game in the NBA last season. You don’t want your opponents taking layups, and the Mavericks allowed fewer of them than any other team. Second, it forced opponents to take inefficient jump shots, and Matthews’ motor made those looks even more inefficient. Per Synergy Sports, opponents shot just 34.3 percent on pull-up jump shots against Matthews last season, an unbelievable rate — if you’re the Mavericks, of course. Matthews’ ability (or desire) to fight through screens and still get a hand in his opponent’s face might not directly affect the outcome of the shot, but if anything it’s just a not-so-subtle reminder to his opponent that they haven’t beaten him. It’s a mind game.
He’s judicious with his challenges, though. He doesn’t just fly at his opponent regardless of the player and the situation, and that makes him an even more valuable defender. For example, in a late-season game at Milwaukee, Matthews was often tasked with defending Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak had a sensational game, pouring in 31 points on 18 shots and adding 15 rebounds and nine assists. He was magnificent. But when they were able to, the Mavericks wanted Antetokounmpo to shoot the long-ball. Check the pictures below.
Notice how Matthews is backed off pretty far. Antetokounmpo is a phenomenal talent but his 3-point shooting is his biggest weakness at this point, as he shot just 27 percent from deep last season. Matthews is still contesting the shot, of course, but he was several feet away at the time Giannis rose for the jumper. In essence, he was OK with allowing that shot, or he at least preferred a 3 to a dribble-drive.
That wasn’t the case later in the game, though. With under a minute left coming off a jump ball and the Mavs up three points, it was clear that the Bucks wanted to tie. When Antetokounmpo rose for the shot this time, Matthews was not nearly as OK with allowing it.
You can see the difference. Matthews got a little closer and jumped much higher to challenge the shot. Did it affect Antetokounmpo’s release, or the outcome? Who can say? But, again, the only thing you can control is effort.
He’s at his best when the referees let the players play and things get a little more physical. Matthews can be a very aggressive, tenacious player in those situations, and he’s unafraid to get up in an opponent’s air space.
In the play above, he forced Brandon Ingram toward the sideline and rode his hip all the way to the basket. All the while, he steered the Lakers rookie into the help defense, which resulted in a Salah Mejri block. Salah gets the spotlight, but Matthews made the play.
This is especially true late in games and late in the shot clock. On 93 attempts last season with four seconds or less remaining on the shot clock, opponents shot just 32.3 percent from the field against Matthews, per Synergy. You don’t want to have to create against him when you’re running out of time.
Everything we’ve seen so far is a factor in the next play, probably Matthews’ most famous as a Maverick. It came at the very end of a game last season at Portland, when it was Damian Lillard one-on-one against Matthews with Dallas up one point and 10 seconds left on the clock.
In this single play, Matthews twice muscled Lillard away from the middle and toward the outside. He didn’t bother dealing with the potential screen, instead shuffling his feet to cut Lillard off again on the wing and forcing a between-the-legs crossover. At that point Lillard had to pick up his dribble and had just three seconds left to create something out of nothing. He likely got away with a travel as he collected himself to shoot, and then launched a heavily contested fallaway. It missed.
The play features effort, aggression, tenacity, smarts, and a shot contest. Matthews demonstrated almost every positive one-on-one defensive trait you could think of in one 10-second sequence. And, yet, the nature of defense means if Lillard had made that shot, almost no one would have remembered anything Matthews did.
Defense is thankless and brutal. The best players still score half the time or more, even if they’re covered perfectly. A player could work his butt off for 23 seconds or 47:59 and still be on the wrong end of a miracle. Matthews has seen plenty of tough shots fall on his watch, yet he still scraps all game long to make sure that the next one won’t go his opponent’s way, knowing all the while that it’s not totally under his control anyway. It’s an exercise in insanity, frankly, but it’s amazing to watch.
I challenge you to pay more attention to defense in general this upcoming season. Between Matthews and Nerlens Noel, the Mavs have two of the more unique defenders in the league. Harrison Barnes showed some really good potential there last season, and Seth Curry grew by leaps and bounds as a defender as well. Defense is definitely not as pretty as a Nowitzki trailing 3, and it might not always work out their way, but the Mavericks are going to dial up the intensity on that side of the ball this season. There will be plenty to appreciate on the “other” end of the floor this year. You can guarantee that Matthews will be the one leading the charge.
