After taking an absolute thrashing in Philadelphia, the Dallas Mavericks took a step towards redemption with a win in Brooklyn, 111 to 104.
From the opening tip, the game felt a bit disjointed with frequent interruptions of play via timeouts, fouls, and the ball going out of bounds. Regardless, Dallas got out to a quick lead led by some spirited play from former Net Yogi Ferrell including a crafty play in which he picked up Jeremy Lin full court, picked his pocket, then ran a pick and pop to perfection with Dirk. Whereas the Nets looked to post up Brook Lopez when in need of a basket, Dallas sniffed these plays out early by deploying quick double teams. The Mavericks shot 63% in the quarter to Brooklyn’s 38%, but were only up 6 points heading into the second quarter. One reason? An 8 point quarter for KJ McDaniels off the bench.
The Mavs continued to extend their lead in the second quarter led by a Barea jumper then a beautiful backdoor cut by Devin Harris leading to a layup assisted by JJ. While Dallas continued to play smart and aggressive defense, it would be disingenuous to suggest that Brooklyn didn’t make their fair share of unforced errors. Case in point? At the 9:00 minute mark, Harris missed long on a jumper and the ball was heading out of bounds. For reasons unknown, Archie Goodwin chased and tried to save the ball, only to step out of bounds upon grabbing it. Dallas ball. JJ Barea basket. With Lopez being the only Net able to generate good looks (partly because Jeremy Lin exited the game with an ankle injury), the Mavericks went on an 11-0 run to behind an ultra efficient Harrison Barnes to enter the half with a 57-43 lead. Making up for a poor performance against the Sixers, Barnes shot 6 of 7, for 15 points and 3 rebounds in the first half.
The third quarter was much more competitive. Foreshadowing what was the come, Lopez started the half with a three from the top of the key, to which Dirk (obviously) responded with one of his own. Unfortunately, Dallas would struggle to score as Brooklyn would go on a 14-5 run capped by 3 three throws by Spencer Dinwiddie following an ill advised foul by Ferrell. While Dallas seemed to regain control with Barea turning the tables on Dinwiddie and baiting him into getting 3 free throws, Brooklyn continued to play with energy. Between a monster Isaiah Whiteside to Lopez alley-oop, immediately followed by yet another three by Lopez, Brooklyn got as close as 3 points. With the game too close for comfort, the Ironman Wes Matthews initiated a mini 7-0 run in 49 seconds, scoring 4 points of his own and assisting on a trailing Nowitzki for 3, pushing the lead back to double digits. Dallas headed into the final frame up 82-72.
Brooklyn refused to go away in the fourth quarter. Unable to find answers for Lopez and Dinwiddie, the Nets went on a 12-1 run to cut the Dallas lead to 1 with 5:24 remaining. From that point on, it was the J.J. Barea show as he went on a personal 9-0 run using his usual mastery of the pick and roll to exploit Lopez’ slow feet, and ultimately to put the Mavs up for good. The Nets had one final push to get the game within 2, but back to back baskets by Harrison Barnes put the game out of reach. J.J. finished with 20 points, 7 assists and 2 steals, as Dallas won 111-104.
- Dirk continues to hum along like a well oiled machine. 23 points and 9 rebounds on 9 of 17 shooting from the field and 3 of 6 from the three. What is there left to say?
- While Nerlens Noel did not have a big game, he continues to impress. One play in particular jumped out as highlighting his basketball iq and court awareness. At the 5:08 mark in the first quarter, Jeremy Lin got to the free throw line extended with J.J. Barea on his hip. Noel took a step into the paint to deter a full drive to the basket, but as soon as he saw Lin gathering the basketball, Nerlens sprinted out to guard Lopez on the perimeter. That type of awareness coupled with the physical ability to cover all that ground? Just another reason to be excited for Noel.
- Food for thought: who is the best point guard on the Mavericks? Ferrell starts games, Harris plays the best defense and consistently makes key baskets, and Barea is probably the best pure scorer. Which one do you want to see on the court in a do-or-die kind of game? A game like today’s suggests Barea, but it isn’t definitive. Another way of looking at this is, who is Dallas ‘ lineup to finish a must-win game? Dirk, Barnes, Wes, and? Has Seth done enough to be slotted in? Where does Nerlens fall in?
- Harrison Barnes has been a revelation this season. Regardless of the metrics used, he’s surpassed all expectations. However, that is not to say that he lacks room to improve. Despite establishing himself as a legitimate 20 points per game, and one of a team’s lead players, Barnes sometimes fades throughout a game. Today was an example of that, as after a 15 point half on almost perfect shooting, Harrison went 2 of 8 the rest of the way for 4 points. To be fair, Barnes scored two clutch baskets that proved to be the daggers against a relentless Brooklyn team. Regardless, the extended periods of being invisible on the court need to be more far and few in between for Harrison to take the next step in his development.