Mavs saw growth at ‘right pace’ during rookie Justin Anderson’s first season

DALLAS — Selected with the 21st overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft, Dallas Mavericks rookie Justin Anderson didn’t expect to be asked to carry a heavy load during his first professional season. He only hoped to fit in.

Joining a Dallas team with proven veterans on the wings, Anderson hoped to simply work his way into the rotation during his rookie season. But with injuries to the Mavericks’ veteran core, the former Virginia standout saw himself thrust into a starting role late in the season and into the playoffs.

All told, Anderson appeared in 55 games this season, sliding into the starting lineup nine times for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. He also averaged 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds an outing, making the most of his 11.8 minutes per game. But after scoring 14 points, pulling down four rebounds, dishing an assist, recording a block and collecting three steals in the Mavericks’ first-round playoff series-clinching 118-104 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anderson may have saved his best performance of the season for last.

“I think Justin is just really starting to come into his own. The last game was, I think, a nice caption of what he could be,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson explained.

Playing few meaningful minutes throughout the early stage of the season, Anderson was called upon after the Mavericks dropped three games below .500 following a 133-111 loss at Sacramento on March 27. He was then inserted into the first unit while making his second career start the following night in Denver. And alongside second-year big man Dwight Powell, Anderson proved to be just the spark the Mavs needed for a 97-88 victory, scoring 11 points, grabbing four rebounds, dishing two assists, grabbing a steal and registering two blocks in 24 minutes of action.

The Mavericks won the next five games after that as well, capturing victories in seven of their final nine outings to reach the playoffs for a 15th time in 16 years. That included Anderson’s career-high 19 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks in a 103-93 win over Memphis on April 8. And according to Carlisle, the emergence of Anderson was a major key to turning the team’s season around.

“You know, when you have a definable skill in the NBA and you’re a competitor, you know, you can play and be effective as a younger player,” Carlisle explained.

“Anderson played extremely well, particularly the last 15 games,” the coach added. “The last nine of the season, and then the five in the playoffs. … We want to develop more of (his game), but at the right pace. You know, again, one of his great skills is his competitiveness, and that’s something you look for in any draft prospect, free agent, or anything else. That last nine games of the regular season, when he was in the starting lineup the majority of the time, he gave us a great physical presence, he gave us a great competitive presence, he gave us rebounding, toughness, along with scoring and shotmaking.”

Experiencing a fair share of highs and lows during his rookie season, Anderson will now try to build on his stellar play to close the year.

Seeing a spike in his minutes in the month of April to 26.3 a game, the 22-year-old Anderson averaged 7.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.1 blocks during the final seven games of the regular season. He then upped his scoring average in the playoffs, posting 9.4 points, 4.0 boards and 1.4 assists in 18.8 minutes an outing as the Mavs fell to the Thunder in five games. He’ll now attempt to build on the success of this season, vowing to return as a better player in Year 2.

“It was a rookie year, for sure. I’m very appreciative of it. I’m appreciative of the ups and the downs,” Anderson said last month during his exit interview with the Dallas media. “I can think back to a couple of specific moments of going through what everyone tried to warn me about, but you never really understand until you get in the situation. But I’m just very appreciative for how this organization handled my development. They were always honest with me and I love that moving forward, knowing there’s a trust between the two. I’m just very excited to say that I finished an entire NBA season and also to be able to say that I went to the playoffs in my rookie season. I mean, that means a lot to me personally, growing up and watching the playoffs on all the different networks. You know, watching the greats play in the playoffs, it’s the toughest time of the year. But also hearing the stories of guys who haven’t been in the playoffs after five, six, seven or multiple years, that’s a pretty cool accomplishment. So, I’m just trying to take the positive things and roll with them into the summer, so I can get that good vibe and get ready to start training for another big season next year.”

Raymond Felton proved his worth to Mavs during ’15-16 season

DALLAS — Bouncing back from an injury-riddled 2014-15 campaign that caused a slip in his production after joining the Dallas Mavericks via a trade last summer, 11-year veteran guard Raymond Felton lifted the team when it needed him most this season.

Accompanying former center Tyson Chandler in a six-player trade from New York prior to last summer’s NBA Draft, Felton quickly found himself in a crowded backcourt during his first season in Dallas. The former North Carolina standout and No. 5 pick in the ’05 draft was also slowed after suffering a high ankle sprain in the second outing of exhibition play, limiting his effectiveness during the season.

