Despite first career triple-double, Mavs rookie Dennis Smith Jr. knows there’s room to grow

OKLAHOMA CITY — Despite filling up the stat sheet Friday night in New Orleans while recording his first career triple-double during a 128-120 win, Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. still knows there’s plenty of things he needs to work on moving forward.

Scoring 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 shooting from three-point range, Smith led the way to the Mavericks’ third straight victory while grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds and dishing 10 assists. In the process, Smith became the third-youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double behind Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and four-time MVP LeBron James at 20 years, 34 days old. He also became the youngest Mav to register a triple-double in franchise history. But after also committing seven turnovers in the win, Smith says he will need to take much better care of the ball in order to lead the Mavericks (12-25) to more success.

“It feels great since we won, but I almost had a quadruple-double. I had a lot of turnovers. But my teammates picked me up, and they told me to keep playing. My coaches said the same thing, so they showed confidence in me to play through mistakes. That just gave me extra confidence to go out there and do my thing,” Smith admitted.

Smith is no stranger to triple-doubles, recording two during his lone collegiate season at North Carolina State. He also was the first player in ACC history to record two triple-doubles in the same season during conference play, becoming the first player to lead the conference among freshmen in points and assists since Ed Cota during the ’96-97 season. Now, Smith is the first Mav to record a triple-double since Raymond Felton on Dec. 12, 2015.

However, according to both Smith and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, it’s the costly miscues that the first-year floor general needs to correct in order to reach his maximum potential. And after showing that he can play through those mistakes, Smith will attempt to correct them in time for Sunday’s matchup in Oklahoma City.

“I mean, it happened in college twice for me, so it’s not foreign to me,” Smith said while downplaying his do-it-all play. “Knowing personnel, that’s one thing that’s important. Knowing the plays, knowing which guys are going to be where, how the team is going to defend it and if this option is going to be available, it’s a lot that goes into it. I mean, you learn all that through film and making mistakes. You’re going to make mistakes, but you’ve got to play through them. It’s bound to happen, but you’ve got to move on to the next play. It’s all about keeping that confidence throughout the game.”

“It’s a great sign that he’s really critical of his turnovers, ’cause those are an example of another important event that happened,” Carlisle echoed. “Every time that we turn the ball over as a team it’s leading to something bad. And when the point guard gets turnovers, often times he’s penetrating the lane, and that puts him at a disadvantage coming back and transition defense becomes another event. There’s a lot going on with this, but our message has got to be consistent to him. You know, we drafted him because we think he can be a great player and one of the best players ever to play in a Mavericks uniform, on the one hand. On the other hand, the things that are really essential to winning and are very nuance aren’t screaming out to the world the way a triple-double is. So, I spent some time with him this morning watching some things that he needs to clean up. And he’s understanding that, which is a huge step.”

Note: The Mavericks will now head Oklahoma City and conclude their road trip Sunday against the Thunder. The season series is tied at 1-1. The game will tip off at 6 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.

The Mavs return to their home floor next Wednesday night at American Airlines Center against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Golden State leads the season series 2-0. 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
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) — out

Game 9: Mavs at Clippers

Smith Jr. One-Handed Slam

Dennis Smith Jr. drives down the lane and throws down the one-handed slam.

Mavs know importance of protecting ball better after consecutive high-turnover games

Practice Report: Dennis Smith Jr.

Mavs PG Dennis Smith Jr. dishes on how other teams are scheming for him defensively, tomorrow's game against the Clippers and more.

LOS ANGELES — After committing a combined 56 turnovers while suffering a three-game losing streak, the Dallas Mavericks know they must take much better care of the ball in order to collect a coveted road win Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Committing 14 turnovers while trailing by as many as 22 points last Thursday night in Memphis, the Mavericks (1-7) fall to a 96-91 defeat to begin their downward slide. The Mavs followed that up with an 18-turnover game two nights later against Philadelphia, suffering a 112-110 narrow loss at home in the process. The Mavericks’ turnover woes then proved to be their demise Monday night in Utah as they gave up 33 points to the Jazz off a season-high 24 giveaways. And according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, the team’s Tuesday practice focused on better ball protection going into Wednesday’s nationally-televised matchup with the Clippers (4-2).

“Well, we need to focus on daily improvement in all areas,” Carlisle confessed after the Mavs’ team practice at the University of Southern California on Tuesday. “The turnover problem last night was a huge one, and we worked on that today. We’re continuing to work on the rebounding, and we’ve just got to keep the ball moving and be able to play through tough spots.

“I love the rebounding and hated the turnovers (Monday in Utah). You know, it’s real disappointing, but it’s a metaphor for where we are. We’ve got to put everything together to give ourselves the best chance, so tomorrow’s another opportunity and we’ve just got to keep working. Guys’ spirits are good. Everybody is sticking with it and working hard. We’ve just got to keep pushing.”

Outshot by the Jazz during Monday’s matchup, 47.5 percent to 44.7 percent, the Mavericks appeared to have solved their season-long rebounding issues while finishing with a 42-34 advantage on the glass. However, the Mavericks failed to adjust to the Jazz’s defensive pressure and center Rudy Gobert’s rim protection during Monday’s loss, leading to their piling costly turnovers by the end of the night.

