Recap: Carter leads balanced scoring attack, helps Mavs end six-game skid in D.C.
Earl K. Sneed reports from Washington, D.C., where eight-time All-Star Vince Carter led a balanced scoring attack against the Wizards while the Dallas Mavericks began 2013 by ending their six-game losing streak.
Recap: Mavericks 103 at Wizards 94
Carter leads balanced scoring attack, helps Mavs end six-game skid in D.C.
After watching his team fall to a sixth straight loss Sunday following a 111-86 home defeat to San Antonio, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle didn’t hide his dismay will addressing the media.
But by Tuesday evening, as the Mavericks entered the Verizon Center for a New Year’s Day matchup against the NBA-worst Washington Wizards, Carlisle was a man of few words as he tried to lead his team to a much-needed victory to begin a back-to-back on the road. And with a second showdown of the season against the reigning champion Miami Heat looming, Carlisle spoke a very short and concise message to his players: it’s time to fight.
“When you get in a rut like this, the only way you get out is to fight your way. That’s the only way,” the coach emphatically said.
And fight they did.
Down as much as 14 points in the first half, the Mavericks (13-19) would stage a rally to close play before the intermission. They then put the Wizards (4-25) away in the second half, sprinting to a much-needed 103-94 victory to avoid the franchise’s first seven-game losing streak since Feb. 9-19, 1999.
Carlisle continued to roll with eight-time All-Star Vince Carter in the starting lineup at small forward for the second straight game, before the 35-year-old veteran rocked the rim with a vintage slam to open the game.
“Surprised me. It was one of those attack the rim, ‘Oh, my gosh, it’s right there.’ One of those things,” Carter later joked. “I was fresh, I was ready to go and I was just ready to be in attack mode from jump street to get us started. Whether that basket went in or not, that was my goal and it worked out.”
“The play to open the game was a key play for us because it kind of woke our whole team up and it got us going in the right direction,” Carlisle added as Carter began his assault on the Wizards’ defense.
Scoring the first six points of the night for the Mavs with a second thunderous slam coming in the early going, Carter continued to provide a spark. Sharpshooter O.J. Mayo took it from there, draining consecutive shots from behind the 3-point arc after the Mavs found themselves down by nine early. Still, with rookie Bradley Beal scoring nine points in the opening quarter, the Mavs found themselves down 29-23 at the end of the first 12 minutes of play.
It wouldn’t take long until the Mavs slid into a double-digit hole early in the second stanza. Meanwhile, the Wizards would continue to keep the Mavericks at bay by controlling the glass, outrebounding the visiting team while jumping out to an advantage as large as 14. But with Carter, Mayo and center Chris Kaman all combining to tally 30 points in the half, the Mavericks trailed by just four, 52-48, after a 7-0 run to close the second period.
Overcoming Beal’s 12 points in the first 24 minutes of action to lead all scorers, the Mavericks used 46.3 percent shooting to stay in the game while bettering Washington’s 40 percent at the other end. The Mavs also found themselves outrebounded at the midway mark, 29-20, while the Wizards claimed a 17-2 edge in second-chance points.
“It wasn’t pretty there in the first half. We were down double figures and a couple of guys made a great run in the second quarter to close the gap to four coming out of the half. And I think that really helped our momentum going into the second half,” 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki foreshadowed.
As Carter and Mayo continued to lead the charge, the Mavericks inched closer before back-to-back scores by four-time All-Star Shawn Marion lifted the Dallas team to a 61-58 edge with 8:04 remaining in the third. A vintage one-legged fadeaway by Nowitzki in his fifth appearance of the season off the bench was then followed by a corner 3 by Dahntay Jones as the Mavs attempted to pull away.
Nowitzki and point guard Darren Collison then lifted the Mavs to a double-digit advantage of their own, heading into the fourth period with an 83-71 separation on the scoreboard.
