Recap: Short-handed Mavs fall to champion Heat to begin tough back-to-back
Earl K. Sneed recaps the Dallas Mavericks' home loss Thursday night to the defending champion Miami Heat, as a short-handed Mavs team fell in the first game of a back-to-back.
Recap: Heat 110 at Mavericks 95
Short-handed Mavs fall to champion Heat to begin tough back-to-back
Already taking the court for a 26th game to start the season without 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki as he continues to rehab from arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 19, the Mavericks prepared to welcome in the defending NBA champion Miami Heat on Thursday night down three more key contributors due to injuries.
With starting point guard Derek Fisher ruled out for at least three games due to a strained right patellar tendon, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle helplessly watched while his rotation was trimmed even shorter as big men Elton Brand (groin) and Brandan Wright (sprained right ankle) were also late scratches. The short-handed Mavericks (12-14) then wouldn’t have enough firepower to rally together on their home floor, falling to the reigning titleholders with a lopsided 110-95 loss to begin a tough home-road back-to-back that concludes in Memphis on Friday.
“They were playing us tough all night,” Carlisle admitted. “They were making tough shots when we weren’t, then we had more poor breakdowns as the game went on. It was very disappointing on how we played, but we’ll have to forget it quickly because we have another tough one tomorrow.”
Inserting 25-year-old lead guard Darren Collison into the first unit in place of Fisher at the point, Carlisle attempted to get off to a quick start against the high-octane Heat lineup. Meanwhile, small forward Dahntay Jones began the night on three-time MVP LeBron James, hoping to be the first to hold the perennial All-Star under 20 points this season.
But James would start the night connecting from everywhere on the floor, hitting 6-of-7 from the field for 13 points in the opening period. And with the Mavs just 8-of-29 as a team at the other end, they would quickly found themselves down as much as 14 before entering the second stanza facing a 31-20 deficit.
Led by rookie Jae Crowder off the bench, the Dallas reserves attempted to get the team back into the game as the second quarter got underway. Meanwhile, fellow first-year pro Bernard James lent a helping hand inside as the Mavericks inched to within single digits.
“We’re the guys that try to give a lot of energy, because there wasn’t a lot of energy on the court. But it was too little, too late.” Crowder said after leading the charge with the second unit.
He added: “Once we get a chance to come back here and look at this game we’ll realize this is how we’ve got to play. Those guys compete. Once we get our missing pieces with a mentality like that we’ll be fine.”
But the comeback effort would fall short after the Mavs climbed to within three as the Heat’s deadly 3-point shooters upped the margin back to double figures from the outside. And with LeBron James leading the way with 16 first-half points on 7-of-9 shooting, the Heat (17-6) emerged from the first half with a 58-42 advantage.
Outshooting the Mavs through the first 24 minutes of action, 57.9 percent to 33.3 percent, the Heat easily jumped out to the wide separation despite nine turnovers compared to Dallas’ five giveaways. Meanwhile, Mavs leading scorer O.J. Mayo struggled to just 1-of-8 shooting in the half.
“I was just missing shots, man. It wasn’t a good one,” Mayo said while summing up his night. “You wish you could play good every night, but sometimes it’s just not a good one. … They were contesting hard, playing hard, rotating. It just wasn’t a good one for me tonight.”
“They were trapping [Mayo] and in those situations he has to take advantage of being trapped,” Carlisle added. “He has to move the ball quickly. There were a couple of times he did it and there were a couple of times he didn’t when they threatened the ball and created bad situations for us.”
Carrying his assault into the second half, LeBron James took his offensive talents to the outside and drained shots from behind the 3-point arc in the third period as the Heat’s lead continued to balloon. And with the Mavs’ offense still sputtering, the home team fell behind by as much as 36 before entering the fourth looking up to a 91-61 disadvantage.
With the final verdict no longer in doubt, the Heat rested LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in the final quarter. Carlisle then switched to a small-ball lineup with four-time All-Star forward Shawn Marion at center and eight-time All-Star Vince Carter at the 4, cutting the lopsided score to a respectable number before the final buzzer sounded with all reserves on the floor.
Leading five Heat players in double figures was LeBron James, who scored 24 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out five assists in three quarters of action.
The high-point man for the Mavs was the rookie Crowder, who posted 15 points to lead six players in double figures, while Bernard James and Dahntay Jones added 12 points and Collison pitched in 11 points. Marion and Carter also registered 10 points apiece in the loss, while Dominique Jones dished out a career-high seven assists off the bench.
Meanwhile, Mayo was held to just eight points on 3-of-14 from the floor and 0-of-5 from 3-point range.
The Heat finished the night outshooting the Mavs, 53.8 percent to 38.5 percent, in addition to a 47-36 rebounding advantage. Miami also connected on 10-of-28 from behind the 3-point line, holding the Mavericks to only 3-of-22 from long range at the other end.
The visiting team overcame the 21 points the Mavs scored off 20 Miami turnovers as well, while Dallas committed only nine giveaways on the night.
“It’s frustrating to take a loss like that, especially on our home court,” Marion said after the defeat. “It seemed like we had a lot of opportunities to make this a real good game. We had a lot of great looks, man. They just wouldn’t go in. It seemed like they would go in and come out.”
“Missed a lot of shots from point-blank range. We never really got into an offensive rhythm. So, we’ve got to wash this one away and get ready for tomorrow,” a disappointed Mayo concluded.
The Mavericks will now head back out on the road, stopping in Memphis for the second night of a back-to-back Friday against the Grizzlies. It will be Mayo’s first game against his former team since signing with the Mavs as a free agent this offseason. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7 p.m. CT.