Preseason recap: Mavericks 85 at F.C. Barcelona Regal 99
Preseason recap: Mavericks 85 at F.C. Barcelona Regal 99
BARCELONA – After a sluggish – yet still triumphant – beginning to the preseason with an 89-84 victory over ALBA Berlin to begin their two-game European exhibition tour, the Dallas Mavericks looked for an easier go of things three nights later in Barcelona.
But with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki scratched from the game after suffering from a right knee effusion and three-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois already sidelined due to a sprained left ankle suffered in the third quarter of Saturday night’s win, the Mavericks entered Palau Sant Jordi down two of their main contributors. And instead of building off their previous victory, the shorthanded Mavericks would succumb to a talented F.C. Barcelona Regal team able to take advantage of No. 41’s absence with a 99-85 victory to send the Mavs to 1-1 this preseason after the double-digit defeat.
“You know, without Dirk, the game changes, of course. But I don't blame them winning the game on because Dirk wasn't out there,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the loss. “They played a great game. … [Nowitzki] had right knee inflammation, so that was the reason that he didn't play. Yeah, if he plays, it's a different game. But look, talking about that would be taking something away from Barcelona's game, and they were great.”
“It's OK. Unfortunately I have some more swelling,” Nowitzki said of the injury. “It was actually decent this morning at the shootaround, but then it swelled up a little more again. So, it's very unfortunate. I think the atmosphere out there was great. We didn't have it going, so I would have loved to be out there, but I think obviously the preseason is not the time to force anything and play on a swollen knee.”
With newcomer Elton Brand stepping in for Nowitzki at the starting 4 spot, alongside center Chris Kaman, guards Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo and forward Shawn Marion, the Mavs looked to improve upon their play even without their go-to scorer. Led by Brand and Kaman, the Mavs would get off to a quick start after committing 10 turnovers in the opening quarter of the win three nights prior.
Still, the Mavs trailed 21-19 after one quarter of play.
As Carlisle substituted rapidly up and down his bench, the two teams remained evenly knotted through the early stage of the second stanza. Offensively, Kaman and Brand continued to carry the Mavs’ scoring responsibilities with Nowitzki out, combining for 20 first-half points. But the Regal team wouldn’t let up, taking a 42-40 edge into the halftime intermission.
Using stellar ball movement and quickening the pace of the game, the Regal team quickly surged comfortably in front to start the third period. It wouldn’t take long for the home team to open up a double-digit lead as guard Juan Carlos Navarro caught fire from the outside.
The Dallas deficit would reach as much as 18 in the period before rookie first-rounder Jared Cunningham saw his first action of the preseason, entering the game with 1:39 remaining in the quarter before Regal took a 74-56 advantage into the game’s final 12 minutes of play.
“You know, we’re still learning each other,” Marion confessed. “You know, we’ve got a new system we’re trying to put in, guys are trying to pick up the defensive strategies, offense, everything. So, it’s not all jelling right now, but at the same time there’s some things we need to work on.”
Using a “small ball” lineup featuring three guards and a full-court press, Carlisle tried to engineer a comeback for his team by pressuring at both ends of the floor. The strategy would work as the Mavs quickly found themselves within single digits, with Cunningham’s emphatic slam on a drive down the center of the lane providing the fireworks.
“It just gives us a quicker lineup,” 6-foot-6 swingman Vince Carter said of the unit after seeing time at power forward during the stretch. “That’s what we have our young guys out there for. It was important for us to work on it and make our mistakes now, so we have something to look at in practice.”
But the comeback would run out of steam after the Mavericks crept to within six, before Navarro’s deadly 3-pointer made it a 94-83 game in Regal’s favor with 1:45 remaining. The sharpshooter would add a fifth triple moments later to seal the Mavs’ fate in the final minutes.
“Yeah, the fourth-quarter group that got us back in the game did a great job. Yeah, that's the kind of team we're going to have to be – scrappy, gritty. Our perimeter guys are going to have to be like glue on the opponents. Our big guys are going to have to be real active. … It went from a 17 or 18-point game down to a six-point game, so [the smaller lineup] got us back into it, but we needed to play better those first three quarters,” the coach admitted.
Doing most of his damage in the first three quarters, Kaman led the Mavs with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting, notching a double-double after snatching down 10 rebounds. Collison added 14 points and five assists, connecting on 5-of-11 from the field.
Brand made it three Mavs in double figures, scoring 10 points on 5-of-12 shooting and grabbing six rebounds.
Behind 19 points from Navarro and Pete Mickeal on a combined 14-of-27 shooting, Regal finished with the win despite getting slightly outshot by the Mavs, 40.5 percent to 40 percent. Regal did, however, finish with a 53-46 rebounding advantage. And after committing 27 turnovers on Saturday, the Mavericks ended the night with 14 giveaways in the losing effort.
The Mavs will now board a plane back stateside on Wednesday, taking Thursday off and returning to the practice court on Friday. Saturday, the organization will host the first annual “Mavstoberfest” at the American Airlines Center, which will feature an open practice. Doors for the free event will open at 4 p.m. before the 5:30 p.m. scrimmage, with parking available for $5-10.