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Shawn Marion: Never Forget The Matrix

by Damian Jackson on July 27, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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Continuity didn’t quite follow through in the Dallas Mavericks’ offseason. While Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris re-signed, the Mavs watched Vince Carter (Memphis), DeJuan Blair (Washington) and now likely Shawn Marion leave.

Marion, speaking with Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:

“It was memorable, baby,” Marion said. “It’s hard to say it wasn’t fun. We had a great run and made the playoffs four of five years and won a championship. We set goals every year, and most years we reached them. And to win a championship, it was unbelievable. I wish we could have made a couple more runs at it, but it is what it is.”

The Mavs always knew Nowitzki was coming back, felt strongly about the returns of Harris and Carter before he chose to take a three-year, $12 million contract with the Grizzlies. But a comeback for ‘The Matrix’ always seemed in limbo and more strung on hope.

It appears rather clear now, Marion’s five-year tenure in Dallas is all but officially over.

Dallas has 15 players under contract, including a new starting small forward in Chandler Parsons. The Mavericks also signed forward Richard Jefferson, want Jae Crowder to play more and will soon officially sign 23-year-old Al-Farouq Aminu.

The Matrix also owns one of the most unique basketball styles ever. While he spent his best statistical seasons with the Phoenix Suns, Marion came to Dallas and anchored the team defense for five seasons.

Marion exemplified team basketball and fit perfectly next to Nowitzki whom he guarded year in and year out as a member of the Suns. Dallas shifted to the Matrix after the falling out with Josh Howard whose off the court antics clouded a mostly successful six-plus year run with the Mavericks.

A combination of tricks and talents, Marion impacted the game in a multitude of areas. He reduced his three-point shooting in favor of a back-to-the-basket game. Stellar, hard-nosed defense always came first for the former UNLV Running Rebel.

Movement without the basketball to create easy scoring opportunities for himself, crashing the boards (led Dallas for two seasons) and contributing with his most baffling unorthodox versatility all made Marion special.

Marion provided us with plenty of ‘No, no, no’ and ‘What was that?!’ moments, but they were easily overshadowed by his relentless motor and drive to be the best teammate possible in a Mavericks uniform.

Shawn Marion, NBA Champion and Dallas Mavericks great.

So if this is goodbye, we will never forget. Thanks for everything Shawn!

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Dirk & Nash: What Could Have Been?

by Ryan Wilson on April 18, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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This morning, Bill Simmons & Grantland released episode 4 of the “The Finish Line”, documenting the up and down season for Steve Nash in Los Angeles, and his battle to get back on the court.

The Dallas Mavericks were in town, and as they typically do, Dirk Nowitzki and Nash got together. Nowitzki, Nash, and Al Whitley, equipment manager for the Dallas Mavericks, and childhood friend of Nash’s sat down for a dinner to reminisce about the past and what could have been.

It’s a fascinating video that really shows how Nash is dealing with decisions from back in the day, and the fact that his career is coming to a close. It’s layered with questions about what could have happened with Dallas had Nash resigned back in 2004. Dirk mentioned how the Western Conference wasn’t all that great after Nash left, and that there was a window of opportunity there that we will all just never know.

It was an honest conversation between two longtime friends – one from Canada and the other from Wurzburg, Germany. On the court, they were a lethal duo who entertained the Dallas Metroplex on a night to night basis, but many believe it was ended to short.

DirkNashAs they talked about the battles between the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks, Nash even points out that it was a “rough time” for him when the Mavericks prevailed over his Suns in the 2006 Western Conference Finals, and he wasn’t even really pushing for Nowitzki in the Finals that season. He does mention right after that once the Mavericks got back to the 2011 NBA Finals and won it, it was fun for him to watch Nowitzki back in the big dance and finally get that trophy.

“I almost feel like I wasn’t cheering for you. Instead, I was kind of like ‘I don’t care’” - Steve Nash on Nowitzki reaching NBA Finals in 2006

 

“It was fun for me to root for you. It felt great to see you get back there and to have me rooting for you.” - Steve Nash on Nowitzki returning to NBA Finals in 2001 and winning 

But what really could have been?

The real important thing to remember here is the Mavericks had a whole different Steve Nash than the one the Suns received. Phoenix had a guy in Amar’e Stoudemire who was amazing on the pick and roll and finishing with his athleticism. He provided Nash a real true inside power, whereas Dirk at the time, was really just a shooter. Many feel that they were only just growing at that point, but as Dirk mentioned in the video, it really allowed the two of them to develop on their own, which is something that maybe never would have materialized had they remained together.

