The Mavs responded after their bad loss against the Kings to look impressive against a good Pacers team.
Well that was surprising. Just a couple days ago the Kings beat the Mavericks so bad Rick Carlisle had to have his first post-game film session in 15 years as a head coach. The loss dropped the Mavs back to the worst record in the league.
So a Pacers team that beat them earlier was a tall task but the Mavs responded. Dallas hung in and led at the half by two and then used a really good third quarter to take control of the game and eventually win 111-103 Friday night in Dallas.
It felt ... weird. The Mavs rarely play with a lead this season and for most of the second half they were messing around with a double-digit one. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews led the way on offense and a nice team effort kept a good Pacers offense relatively in check. This was a solid win and even if the Mavs aren’t going anywhere, there were lots of good signs for a team that’s trying to grow.
The Mavs finally caught fire from deep
Dallas has taken a lot of threes this season and missed a lot of them. For what felt like the first time all season, the Mavs enjoyed a really good night behind the arch — 15-of-32 overall, with Matthews, Barnes and Deron Williams each making at least two. With Salah Mejri and Dwight Powell taken over the center minutes with Andrew Bogut injured, the Mavs ran a lot of pick and rolls with rimrunners that sucked in defenders and gave the Mavs some nice drive and kick options.
Bogut is a fantastic defender but he’s offers nothing as a roll man. Powell and Mejri dove hard to the basket tonight and the Mavs guards took advantage of the extra space. Powell’s defense looked suspect again, but he had 14 points off the bench.
Matthews keeps shooting flames, Barnes gets back on track
Not much else to say about Wes. Another 20-plus point game (26 to be exact) and he was 5-of-10 from three. Matthews is not only resembling his Portland-self, he’s exceeding that by not just hitting threes but doing some nice things off the bounce. He had eight free throw attempts.
Barnes didn’t do much to improve in the areas we’re hoping he works on (just four free throw attempts and two assists) but he was back to his crazy efficient self, hitting 10-of-17 from the field with zero turnovers. Barnes took advantage of any Pacers switch in the pick and roll and looked positively Dirk-like when posting up a smaller defender in the center of the floor at the free throw line. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and made three 3-pointers, which was nice to see since he had been struggling from deep. A really nice bounce-back game from Barnes against good perimeter defenders after that disaster against the Kings.
Finney-Smith trending up, Anderson trending down
I was interested to see what type of changes Rick was going to make after that terrible game against the Kings. A short post-game conference and a film session immediately after with the team had to mean some changes were coming to the rotation.
There weren’t a lot of changes but there was a big one — Justin Anderson did not get off the bench. I just wrote about how uneven a start Anderson has had this season and it appears Rick is sending a message to Anderson to get it together. Finney-Smith started again and looked great in 33 minutes, hitting two 3-pointers and playing his usual terrific defense. The fact that Finney-Smith is looking so good is a boon to the Mavs hope of a quick rebuild. Finding a dude like him is found money.
On the other side of the coin, an undrafted free-agent rookie has taken Anderson’s playing time and knocked him out of that rotation completely. Anderson is a hard-worker so hopefully he’ll take this benching as more motivation to work out the kinks in his inconsistent play this year.