Category Archives: Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

Dallas Mavericks, Sports, News

3-pointer: Brandan Wright on a roll

DALLAS – Brandan Wright doesn’t have to worry about whether he’ll get off the bench anymore.

Heck, Wright has been so impressive recently that coach Rick Carlisle is concerned about managing his minutes to keep from wearing down the high-flying center/forward.

“He’s had a terrific run here,” Carlisle said after Wright played a major role in the Mavericks’ win Friday night over the Cavaliers. “The thing with him is I’ve just got to make sure we’re playing him in the right spurts of minutes, he doesn’t get too gassed.”

Wright’s run just happens to coincide with the Mavs getting hot. Over the last six games, five of which the Mavs have won, Wright has averaged 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 26 minutes per game. He’s shooting a sky-high 68.8 percent from the floor during that span.

Efficiency hasn’t been an issue for Wright since he arrived in Dallas with a two-year, minimum-salary deal before last season. Earning Carlisle’s trust has been.

The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Wright leads the Mavs by far with a 21.4 PER, a stats formula that measures efficiency, but his struggles rebounding and defending physical players have resulted in him bouncing in and out of the rotation. Wright has worked his way back in on a regular basis and has responded with arguably the best run of his NBA career.

“Anybody can get in a nice groove when they play a lot of minutes in a row and kind of know when they’re going back in and that they’re going to get opportunities,” Wright said. “That’s a big-time comfort level. It can get tough being on the other side of the stick, because I’ve been there before.

“I’m just happy that we’re winning games right now. I’m taking it day by day and game by game, just playing my minutes the best I can.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ win over the Cavs:

1. Return of Rodman: Dirk Nowitzki has suddenly become a rebounding machine. He has 11 rebounds in the last three games, the first time he’s posted double-digit board totals in three straight games this season.

Nowitzki got off to a bizarre start against the Cavs, grabbing six rebounds but failing to score in the first quarter. His first bucket came on a putback at the 10:51 mark of the second quarter.

“In the first half, I felt like (Dennis) Rodman,” cracked Nowitzki, who ended up with 13 points and 11 rebounds. “Couldn’t make a shot, just out there chasing rebounds.”

2. Crowder comes up big: Rookie Jae Crowder grabbed a personal-best eight rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee, then blew that total away against the Cavaliers. Crowder snatched a game-high 14 boards Friday night.

“At halftime, Trix came up to me and said, ‘You’ve got to bring something else,’” Crowder said, referring to injured forward Shawn Marion. “Whatever that meant, I took it that I’ve got to bring something. I guess rebounding was one of the things I really focused on.”

Crowder is filling Marion’s role as the starting small forward who plays stretches at power forward when Nowitzki rests. Crowder played a lot of power forward against the Cavs, with Carlisle opting to play a smaller, quicker lineup. At 6-foot-6, Crowder is at a distinct size disadvantage as a power forward.

“It’s something I have to be aware of every possession,” Crowder said. “I’m taking on the challenge right now.”

3. Night to remember for rookie: Chris Wright, the D-League call-up who signed a 10-day deal Wednesday, made his NBA debut in the last 41 seconds. He got his first NBA bucket on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left.

After the buzzer, Darren Collison grabbed the ball and passed it to Wright, making sure the rookie would have a keepsake.

“I’ll give it to my mom so I don’t lose it,” Wright said, “and just get back in the gym tomorrow.”

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Rodrigue Beaubois comes to Mavs’ rescue

DALLAS – The Free Roddy B. movement ran out of steam long ago. But maybe, just maybe Rodrigue Beaubois can earn his way back into Rick Carlisle’s rotation again.

Beaubois, the former phenom whose career has fizzled, has at least given his coach a lot to think about this week.

Beaubois made a major impact in the Mavericks’ last two wins. First, he had a flash of brilliance in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s victory in Milwaukee, fueling a run of 15 consecutive points. That didn’t earn him a second of burn in Thursday’s loss to the Spurs, but Beaubois was the Mavs’ best player in Friday night’s 96-86 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“This was Roddy’s best game of the year by far and certainly the most timely,” Carlisle said after Beaubois scored 18 points and dished out five assists in 22 turnover-free minutes.