“I’m not sure, but it would have been a hell of a time” - Dirk Nowitzki on what would have happened if Nash stayed in Dallas. 

At the conclusion of the dinner, Nash asks Nowitzki what he would do if he was in his position at 40 years old, and if he would come back.

“With what you are going through with all the treatments, I’m not sure I could do it” - Dirk Nowitzki 

Two things are for sure. The NBA is going to miss these two superstars when they ride off into the sunset and they have developed a bond that will last a lifetime.

Photo Credit: G.J. McCarthy

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A Waiting Game For the Mavericks

by Damian Jackson on April 14, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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The Dallas Mavericks were the only NBA team to have played 81 games when Saturday night concluded.

A playoff berth was clinched, but the seeding remains undetermined.

What we do know is that after the loss by Golden State in Portland and a Memphis win in Los Angeles, the Mavericks can land anywhere from 6th to 8th.

6th Seed – To steal the 6-spot, Dallas would need the Warriors to loss their last two games and win its last in Memphis. Likely opponent in first round – Los Angeles Clippers.

7th Seed – Either Memphis loss in its last two (@PHX & vs DAL) or Dallas win at Memphis. Likely opponent – Oklahoma City Thunder.

8th Seed – In order to land here the Mavericks would have to lose to Memphis and the Grizzlies win its final two. First round – San Antonio Spurs.

Since the Mavs don’t play until the last day of the regular season, it becomes a wait and see approach.

DALMEMPHX

The Phoenix Suns host the Grizzlies tonight. A Memphis victory would eliminate the Suns from playoff contention. If the Suns win, it would come down to the last night with Memphis holding the tiebreaker. Dallas would be guaranteed 7th with a Phoenix win.

Golden State returns home and welcome in the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday evening. Stephen Curry scored his season-high 47 points in the overtime loss last night. A Warriors win against the Wolves would end Dallas’ chances for 6th.

Dallas controls its own destiny. They may get help before Wednesday night, but for now Monday and Tuesday will be a waiting game.

 

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Wrap Up: Monta, Dirk Lead Mavs Back to the Playoffs

by Damian Jackson on April 13, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Wrap Up

The Dallas Mavericks (49-32) showed a sure-fire determination to return to the postseason. With their backs against the wall at halftime, the Mavericks fought back to defeat the Phoenix Suns (47-33) in an all-so crucial battle for playoff hopes. Dallas’ victory punched a playoff berth after missing out last season for the first time in 12 years.

How it went down:

It wasn’t the ideal start as the Mavericks watched Phoenix F/C Channing Frye connect on four 3-pointers and push the Suns out to the early lead. Monta Ellis put his stamp onthe game from start to finish. Ellis’ aggressiveness kept Dallas within striking distance despite weak team defensive play.

“He’s (Monta) missed the playoffs a whole lot, and I know he wanted it and you could tell he wanted it,” Devin Harris said. “You could tell he was engaged from the start. I’m just happy for him.”

Dallas allowed 57 points in the opening half and trailed by 11.

 

Dirk Nowitzki had yet to make his presence felt until after the intermission. Only 1-for-6 in the first 24 minutes, Nowitzki came alive in the third quarter with 14 points.

The Mavericks would carve into the Suns’ lead and head into the decisive 4th quarter down three.

Dallas would outscore Phoenix by six in the final frame to seal the deal behind the play of Monta, Dirk and Brandan Wright.

Inside the Numbers:

Monta matched his season-high with 37 points on 15-for-23 shooting.

Nowitzki and Ellis tallied 44 of the Mavericks 55 second half points.

Impact Play of the Game:

There was no shortage of important plays for Dallas, including the Dirk back-to-back triples in the third during the Mavs comeback. Monta also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during that crucial stretch plus some amazing finishes at the basket.

That said, the impact play goes to high-flying big man Brandan Wright who’s block of the night prevented an Eric Bledsoe layup to tie the game with 12 seconds left. Wright finished the evening with 12 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks in 32 minutes.

Step-Up Mav of the Night:

Monta Ellis

If not for Monta’s heroics tonight, Dallas would in some trouble right now. You could say that for the entire season, but specifically this game. You learn to live with the mistakes he’ll make at times, but his good easily outweighs the bad these days. Monta was sensational in the biggest game of the Mavericks season.

 

Monta told Inside Stuff, the main reason he chose Dallas was the opportunity to play alongside Dirk. It’s worked out better than most expected and the two form one dynamic duo as they showed tonight.

 

Quotes:

 “The reason we won is because we had one of the best players on the planet in Dirk and because Monta Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and had his biggest game of the year.”

