Game Recap: Mavericks 92, 76ers 86
Not only did the 76ers (0-11) impressively manage to get themselves back into Monday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks (7-4), they found themselves ahead four separate times in the last eight minutes. After Nerlens Noel sunk a free throw to put the Sixers in front, 82-81, with four minutes, 23 seconds to go, Dallas’ veterans stepped up. From there, Dirk Nowitzki would score seven of his team’s final 11 points, as the Mavericks fended off the Sixers for a 92-86 victory. The win was Dallas’ fourth in a row.
Despite a bumpy start that saw the Mavs storm out to a 38-19 advantage in the second period, the Sixers fought on, relying on a balanced scoring attack, and a renewed defensive focus. Five of the Sixers’ nine available players finished in double-figures. Jahlil Okafor (19 pts, 11 reb) and Nerlens Noel (12 pts, 12 reb) posted double-doubles in the same contest for the first time. They helped direct the Sixers to a plus-seven rebound advantage by the end of the night.
The 37-year old Nowitzki generated a game-best 21 points. Chandler Parsons put up 20 points, all of which were scored in the first half.
The Sixers were unable to overcome a season-high 27 turnovers. The Mavericks converted those mistakes into 28 points.
After the Sixers sliced their once 19-point deficit to one in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter, Dirk Nowitzki drained a triple that allowed Dallas to re-establish a two-possession edge, and threatened to put a damper on any momentum the Sixers had built up. The Sixers kept chipping away, though, using a pair of Robert Covington free throws to knot the tilt at 74-74. On their next trip down the floor, the Sixers crashed the glass with purpose, snagging two offensive rebounds that ultimately set up Jerami Grant for a go-ahead drive to the hoop. Althought the lead swung back to the Mavericks on their ensuing possession, the Sixers responded once more, with Grant again flipping the scoreboard, 78-77, via a hard take to the rim. The Sixers’ final lead would come with five minutes remaining in regulation, when Nerlens Noel delivered a tiebreaking slam making it 81-79.
Brett Brown Said - On the role the Sixers’ defense played in their comeback push against the Dallas Mavericks:
“I’m thrilled with our defense. I think there’s a toughness we’re showing. There is an attitude where we’re not going away. We did it ugly.”
Robert Covington made his second appearance of the season, and first since the Sixers’ third outing of the fall. A day after playing in his first game on November 3rd, the three-point threat sprained his right knee in practice. It was the second time he hurt his MCL.
Brett Brown said before the game that Covington would play on a restriction of 20 minutes, and 20 minutes was exactly how long Covington played. He tallied seven points, while converting two of his eight field goal attempts. Covington missed all four of his tries from outside the arc, but was able to grab five rebounds.
Dirk Nowitzki’s tangible accomplishments stand on their own merit. He entered Monday’s match-up with 28,279 total NBA points, seventh only to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Kobe Bryant, Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal. Beyond all of his numerical achievements and honors, the German native is also credited for modernizing the power forward position, having emerged as one of the league’s first true “stretch four” men.
This season, with Jahlil Okafor on the roster, the Sixers have moved Nerlens Noel’s primary responsibilities from center to power forward. The Sixers believe the Kentucky product’s defensive versatility is well suited for such a transition.
“I think I’m doing a decent job, attacking rollers, and getting back out on my man on the three-point line,” Noel said Monday. “I think Dirk will be the toughest task, shooting [50 percent], which is a good percentage from the three, so I definitely will be more mindful of that, and make sure I’m getting back to that.”
Nowitzki racked up a game high 21 points (6-16), hitting three three-pointers. It was his third 20-point effort of the season.
Phil Pressey delivered one of the better showings of his brief stint with the Sixers on Saturday at San Antonio. His multi-faceted box line featured eight points (second-highest total of the season), three rebounds, six assists, and no turnovers.
Pressey, however, didn’t play Monday against Dallas, having come down with food poisoning between the time the Sixers returned home from Texas on Sunday morning, and Monday shoot-around.
Isaiah Canaan, who lately has been serving as the SIxers’ top back-up shooting guard, was asked to assume additional point guard duties Monday.
The 76ers were at The Center for the first time since last Friday’s terrorist strikes on Paris, and honored victims of the attack before Monday’s game. With the house lights dimmed, video boards throughout the arena flashed France’s blue, white, and red colors. The primary video screens attached to the center court scoreboard displayed the French flag, with images of the Philadelphia and Paris skylines in the background. The phrase “Together,” and the Sixers’ team logo were incorporated into the image as well.
On Wednesday, the Sixers make their final home appearance of the month, welcoming the Indiana Pacers (6-5). Indiana visited Central Division rival the Chicago Bulls on Monday night, falling 96-85. The loss was just the second for the Pacers in their last eight games. Paul George’s sixth NBA season is off to both an auspicious and reassuring start. After George suffered a gruesome compound fracture while training with Team USA during the 2014 off-season, the trajectory of his promising All-Star career seemed to be in jeopardy. Impressively, he managed to suit up for Indiana’s final six games last season, and has burst out of the gates to post 24.3 points per game through his first 10 contests of the year. His scoring average ranked 10th in the NBA as of Monday. The Pacers dealt center Roy Hibbert to the Los Angeles Lakers in July, and acquired rookie forward Rakeem Christmas, who played at Academy of the New Church High School in Bryn Athyn, via a draft day trade.