March 29, 2013

Physical Pacers keep the beards on Mavericks 103-78

Dallas has to shave another day, but the Lakers also lose.

If the Dallas Mavericks plan on shaving anytime soon, that blessed event won’t take place at American Airlines Center.

The Indiana Pacers did everything but bring billy clubs and baseball bats to the AAC as they seriously swung for the fences and beat up the Mavs before getting out of town Thursday night with a lopsided 103-78 victory.

Fortunately for the Mavs, earlier Thursday the Milwaukee Bucks did them a huge favor by upending the Los Angeles Lakers 113-103. Thus, with just 10 games remaining for Dallas in the regular season, the Mavs (35-37) still trail the Lakers (37-36) by 1 1/2 games for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot.

During the interval leading up to Thursday’s “where did that come from” game against Indiana, coach Rick Carlisle told anyone who would listen that the Pacers were long, talented, physical and one of the NBA’s best teams while playing on the second night of back-to-back games.

All of that came to fruition as the Pacers — they won at Houston on Wednesday — appeared to get stronger and stronger in the second half when they wore down the Mavs with their brand of physicality.

The game was knotted at 41-all at intermission after the Mavs shook off a shaky start. But Indiana opened the second half with a blistering 20-5 run and assumed a 61-46 lead after a basket by ex-Mavs center Ian Mahinmi midway through the third period.

From there, the Pacers just kept pouring it on and pouring it on until their lead topped off at 27 points — 100-73 — with 1:09 remaining in the game. In the end, it was a pitiful display of basketball in the second half for the Mavs, particularly with so much at stake.

“We had disappointing starts to both halves,” Carlisle said. “We overcame the first one and battled back and actually had the lead a couple of times.

“And then to start the second half they went on a [20-5] run and we never were able to respond the way we needed to.”

The Mavs rallied and got within 77-67 via a 3-pointer by Vince Carter with 9:03 left in the game. But the Pacers cranked it up again and started running circles around the Mavs again.

“We had some opportunities,” Carlisle said. “Some of it we missed some shots we normally make, some of it they had some good fortune.

“They got us in the bonus in the first three minutes of the [third] quarter, which killed us. It’s a tough loss.”

Omar the barber was in the house and the Mavs were all ready to shave their beards. Last month, guard O.J. Mayo spearheaded a fun little pact when he said the Mavs weren’t going to shave until their record reached the .500 mark.

Unfortunately, Omar Ghali — he works at The Art of Barbering in Arlington — will have to do his buzz work another day.

“We heard something about them wanting to shave,” said Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who contributed 16 points and 11 rebounds. “We were shutting that [stuff] down to begin with.”

The Pacers hammered the Mavs on the boards 55-34 and are 13-7 on the second night of back-to-back games.

Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 21 points, but the Mavs’ other four starters combined for just 19 points.

“Terrible time to have a loss,”’ said center Elton Brand, who had five points and eight rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench. “It’s very disheartening, and it was just one of those games.

“We win and see the Lakers lose and we feel good about ourselves. Having a loss on our home floor is definitely disheartening.”

It was the Mavs’ 11th loss this season by 20 or more points, and tied for their second-worst home loss behind the 26-point loss the Lakers pinned on them (115-89) on Nov. 24.

This also brought the Mavs’ record to 3-2 on a six-game homestand that concludes at 1 p.m. Saturday against the Chicago Bulls.

“It was a wipeout inside as far as the rebounding,” Carlisle said. “And that’s been a challenge for us and we’ve got to get ready for it again Saturday, because Chicago’s got the same kind of team.”

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