— Rick Carlisle

 

On Deck:

The Mavs conclude the regular season on Wednesday night in Memphis. The Grizzlies play two games before then, so it remains to be seen what will be a stake. A Memphis lost to either the Lakers or Suns before Wednesday would lock up the 7th seed for Dallas.

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Photo: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports & AP Photo/LM Otero; Quotes Via Jeff Caplan of NBA.com and Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas.

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MGN: Mavs Host Suns in Battle for Playoffs

by Marc Cashion on April 12, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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In the biggest game of the year to date the Dallas Mavericks (48-32) take on the Phoenix Suns (47-32) trying to keep their grip on the 7th seed in the West. The Suns are on the second night of a two-game set where last night they blew a 21-point lead to the San Antonio Spurs without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

The Mavs are 9-4 this year versus teams in second games of a back to back. With each game holding playoff implications they’d love to make it 10-4.

The Game at Hand:

The Mavs get the Suns tonight and the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday to close out the season. Dallas leads these two teams by ½ a game and currently have the 7th seed.  This clearly means that these two next games are absolute must wins. While winning only one game clinches a playoff birth, it could result in the 8-seed and playing the dreaded Spurs. San Antonio beat Dallas for the ninth consecutive time on Thursday, playing them would not be ideal.

The Suns guards are quick and explosive and will be a challenge for the Mavs. It feels like I’m a broken record but again it will be up to our defense to not let the Suns score at will.  A win tonight would be a huge lift, since we do have a break until Wednesday’s date with Memphis.

Keys to the Game:

1. Three Point Defense: 

The Mavs defense against the three point shot was just not good enough on Thursday.  The Spurs were 16-34 from three and the Suns are not short of three point shooters.  Bledsoe, Dragic occasionally, Channing Frye, and Gerald Green all have a good shot and if we let them shoot wide open threes that doesn’t bode well for our chances. Closing out on good shooters and rotating properly will be key.

2. Contain Eric Bledsoe: 

It’s no secret, Jose Calderon isn’t known for his defense. Speedy point guards like Bledsoe pose Calderon quite the challenge. Similar to players such as Ty Lawson or Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe is explosive and can take it to the basket and shoot an effective three point shot. With Goran Dragic also on the court these Mavs guards are in trouble tonight. Not letting these guards penetrate and get into the lane every possession must be accomplished.

Notice these keys that I do are almost never about offense. I’ve never been concerned about the Mavs offense; it is the defense that will get us that seventh seed.

Matchup of the Night:

My main matchup of the night is Bledsoe and Dragic vs. the Dallas guards. Bledsoe recorded 30 points 11 rebounds and 9 assists in the Spurs loss Saturday night so at least containing him will be huge. If Dragic cannot play, enter Gerald Green. Green has been impressive all season and can post a huge game any given night.

Quotes:

“If you don’t like this, you’ve got to get into another line of work. You work all year for opportunities to play in games like this.”

- Rick Carlisle

 

When and Where:

Tip-Off starts at 7:30 CST and will take place at American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Game time 8 PM CST on TXA 21.

DALMEMPHX

Playoff Watch:

7. Dallas Mavericks (48-32) | Next Up – PHO, @MEM

8. Memphis Grizzlies (47-32) | Next Up – @LAL, @PHX, DAL

9. Phoenix Suns (47-32) | Next Up – @DAL, MEM, @SAC

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Mavs’ Final Four – A Year’s Difference

by Damian Jackson on April 8, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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Last year on April 10th, a Los Angeles Lakers‘ 113-106 victory in Portland eliminated the Dallas Mavericks from playoff contention for the first time in 12 seasons.

The Mavericks ended the 2012-2013 season 41-41.

It’s actually quite remarkable they even did that well. Dirk Nowitzki missed 29 games for a team built around an overload of one-year contracts.

And remember those long, scruffy beards that some players pulled off much better than others? Of course you do! O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter looked rather normal, Chris Kaman just increased his caveman appearance and Dirk looked like he’d gone crazed with all the chaos surrounding him.

The worst part about the fiasco was the fact they were ‘Get to .500′ beards, not ‘Make the playoffs’ beards. A team recently celebrating its first NBA championship, was reduced to reaching for mediocrity.

We’ve almost come full circle to that April 10th night, but this time around the Mavericks find themselves in a full-fledged battle with three teams for two playoff spots.

It only happens that Dallas is likely to end up 6th through 8th in the extremely talented Western Conference while they along with the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns would all be a 3rd seed in the East.

Making the playoffs is what counts. Dirk and his much-improved cast have four games left to stake their claim for a postseason return.

