The Fast Break: Mavs at Magic

Final: Magic 105, Mavs 100

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Dorian Finney-Smith tied his season-high with 14 points. Coincidentally, both his earlier season-high and career-high (17) came against Sacramento.

Notebook

  • Johnathan Motley got the first start of his career and he responded in a big way, tallying a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds in a whopping 41 minutes. Motley made a name for himself in the G League as a guy who can post up and crash the boards, and he did plenty of that tonight. He also had a couple really nice rolls to the rim which produced some big-time dunks.

    Motley has nice touch around the rim and can bust out a bevy of post moves in isolation, but most of his touches within the Mavs’ offense, especially when playing with J.J. Barea, will generally come within the flow of pick-and-roll or on put-backs. He made some nice plays in those situations tonight, which was big to see. With a few of his teammates at the center spot out for a while, Motley will likely get plenty of minutes the rest of the way, where he’ll get more opportunities to put together strong performances like this one.

  • Maxi Kleber is now 7 of 15 from beyond the arc in his last five games. It’s been a welcome return to form for the first-year NBA player after connecting only 19.2 percent of his attempts in the 19 games preceding this run. Kleber’s shot looks more comfortable coming out of his hand, and he’s putting better arc on the ball. Simultaneous improvements in both form and confidence can do wonders for a player. It helps, too, that Kleber has received an increase in minutes lately due to a suspension to Nerlens Noel and knee soreness in Salah Mejri that has kept them out of games. The German rookie figures to receive plenty more run down the stretch this season, and continuing to develop that outside shot is going to be pivotal for him heading into the offseason.

  • Kyle Collinsworth is capable of stuffing the stat sheet. He’s the Division I all-time leader in career triple-doubles for a reason, and tonight he showed us why. The rookie scored a career-high 14 points and added nine rebounds and a career-high six assists in a busy night. He always finds ways to be around the ball and make plays. Usually it’s through a combination of smarts and creativity, but there’s no doubt that Collinsworth can soar, too. This play didn’t count, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool anyway.

    Collinsworth’s big summer project is going to be continuing to work on his 3-pointer — just like Kleber, and just like most other players in the NBA these days. He can already do everything else. If that shot ever comes, watch out. In the meantime, he’s already a pretty good player.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-55) will play the Detroit Pistons (37-40) on Friday at Little Caesars Arena at 6 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Hornets

    Final: Mavs 115, Hornets 111

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks scored 39 points in the second quarter, made possible by hot shooting and plenty of layups, but also by shooting a whopping 13 free throws. Dallas got into the bonus with more than seven minutes remaining in the frame and was able to stay aggressive and keep forcing more whistles. It was the team’s fifth 39-plus-point quarter this season; the Mavericks only had one such quarter all of last season, and only two during the 2015-16 campaign. They’re 5-0 in those five games this season.

    After a 1-18 start this season in clutch games (when the score is within five points inside the final five minutes of regulation or overtime), the Mavericks have won six out of nine such contests and are now 7-21 on the season. It’s been a nice turnaround.

    Notebook

  • The Mavericks were able to win a game that they were not supposed to win. Dallas played last night and flew two hours East, losing an hour in the process, to take on a hosting Hornets club that was coming off of four days’ rest. This had “schedule loss” written all over it, but the Mavs pulled it out anyway behind an unconscious Yogi Ferrell shooting performance and some unbelievable work down the stretch by Harrison Barnes. He scored 11 of 14 Mavs points upon checking back into the game midway through the fourth quarter (and 13 points overall in the final frame) on 5-of-5 shooting. He’s said he needs to improve as a closer, and tonight was a step in the right direction for him and for this team, against some pretty tough odds considering the fatigue difference.

  • Yogi Ferrell continues to shoot the lights out. He got the start tonight, replacing Maxi Kleber in the opening lineup, and Ferrell took advantage of the opportunity. He knocked down a season-high seven 3-pointers on 10 attempts and is now 28 of 53 from beyond the arc in his last 12 games. Dallas was able to get him his typical dose of spot-up looks, and he also hit one or two off the bounce. But one of his niftiest buckets came off a lob pass from Dennis Smith Jr., reminiscent of a long through ball in soccer.

    No one picked up Ferrell as he meandered over to his spot, so Smith just lofted the ball his direction and it landed right in his shooting pocket. That was three of the easiest points the Mavericks scored in this game.

