February hadn’t been too kind to the Dallas Mavericks, as they fell in six of their first seven games. But now they can approach March with more optimism, having won three of their past four.
Deron Williams, who totaled 22 points and 13 assists over the weekend, helped the Mavericks outlast the Denver Nuggets in overtime on Friday, 122-116, before they mauled the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, 128-101.
ANOTHER OT TRIUMPH
Friday night served up another Mavericks’ specialty—free basketball.
In their NBA-leading 10th overtime game this season, the Mavs rallied past the Nuggets (23-36) after a disappointing first half at the American Airlines Center.
Deron scored all 12 of his points after intermission to help Dallas recover and improve to 7-3 in OT. Dallas trailed by 23 points with about three minutes remaining in the first half before finding its rhythm.
“We got some traction in the second[quarter] toward the end,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We made some changes because they were playing small and we needed to get more attackers out there, and we made a big run.”
Opting for a smaller lineup with 6-foot-11 center Zaza Pachulia on the bench, the Mavericks stormed back with a 30-8 surge to get within one, 63-62, in the third quarter. In that span, Dirk Nowitzki scored six straight for the Mavs before D-Will hit a triple to get them within 10.
David Lee, who scored 14 points off the bench in his third game as a Maverick, gave Dallas its first edge, 67-66, with a jumper. But the lead swapped hands three more times before Denver took an 80-76 advantage into the fourth quarter.
In a game of runs, the Nuggets forged a 14-2 burst early in the fourth, but the Mavs scored nine unanswered to end regulation deadlocked at 108.
Deron sparked the late-game surge by banking in a pull-up three at the 1:45 mark, 108-102. He continued the comeback with an assist to Wesley Matthews for a corner three. After Matthews went on to hit one of two from the line, Dallas broke down the Denver defense for Raymond Felton to ease through the lane for a shot off the glass, 108-all.
Felton has come up big numerous times in the Dallas backcourt rotation along with D-Will. Deron and the University of Illinois played against Felton and the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2005 NCAA championship game. The two were also both drafted in the Top 5 in the 2005 NBA draft. Felton has enjoyed a resurgence in 2016 after playing just 29 games for Dallas last year.
“I’ve talked to him about it, so I know it was a tough year for him last year,” Deron said of Felton. “He’s never really, in his career, had to go through any extensive injuries like that where he’s missed a lot of time, so I know it was tough for him. And then when he came back, he didn’t play much because of the Rondo trade, but this year he’s been a huge part of our team. There have been a lot of games where, if we didn’t have him, we don’t pull them out.”
Felton picked up where he left off, attacking the basket for eight points in the extra period. Then with 10.1 seconds left, D-Will made it a two-possession game by hitting a pair of free throws, 121-116, icing the game for the Mavs.
“We hung in, we found a way,” Carlisle said. “I give the guys a lot of credit. We’re having struggles right now.”
The Mavericks shot 51 percent from the floor and 38 percent (11-of-29) from three, while holding the Nuggets to 46 and 31 percent (9-of-29), respectively.
Chandler Parsons, who totaled 15 of his game-high 27 points in the pivotal third quarter, was one of six Mavericks to score in double figures: Nowitzki added a double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Matthews finished with 17 points.
Will Barton led all Nuggets with 22 points off the bench, while Kenneth Faried and D.J. Augustin totaled 20 points apiece.
MAVS ROLL VS. WOLVES
During Sunday’s 128-101 route of Minnesota (19-41), Dallas matched its season-high for points in a quarter (39) and assists in a game (34).
No. 8 played a big role in the beautiful ball movement. D-Will totaled 10 points and a game-high nine assists, as one of seven Mavericks to score in double figures: Parsons led all scorers with 29 points, while Matthews finished with 15.
The Mavericks’ unselfishly handed out 34 assists on 47 field goals, including a dime from Deron to Parsons in the first frame. D-Will swung a cross-court outlet pass for Parsons to hit a layup in transition, putting the Mavs ahead, 27-13, with under five minutes remaining in the quarter.
Deron then connected on his second basket in 60 seconds with a pull-up jumper to push the lead to 16, as the Mavs went on to take a 39-24 edge into the second quarter.
“This was a mature win for us,” Parsons said. “We haven’t had many of these games where we could blow out a team. We’ve gotten big leads, but we let the team get back in. This was huge for us.”
The T-Wolves got as close as seven in the second stanza, but Deron either scored or assisted on the Mavericks’ next 10 points to give them a 13-point, 55-42, advantage.
Minnesota got within seven points twice more, but a Parsons’ pull-up jumper to end the half gave Dallas a double-digit lead it would not relinquish, 65-54.
“The key to the game was the starters getting off to a great start in the beginning of the game and in the second half,” Carlisle said.
The Mavs kept running after the break, eventually stretching their lead to 31 in the final frame, even as Deron and the rest of Dallas’s starting five sat on the bench.
Shabazz Muhammad led the Timberwolves with 24 points off the bench, Andrew Wiggins added 15 and Karl-Anthony Towns contributed 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. The T-Wolves won the battle of the boards, 54-43, on their way to outscoring the Mavericks in second-chance points, 23-10. But it was no match for Dallas’s efficiency. Dallas shot 53 percent from the floor and 36 percent (13-of-36) from deep, while holding Minnesota to 38 and 30 percent (7-of-23), respectively.
Deron and the Mavericks (32-28) will go for their third straight win when they welcome the Orlando Magic (26-32) to the American Airlines Center on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. CT.
They’ll be looking to avenge a 110-104 overtime loss from Feb. 19. D-Will logged a game-high 25 points with four rebounds and nine assists in the setback.
Orlando has lost three of its past five, most recently routing the Philadelphia 76ers, 130-116, on Sunday. The young Magic are led by center Nikola Vucevic (17.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 1.1 block per contest), point guard Elfrid Payton (5.8 assists) and shooting guard Victor Oladipo (1.4 steals).
- Game 59: Mavs vs. Nuggets (NBA, Feb. 26, 2016)
- Nuggets lose two big leads, fall to Mavericks in overtime (The Denver Post, Feb. 26, 2016)
- After deplorable start, Mavericks find a way to beat the Nuggets in OT (Dallas Morning News, Feb. 26, 2016)
- Raymond Felton bounces back for Mavericks after tough 2015 (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 27, 2016)
- Game Book: Wolves at Mavs (NBA, Feb. 28, 2016)