1. Brandan Wright ranks among the top 10 players in PER this season. Is that evidence that he deserves more minutes or that Rick Carlisle is doing a masterful job picking spots to play Wright?
Gutierrez: It's evidence he's effective in situations where he's poised to succeed. If you look at the matchups against Portland and Indiana, they involved bigger players who were comfortable working in the post. He's generally ineffective against those players because they impose their will in the paint and that provides easy buckets for the opposition. The positioning is also an issue when it comes to rebounding. Look at Carlisle's track record. Rodrigue Beaubois, DeShawn Stevenson, J.J. Barea, Carlisle picked his spots with those players and put them in situations to succeed. Wright deserves minutes when they're advantageous for the team.
Taylor: Wright, for the time being, is really nice role player. But his role is limited to certain situations because he's a true tweener. He can't bang against the big boys and that means Carlisle feels comfortable playing him only with certain other players, so the spacing remains good on offense. Wright could force Carlisle to play him more if he was a better and more consistent rebounder, but we haven't seen that yet.
MacMahon: I've got a condition I call the Roddy B. Reflex that makes me very hesitant to second-guess Carlisle's rotations. I lobbied hard for Beaubois to get a bigger role as a rookie, and we all know how he wilted when his minutes increased. Having said all that, I'd like to see Wright in the 25-minute-per-game range. He earned his two-year, $10 million deal by flourishing in an increased role down the stretch last season, and his net rating (plus-6.1 points per 100 possessions) is by far the best of the Mavs' centers. Next time Carlisle asks my advice, I'll tell him to stop using DeJuan Blair as the first big off the bench and give those minutes to Wright.
Gutierrez: A sore right Achilles halted Harris' night in Golden State and easily leaves him questionable for the game against Utah. If he's able to avoid missing a lot of time, he's primed to be a factor in the closing lineup. Harris is a quasi-DeShawn Stevenson or maybe even a mixture of Stevenson and Jason Terry. Back in 2011, Stevenson set the tone in terms of defense to start games, and Terry didn't care about starting games during his time in Dallas -- he cared about being out there during crunch time. If Harris can bring some dribble penetration and bring some defensive disposition, it's the best of both worlds. Jose Calderon appears to be the one who will draw the short straw in terms of closing minutes, but he's a veteran and is willing to do what is best for the team. Health permitting, it appears Monta Ellis and Harris could be the closing backcourt during the stretch run.
Taylor: Well, we saw the problem with Harris in Tuesday night's blowout loss to Golden State. We can't trust his health yet. This is the second time he's had a sore Achilles. The best thing to do, right now, regarding Harris is just accept what he can give you on a game-by-game basis. No expectations. When he can play and he's playing well, then use him in fourth quarter. But until we can trust his health it's hard to define his role.
MacMahon: This sore Achilles is pretty poorly timed, but the Mavs don't believe it's serious. If Harris is healthy enough to play, he should be part of the Mavs' closing lineup unless Calderon is just lighting it up that night. Harris earned those opportunities with his clutch heroics over the weekend. He's the Mavs' best defensive guard and his ability to create off the dribble makes a major difference in crunch time. Calderon has been just a floor-spacer during closing time this season -- and not particularly effective in that role. This is an easy decision unless Harris' health complicates the issue.
Gutierrez: It's clear that both San Antonio and Oklahoma City are the teams Dallas needs to avoid. If you're forcing me to pick one, I'm going to go with Dallas needing to avoid San Antonio. They have so much depth at their disposal and that depth can negate Dallas' strength in numbers approach. As we saw in the matchup just over a week ago, the ball movement and pick-and-roll action they create puts the Mavericks in an incredible bind. San Antonio is a machine and Dallas doesn't have the components to slow them down. To avoid both, Dallas needs to emerge as the sixth seed in the West.
Taylor: It's a tie. The Mavs have no chance to beat San Antonio because the Spurs are too smart, and they have no chance to beat Oklahoma City because the Thunder are too athletic. If the Mavs played a lick of defense they'd have a sliver of a chance against these two teams. Since they don't, they would be lucky to force either series to six games.
MacMahon: The Spurs and Thunder are both horrific matchups for the Mavs, but I'd call Oklahoma City the greater of the two evils. There is high potential for humiliation if you face a team with two premier young superstars such as Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in a playoff series. Side note: Bricktown is better than that muddy-beep thing they call the Riverwalk.
Not on a night that Nowitzki was a nonfactor while the Golden State Warriors blew out the Mavericks.
“I didn’t really have that in mind,” Nowitzki said, referring to his climb up the all-time scoring list. “We’re just trying to win and make the playoffs now. If [passing Havlicek] happens, it’s awesome, it’s amazing. He’s one of the all-time greats. We know that, but to me right now, it’s more about grinding every game.
“This was a tough one, so that’s really all that’s going through my mind. In the second half, I was trying to be a little bit more aggressive. I hit two shots right away, just trying to get it going and will us back in the game, but it didn’t really happen.”
It didn’t come close to happening.
Nowitzki finished the night with only 12 points, giving him 26,395 for his career but not nearly enough to give the Mavs a chance against Golden State. He had his second straight poor shooting night, following up his 3-of-14 outing in Sunday’s win over the Indiana Pacers by going 4-of-11 from the floor.
“Collectively, we weren’t moving the ball to Dirk well enough,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “When I say that, I mean players on the court and myself.”
Nowitzki gave credit to Golden State’s defense, but he was annoyed with himself for not being more aggressive. He was virtually invisible for most of the first half, which is especially strange given the game’s high stakes, with the Mavs needing a win to have any realistic hope of claiming the West’s sixth seed.
“I should have shot the ball more in the first half,” Nowitzki said. “I should have got the ball more in the first half. I was too passive. In a road game, I’ve got to establish myself early. I think I had like two shots [for most] of the first half and then I shot two more going into the half. I’ve just got to demand the ball a little more, especially on the road.”
That’s how Nowitzki became one of the best scorers in NBA history. And that’s what the Mavs need from the face of their franchise to get back in the playoffs.
Actually, the Mavs aren’t interested in discussing potential playoff seedings at all at this point.
“I’m thinking about how we’re playing right now, what went wrong tonight and what we’ve got to do to get ready for tomorrow,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, ready to flush this stinker and fast forward to Wednesday night’s visit to Utah. “As far as the seeding, that’s a distraction from the task at hand, which is making sure we’re as right as we can be.”
The 38-27 Mavs are sitting in eighth place at the moment, percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies, who are 20-7 since big man Marc Gasol’s return from a knee injury. Dallas is just one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns, whose remaining schedule is heavy with teams from the lesser Eastern Conference and Western Conference lightweights.
“It’s going to be a beast to get in,” Dirk Nowitzki said. He he had an off night, finishing with only 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. “But we’ve got to take care of what we can control, which is to play hard and win as many games as we can.”
The Mavs certainly can’t control who they’ll meet in the first round if they do make the playoffs. In all likelihood, they’ll head either north or south on Interstate 35 and make a quick postseason exit.
That’s just the harsh reality. The Mavs have lost eight straight games to the San Antonio Spurs. Their losing streak against the Oklahoma City Thunder stands at 11 games, including a sweep in the 2012 first round.
It’s not like Dallas would have been favored against any of the West’s potential 3-seeds, but the Mavs would at least have a puncher’s chance against the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets or Portland Trail Blazers. Against the Spurs or Thunder, it would be an accomplishment for Dallas to win a playoff game for the first time since their title run, much less a series.
But the Mavs can’t afford to think that far ahead. As Nowitzki said, they just hope to earn the right to compete on a playoff stage at this point.
“Right now with this situation, we’ve got to win every game,” said point guard Jose Calderon, who committed a season-high six turnovers as the Mavs shot a season-low 36.6 percent against the Warriors. “If we want to be in the playoffs, I think there’s no time to think about where you’re going to be. You want to be there. That’s all you can think about. Right now, it’s just trying to be there. If we can think about seeding in the last game of the season, OK, I’ll take it, meaning we’re in.
“I just want to be in the playoffs. That’s all.”
Any higher hopes for Dallas would just be delusional.
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Jordan Crawford scored 19 points, Andrew Bogut had 15 points and 10 rebounds and the surging Golden State Warriors routed the Dallas Mavericks 108-85 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight win.
Klay Thompson added 14 points to help the Warriors go ahead by 24 points early in the fourth quarter and create more space behind them in the crowded Western Conference standings. Golden State (41-24) is sixth in the West, three games ahead of Dallas (38-27) and Memphis (37-26).
Former Warriors fan favorite Monta Ellis scored 15 points, and Dirk Nowitzki had 12 points and six rebounds in a disappointing display by Dallas. The Warriors outshot the Mavericks 51.2 percent to 36.6 percent and outrebounded Dallas 46 to 40, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The Dallas Mavericks' star pulled even with Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek for 12th place on the league's all-time scoring list during Tuesday night's loss to the Golden State Warriors. The milestone came on an off night for Nowitzki, who finished with only 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
Nowitzki now has 26,395 points in his 16-year career. He has moved past Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Kevin Garnett and Alex English on the all-time scoring list this season.
Nowitzki, who is averaging 21.5 points per game this season, is on pace become one of the top 10 scorers in NBA history by the end of the season. Dominique Wilkins (26,668 points) and Oscar Robertson (26,710) are next on the list for Nowitzki.
OAKLAND, Calif. – The Dallas Mavericks were blown out by the Golden State Warriors 108-85.
How it happened: Golden State simply dominated Dallas for most of the game.
The Warriors went on a 21-6 run to close the first quarter and never let the Mavs back into the game.
The Mavs had a miserable night on both ends of the floor. They had their worst shooting night of the season (36.6 field goal percentage) and allowed the Warriors to shoot 51.2 percent from the field.
Dallas actually did a solid job defending All-Star point guard Stephen Curry, who was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but reserve guard Jordan Crawford torched the Mavs in the second quarter. Crawford scored 12 of his 19 points in the second, when he made five of six shots and the Warriors' lead swelled to 18 points.
Dallas' All-Star never got going in this game, either. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting, pulling even with Boston Celtics legend John Havlicek for 12th on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
It was the second consecutive off night for Nowitzki, but unlike in Sunday night's win over the Indiana Pacers, the rest of the Mavs weren't able to generate much offense. Only four Mavs scored in double figures, led by Monta Ellis' 15 points.
Adding injury to insult, key Mavs reserve guard Devin Harris left the game in the second quarter because of a sore right Achilles tendon and did not return.
What it means: So long to the Mavs' hopes of earning the Western Conference's sixth seed. Golden State (41-24) has a three-game cushion over Dallas after their convincing win. The Mavs (38-27) fell to eighth place, percentage points behind the Memphis Grizzlies and only one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns. The Mavs have a three-game road losing streak entering Wednesday night's game in Utah.
Play of the game: Andre Iguodala had amazing displays of athleticism on both ends of the court in a matter of seconds. First, he killed a Dallas fast break by stuffing Shawn Marion's dunk attempt with his left hand, leading to a transition opportunity for Golden State. After Curry missed a pull-up 3-pointer, Iguodala came flying in for the right-handed putback slam. The dunk stretched the Warriors' lead to 17 points with 2:40 remaining in the first half.
Stat of the night: Jose Calderon had a season-high six turnovers. He has had more turnovers in a game only four times in his nine-year NBA career.
The Mavs do not believe the injury is serious. Harris is questionable for Wednesday night's game against the Utah Jazz.
"I would not rule it out," Harris said. "We'll just see how it feels tomorrow and then make a decision."
Harris, the primary backup at both guard positions, started feeling soreness in the Achilles during last week's loss to the Denver Nuggets. He got treatment the next day and had two of his best games of the season over the weekend, averaging 16 points on 66.7 percent shooting in wins over the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers and coming up with clutch buckets late in both games.
Harris, who missed the first half of the season while rehabilitating from summer toe surgery, felt soreness again before Tuesday's game and left after playing less than seven minutes.
"I still wanted to give it a go," said Harris, who is averaging 7.9 points and 4.0 assists in 18.5 minutes per game this season. "It just wasn't feeling right, so just didn't want to risk it. ... It wasn't anything specifically that I did. It just flared up."
The Mavs announced minutes later that he would not return to the game.
The big hole up high in the wall outside of the visitors’ locker room is the result of Nowitzki’s frustration during one of the lowest points of his certain Hall of Fame career. It’s also a reminder of just how hard the big German’s journey to an NBA championship was.
After the “We Believe” Warriors completed their historic 8-over-1 seed upset over the 67-win Mavs in 2007, a devastated Dirk picked up a trash can and heaved it at the wall. The hole has never been repaired. In fact, it’s now covered by a piece of plexiglass that Nowitzki autographed a couple of years ago.
“Always, year after year disappointments, but keep working and keep getting better and ultimately being the closer I needed to be in 2011.”
It took a while -- and a title -- for Nowitzki to see the humor in the hole. As self-deprecating as he is, Nowitzki admits he wouldn’t have responded so warmly if the Warriors asked for his signature before he earned a championship ring.
It’s a big game, but you’ve got a lot of time to kill before that late West Coast tipoff. Might as well jump into the mailbag.
On to your questions ...
What do you make of Devin Harris closing out games at PG? -- @MacSportsTalk on Twitter
As Rick Carlisle said about Harris’ overall performance the other night, what’s there not to like? Harris got the closing call over Jose Calderon the last two games, and the Mavs slammed the door on a couple of playoff teams, going on combined 27-7 runs against the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers after Harris checked back in for the stretch runs.
But spacing the floor is really all Calderon has done for the Mavs during crunch time. Harris is much more aggressive on both ends of the floor and has come up with huge three-point plays off drives in each of the last two games.
Harris was a crunch-time hero over the weekend. I wouldn’t mess with that as long as it keeps being a good thing.
Did you know Dallas has two of the top 10 players in PER? And you’d never guess who the second player is. -- @chrisminjaelee on Twitter
Well, this isn’t actually true now, but you tweeted this before Blake Griffin’s big game knocked a couple of Mavs down a spot.
Still, you act like it’s stunning that Brandan Wright ranks 11th in the NBA in PER, one spot behind Dirk Nowitzki. It’s not like this came out of nowhere. Wright ranked 20th last season.
Wright is the only player with a top-40 PER who averages fewer than 20 minutes per game. Does that mean he deserves more playing time or that Carlisle is expertly picking spots for Wright to succeed? Sounds like a good question for 3 Points on Wednesday.
Nowitzki, who has 26,383 career points, needs only 13 points to move past Boston Celtics great John Havlicek into 12th place among the league’s all-time scorers. Considering that Nowitzki is averaging 21.5 points per game this season, it’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll pass Havlicek during Tuesday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.
It’s also a safe bet that Havlicek will have no hard feelings about being bumped down a notch due to his great respect for Nowitzki, according to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
“I got to know Havlicek pretty well in Boston,” said Carlisle, who began his NBA career in Boston. “One thing I can tell you for sure is John Havlicek is a huge fan of Dirk Nowitzki and what he’s done in his career, not only individually, but from a team standpoint and a competitive standpoint and wanting to take on the responsibility of winning and losing.
“John was the guy for them for a lot of years. So he understands what that’s all about.”
Havlicek will be the fifth player passed by Nowitzki on the scoring list this season, joining Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Kevin Garnett and Alex English. Dominique Wilkins and Oscar Robertson are within Nowitzki’s reach before the end of the season.
"I would have to say my last time feeling like this was 2007, when we made the playoffs," Ellis said Monday, referring to the eighth-seeded Golden State Warriors, who upset the top-seeded Mavs in the first round. "This happy? 2007."
Ellis, who rarely reveals much to the media, was in a reflective mood as the Mavs prepared for a trip that begins Tuesday at Golden State.
Ellis, who feels rejuvenated from playing for a successful franchise that is fighting for one of the last playoff spots in the Western Conference, recalled struggling with the pressure of being the face of young Golden State teams that weren't good enough to compete for playoff berths. The Warriors made the playoffs only once during Ellis' 6½-season tenure with the team.
Curry only participated in the walkthrough portion of Monday's practice. He said the pain in his leg is tolerable and believes he can continue to play through it while the muscle heals.
"It's just a matter of making sure it doesn't get worse," Curry said.
The All-Star point guard was injured during Golden State's win at Boston on Wednesday and began to feel pain again during Friday's victory over Atlanta. An MRI exam Saturday revealed the strain.
Curry shook off the pain and played more than expected Sunday night, when he had 18 points and nine assists in 30 minutes in the Warriors' 113-107 win over Phoenix. That included making a 3-pointer and handing out six assists during a 23-4 run in the third quarter that helped Golden State pull away.
Curry said this is an important stretch for the Warriors and he wants to do as much as his body allows.
Golden State is 9-2 since the All-Star break and a season-high 16 games over .500. The Warriors (40-24) are two games ahead of Dallas (38-26) for sixth place in the jammed Western Conference standings with 18 games to play.
The Warriors also entered Monday four games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division. The Warriors and Clippers meet for the final time this season on Wednesday night in Los Angeles. Golden State has won two of the first three meetings.
“He’s going to stay back and get an MRI this afternoon,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Crowder sat out Monday’s practice. “We don’t think it’s serious, but he would not be able to play tomorrow. Then we’ll see where he’s at, whether we have him join us in Utah [on Wednesday] or not.”
Crowder had been bothered by his abdomen for a couple of weeks and aggravated it when he attempted to go up for a dunk on a fast break during Sunday’s win over the Indiana Pacers, resulting in an awkward missed layup on the play.
This is particularly tough timing for Crowder, a second-year player who had just gotten back into the Mavs’ rotation. He averaged eight points and three rebounds in 14 minutes in the two previous games before being sidelined for the second half against the Pacers.
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Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.