J.J. Barea finds Nerlens Noel who throws down the dunk.
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J.J. Barea finds Nerlens Noel who throws down the dunk.
Highlights: Mavs vs. Clippers
Check out all the top plays from Friday night's 90-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers.
Highlights: Mavs vs. Trail Blazers
Check out all the top plays from Wednesday's 96-95 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Highlights: Mavs vs. Nuggets
Check out all the top plays from Monday night's game against the Denver Nuggets.
Highlights: Mavs vs. Magic
Jonathan Gibson led the way with 26 points and three other Mavs scored in double figures against the Magic Saturday night.
DALLAS — With his team in need of a boost during a difficult stretch, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle unexpectedly turned to the two youngest players on the roster Monday night in Denver during a 97-88 victory.
Falling in the first three outings of a four-game road trip, the Mavericks (36-38) treated Monday ‘s matchup as a must-win scenario. The Mavs then quickly tried to make adjustments on the fly after giving up the most points they have in a game this season Sunday during a 133-111 loss at Sacramento. And with his team struggling on the defensive side of the ball while allowing an average of 124.0 points a contest during the previous five outings, Carlisle made the execution decision to insert rookie Justin Anderson and second-year big man Dwight Powell into the starting lineup.
“Well, if you’re having an energy problem and you’re having a problem defending, then you need to get more energetic and better defenders in the game,” Carlisle said of the decision to start Anderson and Powell following the victory. “You’ve got to make the point, and I felt right now we’ve got to make the point that anything other than your best effort and your best energy is unacceptable. These two guys are going to go hard unconditionally, and they delivered tonight. … You know, you’re going to see some of these guys going forward. There’s no question about it.”
Scoring a career-high 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds, Powell made the most of his first NBA start while clocking just under 30 minutes of playing time. He also stepped up when the Mavericks needed him most in the fourth quarter, connecting on 5-of-5 shooting during the period and scoring 10 points as the Mavs finished with a 25-22 edge in the game’s final 12 minutes.
Powell, 24, had been the forgotten man in the rotation, averaging 6.2 points and 4.2 rebounds in 63 appearances during his second season. But according to the former Stanford standout, the team’s win to keep pace in the heated Western Conference playoff race was much more important than his individual stat line.
“I mean, I think we played with a lot of heart,” Powell proclaimed. “I think it wasn’t necessarily the scheme, but I think it was the effort. I think we were playing hard on both ends of the floor, especially defensively. … I think our guards did a great job of kind of disrupting them and just being pests, making it difficult for them all night.
“We’re kind of back on track now, so now we’ve got to keep the ball rolling and keep pushing forward. We have a goal, and that goal is be in the playoffs. And where we are in the standings isn’t where we want to be, so I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied at all with just this one win.”
But while Powell was becoming a force inside, Anderson was filling up the stat sheet in his own unique way.
Making his second start of the season, the first-year pro finished with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. The 22-year-old also found other ways to impact the game, grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists, recording two blocked shots and collecting a steal. And after earning the trust of Carlisle, the 21st overall pick in last June’s draft simply says he just tried to bring energy to the game.
“My vets, they had my back going into the game,” Anderson said. “They kept telling me, ‘Just do what you’ve been doing. You’ve been doing great.’ And when everyone believes in you like that, it helps a lot. Both Dwight and I, we tried to make sure we told each other to just keep it simple, do what we’ve been doing and bring energy, letting the rest take care of itself.”
It was just the latest boost Anderson has brought to the Mavericks, according to 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
On the season, Anderson is averaging 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 9.2 minutes an outing in 47 appearances. However, those numbers have seen a spike since the All-Star break to 4.3 points, 1.9 rebounds and 10.5 minutes in his last 14 games. And with the rookie gradually progressing in his development process, Anderson could continue to find himself in the rotation for the team during the final eight games of the regular season.
“I think you can see that the game has slowed down for him a little bit,” Nowitzki said while praising Anderson’s contributions. “He doesn’t move at 200 miles an hour; it’s only 150 now. He still plays hard, but he makes good decisions now. I like how he’s aggressive and looking for his shots, and defensively he’s just a beast. He’s strong, he’s quick and he’s quick up for rebounds. And he’s definitely improved already in a couple of months.”
“If you look at our plus-minus and stuff like that over the last few games, he’s one of our most productive players, so forget the fact that he’s a rookie,” Carlisle added. “You know, he’s delivering with hard and simple play, and he’s playing within himself. He’s earned the respect of his teammates, and he’s earned the respect of the coaching staff, too. You know, you never fully get it as a rookie. It’s going to be a learning process, but he’s slowed the game down and he’s doing some very good things right now.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to their home floor on Wednesday, hosting the New York Knicks. The Mavs lead season series 1-0 after a 104-97 win in New York back on Dec. 7. The game will tip off at 7:30 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.
Injury updates presented by Baylor Emergency Medical Centers:
Deron Williams (left groin and abdominal strain) — day-to-day
Chandler Parsons (right knee surgery) — out for the remainder of the season
Jeremy Evans (right shoulder surgery) — out for the remainder of the season