Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

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.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694984/3-pointer-dirk-nowitzki-didnt-like-clutch-play-call

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.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694980/moral-victory-please-its-a-painful-loss-for-mavs

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.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694957/cuban-on-chris-wright-fact-he-has-ms-is-irrelevant

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.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694950/tough-tests-coming-can-mavs-keep-momentum-going

3-pointer: Vince Carter ‘spectacular again’

As soon as Vince Carter ended a Dallas scoring drought of almost four minutes by drilling a 3-pointer, he turned to the Mavericks bench and twirled his right index finger.

The message: Keep the ball coming to him.

The Mavs did just that. And Carter definitely delivered, scoring 13 of Dallas’ final 17 points to carry the Mavs to the 115-108 win over the Bucks.

“I felt in a groove and the basket just seemed extremely big,” Carter told reporters after his 23-point performance. “I felt comfortable with my shot. I was just in the flow of the game.”

Correction: Carter dictated the flow of the game down the stretch. He was 4-of-6 from the floor in the final 5:31, including three 3-pointers and a high-degree-of-difficulty driving lefty layup.

“Vince was spectacular again,” Dirk Nowitzki told reporters. “The shots he made – the 3s, behind the screen, off the dribble, hanging-in-the-air, lefty, wraparound layup – just phenomenal down the stretch. He really took the game over for us and really won it.”

This sort of performance from the 36-year-old sixth man doesn’t come as a surprise. The Mavs count on Carter to put up the kind of numbers that could merit serious Sixth Man of the Year consideration.

Carter has five 20-plus-point performances in the last month. He’s hitting a career-best 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts this season.

His numbers during the Mavs’ season-best-matching four-game win streak: 17.8 points per game, 23-of-40 from the floor (57.5 percent) and 13-of-19 from long range (68.4 percent).

“It’s just phenomenal,” Nowitzki said. “I think every time he shoots the 3 now, it’s going in. That opens up his drives and he’s still got strong legs and he’s still got some hops and some hang time in there and can make unbelievable plays.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ win in Milwaukee:

1. Happy homecoming for Crowder: Jae Crowder had a bunch of big games at the Bradley Center while starring for Marquette. He made himself at home in his first NBA visit to Milwaukee, too.

Crowder snapped out of an offensive mini-slump with 14 points, one shy of his NBA high, on 6-of-9 shooting. He grabbed a season-best eight rebounds and played a productive 36 minutes, during which the Mavs outscored the Bucks by 14 points.

“I love this building,” Crowder told reporters. “I’ve played a lot of games here. I felt comfortable here and I felt comfortable with the game plan, and it just worked out for me.”

The love was mutual. The Bradley Center crowd welcomed Crowder back with warm applause when his name was announced with the starting lineup, as he filled in for Shawn Marion for the third consecutive game.

“He’s about all the right things – plays hard, into winning, team guy – so I was really happy for him coming home,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “I told him after the game that I wish we could play all the games here.”

2. On point: Mike James put up season highs in points (13), assists (7) and rebounds (6) as the Mavs improved to 4-0 with him in the starting lineup.

Rodrigue Beaubois made the most of some rare non-garbage playing time, providing a spark when Darren Collison briefly left the game in the second quarter to get his left eye checked. Beaubois had all of his seven points and three assists during that frame, igniting the Mavs’ 15-0 run that gave them the lead for good.

Milwaukee’s Brandon Jennings, a soon-to-be restricted free agent who has expressed interest in coming to Dallas, didn’t make much of a case for the Mavs to pay him big money. Jennings was held to four points on 2-of-7 shooting and five assists. He sat out crunch time, as was the case in the Bucks’ Feb. 26 win in Dallas, when Jennings had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting and six assists.

3. Mighty Wright: Brandan Wright’s streak of four consecutive games scoring in double figures was snapped, but he made a major impact on the win over Milwaukee.

Wright played 33 minutes, getting the bulk of the playing time at center after starter Chris Kaman was benched a little more than two minutes into the game. Wright had nine points, eight rebounds, three blocks and a steal. The Mavs were plus-17 with Wright on the floor.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694935/3-pointer-vince-carter-spectacular-again

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 115, Bucks 108

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How it happened: Vince Carter came up big during crunch time, preventing the Mavericks from losing a game they led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The Bucks, led by Monta Ellis (32 points, nine assists), made a run to trim Dallas’ lead to as few as five points. But Carter caught fire in the final 5:31, scoring 13 of his team-high 23 points in that span.

Carter’s scoring flurry featured three 3-pointers, an acrobatic, driving layup and a couple of clutch free throws. His first bucket of the quarter snapped a Dallas scoring drought that lasted almost four minutes.

Other than Carter, the Mavs’ only field goal in the final 9:22 came on a long 2-point jumper by Jae Crowder, the rookie who had 14 points and a season-high eight rebounds in his return to the Bradley Center, where he starred for Marquette.

The Mavs built their lead by dominating the second quarter, going on a 15-0 run fueled by a surprising spark by Rodrigue Beaubois (seven points, three assists in the frame) at one point.

Dirk Nowitzki had his third double-double of the season, scoring 19 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. He had 17 of his points in the first half.

Mike James had his best all-around performance as a Maverick, putting up 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds and holding Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings to four points and five assists.

What it means: The Mavs (30-33) remained three games behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers in the West standings. Dallas has a four-game winning streak for only the second time this season. This is the first time all season that the Mavs have won three consecutive games on the road.

Play of the game: Brandan Wright’s block sparked a fast break that Beaubois finished with a 3-pointer a few seconds before halftime. After Wright rejected Ellis’ floater in the lane, James pushed the ball up the floor and found Beaubois wide open in the corner. Beaubois knocked down the shot to extend the Mavs’ lead to eight points.

Stat of the night: The Mavs are 4-0 since Rick Carlisle inserted James into the starting lineup.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694928/rapid-reaction-mavericks-115-bucks-108