All told, the Mavericks rank in a tie for 14th in the NBA while committing 14.9 turnovers a game. They’ll now match up with a Clippers team that ranks in a tie for fourth in that department while surrendering just 13.5 turnovers a game as a team. Respectively, the Clippers and Mavericks both are forcing 14.8 giveaways a game by their opponents so far this season, tying to rank 20th in the league in that category. And after facing a physical Jazz team, Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. says he will try to engineer the Mavericks better at the offensive end of the floor to keep the team’s turnovers to a minimum.

“I’ve got to do a better job of controlling the tempo of the game,” Smith matter-of-facty said after averaging 3.2 turnovers in his first six outings. “I can’t let them really force us into anything we don’t want to do. Get my guys into position, and I think if we do that the turnovers will drop.

“I mean, the season is still super early,” he added. “We’ve played some tough defensive teams. Golden State is one of those teams, Memphis is good defensively, and the Jazz is really good as well, but they’ve got Rudy Gobert. That’s something we haven’t seen yet until last game, especially me myself as a rookie. It’s an adjustment. It’s something I’ve never seen before, but I’ve got to keep being aggressive the way I can be. Everything else will take care of itself.”

Note: The Mavericks will now travel to Los Angeles for Wednesday’s matchup against the Clippers. The game will tip off at 9:30 p.m. CT, airing nationally on ESPN and locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270.

The Mavs return to American Airlines Center on Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans. That 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 soreness) — out
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out

Game 17: Mavs vs. Spurs

Highlights: Mavs vs. Spurs

Check out all the top plays from Wednesday night's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Mavs hope to learn from late-game miscues, costly turnovers against Spurs

DALLAS — After holding their own for 48 minutes against the Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs before eventually suffering a 96-91 loss Monday night on the road, the Dallas Mavericks will look to learn from the costly mistakes that proved to be the difference down the stretch.

Playing without 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain), starting point guard Deron Williams (left calf strain), center Andrew Bogut (calf) and fellow veterans J.J. Barea (left calf strain) and Devin Harris (right great toe sprain), the Mavericks (2-11) stepped into the AT&T Center with only 10 players available. The Mavs also hoped to take advantage of a San Antonio squad that opted to rest perennial All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge and former NBA Finals MVP Tony Parker, attempting to steal a much-needed road win. Instead, the shorthanded Mavs would fail to hold on to a late fourth-quarter lead. And after falling to their sixth straight loss, the Mavs admittedly felt like they let a win slip through their fingers.

“I mean, we went into this expecting to win it,” swingman Wesley Matthews said after the loss. “I know no one else did, but we did. And that’s how we played. We played well enough to win the game. Even during a couple of stretches that weren’t so well, we still played well enough to win the game. This team didn’t have 100 points, and this could have been ours.”

Led by sharpshooter Seth Curry’s career high-tying 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and 5 of 10 from three-point range, the Mavericks finished the night with three scorers in double figures as Matthews and versatile forward Harrison Barnes pitched in 20 points apiece. The Mavs also outshot the Spurs for the night, 47.3 percent to 46.7 percent, finishing with a 40-39 rebounding edge and converting San Antonio’s 14 turnovers into 14 points.

However, after committing their own 17 giveaways and allowing 16 points at the other end of the floor off the miscues, the Mavericks know they must play a more efficient game moving forward. That said, the Mavs will look to make the proper adjustments in time for Wednesday’s matchup at home against the high-octane Los Angeles Clippers.

“You know, we had some turnovers that were ill timed,” Barnes confessed. “We had some turnovers that led to fast breaks, and then just a few breakdowns where they just got wide-open looks. You know, we just can’t have that.

“We were right there,” he added. “Seth played great and was hitting shots, getting in the paint. Wes was hitting shots and was getting in the paint as well, so it was great from that perspective. We battled, but we just came up short.”

The Mavericks committed eight turnovers in the fourth quarter alone Monday night, which led to 12 San Antonio points at the other end during the period. The Spurs also outscored the Mavs during the last quarter, 23-18, overshadowing Dallas’ 14-8 rebounding edge and three lead changes down the stretch. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense scrambled to hold the Spurs to 7-of-20 shooting during the final 12 minutes of play, locking in without several of the team’s top offensive options available. And it’s that defensive execution that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle says the team can take moving forward against the NBA-best Clippers (13-2) on Wednesday.

“A lot of positives,” Carlisle said after Monday’s loss. “You know, it comes down to a game of inches. The untimely turnovers and a few unfortunate misses when we had open looks were the difference, but we’re doing an awful lot of things well.”

He added: “It comes down to probably four or five or six plays during the second half that we just were unable to make. Either a turnover that shouldn’t happen or a shot that we just needed to knock in, so it’s tough. But the guys are fighting their (tails) off, and there’s a lot of positives. We’ve got to build on the positives.”

Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday, hosting the Los Angeles Clippers. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. It 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:

Andrew Bogut (calf) — out

Devin Harris (right great toe sprain) — out

J.J. Barea (left calf strain) — out

Deron Williams (left calf strain) — out

Dirk Nowitzki (right Achilles strain) — out

Las Vegas Summer League 2016 Game 1: Mavs vs. Heat

Highlights: Dallas Mavericks vs. Miami Heat

Jonathan Gibson was on fire with 30 points as the Mavs knocked off the Heat, 83-64, for their first win of the 2016 Las Vegas Summer League.

Game 16: Mavs at Spurs