Appearing in 29 games for the Mavericks during the ’14-15 schedule, Felton averaged just 3.7 points and 1.4 assists an outing in his 9.7 minutes of work. He then made up for lost time this season by raising those numbers across the board, averaging 9.5 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 27.4 minutes an outing while making 80 appearances. The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder also increased his production in the postseason, averaging 15.0 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists in 34.4 minutes of action an outing as the Mavs fell to the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games during the first round of the playoffs. But after producing a bounce-back season to emerge as a key contributor for the Mavericks, Felton certainly may have raised his value as he enters free agency on July 1.

“Overall, I feel like I had a pretty good season,” Felton said last week during his exit interview with the Dallas media. “It didn’t quite end up the way that we wanted. You know, we wish we were still playing right now, but we’re not. But as an individual, I feel like I had a good season and did what I needed to do. You know, I proved a lot of things that I needed to prove, but I’m not an individual guy. I’m a team guy, so I’ve got to give thanks to my teammates for the belief they had in me. You know, the coaching staff and just this organization period for the confidence and the belief they gave me this year.”

Stepping into the starting lineup 31 times during the regular season and four games in the playoffs, Felton proved to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle his value to the team. He also willing accepted a reserve role during his two seasons in Dallas after making 611 starts during his previous 667 total games during stints with Charlotte, New York, Denver and Portland.

That willingness to sacrifice minutes and stardom made a strong impression in the locker room, according to Carlisle. And after seeing Felton step up his play this season, the coach says it was gratifying to watch.

“Ray Felton had a great year for us,” Carlisle said while praising the 31-year-old floor general. “You know, he’s a veteran, he’s a smart player and he’s a winner. You know, if you look at our whole team, he’s been one of our most productive guys, really, from the beginning of the year to now. … I mean, he’s a fearless competitor, and he’s earned the respect of the guys in our locker room.”

However, Felton could now find himself in a different locker room should potential suitors lure him away in free agency this summer.

Hoping to play for a championship contender next season, Felton will admittedly search for the best place where he can add an elusive title. That said, Felton will also look for financial security with a long-term deal. Still, the veteran guard says he hopes his search leads to a return to Dallas as the Mavericks try to build on this season’s success.

“I’m pretty sure I put myself in a good situation. I will say that. But hopefully that situation is back here again next year, and we can make that happen,” Felton explained. “I love Dallas, I love this city, and I’m actually going to buy a house here and move here regardless of the situation. You know, it would be great to move into that new house and sign back here, so we’ll see what happens.

“I mean, it’s a little bit of everything. At this point in my career, you know, I want to be able to play with a team that’s going to have a chance to win a championship and have a chance to (go deep) into the playoffs. I mean, everything is a factor. And at the end of the day, you still want to get what you’re worth.”

After clinching playoff berth, Mavs focus on moving up West standings

SALT LAKE CITY — Clinching a playoff berth for the 15th time in 16 seasons Monday following a 101-92 road win in Utah, the Dallas Mavericks will now turn their focus to moving up the Western Conference standings in the regular-season finale Wednesday night against the San Antonio Spurs.

Rallying together after having their six-game winning streak ended with a 98-91 loss at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, the Mavericks (42-39) didn’t leave their playoff chances in doubt the following night in the final road game of the season. The Mavs also assured themselves at least the seventh seed in the West playoff picture, locking up a winning season in the process after a victory in a hostile environment. And after seeing his team come together following a 133-111 loss in Sacramento on March 27 to fall three games below .500, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle praised his players for defying the odds to extend their season into the playoffs.

“Well, it’s been a lot of work,” Carlisle said after the Mavericks notched a seventh win in the last eight games to return to the postseason. “It’s been an amazing two weeks. Our guys looked like they were down and out, and we all dug in. Everybody dug in, especially the players, and we found a way to get into the playoffs. And (Monday) was Game 7. That’s the way we approached it. We did not want to back our way into this. We wanted to win a hard game in a hard environment, and we played the kind of game you have to play.

“You know, I’m really thrilled for our guys. It guarantees a winning record. And we still have a chance to move up, which is exciting.”

Sitting at 35-38 after the loss in Sacramento, the Mavericks admit that their chances of returning to the playoffs appeared grim.