  • Sometimes when you’re tired and they’re not, you have to dig a little deeper to make things happen. The Mavericks picked up their activity on the defensive end, recording nine deflections and forcing the Hornets into an unusually high number of turnovers. Similar to Dallas, Charlotte has for years been one of the best teams at avoiding giveaways, but the Mavs were able to swipe a few. That led to some zany transition play, too, such as the time Salah Mejri led a fast break…

    …Or when Wesley Matthews singlehandedly stopped a fast break and almost accidentally managed to get the ball to Dennis Smith Jr. for a dunk.

    Dallas took the fight to the hosts on a night when the visiting club should have been suffering through some fatigue.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (15-28) will play the Los Angeles Lakers (13-27) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 1 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Magic

    Final: Mavs 114, Magic 99

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    With the win, Rick Carlisle (708-548) moved past John MacLeod into sole possession of 17th place on the NBA’s all-time coaching victories list. Gene Shue ranks 16th with 784 wins.

    After surrendering 32+ points in the first quarter of each of the last four games, the Mavericks allowed just 19 Magic points in the opening frame tonight. It was the club’s best defensive performance in the first since giving up just 18 points at San Antonio on Dec. 18. Rick Carlisle stressed the importance of getting off to a good defensive start, and he got his wish tonight.

    Notebook

  • This was a game where the contributions of the many, not the few, combined to produce a high score. Five Mavericks scored 15+ points and three more added at least seven points, led by Dirk Nowitzki with his second 20-spot of the season. At this point, Nowitzki is in less of a featured scoring role and more of a supporting role alongside Harrison Barnes and Dennis Smith Jr. For him to score 20 means the ball was moving around quite a bit, which it was. J.J. Barea tied his season-high assists mark with a dozen, and Smith racked up a few hockey assists with his drives eventually leading to Nowitzki Js. But Dirk was also able to exploit a size mismatch against Elfrid Payton early in the third quarter, which resulted in the Magic eventually sending double-teams his way, in turn leading to even more ball movement. The NBA is relentless.

    In addition, Yogi Ferrell had his highest-scoring game since Dec. 22, and Smith since Dec. 31. This was the kind of night where everyone got involved, and the Mavericks needed that: For much of this game they were shooting in the 30s and low-40s percentage-wise, but by night’s end they’d eclipsed 50 percent. A rising tide lifts all boats. When the ball keeps moving and a couple shots go in, suddenly the basket looks bigger to everyone.

  • Defense is complicated. It’s a team scheme — one team, one unit — but that unit consists of five individuals, and sometimes those individuals are able to make plays outside of the system that still help their team. A few days ago Rick Carlisle admitted teams have been “picking on” Dennis Smith Jr. lately, which he says has contributed to some of those sluggish defensive starts in the New Year. It takes rookies years to learn how to play NBA defense, and the learning curve is especially steep for point guards who played only one season of college ball. But in the meantime, he can make up for that with plain effort, simply playing harder than his opponent. He was able to do that a couple times tonight. First, he pressed up on Elfrid Payton and poked the ball off him and out of bounds, resulting in a Magic turnover.

    Then, he faced a size disadvantage in the post against Jonathon Simmons but once again (and twice) poked the ball away. Even better, he was able to recover in time to out-jump Magic center Bismack Biyombo in pursuit of the rebound.

    If Smith consistently gives that amount of effort, he has the chance to become a pretty disruptive effort because he’s also such an athlete. Those are small plays, but winning plays.

  • Josh McRoberts made his Mavs debut tonight, playing briefly in the second quarter. It’s been a long road back to health for the veteran, who’s dealt with a rash of injuries in the past couple seasons, so it was nice to see him get back to action. I would suspect in the coming weeks he might see more time as he builds stamina and works his way up to game speed.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (14-28) will play the Orlando Magic (15-23) on Wednesday at the Spectrum Center at 6 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Magic

    Final: Mavs 112, Magic 80

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs’ 26-point lead at halftime was their second-largest at the break of the season, topped only by the 34-point advantage they built en route to beating the Lakers by 49 in January. They outscored the Magic by 20 points in the second quarter, also their second-biggest advantage in any quarter all season, behind only the 27-point difference in the second in that same Lakers game. Good stuff from Dallas in the first act tonight.

    Wesley Matthews hit six 3-pointers tonight, his fourth game with at least as many this season. That’s tied for seventh-most by any player in the NBA. Eric Gordon of Houston leads with nine such games. (More on Matthews later.)

    Dirk Nowitzki scored 14 points in an abbreviated night’s work, playing just 18 minutes. He now needs just 135 points to reach 30,000 for his career. Correctly pick the game and quarter that he does it and you could win some Dirk memorabilia.

    The Magic hit just three 3-pointers in this game, tying a season-low by any Mavs opponent.