With four games left last year, the Mavericks were solely playing to finish .500. This time they’re final four mean everything. They win, they’re in. It’s a great feeling.

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Photos courtesy of Star-Telegram/Ron Jenkins and TheSportsFan Journal

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Mavs Jump From 9th To 7th On Off Night…Again

by Greg Higgins on April 3, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

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Here’s a quick recap of the events Wednesday that helped the Dallas Mavericks. After losing to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night, the Mavericks started Wednesday morning in ninth place in the Western Conference. Dallas would once again rely heavily on scoreboard watching to see how things would unfold for them.

Just as it did Sunday, things fell perfectly for Dallas. The Minnesota Timberwolves easily took care of the Memphis Grizzlies 102-88. The San Antonio Spurs won their 19th straight as they beat the Warriors easily 111-90 while Phoenix blew a 17-point lead to lose to the LA Clippers 112-108.

 

After all of that, the Mavericks – who didn’t play on Wednesday – found themselves back in the No. 7 spot in the playoff chase. Dallas will start a four-game road trip on Thursday against the Clippers. They will, then, play the LA Lakers, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. This is a four-game trip in which Dallas could possibly win all four games, and probably should as they move towards the playoffs

One other note from Wednesday, the NBA came out and said the referees should have called goaltending on Jermaine O’Neal at the end of overtime during the game between the Mavs and Warriors. Not sure if that’s good news or just adds salt to the wound. Either way, it doesn’t matter because it’s over and the games must continue.

This is where Dallas has to show they deserve to be in the playoffs. After suffering a loss in which you were basically robbed by a terrible non-call, can you bounce back against a very good Clippers team in which you haven’t beaten all season long? This is where the rubber meets the road for the Mavericks.

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Center Focus: Dalembert’s Minutes

by Damian Jackson on April 3, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

sammy_Fotor

The Dallas Mavericks play yet another “BIG” game tonight. It’ll be on the road in Los Angeles after concluding the franchise’s record 8-game home stand with a meager 4-4 record.

Before we delve into the fourth and final meeting with the Los Angeles Clippers, let’s focus on Dallas’ starting center Samuel Dalembert.

Mavs’ owner Mark Cuban had this to say to 103.3 FM ESPN about Dalembert in December:

“Actually, I think Sam is the key to our game more than anybody else. One of the things about Tyson [Chandler] when he was here is that he only averaged 28 minutes a game because of foul trouble. Sometimes he’d get into early foul trouble and we had [Brendan] Haywood to back him up.” 

“Our backup center isn’t as strong this year as it was last year. [Brandan] Wright is more of a forward playing center than a true center, and so Sam staying on the court and staying healthy and being aggressive and not being afraid of fouls but not getting fouls will be one of the main indicators of how we go.”

Sammy D labeled as your team’s most important player? At times this season, any fan could be worried at that notion, but over time it’s evident Dalembert’s impact is as great as any Mavericks player.

Dalembert logged just seven minutes in Tuesday night’s gut-wrenching, yet controversial 122-120 overtime loss to the Golden State Warriors.

Prior to the Warriors game, the 13-year veteran center averaged 8.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 23.3 minutes in the previous seven home games.

The Mavericks own a 14-15 record when Dalembert plays less than 20 minutes; their record when he eclipses the 20-minuete plateau – 29-15.

Rick Carlisle expected the Warriors to possibly go small Tuesday with Andrew Bogut and David Lee inactive. Golden State’s backup center, 37-year-old Jermaine O’Neal put in 33 minutes and finished with 20 points and eight rebounds.

Check out this Inside the NBA clip where Shaquille O’Neal talks Dallas’ playoff chances and who he feels will be the key:

The Mavericks leap-frogged the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns last night and rest in the Western Conference 7th seed once again.

Perhaps when it’s said and done, Dalembert is the Mavericks key to success this season. His minutes simply need to stay north of the 20 to make it happen.

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Video courtesy NBA.com/Turner Sports; Photo via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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The Wild West Playoff Race

by Greg Higgins on April 1, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

Playoff Race

As this is being written, the Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns all have identical records in the standings. All three teams are sitting at 44-30 in the Western Conference. Due to tie-breakers, the Mavericks are the seventh seed in the conference while Memphis is the eighth. Phoenix finds themselves currently out of the playoffs.

You can expect this to change multiple times over the next two weeks, though. Take this past Sunday for example. Dallas started the day in ninth place. When the day was over, the Mavs had moved up to the No. 7 spot and they didn’t even play a game that day. That’s how close this race is in the Western Conference. If you add the Golden State Warriors to the mix, it gets really dicey. All four teams are separated by 1.5 games and all four are fighting for three playoff spots with eight games to play.