DALLAS — He’ll likely be handed a heavy offensive responsibility as soon as he steps onto the court to begin his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks. But while leading the Mavericks’ offensive attack during the 2017-18 season, first-year floor general Dennis Smith Jr. will also be forced to defend a gauntlet of opposing point guards to start his rookie year.
Monday, the NBA and the Mavericks released the team’s schedule for the ’17-18 season. Beginning his NBA career against Atlanta’s Dennis Schroder at home on Oct. 18, Smith will then find himself matched up against No. 5 overall draft pick De’Aaron Fox, veteran lead guard George Hill and the Sacramento Kings two nights later. From there Smith will see some of the Western Conference’s top lead guards during his first week in the league with four straight games against perennial All-Star candidates like Houston’s Chris Paul, two-time MVP Stephen Curry of Golden State and Memphis’ Mike Conley. A date against No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz looms from there when the Mavs welcome in the Philadelphia 76ers on Oct. 28. And with early-season matchups against Washington’s John Wall, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, scoring champion Isaiah Thomas of Boston, San Antonio’s Tony Parker, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon of Milwaukee and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook of Oklahoma City to come in November, Smith will immediately be thrown into the fire on the defensive end of the floor.
“This is a fact: There’s no player that comes into this that can be totally prepared to play defense in the NBA with the pace, the strength difference, the speed difference and all those kinds of things. But I think Dennis understands that staying on the court to do that means you’ve got to be strong in both areas,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Smith’s defensive abilities earlier this summer. “It’s important to attack the guy that’s going to be attacking you at the other end, but you’ve got to be able to guard him, too. And you’ve got to have a system in place where your teammates can help you do that, so that’s going to be one of the biggest parts of his learning curve. You know, I expect the offensive stuff to happen pretty naturally just based on what I’ve seen on film, but NBA defense is a different metabolic situation. There’s a lot to learn, and he understands that.
“You know, people are going to be coming at him hard as a rookie and as a guy that’s coming in with some accolades, some hype and things like that, and I think he understands it. I think he’s looking forward to that.”
The 19-year-old Smith’s offensive game is well publicized after becoming the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season during his lone collegiate campaign at North Carolina State. He also filled up the stat sheet last season with the Wolfpack, averaging 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc.
Perhaps more importantly, Smith collected a staggering 1.9 steals per game by showing an uncanny ability to play the passing lanes and create turnovers. Still, according to the cat-quick guard, he still has a lot to learn about playing defense at the NBA level. That learning process may be sped up during the Mavericks’ early-season schedule.
“I want to learn exactly how to play defense,” Smith confessed back in June. “You know, that’s not something that was really pressed about last year. And with the staff we had, we were more of an offense-oriented team, so we really didn’t learn too much about defense. I’m looking forward to learning a lot about it this year, and I think that will be the main thing — learning how to play.”
DALLAS — He comes into the NBA as one of the most athletic and explosive players in this year’s draft class. Now, first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr. will be asked to use that raw athleticism in order to develop into one of the league’s best two-way players.
Selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the ninth overall selection in last week’s draft, Smith comes into the league with high expectations already placed on his broad shoulders. The 6-foot-3, 195-pounder averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.9 percent from behind the three-point arc during his lone collegiate season at North Carolina State. He also earned the Atlantic Coast Conference Freshman of the Year Award and a spot on the All-ACC Second Team after leading the league in assists and finishing sixth in the conference in scoring. Smith will now be asked to step in and immediately elevate a Dallas offense that ranked 30th in scoring (97.9 ppg), 27th in assists (20.8 apg) and 23rd with an offensive rating of 103.7. But according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, Smith’s development at both ends of the floor will be the focus in Year 1 as the team tries to foster the full potential of the budding star.
“We’re excited, and we know that we’ve got a kid that is extremely motivated and that has tremendous ability. And our job going forward here is to give him the tools to have ultimate success to become a great player and to become a franchise-caliber player,” Carlisle said Friday during Smith’s introductory press conference with the Dallas media. “You know, I really believe that he understands there’s a lot of work involved. I don’t believe he wants anything handed to him, and I think he has full intention of earning everything. And we’re excited to have him here today and to get started.
“This is a fact. There’s no player that comes into this that can be totally prepared to play defense in the NBA with the pace, the strength difference, the speed difference and all those kinds of things. But I think Dennis understands that staying on the court to do that means you’ve got to be strong in both areas,” the coach explained. “It’s important to attack the guy that’s going to be attacking you at the other end, but you’ve got to be able to guard him, too. And you’ve got to have a system in place where your teammates can help you do that, so that’s going to be one of the biggest parts of his learning curve. You know, I expect the offensive stuff to happen pretty naturally just based on what I’ve seen on film, but NBA defense is a different metabolic situation. There’s a lot to learn, and he understands that.”
Smith’s offensive game is unquestioned after becoming the first player to lead the ACC among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the 1996-97 season. The Fayetteville, N.C., native also showed glimpses of being able to impact the game in a multitude of ways after becoming the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play. However, despite his offensive prowess and hard play, Smith admits that he has much to learn on the defensive end in order to reach his full potential.
Smith, 19, averaged a staggering 1.9 steals per game last season with the Wolfpack, showing an uncanny ability to play the passing lanes and create turnovers. However, the cat-quick guard confesses that he still has to learn the proper way to play defense within a team system, hoping to pick up Carlisle’s defensive principles and philosophies quickly during his first season. And despite naysayers doubting his defensive abilities and effort level coming into the draft, Smith looks forward to giving the Mavericks a spark at both ends of the floor next season against a gauntlet of point guards in the Western Conference.
“I just go out and play my game, and everything else will take care of itself,” Smith explained. “(Criticism) wasn’t frustrating. Like I said, I go out there and try to be the best Dennis Smith Jr. I can every game. My teammates appreciated my effort, my coach and the rest of the staff approached my effort to a maximum level, so I think I did a good job with that. And they feel the same.
“I want to learn exactly how to play defense,” he added. “You know, that’s not something that was really pressed about last year. And with the staff we had, we were more of an offense-oriented team, so we really didn’t learn too much about defense. I’m looking forward to learning a lot about it this year, and I think that will be the main thing — learning how to play.”
DALLAS — After successfully bringing to an end their eight-game losing streak with Sunday’s 91-81 victory at home over New Orleans, the Dallas Mavericks will try to carry that momentum forward against another familiar foe Wednesday night.
Welcoming in the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs, the Mavericks will try to build on Sunday’s performance during the second outing of eight out of 10 games at home. The Mavs will also attempt to avenge a 96-91 loss in San Antonio on Nov. 21 after putting up a valiant fight without the services of 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain), starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain), center Andrew Bogut (calf), undersized guard J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and fellow veteran Devin Harris (right great toe sprain). And according to swingman Wesley Matthews, the Mavs could find themselves with back-to-back wins on their home floor by simply replicating the effort that they displayed against a tough New Orleans team.
“Obviously, it feels good. But the gift and the curse of this league is you’ve got another one,” Matthews said. “We’ve got the Spurs coming in town on Wednesday, and it’s a game that obviously is going to be a tough one. But if we go into it with the mentality that we had (Sunday) on Wednesday and go into it with the mentality that we actually let that one go in San Antonio, we could have easily come away with a victory there. If we come out with a revenge mentality, I like our chances. It’s still a long season. And if we do like we did (Sunday), we’ll get ourselves right back in the hunt.”
Locking in defensively against New Orleans’ high-scoring attack, the Mavericks collected a much-needed victory on their home floor. They’ll now try to duplicate that defensive performance Wednesday night against the Spurs (14-3), looking to even the season series at 1-1 as the scene shifts to American Airlines Center.
New Orleans came into Sunday’s showdown with an offensive rating of 110.3 in its previous five games, ranking seventh in the league during that span. The Mavs then suffocated their division rivals at the defensive end to hold the Pelicans to just 39 percent from the field and 5-of-20 shooting from behind the three-point arc. And after also converting New Orleans’ 13 turnovers into 19 points at the other end of the floor, the Mavericks may have found their blueprint for success this season.
“I think the biggest thing for us is our starts. You know, getting off on the right foot and getting our stops. And as the game goes through, makes or misses, I don’t think we’re really worried about that right now,” leading scorer Harrison Barnes explained. “We’re confident that somewhere along the line we’ll get some scoring from somebody, but just defensively we’re staying connected. We’re just grinding. I think we’re still a team where we haven’t really found our identity, so hopefully these last couple of games can give us that defensive mindset every single night that we can control.”
The Dallas defense held the Pelicans to just 13-of-34 shooting in the second half, scrambling for stops while outscoring New Orleans 47-39 during the final two quarters. They’ll now attempt to carry that defensive execution over to the opening quarter against the surging Spurs, who have won nine games in a row overall and enter Wednesday’s game with a perfect 10-0 record on the road.
