Recap: Mavs blot out Suns, build momentum for upcoming road trip
Recap: Suns 95 at Mavericks 110
Mavs blot out Suns, build momentum for upcoming road trip
With the Mavericks looking to bounce back from Friday night’s 113-107 home loss to San Antonio and a four-game road trip looming, the 1,000th career game for four-time All-Star Shawn Marion and 900th outing in big man Elton Brand’s career represented more than just personal milestones for the two veterans. It also meant the Mavs would have an opportunity to build some momentum on their home floor before venturing out on the road.
Meanwhile, 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki would move into 18th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list by passing Allen Iverson (24,368), while leading scorer O.J. Mayo dished out his 1,000th career assist. More importantly, all of the accolades would come in a victory, as the Mavericks (19-25) sprinted to a 110-95 win on their home floor.
“I think this was obviously as close to a must-win as it gets in the regular season, after a brutal loss against the Spurs and really not a good outing, knowing we have to go on the road for four tough games against some of the teams that are right there with us or even above us for the eighth spot (in the Western Conference playoff standings). So this was definitely a must-win and I thought that’s how we approached it,” Nowitzki said of the win.
The night began with rookie center Bernard James making his first career start, sliding into the first unit ahead of Brand and 7-footer Chris Kaman to give the Mavericks their 17th different starting lineup this season as coach Rick Carlisle looked to add energy to the 5 spot.
“He’s energetic and he goes hard,” Carlisle said of James. “The biggest thing that we need right now is energy. We need any kind of injection of it that we can get. And he’s one of those guys, if you put him in there, you know what he’s going to do.”
The 6-foot-10 big man wouldn’t be enough to avoid falling into a 6-0 hole out of the gate, however, as the Mavs missed on their first five shot attempts of the night. Still, behind Marion and the transition game led by Mayo, the Mavericks would settle down before tying the game midway through the period. The duo then lifted the Mavs to a 29-21 lead entering the second stanza.
“We knew Phoenix had the fourth game in five nights, so I thought we tried to pick up the pace. We did that and we were already up eight coming out of the first quarter and I thought we kept the pressure up after that,” Nowitzki foreshadowed.
“I thought we picked up the pace a little bit,” Mayo added. “We got some stops, got out and ran and kept our tempo up, understanding that this was their fourth game in five nights. So we had to really keep our tempo up and keep playing hard.”
One day after turning 36 years old, eight-time All-Star Vince Carter pushed the lead to double digits as he and fourth-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois connected on back-to-back shots from behind the 3-point arc to power a 9-0 run to begin the second quarter. Marion took it from there, moving into double figures with an array of scores on the offensive end as the Mavs built up a lead as large as 20 before taking a 57-42 advantage into the halftime intermission.
Led by Marion’s 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting, the Mavericks’ 49 percent as a team bettered the Suns’ 38.1 percent at the other end. The Mavs also carved up the Phoenix defense to a 30-18 margin in points in the paint while forcing seven Suns’ turnovers for nine points, committing just four giveaways themselves at the midway mark.
Similar to the beginning of the night, the Suns (15-30) started the second half by scoring the first seven points of the third period before Nowitzki beat the shot clock with a vintage jumper to tie Iverson on the scoring list. Mayo then collected his 1,000th career assist on the very next trip down the floor by finding Beaubois on the wing for a 3-pointer.
But the Suns continued to charge back, before Nowitzki’s jumper with 5:38 left in the third moved him into sole possession of the 18th spot on the all-time scoring list and gave the Mavs a 72-60 edge.
“I mean, that’s nice. It’s going to be great once my career is over and I see how many points I scored, but right now I’m just trying to get myself going more. I’m feeling better from game to game, which is great. I feel like I moved a lot better today. I got a little more lift in my jumpshot, so that’s really all I’m worried about for now and we’ll see how many points I scored when it’s all said and done. But for now, I’m trying to get myself going and hopefully chase the eighth spot and really make a good run once I’m all the way back,” Nowitzki said as he continues to battle his way back from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Mavs then escaped into the fourth up 81-72.
After the Suns charged to within five to start the final 12 minutes of play, Nowitzki again rose to the occasion with a 3 from the top of the key. Seldom-used Brandan Wright followed that up with an and-one score inside to push the lead back to double figures. Wright’s defensive stand on Michael Beasley then led to Dahntay Jones’ transition score to go up 15, 91-76, after a 10-0 run with 8:40 remaining to close the visitors out.
“We did what we needed to do,” Marion said. “We came out and we were battling with them for a little bit. We were trading buckets for a minute there, and then when we were able to gets stops consecutively, were able to open the game up. They came out and they made a run in that third quarter, because we had some turnovers, but we were able to get it back under control and open things back up our way to close it out.”
Leading five scorers in double figures, Marion made his 1,000th career game a memorable one with 18 points on 9-of-19 shooting, snatching down nine rebounds and dishing out five assists to boot.
“A lot of miles,” Marion joked. “No, it’s a great milestone. It’s a true blessing to be playing at such a high level, playing NBA games and being effective at it.”
“He played extremely well and he stepped up his game tonight. I thought he was very aggressive from start to finish,” Carlisle added in regard to Marion’s night.
Nowitzki added 18 points on 7-of-14 from the field in a historic night for him, while Carter recorded 15 points, Brand pitched in 12 points and Beaubois registered 11 points all off the bench.
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting to go along with eight assists, but the Mavs also finished the night outshooting the Suns, 51.1 percent to 44.2 percent, while collecting a 44-38 rebounding advantage and 23 points off Phoenix’s 18 turnovers, committing 15 giveaways themselves for 14 points for their opposition.
The Mavericks will now head back out on the road for the beginning of a four-game road trip, touching down in Portland first for Tuesday night’s battle against the Trail Blazers. The Mavericks lead the season series 1-0 after handing the Blazers a 114-91 thumping in Dallas back on Nov. 5. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 9 p.m. CT.
“We knew we had to have this game and it’s good to get it,” Carlisle concluded. “We’ve got a practice tomorrow and then the road trip is a tough trip and the games are all important games, so we wanted to get some momentum, if you want to call it that. Yeah, I think it gives us a little bit, and Portland is back playing really well again. That game is going to be tough. At Golden State is always tough. We’ll play these guys again in five days, or whatever it is, on a back-to-back. That’s going to be a challenging night, and then we end up in Oklahoma City. But it’s a trip we’re looking forward to and we’ll keep working.”