In the final eight games, Dallas has games with each of the three teams they are fighting with in the standings. It starts tonight as the Mavs host the Warriors. A win and the Mavs could draw within a half game from Golden State. It gets even crazier when you realize the last two games of the season are between the Phoenix Suns and the Memphis Grizzlies. The playoff fate of the Mavericks could literally come down to the final game of the regular season.

Dallas has five road games in their final eight. Besides the three games against the Suns, Grizzlies and Warriors, the Mavs have to play the San Antonio Spurs and the LA Clippers as well during this stretch. The Mavs haven’t beaten either team this season, although they should have won all three against the Clippers.

The Warriors still have nine games to play, including tonight’s matchup with the Mavericks. Five of those games will be played on the road including the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers. The rest of their schedule seems fairly easy.

Memphis, like the Mavericks, doesn’t have an easy road down the stretch. Five of their final eight games are at home, which is good for them. However, they have to play San Antonio, Miami, Phoenix, and Dallas down the stretch.  The other four games are against Minnesota, Denver, the Lakers, and the 76ers.

Phoenix has perhaps the toughest road to make it to the post season. Five of their eight games remaining are on the road. The Suns will have to play at Portland, San Antonio and Dallas. They also play at the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. If that wasn’t a tough enough stretch of road games, the Suns will be welcoming the Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder to town.

Obviously, these games have to be played and anything can happen when the ball is put into play. However you analyze it though, this is going to be a great two weeks of basketball. As far as the Mavericks getting into the playoffs, there are a lot of optimistic fans out there.

“I think the Mavs will make the playoffs. You might think I’m nuts but I think they are going to get the sixth seed if the can beat Golden State. They do need to get big stops at the end of games and not allow big shots like the Clippers had.” - Azmi Alzandani  

If you’re a fan of playoff basketball, the next eight games are going to be as close to playoff basketball as you can get without actually making it. I would suggest holding on tight because, just like a roller coaster ride, this stretch of games is going to be up and down and bring every emotion you have to light. In the end, though, hopefully we will look back and say, “That was fun. Let’s do it again.”
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Photo courtesy Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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Wrap Up: Mavs Survive Suns Late Rally

by Greg Higgins on January 18, 2014 in Mavs 09 comments

WrapUpGm37

Two days after the Dallas Mavericks (24-17) blew a 17-point lead to the LA Clippers, they returned to Arizona to play the Phoenix Suns (22-17). This is the same location where Dallas got beat by 15 last month. This time, though, the outcome would be different thanks to an unlikely source.

How It Went Down:

Hours before the Mavs defeated the Suns 110-107, Gal Mekel underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. During the game, the Mavericks’ starting point guard left with a bruised knee. With Devin Harris still on the shelf with a toe injury this means it was up to rookie Shane Larkin to help the Mavs take down the Suns, and Larkin did just that.

Larkin stepped in after Calderon went down. After blowing a lead two nights earlier, the Mavs never trailed in the game against the Suns. It did get interesting though in the final few minutes. The Mavs, who enjoyed an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter watched as the Suns chipped away. Markieff Morris of the Suns scored 14 points in the final quarter as Phoenix looked to make the comback.

After Goran Dragic made a layup to cut the lead to three with six seconds left, Vince Carter had problems inbounding the ball. He tried getting it to Larkin, but the ball was deflected off Carter’s head as he was standing out of bound. Phoenix had one more chance to tie the game but a three-pointer by PJ Tucker sealed the win for Dallas.

Inside the Numbers:

Dallas gave up 17 offensive rebounds to Phoenix. Phoenix only turned that into nine second-chance points, though.

Impact Play of the Game:

After Dragic hit a bank shot with 14.1 seconds left to cut the lead to 108-15, the Suns fouled Larkin. The rookie calmly walked to the line and sank both free throws.

Step-Up Mav of the Night: Shane Larkin

Larkin scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half against the Suns, including nine in the fourth quarter.

Quotes:

“That’s why we drafted him; we felt like he could have this kind of impact.”

– Rick Carlisle

 

“Sometimes you think as a rookie that you don’t want to mess up; You want to play smart, you don’t want to do anything that the coach is uncomfortable (with). Tonight it was, `Just go play. We need you to play and we need you to play well and do the things that you can do.”

– Shane Larkin

On Deck: Next for the Mavs, they return home to face the Portland Trailblazers on Saturday night. Game time is 7:30 on FSSW.

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