The Mavs found themselves bitten by the injury bug following the season-ending arthroscopic surgery of small forward Chandler Parsons to address an injury to his right medial meniscus. The team then played eight straight games minus three-time All-Star point guard Deron Williams while he was forced to sit with a left abdominal strain. Still, the Mavericks continued to fight their way into the playoffs with a valiant run. And with a veteran core leading the way, the Mavs accomplished one goal that they set for themselves at the beginning of training camp back in September.

“It’s impressive,” 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after scoing 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds Monday night. “Nobody thought we could still make it two weeks ago. We were two or three games below .500, and things didn’t look good at all. We had just got blown out at (Sacramento), and we just came together as a veteran team.”

He added: “It was a tough season again, but we’ve got some guys who are veterans, who want to play together and ultimately wanted to make the playoffs. Not a lot of guys gave us a chance, looking at our roster before the season with two of our main guys coming off major surgery. I saw a lot of websites actually picked us finishing last in the West, and I think we took that challenge and made the playoffs in a tough West, so that’s good. But we’ve been in the playoffs a few times since the championship (in 2011) and were a first-round exit, so hopefully we can keep this momentum and see what happens.”

Moving up from the seventh seed to possibly as high as fifth before the playoffs get underway could help the Mavericks’ chances of advancing out of the first round.

The Portland Trail Blazers currently sit in the fifth position, but they could slide by falling in their final game Wednesday night at home against Denver. Meanwhile, the Memphis Grizzlies certainly don’t have a light schedule to finish the regular season, traveling to the West Coast for their last two games against the Clippers and the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors. And with the Mavs hoping to finish strong themselves, Wednesday’s regular-season finale against the second-seeded Spurs (65-15) could have a lot at stake.

“We’ve still got to try to win out,” Williams said following his 23-point effort Monday. “You know, we still could have some help from Memphis, win out and move up to the sixth seed. You know, this team wants to be as high of a seed as possible, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. And we’ll try to take care of business at home against San Antonio.”

“Going down three games under .500 really woke everybody up, but we’ve still got a job to do and still have got a chance to climb. And that’s where our focus is right now,” swingman Wesley Matthews added. “We’re extremely excited, obviously, knowing we’ll be playing in the postseason, and we feel we deserve to be playing in the postseason. I’m happy for our organization, I’m happy for the fans, but we’ve still got a job to do.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Wednesday, hosting the San Antonio Spurs in the regular-season finale. San Antonio leads season series 3-0. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.

baylor

Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Chandler Parsons (right knee surgery) — out for the remainder of the season

Jeremy Evans (right shoulder surgery) — out for the remainder of the season

Mavs view Rockets as different team with Dwight Howard in lineup

DALLAS — Although he only played in one of the four Southwest Division matchups and just 41 games for the season, the Dallas Mavericks say perennial All-Star center Dwight Howard will have their full attention when their first-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets begins Saturday.

Dealing with a nagging knee injury that required mid-season surgery, Howard finished the 2014-15 campaign averaging a double-double with 15.8 points and 10.5 rebounds an outing. He also swatted a career-low 1.3 blocks a game, but proved that he’s still a more than adequate rim protector on the defensive end of the floor.

And although MVP candidate James Harden finished the season as the league’s No. 2 scorer with 27.4 points per game, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says that his team will need to be aware of Howard’s presence at all times in order to upset the Rockets (56-26) in a two-versus-seven showdown.

“Well, Dwight Howard is a great player, and the fact that they were able to win as many games as they did without him gives you an idea of the kind of year that they had,” Carlisle explained with a great amount of respect for the Rockets. “You get an idea of the kind of coaching job Kevin (McHale) did. This is going to be very challenging, facing a dominant center like Dwight Howard for seven consecutive games, and it does change things. It distorts the game at the rim defensively for us and makes it harder to get the ball in the basket. He’s a dominant scorer on the inside when he gets it deep, and so we’re going to have to work hard to limit his touches down there. And again, it really balances out their game. I think they’ve got a great outside game with Harden and their perimeter guys, and the inside game with him (Howard). And they’ve got some really active bigs that do a great job.”

Despite seeing Howard just once this season as he scored eight points and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes of work during the Rockets’ 108-101 win in Dallas on April 2, the Mavericks (50-32) are well aware of the big man’s ability to impact a game. Howard matched his highest shooting percentage in five seasons, connecting on 59.3 percent from the field. He also bolstered a Houston offensive attack that ranked sixth in the league while averaging 103.9 points per game.

