Preview: Mavs move forward minus Fisher, looking for W in San Antonio
Earl K. Sneed reports from San Antonio and previews the Dallas Mavericks' matchup against the Spurs, as the short-handed Mavs play their first game since waiving veteran point guard Derek Fisher.
Preview: Mavericks (12-15) at Spurs (20-8)
Mavs move forward minus Fisher, looking for W in San Antonio
After dropping back-to-back games to Miami and Memphis, the Mavericks (12-15) arrived in San Antonio ready to turn their attention to the Southwest Division rival Spurs. But it came as some surprise when the team announced that it had waived 38-year-old point guard Derek Fisher – reportedly at his own request to be with his family – after just nine games in a Dallas uniform.
Signing with the Mavs as a free agent on Nov. 29, the five-time NBA champion averaged 8.6 points and 3.6 assists in 25.4 minutes a game while starting all nine of his appearances this season. Now, after dropping both games on their tough back-to-back with Fisher already sitting out with a strained right patellar tendon injury, the team is expected to call up swingman Chris Douglas-Roberts from its Development League affiliate, the Texas Legends, in time to suit up in the first of four matchups this season against the Spurs.
Meanwhile, after playing short-handed without 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki (right knee surgery), backup big man Elton Brand (groin) and Fisher on Thursday night in a 110-95 loss to the defending champion Heat before also falling 24 hours later in Memphis, 92-82, the Mavericks will try to get back on track before celebrating the Christmas holiday. And while facing a San Antonio team that’s off to a 20-8 start, the Mavs’ veterans hope the in-state rivalry brings out the best in their young squad.
“That’s our rival. We know what it is. Hopefully we can get a couple more boys back, but who knows,” four-time All-Star Shawn Marion said following the loss in Memphis. “We might be down another guy or two, so I don’t know. But we’ve just got to stay optimistic and stay positive. That’s all we can do.”
“Right now, we need to learn from our losses,” eight-time All-Star Vince Carter added. “It’s a tough way to learn, but at the same time this is good for us. It’s just a tough stretch for us right now, but it’s important for the veterans to believe, stick with it and continue to bring the young guys along.”
Learning from their mistakes should be easier said than done, however, after 24 turnovers for 29 Memphis points and just 40.8 percent shooting as a team Friday night against the Grizzlies impeded the Mavs’ progress. Still, after fighting back from a double-digit deficit to remain close down the stretch before simply being overmatched in the final minutes, the Mavs take some encouragement into their next game.
“We’re undermanned and coming off a late night, back-to-back, and the guys really hung in,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “They gave what they could give. I was really happy with how everybody fought. There’s not much consolation when you lose, but the effort was good.”
The Mavs will now try to get leading scorer O.J. Mayo back involved on the offensive end after a combined 6-for-25 shooting for just a total of 18 points in the past two games. And with the sharpshooter still adjusting to having opposing defenses geared towards stopping him until Nowitzki returns, you can expect Mayo to make several alterations against a Spurs’ defense that is allowing just 93.4 points per game this season at home while sprinting to a 9-2 record in front of their fans.
Note: The Mavericks will now continue their road trip by stopping in San Antonio Sunday evening for the first of four meetings this season against the Southwest Division rival Spurs. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 6 p.m. CT.