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3 things as the Mavericks outlast the Pacers 98-94

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Indiana Pacers Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

The Indiana Pacers were firing on all cylinders from the opening tip with Myles Turner leading the way with eight points through one. As a team the Pacers shot 61 percent from the field including four-of-six three pointers. Harrison Barnes paced the Mavs with seven points to keep Dallas close as Indiana lead 29-22 after the first quarter.

The Mavericks opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run with Dwight Powell scoring four of those points from nice feeds from Dirk Nowitzki. On the back of the Mavericks “Death Lineup”, Dallas was able to tie the game up at 41 all and effectively withstood the Pacers hot shooting with some firepower of their own. And with about 2:40 left in the half, the Mavs were able to get their first lead of the game on a Wesley Matthews three until Darren Collison’s and-one on the next play down the floor. The Pacers ultimately weathered to storm and answered the Mavericks’ run to take a 54-53 lead at halftime. The Mavs shot 53 percent while the Pacers shot 57 percent through two quarters in an offense-dominated half.

The Pacers came out cold in the third quarter and the Mavs were able to take a lead and stretch it to as many as four. But Myles Turner and Darren Collison found their groove as the PAcers went on a 15-4 run at one point in the third quarter as the Mavs did everything they could to absorb the blow. And they did just that as the Mavericks bench unit continued to play well and whittle the Pacers’ lead away. After three quarters, Indiana lead 74-71.

The fourth quarter was much of the same, with each team taking turns making runs, splashing home jumpers and making the timely hustle plays. With less than five minutes the Mavs went on a 10-0 run and took a 94-90 lead as the Pacers struggled to hit threes they splashed in earlier in the game. Indiana finally stopped the bleeding with a couple of baskets to tie it up with under a minute to play. But showing off his off season work, Barnes drove to the hoop and got fouled with 37 seconds left, and made one-of-two to put the Mavs up one. On the following possession, Wes Matthews was able to poke the ball away from Lance Stephenson, the ball landed right in Dennis Smith Jr.’s lap, and he was off to the races going coast to coast, laying the ball in, and putting the Mavs up 97-94 with 25 seconds left. With the Pacers needing a three to tie, the Mavericks strung together a very impressive defensive sequence, staying in front, not biting on pump fakes and seamlessly switching, forcing the Pacers to throw up a terrible shot.

In last 4:40 seconds Mavs go on 14-4 run to steal one on the road against a good Pacers team (missing one of their best players). Dallas moves to 11-25 while Indiana falls to 19-16. It was only the Mavericks third road win of the season, but it was a fun one.

Dirk forever

Nothing is better than watching Dirk play basketball, even if the team is going no where. Tonight marked the fourth game in a row Dirk has scored 15 or more points as the German pumped in 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists. The Mavericks are just better when the 39-year-old is on the court, and I don’t know if that’s saying more for Dirk or for the construction of this team. Either way, since, December 14, Dirk has tallied point totals of 18, 19, 5, 12, 20, 18, 18 and 15. He’s playing efficient basketball, and it’s no wonder the Mavs are playing so competitively as a team.

Offensive balance

The Mavericks didn’t have one player take over offensively, rather they had a well-rounded offensive showing from multiple players. Six Mavs scored in double figures. Dirk led the way with 15, Barnes and Yogi Ferrell each had 13, Wesley Matthews and Dwight Powell each scored 12, and Devin Harris added 10. It was a much needed effort from the team as the Pacers came out firing shooting a high percentage from all areas of the floor. In fact, every Maverick player scored, except Kyle Collinsworth who didn’t play. At least he has a cool haircut.

A great back-to-back stretch

For a team that’s at the bottom of the standings, this was a fantastic back-to-back stretch as the Mavericks knocked off two teams who should certainly be playing in late April in the Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers. The Mavs will almost certainly fall back to Earth (they still aren’t a great team), but it’s nice to see the ball bouncing their way in these close games. The Mavs are probably a better team than their record indicates, and these past two games are further proof. They’ll get another crack at a potential playoff squad as they travel to the Big Easy to take on the Pelicans on Friday night.