Mavs Mekel Shines In Loss At Indy

Gal Mekel is in a pinch. Roster room is tight and time is running out. But on Saturday in the Mavs' backup-only loss at Indy, he made one more bid for a spot.



This Saturday meeting in Indy was an "exhibition game'' in every sense of the word, the Dallas Mavericks having already flexed their starting-lineup muscle the previous night in a win over LeBron in Cleveland.

That was a game about offensive firepower, a Heat Check for all the things Dirk, TY, Parsons, Monta and Jameer can do together.

Against the Pacers? That quintet sat, as did sixth man Devin Harris, leaving time and space to the likes of Gal Mekel, who is essentially running out of both -- and performed as if he wishes to change fate's direction.

“Mekel’s playing great,” coach Rick Carlisle said following a 98-93 defeat that included a 14-point first-half lead and a 52-42 edge at intermission. “He’s really playing extremely well, and he had really good command of the game. He got a little tired at the end. You know, 42 minutes is a lot for a guy that’s been playing 12 or less most of the time, but he did a great job and there were a lot of good things.”



What Mekel did: 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting, with nine assists. The second-year prospect quarterbacked his first unit (Jae Crowder, Ivan Johnson, Greg Smith and Richard Jefferson, good for 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting) well enough that Dallas led 82-68 with 7:49 remaining before the Mavs faded on this second night of a back-to-back. There were boosts, too, from Al-Farouq Aminu (who continues to work on that 3-pointer and totaled 11 points and 12 rebounds), from Charlie Villanueva (who keeps blowing up Dallas' original roster plans, in a good way), and from Brandan Wright’s (10 points on 4-of-6 shooting).

But this was Mekel's night, a chance to breathe from the bottom of the depth chart, where he is perched well below Jameer Nelson, then Devin Harris, then presumably Raymond Felton, even as Felton nurses a high-ankle sprain and readies to serve a four-game suspension to start the season.

Felton's status, in fact, increases Mekel's shot of making the 15-man roster, at least temporarily. As DB.com wrote on Tuesday, the Mavs can visualize the end of Mekel's time here, would gladly take a second-round pick in exchange for him, expect to have no takers, and are likely to help arrange for him a different basketball path.

(We've also noted that Bernard James is destined to be an odd-man out here, and while Yahoo has followed up our stories by saying Dallas is exploring a trade of Sarge, a) there is no clamoring for his services and b) the end-of-bench center isn't even eligible to be traded.)

The Mavs (2-3) don't have a Sunday practice but will return to the floor for a Monday home preseason game (7:30 p.m. vs. Memphis). And the lineup will likely return to some form of normalcy as well, with Mekel shifting back down lower on the totem pole.

"(This was) one of those games ... we can take a lot of good things,'' Mekel said. "A lot of guys got their opportunity, and most of the guys played great."

In true point-guard fashion, Gal Mekel, is spreading the wealth. But for one night, with a limit on roster room and time to alter the tide, the most notable guy who "played great'' was Gal Mekel.





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