But, as Carlisle is quick to point out, it’s Howard’s impact on the glass that the Mavs are most concerned with as they try to battle the Rockets in the rebounding department.

“Well, rebounding is a big challenge. It’s been a big challenge for us all year, so we’re going to have to do a better job than we’ve done during the year, top to bottom. We’re going to get our perimeter guys as involved as possible. A team like Houston, that shoots that many threes, also generates a lot of long rebounds. And they do a great job of scooping up long rebounds and then regenerating them for more threes. Limiting them to one shot is going to be a critical part of this series, without question,” Carlisle confessed.

He added: “There are certain teams that present greater challenges than others. Houston has the ability to go big and small, and so we’re going to be dealing with big and bruising lineups. And we’re going to be dealing with a lot of quickness at times. Whoever’s out there has got to be tuned in to pursuing the ball. … Pursuit of the ball is one of the big keys to the series, because that’s possession of the ball.”

Note: The Mavericks will now begin their first-round playoff series in Houston against the Rockets on Saturday night. The Rockets won the season series 3-1. Game 1 will air nationally on ESPN and locally on TXA 21 at 8:30 p.m. CT.

The series schedule is as follows:

Game 1 – Saturday, April 18 Dallas at Houston; 8:30 p.m. CT on ESPN/ TXA 21


Game 2 – Tuesday, April 21 Dallas at Houston; 8:30 p.m. CT on TNT/ TXA 21

Game 3 – Fri April 24 Houston at Dallas; 6:00 p.m. CT on ESPN/ TXA 21

Game 4 – Sun April 26 Houston at Dallas; 8 p.m. CT on TNT/ TXA 21

Game 5 * Tue April 28 Dallas at Houston; TBD

Game 6 * Thu April 30 Houston at Dallas; TBD

Game 7 * Sat May 2 Dallas at Houston; TBD

Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Chandler Parsons, right knee swelling, out
Devin Harris, left great toe injury, out

HOUSTON, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM…
MAVS TAKE ON ROCKETS FOR FIRST ROUND OF 2015 PLAYOFFS
TICKET INFORMATION AND FAN OPPORTUNITIES BELOW

GAME INFORMATION AND IN-GAME GIVEAWAYS
The Dallas Mavericks will be on the road for Games 1 and 2 for the first round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs and will return to American Airlines Center for games 3 and 4.
Game 1 – Saturday, April 18 Dallas at Houston
Game 2 – Tuesday, April 21 Dallas at Houston
Game 3 – Friday, April 24 Houston at Dallas
-15,000 Team Posters courtesy of Century 21 at the exits
-20,000 WE ARE ONE T-Shirts in the seats
Game 4 – Sunday, April 26 Houston at Dallas
-5,000 Yearbooks at the entrances
-20,000 WE ARE ONE T-Shirts in the seats
Game 5 * Tuesday, April 28 Dallas at Houston
Game 6 * Thursday, April 30 Houston at Dallas
Game 7 * Saturday, May 2 Dallas at Houston

SHOW YOUR MFFL PRIDE
Fans are encouraged to wear royal blue throughout the playoffs. WE ARE ONE playoff t-shirts will be given to every fan attending playoff home games. The Mavericks encourage fans to arrive early and put on their WE ARE ONE t-shirt to show their playoff spirit. Be sure to come Rowdy, Loud and Proud and prove what it means to be an MFFL! Exclusive Mavs Playoffs gear will also be available at all The Hangar locations.

SPRITE SLAM DUNK ZONE
Free tickets will be given to the painted fans with the most spirit through the Sprite Slam Dunk Zone. Painted should meet at the Mavs Excursion on the AT&T Plaza at American Airlines Center two (2) hours prior to tip off to sign up for the chance to win tickets. The tickets will be awarded by the Mavs Street Team one hour before tipoff.

OFFICIAL WATCH PARTIES
The Mavs will host FREE official watch parties for every away game of the 2015 Playoffs. Fans can join the Mavs ManiAACs and Dancers at these watch parties, where they will have the chance to win tickets to an upcoming Mavs home playoff game or Mavs autographed prizes.

HENDERSON TAP HOUSE: 2323 Henderson Avenue, Dallas 75206
GAME 1: Saturday, April 18th
Party starts at 7:30pm/ 8:30pm Tipoff
Broadcast: TXA-21/ ESPN

GAME 2: Tuesday, April 21st
Party starts at 7:30pm/ 8:30pm Tipoff
BROADCAST: TXA-21/TNT

TICKETS
Playoff Suite Rentals are also still available and a great way to entertain clients, host a special event or attend a Mavs home playoff game with friends and family. All nightly Suite rentals include game tickets and parking, as well as a food and beverage package. Fans interested in reserving a suite can call 214-747-MAVS(6287).