Beaubois didn’t just put up nice numbers. He made a difference, infusing energy in the fatigued Mavs after the regulars got off to a sluggish start and slamming the door on a bad team in the fourth quarter, when Beaubois had nine points and three assists.

Not bad for a dude who got DNP-CD’d in eight of the previous 11 games, got garbage-time minutes in two others and only got significant playing time in Milwaukee because Darren Collison had to go to the locker room to check his eye checked out.

“He did exactly what you have to do if you’re out of the rotation,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “You get one opportunity and make the best of it. You play until you’re exhausted. What you have to do if you’re out of the rotation, if you get a chance, you have to make the coach play you.”

Is this Roddy B. turning the corner or just another in a long line of teases from the dynamic but disappointing guard?

“I have no idea,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll wait and see.”

Nowitzki’s hesitance to hype Beaubois, whose bright spots tend to come against bad teams, is certainly understandable. After all, this is the same guy the Mavs counted on to develop into a cornerstone after a rookie campaign that featured so many flashes of brilliance that Carlisle was heavily criticized for not playing him more.

Then the injuries hit, starting with a broken foot suffered while practicing with the French national team, beginning an ordeal that included two surgeries and essentially wiped out his sophomore season. Beaubois has dealt with a bunch of nagging injuries since then and hasn’t exactly displayed the kind of toughness that Carlisle demands from the guys he depends on.

The last two seasons have been disappointing for Beaubois. This one, until this week at least, has been a disaster. He’s averaging career lows across the board, including 3.8 points on 35.8 shooting in 12.1 minutes per game.

Beaubois has a little more than a month to change perceptions before he hits free agency this summer. His last two appearances have been a pretty good start.

“Roddy’s saga here has been rife with peaks and valleys,” Carlisle said. “The thing that he’s learned through it that good health is the number one thing and then keeping yourself ready and being strong with everything you do. When he came in the Milwaukee game and when he came in the game tonight, he came in with force. And that has not been his reputation.

“So he’s had a great adjustment in his mental approach. Physically, his body is stronger than it’s been. He’s earned these minutes. We’re fortunate because I don’t know if we’d have won without him tonight.”

Has Beaubois earned more minutes?

“I don’t know,” Beaubois said. “I just need to keep myself ready. If he calls my name, I just need to go out there and do my best.”

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3-pointer: Dirk Nowitzki didn’t like clutch play call

SAN ANTONIO – Dirk Nowitzki didn’t like the play call with the game on the line Thursday night at the ATT Center.

That had nothing do with Nowitzki not touching the ball. Nowitzki’s issue with the pick-and-roll play was that the spacing didn’t allow Vince Carter enough room to create.

Yes, Nowitzki welcomes the opportunity to hit a game-winning jumper, but he has the utmost confidence in Carter to hit clutch shots.

“Vince has been great, so I can’t even complain about that one,” Nowitzki said after the Mavs’ 92-91 loss to the Spurs. “I didn’t necessarily like the play call with me standing right there in his way, but he’s been clutch ever since he got to us. Made some big shots last year for us and all season this year, he’s probably been our most clutch player. We’ll live with that shot, but like I said, I don’t think he had enough options.”

Coach Rick Carlisle, who didn’t have a timeout to mull over his options after the Spurs took their foul to give with 5.6 seconds remaining, called for Carter to run a pick-and-roll with Brandan Wright at the top of the 3-point arc.

After the Spurs switched, putting power forward Tiago Splitter on Carter, the Mavs’ sixth man created some space and launched a 26-footer that hit the front rim and fell to the floor.

“We were trying to get a clean, open shot or the cleanest shot that we could get,” Carlisle said. “Vince is the one guy we have that can create the best separation. It was either going to be a roll to Wright or Vince taking the shot himself.

“It’s just very difficult in that situation with five seconds to get the ball to Dirk and get him in a position where he can really do something with it. They’re going to be laying all over him. Vince created a good shot. It just didn’t go down.”

Nowitzki’s problem with the play was the poor spacing. He felt like his presence to Carter’s left added clutter, forcing Carter to settle for a long jumper instead of attacking off the dribble.