    Notebook

  • After a physically and potentially emotionally draining overtime win against the Jazz on Thursday, which followed up an equally draining loss on Tuesday, the Mavericks came out strong in this game, building a huge lead early on and never really looking back. Dallas took it to Orlando from the opening tip, out-hustling, out-working, and out-playing the visitors in almost every facet of the game. The Mavericks are on some kind of roll right now, winners of six of their last seven home games and seven of their last 10 games overall. With a tough Boston Celtics team coming in town on Monday night, it was big for Dallas to continue its run in this one without having to play right down to the wire the same way the club had in its previous few games. The Mavs have put themselves in position to close out the stretch before the All-Star Game strong.

  • With the big scoring nights of late by Harrison Barnes, Dirk Nowitzki, and Yogi Ferrell, it’s been easy to somewhat lose sight of what Wesley Matthews has been doing on the offensive side of things. In addition to the six 3s he hit in this game, he also handed out six assists, his fourth consecutive game with at least five dimes, the longest streak of his career. His previous best was two. Matthews has become a much more dynamic player off the bounce in the last few weeks, and now that he’s beginning to drive the ball more, that’s given him more opportunities to pass the ball once the defense rotates. He’s had great success finding shooters and cutting big men, and the Mavs have done a good job of knocking down those shots. Rick Carlisle talks a lot about the important of his guards and wings rebounding the ball, but if they can also rack up assists, too, that’s even better.

  • Salah Mejri had an unbelievable game earlier this month against Philadelphia, and tonight he had a pretty close replica of that performance. He had 10 rebounds and two blocks in the first half alone, and ended the game with four points and 15 rebounds. Mejri is known as a guy who plays with extreme amounts of energy and activity, and tonight he simply out-worked the Magic’s big men at both ends of the floor. Mejri has been a very productive player lately, and that’s meant a great deal to the Mavericks, particularly during Andrew Bogut’s absence.

  • Deron Williams made his return to action after missing eight games due to injury. He started the first half for the Mavs and played about 16 minutes before exiting after reaching his minutes limit. Williams scored seven points and dished out four assists, also recording three steals. With the veteran point guard back in the starting lineup, Yogi Ferrell came off the bench, and the rookie didn’t disappoint. He helped to fuel a Mavs run in the opening quarter and ended the game with 10 points and seven assists. Considering how well Ferrell has played as a starter, it’s easy to see him becoming an excellent backup point guard, as well, when he’s playing a majority of his minutes against fellow backups. That’s a situation to keep an eye on between here and next week’s All-Star break.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (22-32) play the Boston Celtics (34-19) on Monday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at Magic

    Final: Magic 95, Mavs 87

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    What a difference a change of quarter can make. The Mavericks scored just 0.667 points per possession in the first quarter, suffering through an 0-of-11 start from the field en route to just 16 points in the frame. But in the second, Jonathan Gibson’s hot shooting led the Mavs to 29 points on an average of 1.318 PPP. That is a remarkable improvement. Dallas has had several hot quarters in recent games, but it’s the inefficient frames they’ve got to avoid.

    Dallas made a concerted effort in this game to push the pace, not necessarily in terms of transition and fast breaks, but more the speed with which they got into their offense. The Mavs have averaged just over 42 possessions per game this season in “Pace 21,” times when the ball crosses the halfcourt line in three seconds or less. Tonight, the Mavs recorded 69 such possessions. That is obviously a significant uptick in tempo. Sometimes playing the slow game is good because it allows the offense to get set, but on the flip side pushing the tempo can be good because it prevents the defense from doing so.

    Notebook

  • The Mavs hung around in this thing for the entire 48 minutes, despite not only being severely shorthanded but also playing on the second night of a back-to-back against a well-rested Orlando team. Eventually, though, depth and fatigue may have caught up to the Mavs down the stretch, as the jumpers stopped falling while the Magic kept finding the bottom of the net. Dallas put together another very good defensive showing tonight, however, which is hopefully something the club will carry forward throughout the season. The Mavs have a top-10 defense as it stands now, so the hope is they can maintain that quality and eventually solve some of the offensive issues that have hurt them so far. (Many of those, of course, could be solved with the return of Dirk Nowitzki and the rest of the injured players.) Credit to the Mavericks, though, for putting up a fight for the second night in a row.

