Game 82: Mavs vs. Suns

Finney-Smith Slams The Oop

Kyle Collinsworth throws it up to Dorian Finney-Smith to throw down the alley-oop slam.

The Fast Break: Mavs at Sixers

Final: Sixers 109, Mavs 97

Box Score | Highlights

Behind the Box Score

Maxi Kleber started this game 3 of 3 from the field, giving him a 13-of-14 shooting line during a run that stretched across four games. During that time, Kleber’s field goal percentage on the season climbed from 46.6 percent to 48.8 percent. The German big man missed a jumper to break the streak, but you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a run of efficiency like that too often. It wasn’t like Kleber was only dunking it, either, as six of his makes during that time came from beyond the arc.

Notebook

  • This was a very good Dennis Smith Jr. game. He showed more crafty finishes…

    …and mixed in a nifty step-back jumper (his to was on the line) to beat the halftime buzzer.

    Smith finished with one of his more stuffed stat lines of the season, finishing with 20 points, a career-high-tying 11 assists, five rebounds, three steals, and two blocks. Unfortunately it came in a loss, but this was the kind of game where you could see his total impact on the game. He made so many plays on both ends to help his team, but his rookie opposition in Ben Simmons did the same for Philly. Those two are incredible, and Markelle Fultz is rounding back into form for the Sixers, too. These teams are going to have some fun battles in the coming years.

  • Early on in this one, we saw a play that should look awfully familiar.

    Kyle Collinsworth found Doug McDermott with a backdoor bounce pass for a layup. J.J. Barea has popularized — and almost immortalized — that exact play this season with a variety of partners, most commonly Yogi Ferrell and, previously, Devin Harris. McDermott is much bigger than those two, so it’s tougher for him to slip through the cracks in the defense. But he’s proven himself to be an excellent mover away from the ball, using quick bursts along with playing the angles to find open spaces when they’re there. It’s easy to look at a guy who shoots a ton of 3s and think that’s all he can do, but McDermott has shown time and time again in his brief-ish run in Dallas that he can cut with the best of them. If anything, the fear of his jumper opens up even more cutting alleys for him, because defenders would never want to be caught on tape giving him an easy look from beyond the arc. It’s been fun to watch McDermott play here, and it’s also been impressive to see Collinsworth continue to squeeze passes through tight spaces.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (24-57) will play the Phoenix Suns (20-60) on Tuesday at American Airlines Center at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • Game 81: Mavs at Sixers

    Motley Putback Dunk

    Johnathan Motley catches it off the Harrison Barnes miss and throws down the putback dunk.

    The Fast Break: Mavs vs. 76ers

    Final: 76ers 112, Mavs 110

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Dirk Nowitzki moved past Rashard Lewis (1,787) into 13th place on the all-time 3-point made list. To give you an idea of just how odd it is that Nowitzki finds himself so high on that list, the next-tallest player remaining ahead of him stands at just 6-foot-7. The 12 most prolific 3-point shooters ever are Dirk and a bunch of guards. That’s pretty cool.

    Notebook

  • The Mavs’ second unit was the hero of this game. The group of J.J. Barea, Yogi Ferrell, Devin Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, and Dwight Powell was +16 on the night as a 5-man unit. That’s a pretty incredible plus-minus given they didn’t play that many minutes together. That group will probably not outscore its counterpart by double-digits every night, but the Mavericks are at their best when their second unit is a consistent positive. It appears this group has the recipe to be a steady plus.

  • Joel Embiid is a monster, but you’ve gotta hand it to Dirk and Powell, who both played about as well as you can against the Sixers’ imposing center. Both Mavs bigs have quick hands, which led to a swipe here and a steal there. Dallas also drew a couple charges against him. There aren’t many players in the NBA physically gifted enough to defend a player as big and talented as Embiid, so sometimes the best thing you can do is junk up the game with a zone or hard double-teams to throw the offense off-balance. It worked for stretches tonight.

