Final: Mavs 99, Bulls 98
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
With his first shot, Harrison Barnes set a new career-high for single-season scoring, with 829 points. That moved him ahead of his past total of 827 points set in 2014-15, when he played in all 82 games. To beat it, Barnes needed only 41. Pretty impressive stuff from the 24-year-old.
Speaking of 41, Dirk Nowitzki is now fewer than 300 points away from reaching 30,000 for his career. That’s going to be a special moment.
Wesley Matthews’ game-winning 3-pointer with 11.7 seconds left was just the second go-ahead bucket in the final 15 seconds of a game in his career, with the first coming on April 15, 2012. This was a good night to get it.
Timely stops are the best kinds of stops when it comes to winning close games. The Mavericks took an 85-80 lead to begin the fourth quarter but eventually fell behind 94-90 late in the frame. But a Harrison Barnes 3-pointer and Deron Williams layup put the Mavs in front, and then Wesley Matthews dove on the floor to force a jump ball and Barnes stripped Jimmy Butler to get another stop. Altogether, the Mavs mounted a 6-0 run to reclaim the lead before a Doug McDermott floater tied it at 96 with 59.5 seconds left. Dallas came up with timely stops and big buckets to turn a disadvantage into a lead, and that’s not always easy to do on the road. But veteran players tend to find ways to make plays like that happen. They also find ways to improvise in big moments, as Williams found Matthews out of a double pick-and-roll up top for a go-ahead 3-pointer with 11.7 seconds left in the game. That was not the play’s first, second, or third option, but the Mavs found a way to make it happen.
Seth Curry has been on such a nice run lately, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage during the last month-plus. Tonight he was positively dynamic, scoring both from beyond and within the arc, and handing out some nifty assists as well, including a no-look, over-the-shoulder dime to a cutting Salah Mejri for a first-half dunk. Curry has been a revelation this season for the Mavericks, especially when playing with Deron Williams and Dirk Nowitzki together. In those situations he’s scoring 1.59 points per possession this season, per nbawowy.com. That is an absolutely absurd rate, and it’s because he doesn’t play with the pressure of having to initiate the offense, and he can feed off the extra space created with Nowitzki’s presence. This was only Curry’s 85th game as a pro, so he’s still essentially a second-year player despite being 26 years old. That’s an interesting mix between being in his physical prime while still learning the game and developing his ability. It’s all coming together at the right time for Curry.
This was the second game in a row where J.J. Barea erupted at the beginning of the fourth quarter to help give the Mavs some breathing room. On Sunday the point guard scored nine straight to bridge the third and fourth quarters, and tonight Barea scored five in a row to break an 80-all tie and give the Mavs an 85-80 advantage. Barea’s impact on this team is well-known by now, and he still routinely finds ways to make his mark on a nightly basis.
The Mavs (14-27) play the Miami Heat (12-30) on Thursday at American Airlines Arena at 6:30 p.m. Central.