Preview: Mavs try to outshine Suns before lengthy road trip
Preview: Suns (15-29) at Mavericks (18-25)
Mavs try to outshine Suns before lengthy road trip
Looking to continue their dominance over the Suns (15-29) with a 10th straight win over the Phoenix team, the Mavericks (18-25) will also try to bounce back from a 113-107 home loss to San Antonio on Friday night to fall to 0-3 this season against the Southwest Division leader. And after winning five of their previous six games before a four-day layoff leading into the loss to the Spurs, the Mavs will try to regain their edge before heading out on a four-game, eight-day road trip.
“Hopefully we get some fresh legs going on Sunday,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki said after the Mavs came out flat against the Spurs. “Obviously it’s a game we need to have going on the road for four tough games. It’s a must-win, or as close as it gets in the regular season, and we need to get some momentum back rolling before we hit the road for four tough games.”
“Well, [the Suns] are playing extremely well,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added after the team's Sunday morning shootaround. “You know, they’ve won two of three since they made a change with coaches. They were right in the game last night and they were playing from in front most of the way against San Antonio, at San Antonio, so they’re playing well. … It’s going to be a challenging game.”
One day after handing the Mavs a loss on their home floor, the Spurs did the same thing to Suns interim coach Lindsey Hunter for his first L in three outings after Saturday’s 108-99 road defeat. With Alvin Gentry on the Suns’ sideline back on Dec. 6, five Mavericks reached double figures led by leading scorer O.J. Mayo’s 23 points in a 97-94 road victory over Phoenix while Nowitzki continued to battle his way back from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery. And even with Nowitzki now back in the fold after 16 outings, that balanced production may have to remain as the Mavs yet again hope to spread the wealth when they welcome in the Suns for a rematch on Sunday.
“I mean, balance is big for us,” eight-time All-Star Vince Carter said. “We have our go-to guys and we put our guys who can score in the positions that they need to be in and give them the ball. … And I just think we’re understanding each other and we’re really making a run for it now.”
Balanced play will continue to be the premise Sunday, but the Mavs may also look for a spark once again from fourth-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois, who exploded for a season-high 19 points albeit in a loss Friday night while hitting on 6-of-8 from the field and 2-of-3 from 3-point range.
Beaubois is averaging a career-low 11.9 minutes per game this season, but with Carlisle hoping he can solidify the backup point guard role and even challenge starter Darren Collison for the first unit slot, Beaubois will in all likelihood have another chance to explode for big numbers on Sunday.
“He’s just got to compete hard,” Carlisle said as the 24-year-old struggles to build consistency. “You know, I think we can all look at his injury situation earlier this year and say that was a hindrance, but now he’s healthy, so he has an ability to do what he did the other night. And it’s not just the points, it’s how he affects the game with his quickness, athleticism and persistence. And the challenge has been to sustain that, but tonight he gets the opportunity to do it.”
“If I’m on the court, I just need to make sure that I’m playing hard and I’m trying to help the team to win,” a modest Beaubois added. “I’m going to try to bring the same energy every time and be aggressive all the time. I mean, the shot can go in or out, but at least I have to be aggressive to take them. … It was just one game, so I just need to be focused and keep working hard and see if I can actually keep playing like this for a long stretch. It was just one game, so right now I don’t even think about that. I have to be focused for tonight, 'cause it’s going to be a tough one.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Sunday evening at home against the Phoenix Suns before leaving for a four-game, eight-day road trip. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a 97-94 road victory on Dec. 6. The game will air locally at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.