After Wednesday night’s abysmal showing against the Sacramento Kings, Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle was understandably upset with his teams’ effort, and it was easy to understand why. Dallas was thoroughly beaten by a subpar team (though that team does have Boogie Cousins), and Carlisle had seen enough.
One unusual 45-minute immediately-after-the-loss film session later, the Mavs looked like a totally different squad on Friday, as they defeated the visiting Indiana Pacers by a score of 111-103. Of course, it also helped the Mavs were able to consistently hit their shots for a full 48 minutes.
And, added Wes Matthews, “That’s what we have to do. ... It was a defensive effort, it was energy effort, and it was just a gutsy and big-time performance all across the board. ... That is what we have to continue to do. We have to do it by committee.”
We are not saying this team is going to start rattling off wins left and right, not by a long shot, but it is satisfying for the Mavs players to put in that kind of effort, and finally come out of it on the right side. Of the five wins on the Mavs schedule to this point in the season, this may be the best of the bunch.
Harrison Barnes turned in a Dirkie-type performance, scoring 25 points on 10-17 shooting, and pulling down eight boards along the way. (MFFL’s, vote here!) More than a quarter of the way through the NBA regular season, Barnes continues to show real potential as a big-time scorer in this league.
Not to be outdone, Wes Matthews tied his season high with 26 points on 50-percent shooting. This is the third time in six games that Matthews has tied that season high, and the 11th time in the last 13 games he has gone for double-figures. Matthews has shown a great deal more consistency shooting the rock as of late, and is starting to look a little more like the guy the Mavs had envisioned they’d signed before last season.
Meanwhile, Deron Williams contributed 16 points and six assists, while Dwight Powell scored in double-figures for the third time in the last four games. Dorian Finney-Smith also got in on the action, the UDFA-turned-starter securing a new season-high in points with 12.
The Pacers, a team that topped Dallas in OT in the season-opener and that has defeated the Clippers twice since Thanksgiving, simply couldn’t keep pace with the Mavs overall shooting performance. Paul George and Myles Turner both had nice games, while CJ Miles had his usual strong hometown showing, but the rest of the Pacers roster simply failed to show much of a fight though out the game.
Former Mavs guard Monta Ellis, who one would assume would be pretty motivated for this one, was even held scoreless on an 0-5 shooting night.
“This.'' Paul George said, "is a sad loss.''
All in all, this was a great win for the Mavs players, who have been consistently frustrated over the last few weeks, letting leads evaporate and letting wins slip through their fingers. They played hard, hit some shots, and finally got one to fall their way — something that can happen every now and then even while “Organically Tanking.’’
In addition to being "At The Movies,'' Carlisle credits Wes with helping keep this 5-17 club together.
“It is a huge thing because your leadership in the locker room has to be steadfast about the importance of competing, the importance of doing winning things and the belief that you can do it,'' the coach said, adding that an interesting note came out of the Thursday evening gathering benefitting Matthews' charity efforts. "The entire team was there along with the entire coaching staff. I thought that everyone being there in support of him was a great team-building moment for this club going through what we are going through. A lot of these things carried over to (this game.)''
Dallas will now turn all of that positive attention to Saturday night’s road matchup with the Houston Rockets, who will be coming into the game as winners of seven of their last eight games, including W’s over Golden State and Oklahoma City. Houston is one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now, with James Harden averaging 28.5 points, 11.4 assists and 7.5 boards per game.
Needless to say, turning tonight into the Mavs second straight win will be a tall task indeed. But let's just let the fellas savor this one for a moment, shall we?