  • Yogi Ferrell has done yeoman’s work these last few games. Whether it’s playing free safety on defense or hitting big shots on offense, the second-year guard really looks comfortable on the floor. His game sort of resembles Devin Harris’s, in that Ferrell plays at a fast pace but under control, and he’s pretty effective when playing alongside another point guard. In those situations, Ferrell doesn’t need to do all the playmaking, but can instead capitalize off chaos created by a drive or pick-and-roll elsewhere on the floor. He’s a change-of-pace kind of player who can sneak through cracks in the defense and he’s a really underrated 3-point shooter, too.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (1-6) will play the Utah Jazz (2-3) on Saturday at Vivint Smart Home Arena at 8 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. 76ers

    Final: Mavs 113, 76ers 95

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavericks exploded in the third quarter, scoring 31 points on a whopping 1.409 points per possession. That means, basically, that they scored two points on seven out of every 10 trips down the floor in the frame. They did it with hot shooting from the field, but complemented their 50 percent mark by shooting nine free throws, too. If you’re hitting shots AND shooting free throws, you know you’re in a groove. After a sluggish start, Dallas found its rhythm quite nicely after halftime.

    Seth Curry nabbed a career-high-tying five steals in this one. He’s recorded at least three in four of his last 11 games. Curry continues to be an underrated and vastly improved defender, but if he continues at this rate, he won’t remain underrated for long. (He also added 22 points and six assists.)

    Notebook

  • All of a sudden, the Mavs have won three in a row for the second time since the calendar flipped to 2017, and they’ve won eight of their last 11 games. Dallas has been red-hot after that slow start through December, and while the club wasn’t firing on every cylinder tonight — Dirk Nowitzki and Yogi Ferrell combined to shoot just 7 of 25 from the field — the offense was still able to surpass the century mark for the sixth time in the last seven games. The Mavericks have looked so, so much better in these last couple weeks, despite all the injuries and rotation adjustments and new lineups, etc. This has not been an easy period for the Mavs, despite what the increase in quality of play might suggest. This club just seems to be clicking now better than it has in quite some time. Dallas will now head to Portland on Friday for what’s sure to be a tough game in a raucous environment. Games up there are never easy.

  • Salah Mejri played what was easily his best game as an NBA player. The second-year pro collected 12 rebounds in the first half alone, which represented a season-high mark. He finished the game with 16 points and 17 boards. Mejri brought his usual brand of energy to the mix tonight, which made him a perfect fit for the style of the game. The Sixers play a very hard-nosed, blue-collar style of basketball, so it takes a high motor to compete with them for long stretches of a game. Mejri took their game right back at them tonight, and his activity in the pick-and-roll completely changed the game.

  • Before the game, Rick Carlisle warned that the Mavericks had better bring the energy tonight, praising the 76ers as perhaps the hardest-working team in the NBA. As usual, he was not wrong. Philly works so, so hard on every possession at both ends. Offensively, the Sixers are constantly moving, setting a bevy of screens and combining those actions with cuts and rolls that stretch defenses thin. Defensively, they fly everywhere as one single unit — in 2017, they’ve been one of the best defenses in basketball in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions. Dallas had to keep fresh bodies in the game as much as possible, as despite the relatively low number of possessions, the 76ers find a way to make each trip down the floor just a bit more challenging.

  • Yogi Ferrell didn’t score as many points tonight as he did against Cleveland, and he didn’t dish out as many assists as he did in his debut against the Spurs, but he made this play.

    Sometimes those plays make a bigger impression than a big bucket or a nice pass.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (19-30) play the Portland Trail Blazers (22-28) on Friday at the Moda Center at 9:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs vs. 76ers

    Sixers vs. Mavericks

    Wesley Matthews scores 21 and Dirk Nowitzki adds 18 as the Mavericks defeat the 76ers, 129-103.

    Final: Mavs 129, 76ers 103

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    Dirk Nowitzki sank five three-pointers in this game, the 24th such contest of his career. As a team, Dallas collectively carried over its long-range success from Friday night and before the All-Star break, draining 10+ 3s in the fourth consecutive game. It’s the 10th time the franchise has put together a streak of at least four games. The franchise-record run is 11.

    Dallas scored 66 points in the first half, the team’s highest-scoring half all season. Previously, the Mavs had scored 65 three times, each occurrence coming in the second act. Dallas has occasionally battled slow starts this season, including in Friday’s overtime loss in Orlando, but that certainly was not an issue against Philly. The success carried over into the second half, as well, as the Mavs put up 95 points through three quarters, the most the team has tallied through three frames since last April, when Dallas scored 101 against OKC en route to a wild 135-131 win.

    The Sixers got off to a hot start in this game, hitting 11 of their 14 two-point attempts in the first quarter en route to scoring 1.20 points per possession in the frame. Most of that efficient production came from rookie Jahlil Okafor, who scored 18 points in the first alone on 8-of-9 shooting.