  • Jonathan Gibson enjoyed a red-hot shooting night from the field, finishing with 26 points in just the second NBA game of his career. He’s the first Mavs rookie to score 20 in a game since Rodrigue Beaubois during the 2009-10 season, per Basketball-Reference. Gibson’s ability to create shots for himself makes him a very valuable piece to this offense while three of the top Mavs guards are out due to injury, and his long-range shooting is equally important. Needless to say, Dallas can use all the scoring it can get, and this was a night when Gibson was able to provide instant offense off the bench. Similarly, D.J. Augustin had a huge game off the bench for the Magic. Who could have ever guessed this game would come down to a battle of backup point guards?

  • The Mavericks made it a point to get to the free throw line, taking 27 on the night, one off the team’s season high of 28. When shots aren’t falling, as has unfortunately been the case in several games this season for the shorthanded Mavs, the best solution to creating offense and generating points is to relentlessly attack the basket, and more often than not, doing so will also lead to plenty of free throw attempts. Dallas has been one of the best free throw-shooting teams in the NBA basically since the turn of the millennium, so it only makes sense that the club would do whatever it could to get to the charity stripe as often as possible.

  • That dribble penetration was coming from several different directions, too. The Mavs offense is at its best when multiple players can attack during the same possession. Watch the example in the gif below. The defense moves and scrambles so much that it’s much easier for offensive players to get open.


    What’s Next

    The Mavs (2-10) play the San Antonio Spurs (10-3) on Monday at the AT&T Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. Magic

    Magic vs. Mavericks

    Wesley Matthews goes off for 21 points with 5 rebounds as the Mavericks beat the Magic 121-108 on Monday night.

    Final: Mavs 121, Magic 108

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs’ four highest-scoring games of the season have all come within the last five contests (121, 122, 128, 129). This team is on an absolute roll offensively right now.

    The Mavs’ first half was their highest-scoring of the season, with 69 points.

    The Dirkburger broke sales records tonight. If you haven’t heard about the burger yet, check it out here. It’s on sale at the arena all month. This has nothing to do with basketball, of course, but it’s a really good sandwich, and sometimes it’s OK for delicious food to earn a mention.

    Notebook

  • David Lee has made a positive impact in every game he’s played so far in his tenure with the Mavs, but tonight his impact might have been most noticeable. Lee was a force in the first half, particularly on offense as a roll man in the wide-open pick-and-roll. He finished around the rim with layups and dunks, but his finest play was a pass to Dirk Nowitzki in the weakside corner for a three-pointer. Lee brings a unique element to the team at the center spot, as he has the ability to pass the ball sharply on the move, allowing the Mavericks to play a more free-flowing style of offense that Rick Carlisle ultimately prefers over a more traditional system. When Dallas puts five players on the floor who can all pass and all create for themselves if need be, it becomes a very difficult offense to stop. The Mavs scored 69 points in the first half thanks in large part to Lee’s presence on the floor. The way he’s been playing lately, and considering what he brings to the team in terms of skill set, it’s going to be hard to keep him out of games for long.

  • The Mavericks used a 13-0 run in the third quarter to open up a 21-point lead which remained comfortable throughout the rest of the game. Even taking the home team’s hot start into consideration, Orlando was still able to hold serve in the opening half before Dallas ultimately overwhelmed the Magic after the intermission. The Mavs have been an offensive machine in recent weeks, churning out points efficiently and consistently. The entire team is in a groove right now, and that’s the type of play you want to see as we approach the playoffs. As Carlisle has said numerous times lately, however, the Mavericks haven’t exactly been playing a very difficult schedule the last few games. Still, Dallas shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for scoring at such an absurd rate.

  • Dallas had a minor issue with a slow start tonight, but the Mavs’ offense quickly heated up later in the period, finishing the opening frame with 35 points. The high-scoring first was the team’s fifth 30-point quarter in its last nine, a pretty good indicator of just how well the Mavs have played on that side of the ball lately. Dallas would go on to score 34 in the second quarter, as well. Coming into tonight, the Mavs had the most efficient offense in the NBA since the All-Star break, scoring 116.0 points per 100 possession in five games since the respite.

  • Wesley Matthews was a post-up monster tonight. Before the game, Carlisle mentioned Matthews has been getting more looks down low as the season has worn on, and tonight was a good indication of how many looks he can get in the future, especially when the matchup plays to his advantage. The 2-guard finished with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, with plenty of pretty fallaway and turnaround jumpers from the block. Matthews on the block allows the Mavericks to invert their offense with the bigs up top, opening up all sorts of mismatches predicated on forcing the defenders to play in unfamiliar territory. Most 4s and 5s aren’t used to checking guys at the three-point line, and most 2s aren’t used to bigger guys bodying up to them down low. It’s one more way the Mavs can things difficult for opponents.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (33-28) play the Sacramento Kings (24-33) Thursday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.