Final: Mavs 105, Nets 96
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
The lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Wesley Matthews, Harrison Barnes, and Salah Mejri was a team-best +9 tonight for the Mavericks. On a night when Dallas was without Nerlens Noel, Mejri stepped up and provided some impact off the bench at the center position.
The Nets offense began the game relatively hot, scoring better than 1.04 points per possession in the first half, an above-average mark. However, Dallas dialed up the defense in the second half, playing quite a bit of 2-3 zone in an effort to clog the lane and help protect Dirk Nowitzki on that end, and the Mavs completely shut Brooklyn down for the better part of the fourth quarter.
This game looked grim at various times throughout the evening, as the Nets took a seven-point lead in the first half and an eight-point lead at one point in the second. But the Mavericks eventually took control in the fourth quarter, using excellent team defense and some timely shot-making to build a double-digit lead down the stretch. As a result, the outcome looks pretty comfy, but the game was really anything but. Still, a win’s a win, and the Mavs now have four of them in a row and eight in their last nine home games. They play the second half of a rare home-and-home back-to-back against 14th-place Phoenix, who actually beat the Mavericks in Dallas in January, so the home team will be looking for a bit of revenge tomorrow. Closing a homestand 5-0 would really be something.
In his first game since reaching the 30,000-point plateau, Dirk Nowitzki got off to somewhat of a slow start, beginning the game just 2 of 7 from the field. But the legend awoke in the fourth quarter, hitting back-to-back 3s to help the Mavs create some breathing room. Nowitzki finished the game with 13 points and now needs only nine points to pass Julius Erving on the NBA/ABA combined all-time scoring list, something that doesn’t get mentioned very often but is still considered important in some NBA circles. Dr. J is yet another legend, and while this milestone might not be widely observed or celebrated on the same scale as some of his other achievements, it’s pretty cool nonetheless.
It’s almost boring how consistent Harrison Barnes is. He averages about 20 points and six rebounds per game in wins, losses, home games, road games, and games played every day Monday through Friday. I am not joking. Tonight he scored 19 more, adding to the legacy he’s created of supreme consistency. To be sure, there’s nothing boring about scoring 21 points on a nightly basis, but it’s definitely easy to take those points for granted. I’m just not sure I’ve ever seen a player as consistent as Barnes has been, especially in his first season of being “the guy.” He’s only scored in double-digits twice this season, after all, and both occasions came in blowout wins.
J.J. Barea made his return to action after nearly two months away. Barea and Nowitzki connected at the beginning of the fourth quarter, rekindling their notorious connection. The Puerto Rican’s impact off the bench can never be understated; he’s arguably the best backup point guard in the NBA because of how he can influence the offense in the pick-and-roll, especially in partnership with the German. He was a sight for sore eyes for the Mavs. Meanwhile, center Nerlens Noel missed the game with a sore left knee, with Rick Carlisle saying it’s “not considered serious” and that he’d be day-to-day. Stay tuned for an update on his status tomorrow.
The Mavs (28-36) will play the Phoenix Suns (21-44) on Saturday at American Airlines Center at 8 p.m. Central.