J.J. Barea, 10 months after tearing his Achilles tendon, scored his first point of the season last night on a free throw with 3:20 left in the first half. Then he made his second. Over the next two-plus minutes of game time he banked in a three pointer and then hit two more. The eighth-oldest active player in the NBA scored 11 straight points for the Mavericks, and provided his usual spark for an offense that was drowning in Orlando Magic wingspan.
Barea on his first in-game action of the season:
Man, I missed this! I missed playing, especially at home, man, it’s so much fun. Especially with my teammates and the fans here, it’s awesome. Every time I go in, every time I hit a shot. We just needed some energy tonight, and I think that’s why coach threw me out there. He asked me ‘are you ready?’ and I’m like ‘oh hey I been ready’. No, it was just fun. It was an ugly, ugly game and we got the win that’s all that matters.
Coach Rick Carlisle on Barea:
Barea definitely gave us a big spark. Got the crowd into it. Got our team into it. Pretty amazing for a guy that has his credentials- been sitting out for, you know, six straight games. Not playing, not complaining. He did a full workout this morning at the practice facility by himself to keep pushing his conditioning and everything and stepped out there and had an impact. Just by playing with heart and enthusiasm…tonight we needed it. We needed a spark. We needed something out of the ordinary. As he’s virtually always been in these kinds of situations, he stepped up and made an impact.
Luka Doncic on Barea:
It was just amazing you know. He’s a vet of this team, he’s one of the leaders so he just- he’s been working hard you know. He’s been playing all his life and he didn’t have a chance this season so it’s just amazing to see him and I think he won the game for us…He got the crowd into the game, lotta stuff. He went out there- be a leader, show us young guys how it’s done- and you know it was just amazing.
Barea’s current role may be more limited than past seasons as the Mavericks turn to their younger players, but last night showed that he can still make a difference. And we all know how Rick Carlisle loves his vets — Jalen Brunson better watch out.