Game 82: Mavs vs. Trail Blazers

Blazers vs. Mavericks

Tyson Chandler records 22 points and 15 rebounds, Dirk Nowitzki adds 16 points as the Mavericks defeat the Blazers.

Mavs value health going into Wednesday’s regular-season finale

DALLAS — After opting to rest three starters while patiently awaiting the return of a fourth, the Dallas Mavericks will treat Wednesday’s regular-season finale as a last dress rehearsal before the playoffs.

Locked into the seventh seed as teams jockey for the No. 2 position in the Western Conference to set up their first-round playoff matchup, the Mavericks (49-32) will attempt to build momentum with one final win in the regular season. The Mavs will also try to claim the 14th 50-win season in franchise history, hosting the Northwest Division-winning Portland Trail Blazers.

However, the Mavs will have a few health concerns heading into Wednesday’s outing.

With 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, leading scorer Monta Ellis and center Tyson Chandler all resting back in Dallas, the Mavericks had their three-game win streak ended Monday in Utah following a 109-92 defeat. The Mavs were without the services of forward Chandler Parsons for a fifth straight game as well due to right knee swelling. And after sixth man Devin Harris also exited Monday night’s loss due to a left great toe injury, the Mavs could once again be shorthanded when they try to even the season series with the Trail Blazers (51-30) by seizing win No. 50.

“We’ve got to see what our health situation is,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle explained. “The plan right now, I believe, is to play everybody and get one more game heading into the break. We want to try to win 50, so that’s where we are at this moment.”

Exiting following just five minutes of playing time in Monday’s loss when he jammed his left big toe during a scramble, Harris says he was relieved to see X-rays come back negative after requiring surgery for a dislocated toe on the same foot prior to last season. That operation was on the second toe, however, causing the cat-quick guard to miss half of the 2013-14 campaign before making his season debut.

Harris now plans to meet with the Mavs’ team physician Tuesday, hoping to be ready for game action at least by the beginning of the first round of the playoffs.

“It’s pretty swollen,” Harris admitted. “It felt a lot like when I dislocated my second (toe) back in Atlanta. That’s why I was a little bit concerned, but that’s not the case. It’s still pretty sore, but I should be ready to go by at least the weekend.”

Meanwhile, Parsons hopes to make his return to the lineup Wednesday in time for a tune-up game before the playoffs. However, after going through lengthy shooting sessions before each of the Mavs’ three games on their last road trip, Parsons says he won’t rush back if he feels like it will be detrimental to the team.

Coming down awkwardly during a 104-99 loss at Indiana on March 29, Parsons still finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds while playing through soreness in his right knee. However, after experiencing swelling in the knee and leaving in the third period of a 108-101 loss at home against Houston on April 2, Parsons has yet to return to game action as the playoffs rapidly approach.

Still, while not ruling out a return to the lineup Wednesday, the team’s third-leading scorer vows to be ready to help the Mavericks when the postseason rolls around.

“I want to play Wednesday against Portland just to get back into it and play in a game before the playoffs, but I’ve been in the playoffs before and I’ve played in a lot of games before,” Parsons explained. “If I have to sit out again just to be able to play in Game 1, I’ll do that. I’d just like to get a couple of reps in before.

“It’s important. You can do cardio, you can do conditioning and you can do all the stuff just to stay in shape, but you can’t really emulate game speed, being in a stance, playing defense and running the floor. You can’t really get that without playing, and just being able to make shots in a game when you’re tired. It’d definitely be helpful to play in a game, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I missed Wednesday as well so I can play in Game 1.”

Note: Returning to action at American Airlines Center on Wednesday night, the Mavericks will next host the Portland Trail Blazers in the regular-season finale. Portland leads the season series 2-1. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.

Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:

Chandler Parsons, right knee swelling, day-to-day
Devin Harris, left great toe injury, day-to-day

Game 79: Mavs at Nuggets

Highlights: Mavs vs. Nuggets – 4/11/15

Dirk Nowitzki scores 25 points, Richard Jefferson adds 24 to top Danilo Gallinari's 47, as the Mavericks edge Denver in double overtime 144-143.