Recap: 'Dirk Effect' not enough for Mavs to outlast Heat in OT on South Beach
Earl K. Sneed reports from Miami and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' defeat to the defending NBA champion Heat, as leading scorer O.J. Mayo and 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki weren’t enough for the Mavs to avoid falling to 0-6 this season in overtime games.
Recap: Mavericks 109 at Heat 119 F/OT
'Dirk Effect' not enough for Mavs to outlast Heat in OT on South Beach
Scoring 11 points on 5-of-7 shooting in just less than 17 minutes of action Tuesday night in Washington, D.C., Nowitzki’s first double-figure scoring game off the Dallas bench in his fifth appearance of the season helped the Mavericks bring an end to their six-game losing streak with a 103-94 victory.
But just one night after handing the league-worst Wizards a loss on their home floor, the Mavs faced a much stiffer challenge in the form of the defending champion Miami Heat. And with Nowitzki still rounding into form, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made it no secret who would be at the center of Miami’s defensive game plan.
“I see him change how everybody plays them. It’s the ‘Dirk Nowitzki Effect’ on their offense,” Spoelstra said of Nowitzki’s reintegration into the Mavs’ offensive system. “As a defense you absolutely overreact to every situation that he is in. He has earned that respect. He is working his way into a rhythm. Hopefully it doesn’t fully come back tonight.”
The 11-time All-Star big man then tried to help the Mavs avenge a 110-95 home loss to the Heat on Dec. 20, coming off the bench for a sixth straight outing after returning from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery. But even with Nowitzki registering a season-high 19 points to along with leading scorer O.J. Mayo’s 30 points, the Mavericks (13-20) would fall short in their attempt at revenge after a 119-109 overtime defeat.
With the loss, the Mavericks are now 0-6 this season in overtime games, sitting one shy of tying an NBA record of 10 straight overtime defeats shared by Atlanta, Golden State and Minnesota.
“I think execution down the stretch has been one of our problems all year,” Nowitzki said after the loss. “We’re 0-6 in overtime and lost a lot of close ones during the season in regulation, so we’ve got to work on that. … I think it’s going to take us more time together to figure those end-of-game situations out.”
“Look, it’s one or two plays when you’re in overtime. And when you’re in six of them, it’s tough lessons to learn,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle added. “But we’ve got to learn them and we’ve got to keep working at it.”
With Nowitzki on the bench, the Mavericks opened the night on a tear even without the 7-footer in the starting unit, sprinting to a 13-5 advantage out of the gate. Point guard Darren Collison’s and-one runner then lifted the Mavs to a quick double-digit edge, taking an 18-7 lead midway through the opening quarter.
Looking to assert himself after a pedestrian eight points on 3-of-14 from the field and 0-of-5 from 3-point range against the Heat in December, Mayo took over the scoring duties for the Mavs as they continued to keep Miami at bay in the second quarter.
But the Heat would again rally, while frustration led to Nowitzki being assessed a technical foul call for arguing with officials following a no-call. Still, even with James coming alive for the Heat and tying the game with his ability to get to the foul line, the Mavs held a 52-50 edge at the intermission after center Chris Kaman’s score with 1.5 seconds in the half.
Making up for lost time after struggling against the Heat in the first meeting, Mayo led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting at the midway mark to better James’ 16 points at the other end. Meanwhile, the Mavericks outshot the Heat through the first 24 minutes of action, 42.6 percent to 37.0 percent, in addition to a 29-24 rebounding advantage.
But whatever momentum the Mavs had heading into the halftime break would quickly evaporate as the Heat began the third on a 10-2 run. The Mavs responded, however, briefly catching fire from lone range before the Heat once again regained the advantage behind the Big Three of James, Wade and Chris Bosh.
Eight-time All-Star Vince Carter and Nowitzki then did their best to settle their squad after the Mavs fell behind following a 10-0 Miami run, scoring eight consecutive points to inch the Mavs within one before trailing by a score of 81-79 entering the fourth.
Sitting with 11:15 on the clock, Nowitzki was an onlooker as Mayo broke through with a tough floater in the lane after going scoreless in the third period. The sharpshooter then gave his 7-footer a little more time to rest, lifting the Mavericks to an 88-87 edge on a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 6:46 remaining.