Scoring a career high-tying 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5 of 10 from three-point range, sharpshooter Seth Curry supplied the offense for the shorthanded Mavericks in that previous loss to the Spurs. Meanwhile, Matthews and Barnes added 20 points apiece in the loss as the Mavericks outshot the Spurs for the game, 47.3 percent to 46.7 percent. The Mavs also finished with a 40-39 rebounding edge, converting San Antonio’s 14 turnovers into 14 points. The Mavericks could now once again find themselves in a position to collect a win with a similar display and more of their top contributors available Wednesday night. But after seeing the Spurs capture a win in the first meeting between the two teams without perennial All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and former Finals MVP Tony Parker, the Mavs know they’ll once again have their hands full.
“I’m sure they’re going to play some different guys and we’re going to see some different lineups, but I think the biggest thing for us is this defensive mentality,” Barnes proclaimed. “You know, taking the stops that we had in the second half and bringing that to the beginning of this next game.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday, hosting the San Antonio Spurs. San Antonio leads the season series 1-0 after a 96-91 home win on Nov. 21. That game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. It 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.
Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — questionable
Deron Williams (left calf strain) — probable
Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) — out
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out
DALLAS — After holding their own for 48 minutes against the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs before eventually suffering a 96-91 loss Monday night on the road, the Dallas Mavericks will look to learn from the costly mistakes that proved to be the difference down the stretch.
Playing without 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain), starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain), center Andrew Bogut (calf) and fellow veterans J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and Devin Harris (right great toe sprain), the Mavericks (2-11) stepped into the AT&T Center with only 10 players available. The Mavs also hoped to take advantage of a San Antonio squad that opted to rest perennial All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and former NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker, attempting to steal a much-needed road win. Instead, the shorthanded Mavs would fail to hold on to a late fourth-quarter lead. And after falling to their sixth straight loss, the Mavs admittedly felt like they let a win slip through their fingers.
“I mean, we went into this expecting to win it,” swingman Wesley Matthews said after the loss. “I know no one else did, but we did. And that’s how we played. We played well enough to win the game. Even during a couple of stretches that weren’t so well, we still played well enough to win the game. This team didn’t have 100 points, and this could have been ours.”
Led by sharpshooter Seth Curry’s career high-tying 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5 of 10 from three-point range, the Mavericks finished the night with three scorers in double figures as Matthews and versatile forward Harrison Barnes pitched in 20 points apiece. The Mavs also outshot the Spurs for the night, 47.3 percent to 46.7 percent, finishing with a 40-39 rebounding edge and converting San Antonio’s 14 turnovers into 14 points.
However, after committing their own 17 giveaways and allowing 16 points at the other end of the floor off the miscues, the Mavericks know they must play a more efficient game moving forward. That said, the Mavs will look to make the proper adjustments in time for Wednesday’s matchup at home against the high-octane Los Angeles Clippers.
“You know, we had some turnovers that were ill timed,” Barnes confessed. “We had some turnovers that led to fast breaks, and then just a few breakdowns where they just got wide-open looks. You know, we just can’t have that.
“We were right there,” he added. “Seth played great and was hitting shots, getting in the paint. Wes was hitting shots and was getting in the paint as well, so it was great from that perspective. We battled, but we just came up short.”
The Mavericks committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter alone Monday night, which led to 12 San Antonio points at the other end during the period. The Spurs also outscored the Mavs during the last quarter, 23-18, overshadowing Dallas’ 14-8 rebounding edge and three lead changes down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense scrambled to hold the Spurs to 7-of-20 shooting during the final 12 minutes of play, locking in without several of the team’s top offensive options available. And it’s that defensive execution that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says the team can take moving forward against the NBA-best Clippers (13-2) on Wednesday.
“A lot of positives,” Carlisle said after Monday’s loss. “You know, it comes down to a game of inches. The untimely turnovers and a few unfortunate misses when we had open looks were the difference, but we’re doing an awful lot of things well.”
He added: “It comes down to probably four or five or six plays during the second half that we just were unable to make. Either a turnover that shouldn’t happen or a shot that we just needed to knock in, so it’s tough. But the guys are fighting their (tails) off, and there’s a lot of positives. We’ve got to build on the positives.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. It 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.
Andrew Bogut (calf) — out
Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — out
J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out
Deron Williams (left calf strain) — out
Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) — out