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.

  • Game 42: Mavs vs. Magic

    GAME RECAP: Mavericks 114, Magic 99

    Dennis Smith Jr. drops 20 points and grabs seven rebounds to help lead the Mavericks to a 114-99 win over the Magic.

    Sluggish starts have cost Mavs during first three outings of four-game homestand

    DALLAS — It proved to be their demise Wednesday during a 125-122 defeat to the defending champion Golden State Warriors. It struck again two nights later in a 127-124 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Now, after another lackluster beginning to Sunday’s 100-96 loss to New York, the Dallas Mavericks hope to address their sluggish starts prior to Tuesday’s matchup against Orlando.

    Surrendering 25 combined points to the duo of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant in the first quarter, the Mavericks (13-28) trailed 35-26 after the opening period of Wednesday’s loss. The Mavs again put themselves in an uphill climb during Friday’s contest against Chicago, allowing the Bulls to make their first eight shots from the field and sliding into a 13-point deficit before trailing 34-28 entering the second stanza. Sunday, the Mavericks’ slow starts again caught up with them after ending the first period down 33-25. And despite seeing his team make valiant comebacks in all three of those games, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle knows the start to Tuesday’s matchup must be better in order to avoid a winless homestand.

    “It’s really the same old story. It’s an early hole, it’s a late rally, and then coming up short. The bottom line is we’ve got to be better early in games,” Carlisle confessed after Sunday’s loss.

    “We’ve just got to defend better early in games. That’s where we are,” the coach matter-of-factly added.

    The Mavericks’ early defensive struggles certainly were their demise Sunday evening, allowing the Knicks to make 14 of their 19 shots in the opening quarter. All told, the Mavs are giving up 34 points per outing and allowing 65 percent shooting in the first period during the first three games of their current homestand. That must change if the Mavericks hope to end their three-game skid Tuesday night. But as 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki also points out, the Mavs can’t afford to ease into Tuesday’s game if they hope to collect a win.

    “We’re just giving up too many points, really. It was the same with Chicago,” Nowitzki admitted after another slow start on Sunday. “[The Bulls] started off 8 for 8, and that’s tough. It was the same (Sunday night). They scored 33 (points) the first quarter and shot like 75 percent. We’re not good enough to ease into the game. We’ve got to be on all the time and play a little harder from the get-go.”

    Entering their homestand with a four-game win streak after three straight victories on the road, the Mavericks are admittedly struggling to rekindle that success. The lengthy win streak may have also masked the team’s defensive issues after averaging 110 points during the four-game stretch. Now, the Mavericks hope to bring their defensive intensity up to the level of their offensive success. And with the Magic currently ranked 16th in the league while averaging 105.1 points per game, the Dallas defense will have a golden opportunity to carry the Mavs to a much-needed win.

    “We might have gotten a little too relaxed with our winning streak,” rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. candidly said. “We’re not coming out with enough intensity on both ends of the court.”

    Note: The Mavericks will now conclude their homestand on Tuesday at American Airlines Center against the Orlando Magic. The 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.

    Injury updates:

    Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) — out
    Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
    Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

    2017 Preseason Game 4: Mavs vs. Magic

    GAME RECAP: Mavericks 99, Magic 96

    Rookie, Dennis Smith Jr. leads the Mavericks to a win over the Magic, 99-96.

    2017 Preseason Game 3: Mavs at Magic

    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.