As he did to start the game, Carter assumed the scoring responsibilities early in the fourth, draining a 3 to put the Mavs up 90-76 with 9:10 still on the clock. Marion then rained in a 3 of his own to keep the Wizards at a safe distance after climbing to within nine. That’s when Carter stepped in again, scoring on an acrobatic three-point play before Nowitzki’s top-of-the-key 3 to make it 99-84.
But back-to-back 3-pointers by Cartier Martin and Beal would inch the Wizards back to within seven, before a 24-second shot clock violation wiped out Carter’s response with 1:34 on the clock. After a defensive stop, however, Carter would get his revenge, slamming home yet another emphatic finish that even got Wizards fans out of their seats. Backup big man Elton Brand then put the game away on a jumper with 41.2 ticks left, sending the Mavs off the court with a hard-fought win.
“Any time you lose multiple games in a row, it’s [bad]. It’s painful. Getting out of it is tough and the only way you can get out of it is to fight your way out of it, which we did tonight,” Carlisle reiterated. “We got down double figures early, chipped away, hung around and then made our push. It’s really key.”
“It’s a great feeling to get a W for confidence and for a lot of reasons, so I’m just glad that guys were about to stick it out, fight through and figure out a way,” Carter added. “We know [Washington] is a scrappy team. The record doesn’t matter in our opinion, because they’ve been in games and we haven’t been in games. So for us, we needed to come and play, and we needed to come to play for 48 minutes, not a half or three quarters.”
Starting for just the second time this season, Carter led six Mavs in double figures with 23 points on 9-for-14 shooting and 2-of-5 from 3-point range.
“That was fun to watch. We definitely needed every bit of it. We didn’t have shootaround this morning, we just had a light stretch. Maybe that helped his old legs,” Nowitzki joking said of his ageless teammate’s scoring outburst. “I mean, he looked great from the first play of the game, he goes in there and dunks. … He kept attacking all night, so it was great and it was fun to watch.”
Meanwhile, Collison and Mayo both pitched in 15 points, Kaman added 12 points and Marion recorded a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures.
Off the bench, Nowitzki also registered his first double-figure scoring night of the season, hitting 5-of-7 from the field for 11 points.
“I guess that’s what a road win feels like. It’s been awhile,” Nowitzki joking said after the Mavs claimed their first win away from home since Dec. 8 in a 116-109 victory at Houston. “We obviously really wanted this one. I don’t remember losing six games in a row ever in my career. It probably happened before but I don’t remember, so it’s been so long. The locker room is miserable, the coaches are miserable when you lose, so it was definitely one we wanted to get.”
He added: “It’s been frustrating. Losing is not something we’ve been used to in this franchise and this organization. The fans are used to a lot more. I feel like we’ve just got to compete on a high level. … I don’t think we’re as talented as the top four or top five in the West, but I feel if we can compete and play together on both ends of the floor then we can definitely be a factor.”
Beal finished with 22 points to tie his career high and lead four Wizards in double figures, but the Mavs ended the night outshooting their opponents, 50 percent to 40.5 percent, while battling back to just slightly lose the rebounding battle, 44-42. Committing 12 turnovers to the Wizards’ 15, the visiting team also tallied up a 30-22 advantage in points in the paint and 20-12 separation in fast-break points, making up for an 18-2 disadvantage in second-chance points.
“We were able to keep them from doing what they wanted to do,” Marion said. “For the first part of the game, they got their hands on a lot of loose balls and they were able to get a lot of offensive rebounds. We evened it out in the second half and we did what we had to do to win.”
“We needed to sustain a really strong defensive effort and we did after the first quarter on,” Carlisle added. “It’s just important to win that game and get off the schneid. It’s been a rough two weeks.”
The Mavericks will now return to action Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back in Miami, looking to avenge a 110-95 home loss on Dec. 20 to the defending champion Heat. The game will air locally at 6:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
“These are feel-good moments that we have to take advantage of and something now that we can build off of and we can say, ‘Look, we can do it.’ I don’t care who the team is, I don’t care what the record is, this is how we have to play,” Carter emphatically said. “Sometimes we’re going to play this way, play this well and lose games, but it’s the mentality and consistency that we have to get better at.”