Recap: Hornets sting Mavs in OT, spoil Dirk's 1st start
Recap: Hornets 99 at Mavericks 96 F/OT
Hornets sting Mavs in OT, spoil Dirk's 1st start
With 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki sliding into the starting five after playing six games off the bench following preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, the Mavericks finally showcased the lineup fans had hoped to see for the first 33 outings. Meanwhile, the Mavs attempted to get back on track following Wednesday’s 119-109 overtime loss in Miami, looking to down the Hornets for a seventh straight time at the American Airlines Center before venturing out for the start of a three-game road trip Monday night in Utah.
But not even Nowitzki’s first start and a season-high 20 points would be enough to help the Mavericks (13-21) avoid sliding to 0-6 this season in overtime games while tying an NBA record shared by Atlanta, Minnesota and Golden State with a 10th straight OT defeat, falling to a 99-96 loss on their home floor.
“You know, I said after the Miami game that if you have nine new guys it sometimes takes awhile. Now I’m basically brand new all over again, so I haven’t played with some of these guys. I haven’t been through the trenches, through the wars with them, so I just think it’s going to take some time. Unfortunately we don’t really have it, since we’re already so far behind the eighth (playoff) spot, but sometimes you have to play together, you have to be together in stressful situations to see how people react to certain things and unfortunately we have to address it on the fly here now in big games and hopefully pull some out.”
With Nowitzki taking over his customary starting power forward spot, four-time All-Star Shawn Marion slid down to small forward while center Chris Kaman, leading scorer O.J. Mayo and point guard Darren Collison rounded out the first unit. But the Mavs’ offense would come out sluggishly, before Nowitzki’s back-to-back scores trimmed the home team’s deficit to 25-23 at the end of the opening period after Dallas shot just 7-for-20 from the field in the quarter.
After a 3-pointer by rookie Jae Crowder began the period, the offense picked up for the Mavs in the second stanza as Nowitzki continued to look for his own shot alongside a combination of reserves. Backup big man Elton Brand then lent a helping hand, scoring with ease in the painted area as the Mavs tried to create some separation on the scoreboard.
And with Collison also beginning to come alive while Mayo was forced to sit with three fouls, the Mavs entered the half with a 47-40 advantage.
Despite their early struggles, the Mavs outshot the Hornets (8-25) through the first 24 minutes of action, 46.2 percent to 38.5 percent. The Mavs also held a 21-18 rebounding edge at the midway mark, while the trio of Brand, Nowitzki and Collison combined for 26 points.
Opening the fourth with six unanswered points to gain the upper hand, the Hornets looked to steal the game away in the final quarter. A 3-pointer by Greivis Vasquez then helped lift his team on his back, while Mavs fourth-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois tried to do the same at the other end before Mayo’s driving score cut the disadvantage to 81-79 with 5:43 on the clock.
After a timeout, Brand continued to step up, rejecting Hornets guard Eric Gordon in the lane, which led to a transition score by Mayo to tie the game. Mayo’s floater then put the Mavs back on top, capping an 8-0 run before Ryan Anderson immediately answered with a 3. That’s when eight-time All-Star Vince Carter stepped in, swishing a 3 from the top of the key to keep the Hornets at bay.
But after a steal by Al-Farouq Aminu, Vasquez again connected from behind the arc before missing two free throws with 1:12 on the clock, setting the stage for Nowitzki’s jumper to go up 88-87 with 54.5 seconds still on the clock. Still, the Hornets refused to go away, taking the lead on a score by Jason Smith before Nowitzki’s 1-of-2 trip at the foul line tied the game with just 18.5 seconds remaining.
“It really shouldn’t have come down to a close game tonight. We had a nice little lead there and we gave up a stretch where we gave up two wide-open threes and layups, and I thought defensively we weren’t good in the fourth and overtime,” Nowitzki confessed.
He added: “We had our chances, but it should have never gotten to overtime. I’ve got to make that free throw in regulation to go up one. Maybe then it doesn’t even go to OT.”
The duo of Carter and Marion then suffocated Vasquez on the defensive end, forcing an air ball on a long-range shot attempt to send the game into an extra period.
Answering a score by Smith to open the extra five minutes, Mayo connected on a 3 as he continued to come alive down the stretch. But after committing his fifth foul of the night with 2:29 left to go, a less aggressive Mayo surrendered five straight points to Eric Gordon as the Hornets seized a 96-94 edge with 1:18 left.
With Marion tying the game inside with a score after stellar ball movement, a defensive stop would give the Mavs another chance to put the game away. But Mayo’s pull-up jumper would rim out, before Gordon extended the lead to three with a banked-in jumper over Collison plus a foul with 4.7 seconds left.
“We had some great looks that didn’t go down and they made a couple plays that we didn’t,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle concluded. “Very disappointing. No way to say anything else or to express it any other way. As I always say, things like this come in waves. There will be more of these and we’ve got to do a better job. We had some great looks in overtime, which was great, but we just couldn’t get them down and they made a couple more plays. The shot Gordon made was a tough shot and it was a tough call to have it be a three-point play like that.”
“A shot-fake bank, as simple as that. Tough shot, but give him credit for making the shot,” a seemingly still shocked Collison added.
After a kick ball violation, the Mavs then had 1.4 seconds left to tie the game. But Carter’s 3 from the corner as time expired would find nothing but the back iron, sending the Mavs to 0-7 this season in overtime games.
Hitting 7-of-16 from the floor and playing a season-high 34 minutes, Nowitzki led five players in double figures for the Mavs.
“Obviously I’m not quite there yet. Still a work in progress, especially playing 30 minutes and then being asked to get the ball down the stretch every time and make something happen. I don’t think I’m at that point yet,” Nowitzki said. “But I’m going to keep working in that direction and hopefully we can turn it around and pull some of those close games out and get some wins.”
Carter added 17 points off the bench, while Mayo pitched in 14 points and Collison and Brand — who also had five blocks on the night — both registered 12 points.
Vasquez led five Hornets in double figures with 25 points (15 in the fourth and overtime) on 11-of-18 shooting and 3-of-6 from behind the arc, adding nine assists and seven rebounds.
“Well, I mean, [Vasquez] is a good player. He especially started to get going at the beginning of the fourth. Some of our starters were out and he just seemed to get it going. Even when we did come back in, he kept going. He just kind of found a rhythm, but he’s a good player for them and they’ve got some all-around good players on that team,” Collison explained.
Meanwhile, the Mavs finished the night slightly outshooting the visitors, 45.9 percent to 45.3 percent, but lost a 44-42 rebounding battle while committing just nine turnovers.
The Mavericks will now head back on the road for the start of a three-game trip, touching down in Salt Lake City for a second meeting this season against the Jazz. The Mavs fell in Utah to a 113-94 loss on Oct. 31. The game will air locally at 8 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest.
“This is a game we had to have,” Nowitzki said after the second straight heartbreaking defeat. “Going on the road again, it’s been a tough schedule and we just came off the road and only had this one home game, so this was a game we had to have. It’s frustrating, disappointing, all that stuff, but we’ve got keep fighting, got to keep plugging and hopefully let it all hang out in Utah and see what we can come up with.”