DALLAS — Ending a six-game losing streak in its tracks Tuesday night with a wire-to-wire 113-99 road win over the Washington Wizards, the Dallas Mavericks credited a spirited practice the day before in the nation’s capital for the victory.
Hitting the practice court with a focus on defense, the Mavericks (2-10) scrimmaged and competed at a high level against themselves before dueling with All-Star point guard John Wall, sharpshooter Bradley Beal and the high-octane Wizards’ attack. The outcome was then a dominant performance on the road, leading by as many as 17 and never once trailing en route to the win. Now, the Mavs are hopeful that competitive edge can carry over to Saturday’s matchup at home against the reigning Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers, looking to use the additional practice time to their advantage.
“Well, in the huddle the team was sticking together and talking about, ‘We knew it was going to be tough, and we’re going to play through this. Don’t worry, they’re not going to get the lead.’ Everybody was positive and upbeat, and optimism is a big factor in success. You’ve got to see that things can be great, and then you’ve got to make it happen. And I can’t say enough about our practice (Monday). It was geared towards defense, it was geared towards keeping the opponent under one point per possession, and (Tuesday) I believe we kept these guys just barely under one point per possession. So, that’s where our focus has to be to be successful,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after Tuesday’s win.
“We came into the game with a great collective force and a collective will, and we’ve been getting kicked around. It’s no fun, and (Tuesday) our guys drew a line in the sand and really brought things to another level defensively,” the coach added. “They’ve got great players over there. Beal and Wall in terms of backcourts, there aren’t many better, if there are any better on a two-position basis, and we got up to play these guys. We know how good they are.”
Scoring a season-high 31 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds, versatile forward Harrison Barnes led the Mavericks to the win at the offensive end of the floor. The Mavs also outshot the Wizards for the game, 47.3 percent to 42.7 percent. Perhaps more importantly, the Mavericks finished the game solving the two issues that have plagued them this season, holding a 53-39 rebounding advantage and forcing 15 Washington turnovers while surrendering 12 giveaways of their own. That said, Barnes and 13-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki both credit the team’s engaging practice on Monday for the win.
“It was huge,” Barnes said. “Honestly, we just rolled the ball out there and just played (Monday), ’cause our biggest thing this season has been competing and how we’ve been competing for four quarters. We got after it. We had a hard scrimmage, and I think that carried over to (Tuesday). I think now guys know the level that they have to play at every single night for four quarters, and now it’s just about doing it again.”
“I mean, it’s definitely a good win for us on the road against a very good team,” Nowitzki added. “You know, when you’re struggling, instead of everybody going their own way, you’ve got to pull together even more. I thought we had a good practice (Monday) where we competed and went through some of our coverages again. You know, the 11-games-in-18-days stretch was tough for us, and we didn’t really have a lot of practice time. We have a bunch of young guys, so I thought (Monday) was a big day for us, and now we have three days off and can work on some stuff. Hopefully we’ll get better here the next couple of days, and we’ll see what happens.”
Note: The Mavericks will now return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 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