“Look, [Mayo] is going to be aggressive and he’s going to score. But I think the important thing for him is to realize that we don’t need him just to be a scorer. We need him to be an all-around basketball player. And when he plays like he did most of the time tonight and all of the game in Washington, he’s a really high-level player for us,” Carlisle said.
Returning with the Mavs up just one and 5:05 left, Nowitzki gladly deferred as Mayo swished in another 3 from the corner to put the Mavs up 97-91 with 4:09 still on the clock. Nowitzki then answered Ray Allen’s 3 with a triple of his own to keep the lead at six, before James came right back on the attack to cut the margin to 100-98 in Dallas’ favor with 2:19 remaining.
“The way we played most of the game, 40-45 minutes, we played good and hard basketball. We fought the whole time and something about the last three or four minutes, we couldn’t get the stops we needed,” Kaman admitted. “They put a lot of pressure on you with their defense. They’ve got a lot of mobile lineups that they come in with, and it’s like this whole league is going to small ball. They just put the pressure on us and we didn’t do the job that we’re supposed to do at the end to finish the game. But when you’re up six like that you’ve got to close it out.”
“It shouldn’t have got to overtime,” Carlisle added. “We’re up six with a couple of minutes to go and our inability to keep them out of the paint was our downfall. In that position we’ve got to be able to keep James and Wade from getting to the rim, and they did it two or three times. So it’s disappointing, but the effort was great. The result is tough.”
After a 1-of-2 trip to the line by Nowitzki, the big man would fall hard to the floor as Wade stole away a pass, feeding it to Allen to cut the lead to just one with 41.5 ticks left for the Mavericks to hold on. But Nowitzki wasn’t done, tying the game at 103-all on a vintage jumper with 3.9 seconds remaining to answer Shane Battier’s 3-pointer at the other end.
“We knew we didn’t have a timeout, so at that point I saw Darren bring the ball on the wing and I tried to slip the screen but LeBron stayed with me,” Nowitzki said while recollecting over the sequence. “So [Collison] didn’t really have much going and last second I cut right in front of LeBron, he made a good pass and it was right there at the elbow. And that’s where I’ve made my living over my 15 years is at the elbow. And I was able to get a shot up, but we shouldn’t have been down two in that situation.”
James’ miss from mid-range over Carter as the buzzer sounded then sent the game into an extra period.
With Nowitzki once again on the bench to start overtime, it took less than a minute before Carlisle brought his franchise player back into the game in place of Kaman. Still, with the Heat opening the extra five minutes with a 7-0 run, it didn’t take long before the Mavericks found themselves in an uphill battle.
After another 3-pointer by Battier, the Mavericks continued to fight behind Mayo’s 29th and 30th points with a jumper over the defensive specialist to keep the visiting team hanging around. But James’ attacking three-point play over Nowitzki would essentially ice the game by putting the Heat up 118-109 with 48.6 seconds left before a free throw by Wade provided the final point.
“You know, it’s a game of inches,” Nowitzki concluded. “And if you make a couple of mistakes down the stretch, a veteran team is going to make you pay. … I thought we had some tough calls down the stretch, but that’s how it goes. If you’re on the road, you’ve got to be better than that. And we were up six with a few minutes to go. We’ve got to be smarter and bring that one on home.”
With Mayo finishing with a 12-for-21 shooting night — to go along with six assists — and Nowitzki going 7-for-15 off the bench to lead five Mavericks in double figures, the Dallas team’s 43.6 percent still wasn’t enough to match Miami’s 47.2 percent. In defeat, the Mavs also tallied up a 47-46 rebounding edge but allowed 23 points off their 14 turnovers.
Carter, meanwhile, followed up his 23-point effort one night prior with 15 points in his third straight start, as Kaman recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with Collison’s 11 points in the first unit.
“Look, balance has got to be one of our keys. But, when the result is what it is, I’m not into moral victories on the number of guys in double figures and stuff like that. It rings hollow to me. We’ve got to get the job done better,” Carlisle emphatically said.
Continuing to score at least 20 points in every game this season, James led the Heat to a fourth straight regular-season win over the Mavs behind his 32-point, 12-rebound and nine-assist night. Wade added 27 points as four Heat players scored in double figures.
The Mavericks will now return to action at home on Saturday night, hosting No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Hornets. The game will air locally at 7:30 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest. It’s the first of four regular-season meetings between the two teams this season. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
“We’ve got to stay at it, we’ve got to do some of the detail things a little bit better but this has got to toughen us up,” Carlisle concluded.