“Like I said, give the ball to Vince, it’s great,” Nowitzki said. “But there was really no room for him to go. I was standing right there on his left. I probably should have cut out or done something to give him more room to drive. This way, he only had the 3.”

But the only problem Carter had with the play was that his shot didn’t go down.

“It’s five seconds, so it’s tough,” said Carter, whose hot streak was halted with a 10-point, 4-of-12 shooting night. “We didn’t have a timeout, so you just have to make a decision and go on the fly. It was a good look. I didn’t feel like I forced a shot or anything. I just needed that thing to go in.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ fourth loss of the season to the Spurs:

1. Wretched rebounding: The Spurs’ 49-35 rebounding edge was the stat that popped out of the box score to Carlisle. It was especially bad in the first half, when San Antonio outrebounded the Mavs by a 31-14 margin.

“That was the difference in the game,” Carlisle said of the Spurs’ dominance on the glass.

It’s a problem that has plagued the Mavs all season. They rank 28th in the NBA in rebounding differential.

“Honestly, we’re not a great rebounding team,” said Nowitzki, who led Dallas with 11 rebounds. “That’s pretty obvious. We usually have to fight really hard and have five guys in there battling. We’re not the most physical. We’ve got to fight.”

2. Duncan’s dominance: Wasn’t Tim Duncan supposed to be on the decline? The 36-year-old Duncan has disproved that theory all season and was especially dominant Thursday night against the Mavs.

Duncan led the Spurs with 28 points and 19 rebounds, making 12-of-20 shots from the floor. The Mavs had the misfortune of facing Duncan, who didn’t travel with the Spurs for Tuesday’s loss in Minnesota, when he had a few days of rest.

“That’s a Hall of Famer with some rest,” said Elton Brand, who picked up five fouls in 22 minutes trying to defend Duncan. “He got it going. It just wasn’t the block. He ran the floor, faced up, off the dribble. He really hurt us tonight.”

3. Terrific trip: The Mavs didn’t end it the way they wanted, but this could be considered their best road trip of the season.

The Mavs went 3-1 on the trip, beating Detroit, Minnesota and Milwaukee to string together three straight road wins for the first time all season. The Mavs play eight of their next nine games at home and will probably have to keep winning at that clip to have any realistic hope of making the playoffs.

“We had some great wins, great team efforts with everybody contributing,” Nowitzki said. “That’s the only way we’re going to make a run here in the last 18 games or whatever we’ve got left. … We’ve got to be clicking on all cylinders.”

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Moral victory? Please, it’s a painful loss for Mavs

SAN ANTONIO – Hey, this was a heck of a lot better than the Mavericks’ last trip to the ATT Center.

It just wasn’t good enough for a Dallas team desperate for wins.

At least the Mavs put up a fight in this meeting against the Spurs, something that hadn’t happened the previous three times the Interstate 35 rivals ran into each other this season. Their Dec. 23 visit to San Antonio was especially embarrassing, with the Spurs spanking the Mavs by 38 points in Dirk Nowitzki’s season debut.

This one went down to the wire. The Mavs’ made a furious comeback, fighting back from an eight-point deficit with 2:37 to go, but it fell just short when Vince Carter didn’t get the shooter’s roll on the final possession.

Frankly, the 92-91 loss Thursday night didn’t feel any better than a blowout. This might even have been more painful for the Mavs.

“That’s kind of been the motto of our year,” Nowitzki said after his 21-point, 11-rebound performance. “We are right there but just cannot get over the hump.”

Progress alone won’t get the Mavs in the playoffs. The dramatic improvement the Mavs have made recently will feel empty if their vacation begins April 18.

That’s why there was such a somber mood in the Mavs’ locker room. They’re well aware of their spot in the West standings – 10th, three games out of eighth – and what they have to do to climb into the playoff picture. They can’t afford to let any opportunities slip away.

No team in NBA history has ever qualified for the playoffs because of moral victories. And a franchise that has qualified for a dozen consecutive postseasons doesn’t salvage any joy from a competitive loss to the West’s best team.

“We don’t accept this loss as a moral victory,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s just not what we’re about and that’s not where we’re at.”

There are legitimate reasons to be encouraged by the Mavs. This loss snapped a season-best-matching four-game winning streak, including three straight road wins.