    Notebook

  • Wesley Matthews put on one of his finest performances of the season, surpassing the 20-point plateau for the first time since Jan. 5. More important than how many points he scored, however, is the means by which he scored them. Matthews was effective not only from beyond the arc, but also in post-up and mid-range situations, using his height and strength to his advantage against smaller or weaker defenders. It was only a matter of time before Matthews broke out and had a huge game, and hopefully there are plenty more to come.

  • After missing a few key free throws late in regulation Friday against Orlando, the Mavs bounced back strong in this game, hitting 34 of 36 from the charity stripe, the fourth-best performance from the stripe in team history in a game in which Dallas attempted at least 30. The old “free throws are free” joke isn’t very funny, because they’re actually really hard, but the Mavs’ roster is loaded with guys who are capable of knocking those shots down. You don’t want to leave any points on the floor, and the best way to ensure you don’t is to capitalize on every relatively easy opportunity you can get. That starts with free throws.

  • The Sixers made a big push in the early second quarter, turning a 28-26 deficit into a lead which stretched to as big as nine, at 38-29. But the Dallas lineup of J.J. Barea, Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, Chandler Parsons, and Zaza Pachulia brought the Mavs back into the game and ultimately propelled the club in front, outscoring Philadelphia by 10 points in the second when that unit was on the floor. Not only was Parsons the 4 in a small-ball group, but Dallas spaced the floor with shooters and guys who can attack the paint. That versatility against a Philly unit with no true rim protector proved to be key to that Dallas push.

  • Nowitzki reached the 29,000-point milestone tonight, becoming just the sixth player to do so. At his current pace, Dirk will reach the 30,000 marker some time next season. It goes without saying that he’s one of the most prolific scorers in league history, and this is just another impressive line on his résumé.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (30-27) play the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-16) Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. Central.

  • The Fast Break: Mavs at 76ers

    Final: Mavs 92, 76ers 86

    Box Score | Highlights

    Behind the Box Score

    The Mavs scored just 0.778 and 0.760 points during the second and third quarter, respectively, and during that stretch were outscored by the 76ers 50-40. It’s not easy to play 48 solid, consistent minutes on any given night, but the bright side, if any, to that period was that Dallas was able to generate clean looks basically every trip down the floor. The agonizing bit, though, is that those shots just weren’t falling.

    Pace was a big factor in this game. Dallas scored 0.97 points per possession when the ball crossed halfcourt within the first three seconds of the shot clock versus just 0.84 PPP when it took four seconds or longer. Several of the 60 “21+” possessions came off of live-ball Philadelphia turnovers, of course, but plenty did not. When Dallas can get the ball up the floor early, it gives the club more time to initiate its offense and find a better shot.

    Dallas recorded 20 deflections for the second time in three games. Doing so often can derail a possession or lead to a turnover, and in this case it resulted in plenty of empty possessions for the Sixers.

    Notebook

  • It doesn’t matter who your opponent is. It doesn’t matter the margin of victory, either. Just get the win, baby.

  • Anytime you’re a road favorite, the key is getting off to a hot start. That’s what Dallas did tonight, surging out to a 16-4 lead to open the game before a rally late in the first half reduced the advantage. Chandler Parsons began the game 8-of-9 from the field, as well, which was a very pleasant sight. Unfortunately he took a pretty good shot on an inadvertent elbow to the nose mid-way through the second quarter. He’d briefly leave the game before returning a few minutes later after some medical patchwork stopped the bleeding. Parsons has looked to impact games immediately while his minutes have been kept low, and he was successful at that tonight.

  • Philadelphia actually shot 50 percent from the field (17-of-34) in the first half but committed 17 turnovers as a team, resulting in 19 Mavericks points. Dallas committed seven turnovers of its own, as well. Sometimes I wonder if playing in a game which lacks consistent rhythm can throw either team off its game, even if turnovers usually result in easier shots. Mavs shooters missed several make-able shots in the second quarter, in particular. Whether that has to do with flow of the game is something we won’t know, but it’s at least worth thinking about.

  • Dirk Nowitzki shot just 6-of-16 from the field tonight, but a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter put the Mavs up 90-84, and the lead wouldn’t shrink below four points for the rest of the game. Even when he’s cold, he’s hot, and his 12 fourth-quarter points led Dallas to victory.

    What’s Next

    The Mavs (7-4) play the Boston Celtics (5-4) Wednesday at the TD Garden. Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m. Central.