via The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — An embarrassing home loss two nights earlier ramped up the urgency for the struggling Dallas Mavericks to show signs of life, and they answered that call Friday with one of their most efficient performances of the season for a 111-103 victory over the Indiana Pacers at American Airlines Center.
Led by Wesley Matthews’ season-high-tying 26 points, which included his sizzling shooting from long range with five more 3-pointers, and 25 points and eight rebounds from Harrison Barnes, Dallas (5-17) shot a torrid 48.8 percent from the floor and hit 15-of-32 shots from beyond the arc — but were over 50 percent for the majority of the game — to get a much-needed confidence boost that ended their four-game homestand at 2-2.
Meanwhile, the Pacers (11-12) were trying to end their five-game road trip with consecutive victories and a winning record, but instead kept their season road win total at just three.
Paul George, who had a team-high 22 points, but scored 13 in the first quarter, summed up the deflating loss in a few words.
“This is a sad loss tonight,” George said. “It’s real disappointing. I don’t know what it is. I don’t have the answers for that.”
Just when it seemed Dallas was in jeopardy of cratering and again getting blown out on their home floor with Indiana opening up a tight game to 48-40 with 5:18 to go in the first half, Dallas averted disaster, dug down and quickly changed the momentum of the game with a 14-4 run to close the half and earn a 54-52 lead.
The Mavs would not trail again.
A 7-0 run to start the third quarter put Dallas ahead 61-52, a margin that grew to 13 before the Pacers finally shook off the cobwebs. Indiana cut the deficit to eight points a couple of times, but Dallas’ red-hot shooting continually kept the Pacers at bay as the Mavs went ahead 103-90 with just more than five minutes to play.
“That’s what we have to do. That’s the team that we have to be and continue to be and remember what that was about,” Matthews said. “It was a defensive effort, it was energy effort, and it was just a gutsy and big-time performance all across the board. Dorian (Finney-Smith) had a great game. Dwight (Powell) came in with a lot of energy that impacted us. Seth came in and made plays. Nico (Nicolas Brussino) knocked a shot down. Salah played with more energy and gave us a rim presence. That is what we have to continue to do. We have to do it by committee.”
Dallas, playing without injured starters Dirk Nowitzki and Andrew Bogut, got significant contributions from up and down the lineup, something that has not been a constant this season.
Point guard Deron Williams finished with 16 points, including going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, and six assists. Finney-Smith had a season-high 12 points, plus eight rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes. Powell, a reserve forward, put 14 points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor and 8-of-8 from the free-throw line.
“Our guys have to have pride,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “After getting blasted by 31 at home we came back with a great effort. We did everything you need to do to beat a quality team like Indiana that is great at turning you over. We had a nine-turnover game. They average forcing 16 turnovers and scoring 19 points; we had nine turnovers for 10 points. That is the biggest key of the game and we also had a lot of guys that played great.”
The Pacers did not. George was stifled for the majority of the game before padding his scoring total late when the Mavs had the game in hand. C.J. Miles knocked down six 3-pointers or his 18 points and center Myles Turner, who hails from nearby Euless, put up 18 points and six rebounds.
But Indiana didn’t get what it needed from its backcourt with former Mavs guard Monta Ellis being shut out on 0-of-5 shooting in 22 minutes, and Jeff Teague managed just 10 points on 3-of-7 shooting with six assists.
“For us, I felt like we could win this game,” Pacers coach Nate McMillan said. “We had to play a certain way. We certainly had to bring more energy on the defensive end of the floor, get some ball movement on the offensive end of the floor, make them defend. And that didn’t happen.”