But there’s also the reality that the Mavs have to be remarkable for the rest of the regular season to get the honor of matching up with the Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder – two teams that the Mavs have failed to beat this season – in the first round of the playoffs.

Although San Antonio missing All-Star point guard Tony Parker, the Mavs at least left the ATT Center this time confident that they can compete with the Spurs. That, however, is a frustrating feeling after a loss.

Carter, the 36-year-old sixth man who was spectacular on the rest of the road trip, took the loss especially hard. He was one of the last ones to leave the locker room, sitting at his stall and staring straight ahead for several minutes before getting in the shower.

Carlisle had the confidence to call a play for Carter when the Mavs had the ball out of bounds with 5.6 seconds remaining. Carter felt like he failed to reward that confidence.

The Spurs switched on the Carter/Brandan Wright pick-and-roll, putting power forward Tiago Splitter on Carter at the top of the arc. Carter created some separation and launched a 26-footer that he thought was going to splash through the net to seal what would have been a huge win for the Mavs.

“Damn right, looked good and felt good,” Carter said about the 3-pointer that hit front rim. “If I’m put in that position, I feel like I’ve got to make the shot. It never sits well with me, regardless if it was a good shot or not. We’re playing for so much, so I needed it to go in, plain and simple.”

The result wasn’t a moral victory. It was just the Mavs’ 34th loss of the season, putting them perilously close to being in the painful position of watching the playoffs from the couch.

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Cuban on Chris Wright: ‘Fact he has MS is irrelevant’

SAN ANTONIO – Chris Wright was being modest when he called himself a “good story.”

Wright’s fight to make the NBA despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a year ago is a great story. That story, however, has nothing to do with the Mavericks’ decision to sign Wright to a 10-day deal.

“Chris obviously is mentally tough,” owner Mark Cuban wrote in an email. “But more importantly he is a good PG. We think he has a shot to be good in the NBA, so we wanted to give him a shot. The fact that he has MS is irrelevant. He can play.”

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Tough tests coming; can Mavs keep momentum going?

SAN ANTONIO – Can we be completely honest?

OK, good. It took great restraint not to roll our eyes when Rick Carlisle went on and on about his enthusiasm for this team the day after the Mavericks got routed by the Rockets in Houston. After all, the Mavs had lost four of five games at that point to fall seven games under .500.

Well, Carlisle’s relentless enthusiasm has been rewarded since then.

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Carlisle said with a wry smile after Wednesday’s practice at a San Antonio recreation center.

The smiles come a lot easier when the Mavs are winning. And that’s all they’ve done since being humiliated in Houston, matching their season-best winning streak with four in a row, including the first three games of this road trip.

The 30-33 Mavs are still long shots to make the playoffs. They’re also well aware that the caliber of competition is about to kick up several notches, with Thursday’s game against the San Antonio Spurs starting a stretch of facing nine .500-plus foes in 10 games.

But there have been bigger miracles in recent NBA history than the Mavs sneaking into the playoffs. The Mavs, a proud group of pros, are excited about the possibilities at this point, an attitude that has been reflected in their recent performances.

“I like the momentum we’ve got going,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “I like the rhythm we’ve got going. We’ve got to keep playing hard and make plays for each other on the offensive end and just let it all hang out and see what happens.”

Added scorching sixth man Vince Carter: “We’re playing for a lot right now. I think we’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, a lot of momentum. Our togetherness is at an all-time high. We just believe. We had a slow start, but this is going to be fun.”

The Mavs’ previous few meetings with the Spurs this season have certainly not been fun. San Antonio has dominated its Interstate 35 (former?) rival, building leads of 46, 25 and 26 points while handily winning all three games.

The Spurs have been bit by the injury bug, with Tony Parker out for several weeks due to a severely sprained ankle and Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard missing Tuesday’s loss to the lowly Timberwolves due to sore knees. But Nowitzki knows better than to expect anything less than the Spurs’ best.

“For some reason against us” Nowitzki said, “they always play their best game.”

The Mavs need to play their best game 13 or 14 times over the next five weeks to have any hope of extending the franchise’s playoff berth to 13 seasons. It’s a challenge they’re enthusiastic about.

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