Preseason recap: Mavericks (1-0) 89 at ALBA Berlin (0-1) 84
Preseason recap: Mavericks (1-0) 89 at ALBA Berlin (0-1) 84
BERLIN – Even before the Dallas Mavericks stepped onto the hardwood floor at o2 World Berlin Arena on Saturday night, NBA commissioner David Stern said it was always a dream of his to have 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki return to his native country.
Saturday night, that dream became a reality.
“I do want to thank Mark Cuban and the Dallas Mavericks. It's been a dream of mine as commissioner to bring the Mavericks overseas but particularly to Germany because of a gentleman by the name of Dirk Nowitzki,” Stern told reporters before the exhibition tipped off.
Returning to Germany alongside his teammates, Nowitzki looked to kick-start the preseason with a notch in the win column for the Mavericks. However, a determined ALBA Berlin squad stood in the way, taking its home floor in front of a 17,000-seat capacity crowd.
But not even the German crowd could power Nowitzki on this night as the Mavs’ superstar and go-to player totaled only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and five rebounds in just less than 34 minutes of action. Still, with his teammates picking him up on a surprisingly sluggish night, Nowitzki would in fact leave the floor with an 89-84 victory.
“It was fun to play here in this atmosphere,” Nowitzki said as he bids adieu to his home country. “It was a very tight game, so that helped in the end. We really had to fight. We won by four points, so that was OK. I think the atmosphere was really great. We made a number of mistakes, in particular at the beginning. We had about 10 turnovers, so it was really difficult. We had some problems with coordination. We made some very easy mistakes, sometimes the balls didn't even reach the center, so there's a lot of work ahead of us. But you have to take into consideration that it was just training for one week, and yeah, I think we're moving in the right direction.”
After addressing the crowd following a deafening ovation from the German fans, Nowitzki and fellow mainstay Shawn Marion made up a starting lineup with newcomers Chris Kaman, O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison. But after a quick basket by Kaman got the Mavericks on the board first, the team would grow stagnant and turnover-prone until a basket by Nowitzki – his only in the first half on four attempts – on his first shot five minutes into the opening period righted the ship.
Still, after committing 10 first-quarter turnovers, the Mavericks faced a 23-21 deficit at the end of one period of play.
Behind the play of Collison at point and veteran swingman Vince Carter off the bench, the Mavs continued to stick around in the second period. The offense then began to settle down, although the defense failed to slow down former North Carolina standout Deon Thompson at the other end of the floor.
But with Collison and Carter combining for 19 points through two quarters, the Mavs entered the halftime break up 45-39 despite 14 giveaways.
“We didn’t like exactly how we played the whole game, but when you’re playing with new players, that’s to be expected. But you want to walk away with the win. I think that was the most important thing,” Collison said.
A more relaxed Mavericks team came out of the locker room following the intermission, quickly upping the lead to double digits in the third quarter. However, the Mavericks would suffer a casualty as reserve guard Rodrigue Beaubois was helped to the locker room with 1:16 left in the period after apparently turning his left ankle following an awkward exchange on defense.
Although it would later be ruled a sprained left ankle that kept the young guard out for the remainder of the night, the severity of the injury isn't expected to be known for a couple of days.
Meanwhile, an 11-point advantage wouldn’t hold as Thompson continued his domination inside, trimming the Mavs’ lead to 65-61 heading to the fourth.
Thompson would bring his team within two points early in the game’s final period, but timely scores by Kaman and Collison would keep ALBA at bay. At the other end of the floor, Marion turned up the defensive pressure.
Kaman would then carry the squad down the stretch with his interior play at both sides of the court as his German National Team comrade, Nowitzki, struggled through a rare off night.
“Kaman got off to a slow start in the game, was out of rhythm, struggled with some turnovers, so I got him out,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle explained. “And then when he went back in, he worked his way back into the game. In the second half, he was really dominant on the offensive end. … I was really pleased with the way Kaman got himself back into the game after a tough start.”
Still, the home team wouldn’t go away late, climbing to within one before Delonte West’s 3-pointer made it 84-81 inside of the game’s final 2:00 of play. Marion’s clutch offensive rebound and floater with 23.3 seconds left then lifted the team to an 86-82 edge.
Nowitzki and West would do the rest at the foul line, swishing strokes at the charity stripe to put the game away.
“I have to give them credit, they have a pretty good basketball team here,” Kaman said of the ALBA team. “Part of that is a lot of new guys, we’re trying to get everybody together and guys have been hurt. It was our first shot at a game really. A lot of our guys haven’t played really since April. … We dug it out at the end there, but it was a close game at the end and it could have gone either way. We were fortunate to make a few plays at the end and get the W.”
Overcoming 27 turnovers for 21 ALBA points, the Mavericks finished the game outshooting their opponent, 53 percent to 39.8 percent, despite a game-high 20 points from Thompson on 10-for-19 from the field. Dallas also knocked in 8-of-20 from 3-point range to overshadow ALBA’s 34-28 advantage in points in the paint and 12-8 edge in second-chance points.
“I didn't even know we had 27 of them,” Nowitzki said of the turnovers. “That's a lot. So yeah, that's something we've got to work on. Sometimes it was just easy stuff. We got double teamed, but we have got to make crisper passes. We have got to make the easy plays. So yeah, we've just got a lot of work to do and we have to not turn the ball over. At least we've got some shooters, we have got some playmakers out there, and we've got to at least get a look at the basket and not turn the ball over. But other than that, I think we looked OK.”
Carter, Collison and Kaman matched each other for team-high honors with 14 points each, while Marion scored 12 points and grabbed down a game-high 11 rebounds. Led by Marion, the Mavs also finished with a 40-36 rebounding advantage.
“Marion was probably the best player on the court in terms of making plays, making timely plays defensively and offensively. He's the only guy in double figures in rebounds, he hit two or three big shots, and we're going to have to be a true team to be as successful as we want to be,” Carlisle concluded.
“With the team we have this year, we’ve been able to assemble some great players,” Marion added. “I saw some things I liked and I saw some things I didn’t like. That’s what the preseason is for. It’s for us to work on stuff that we see and we can make corrections now. Hopefully when the first game tips off we’ll have them all out and we’ll be good to go.”
The Mavs will no board a plan for Spain on Sunday before training for a date with 17-time Spanish champions FC Barcelona Regal of the Euroleague on Tuesday. The game will air nationally on NBA TV at 2 p.m. CT and will re-air on TXA 21 at 10:30 p.m. CT.