Final: Rockets 106, Mavs 98
Box Score | Highlights
Behind the Box Score
How much room for growth is there in Harrison Barnes’ game? Based on his touches alone, a ton. He’s taken at least 14 shots in both games so far this season. In his four years with the Golden State Warriors, Barnes took at least 14 shots in back-to-back games just one time. He’s already enjoying an unprecedented level of involvement, and that single stat alone is enough to show that it’s impossible to predict what a player will do with an expanded role. For now, let’s just enjoy Barnes’ nice start and see how far he can take it.
The Mavericks shot just 36.8 percent from the field in the second quarter despite scoring 26 points, which proved the value of getting to the free throw line. The Mavs shot 12 free throws in the second frame, so despite the poor shooting, Dallas was still able to generate 1.000 points per possession, a solid rate given the shooting percentage. So much more factors into offensive efficiency than simply making shots: Free throws, turnovers, and offensive rebounds also matter just as much, if not more.
It’s difficult to take too much away from tonight’s game because the Mavericks were without Dirk Nowitzki, who missed the game with a stomach illness. The hope is that he’ll be able to play in Sunday’s rematch in Houston. The Mavericks had a very strong offensive showing against the Pacers in the season opener, and of course the German’s presence in the lineup had a lot to do with that. Dallas worked mainly through Harrison Barnes in Nowitzki’s stead.
J.J. Barea started in his place, and from the opening tip he led the Mavs’ offensive efforts, driving the ball into the paint a team-high eight times in the first quarter alone. That was a common theme throughout the evening, as the Mavs looked to go right at the vulnerable Rockets perimeter defense and take the fight to them. Wesley Matthews, for one, drove the ball into the paint five times in the first quarter and 11 times for the game. Matthews has looked much quicker this season than he did last, now more than one year removed from Achilles surgery. His added burst will pay huge dividends for this team, as Dallas wants to create as much dribble penetration from as many different angles as possible. Matthews, Barea, and Deron Williams will be relied upon more than any other players to create that downhill attack.
Harrison Barnes got off to a huge start in this game, scoring 12 first-quarter points on eight attempts from the field. After his nice Mavs debut on Wednesday, in which he scored 19 points and hit a late, game-tying triple to send the game to overtime, it was good to see Barnes continue his strong start as a Maverick and put together another nice performance, finishing with a career-high 31 points on 13-of-23 shooting. He played plenty of power forward in his debut, but tonight, without Nowitzki, Barnes was almost exclusively used at the 4 spot, and I think that played a role in him finding his stride early in the game. Combo forwards like Barnes, and some others who have come through Dallas in years past, typically have more success at the 4 because they are quicker and faster than their matchups on most nights, and Barnes is more than capable of exploiting that athletic edge.
The Mavs (0-2) play the Houston Rockets (1-1) on Sunday, this time at Toyota Center, 7 p.m. Central.