(Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Earl K. Sneed reports from Oakland and recaps the Dallas Mavericks' victory over the Golden State Warriors to start a four-game road trip.
Recap: Mavericks 112 at Warriors 103
OAKLAND, Calif. — Entering Thursday night in a three-way tie for the sixth position in the Western Conference playoff picture, the Dallas Mavericks and coach Rick Carlisle had little to no room for error as they stepped foot into Oracle Arena to do battle against the Golden State Warriors.
Looking to avenge a 111-87 road loss at the hands of the Warriors on March 10, the Mavs also attempted to begin a four-game road trip triumphantly. Meanwhile, Carlisle made it no secret before the nationally-televised showdown that his team’s intent is not merely to just make the postseason as the defending champions sought separation from the Denver and Houston squads with identical records.
“Look, we’re aware of the situation. We’ve really been talking about being in this mode for over two weeks. And so, we know where things are at,” Carlisle said of the competitive playoff race. “It’s a matter of us concentrating on what we have to do to be successful in the game and not talking about what the potential results are.”
Still, after claiming a 110-100 win at home over Sacramento on Tuesday, the coach and his players looked to build some much-needed momentum with a positive result against the West’s third-worst team. And after sprinting to a large lead in the first half, the Mavericks (33-26) were able to hang on late en route to a 112-103 victory to move one-half game up on the Rockets and Nuggets in the standings.
“I mean, we talked about it last week and our playoffs started a little bit early,” leading scorer Dirk Nowitzki said after the win. “We’ve gotta win some games. It might not be pretty right now and we might not be playing our best, but we’ve gotta find ways to win games.”
After back-to-back scores by Dorell Wright got the Warriors on the board first in the opening quarter, Nowitzki went to work while aggressively looking for his own shot. Backup big man Brandan Wright then provided a spark off the bench following a technical foul assessed on new addition Delonte West after a no-call on his driving dunk attempt. And thanks to Nowitzki’s three to beat the buzzer, the Mavs led 27-20 at the end of one.
With Wright playing against the team he spent the first two and a half seasons of his career with and quickly moving into double figures, it wouldn’t take long for the Mavs to open up a large advantage in the second stanza.
“It really wasn’t able playing an old team or anything like that,” Wright explained. “It was about us getting off to a good start.”
“Wright was terrific all night. It was the kind of game where if a team is playing small, he’s a valuable guy because he can be a presence at the rim and he can guard perimeter guys when needed,” Carlisle added.
Third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois then joined the act with an array of shots on the offensive end, lifting the visiting team to a lead as large as 19. And with the trio of Nowitzki, Wright and Beaubois combining to score 36 first-half points, the Mavs entered the break with a 63-39 advantage.
Outshooting the Warriors (22-36) through two quarters, 49 percent to 41.5 percent, the Mavericks capitalized off their 10 points on 10 Golden State turnovers. At the midway mark, the Mavs also held a 26-20 edge in points in the paint and 11-2 margin in fast-break points.
Back-to-back scores by West and starting center Brendan Haywood would continue the positive vibes for the Mavs in the early stage of the third period. But after surrendering just three turnovers in the first half, the Mavs would equal that in the first three minutes of the third.
At the other end, David Lee kept the Warriors hanging around with timely scores inside. And with Klay Thompson heating up from the outside, the Warriors trimmed Dallas’ edge to just 89-79 entering the game’s final 12 minutes of play.
A jumper followed by a 3-pointer by Warriors reserve guard Nate Robinson forced Carlisle to call timeout up just five with 11:12 still on the clock to hold on. Robinson then pulled the Warriors to within three before Nowitzki righted the ship and sixth man Jason Terry cashed in on a three to put the Mavs ahead 96-88 with 8:11 to play.
“I think they like that style of play. When they get down, they’ve got a free will to shoot threes, shoot a lot of jump shots, get a little active. They got within five, we got the timeout and we ran it back out to eight or 10. Then we were feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Wright said.
After Nowitzki found Vince Carter behind the arc, the Mavericks regained a double-digit lead. Terry then did the rest himself, draining timely jumpers to keep the Warriors at bay down the stretch before point guard Jason Kidd connected on a three to leave him just one point shy of a triple double.
“I think they made a great run in the second half, but we made enough shots, enough stops to get the win and that’s all that matters right now,” Nowitzki concluded.
Nowitzki finished leading the way with 27 points on 10-of-23 shooting. Terry and Wright added 16 points each off the bench, Carter pitched in 12 and Beaubois made it five Mavs in double figures with 11 points in a reserve role. Meanwhile, Kidd tallied up nine points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists.
“That’s what he does, he runs the show for us,” Nowitzki said of Kidd’s engineering. “People most of the time leave him and he’s a great spot-up shooter, so he made some big shots again tonight. You know, he’s the head of the snake, and if we obviously want to play well in the playoffs or even make the playoffs here in the last seven games, we need him out there and directing everything, for sure.”
“Never underestimate greatness. I don’t care if that guy [Kidd] is 29, 39 or 49, he’s going to do something to help you win,” Carlisle added with high praise for his floor general.
Lee led the Warriors with 30 points and Thompson added 24 points of his own. But the Mavericks finished the game outshooting the Warriors, 50 percent to 46.9 percent, despite a 46-42 rebounding disadvantage. The Mavs are now 18-1 this season when scoring 100-plus points and 9-0 when shooting at least 50 percent.
Dallas also finished with 24 points off the Warriors’ 16 turnovers, giving up 13 points at the other end on 10 giveaways.
“It has never been in our minds that we won’t be in the postseason,” Kidd said. “That’s what we play the game for, to see if you can get in the postseason and see if you can get hot, lock in and see if you can win a championship. Right now, guys are getting better when we take the floor. You can see the ball movement. And when we score 100 points, we have a pretty good record.”
The Mavericks will now continue their road trip in Portland against the Trail Blazers on Friday night. The two teams split two meetings in Dallas earlier in the season with the first going to double overtime and the second also requiring an extra period.
Portland will be without All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge, however, after being ruled out for the remainder of the season with a hip injury. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN at 9:30 p.m. CT.
“Well, we have obviously got a tough stretch here. We have four games in five nights, all on the road, and that’s never easy,” Nowitzki explained. “You know, we’ll take it one game at a time. So, it was a good win for us tonight. Another one in Portland. The Rose Garden is a tough place to play, I don’t care who suits up for them.”
“We’ve put together a couple wins, which is positive,” Carlisle added. “We had a couple ugly stretches tonight, but those things happen. Right now, the biggest thing we have to do is get showered, get on the plane to Portland, get settled in there and get ready for a battle tomorrow night, because each game is super meaningful for us. It’s not only trying to win games, it’s trying to get playing better, and that’s a task.”
Note: The Mavs return to the American Airlines Center on April 18 when they play host to the Houston Rockets. The Mavs lead the season series 2-0 and will go for the sweep. That game will air locally on TXA 21 at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Single-game tickets are on sale and available at the American Airlines Center North Box Office, online at mavs.com, via phone by calling 214-747-MAVS or 1-800-4NBA-TIX and all Ticketmaster outlets (Fiesta Grocery Stores, Wal-Mart, Simon Mall in Garland and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano).