DALLAS — After falling to a 117-111 loss while hosting the Atlanta Hawks to begin the 2017-18 season Wednesday night, the Dallas Mavericks will look to bounce back and begin their quest for a home-court advantage 48 hours later against the Sacramento Kings.
Going 21-20 at home during the ’16-17 season, the Mavericks (0-1) were not as dominant on their own floor as they hoped to be while finishing with a 33-49 record overall. The Mavs then tried to establish a home-court dominance at American Airlines Center during the preseason, capturing all three of the exhibition contests in front of the Dallas crowd. But after falling to a narrow defeat in the season opener, the Mavericks know they must be better at home Friday night against the Kings (0-1). And in the first game of a back-to-back that concludes Saturday night in Houston, 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki hopes his team can be better on its home hardwood before welcoming in the defending champion Golden State Warriors, Southwest Division rival Memphis Grizzlies and up-and-coming Philadelphia 76ers next week.
“That was a tough loss. We’ve got to find a way to win that one at home,” Nowitzki admitted after scoring 10 points during a 4-of-14 shooting performance. “I felt like every time we were right there, we made a mistake or a bad turnover, gave up an offensive rebound or had a shot-clock violation. Just every time we were right there, we just couldn’t get over the hump. You just can’t give up layups like that in the fourth. … We made a couple of mistakes, and we paid for it.”
Overshadowing the dazzling debut of first-round draft pick Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavericks fought hard to erase an 11-point halftime deficit before surrendering a 6-0 Atlanta run to end the game. The Mavs will now try to put themselves in a better position Friday night, hoping Smith can produce an encore performance while leading the team to a win.
Scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting, grabbing three rebounds and dishing 10 assists during Wednesday’s loss, the 19-year-old Smith became the the youngest player in league history to record a double-double with points and assists in his debut game. He’ll now try to carry that personal success over to Friday’s outing, matching up with No. 5 overall draft pick and fellow rookie point guard De’Aaron Fox. And despite filling up the stat sheet in his first professional game, Smith admits that he must do more in order to lead the Mavs to their first win of the season.
“I gave 100 percent effort and we didn’t win, so we’re looking forward to the game Friday and getting our first win of the season,” Smith said after Wednesday’s loss. “Rebounding, I didn’t contribute enough, and that was a focal point coming into the game. I didn’t do my part on that, so we’ll watch film and we look to bounce back Friday.
“We’ve got each other’s backs,” he added. “You know, even with a loss, we stuck together like we were supposed to, and nobody was pointing fingers. And like I said, we’re a team that’s ready to bounce back from any loss.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Friday against the Sacramento Kings. The game will tip off at 7:30 p.m. CT, airing locally on Fox Sports Southwest and 103.3 FM ESPN. The game will also air in Spanish on KFLC AM 1270. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by visiting Mavs.com, or by calling (214) 747-MAVS.
Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia) — out
Josh McRoberts (lower extremity injury) — out
Gian Clavell (G-League) — not with the team
Johnathan Motley (G-League) — not with the team