TORONTO—If Dallas Mavericks forward Wesley Matthews has a serious injury that he’s really concerned about, he’s certainly not telling the media.
Matthews suffered a right strained calf in the first half of Monday’s 100-78 loss at Air Canada Centre to the Toronto Raptors and did not play any more. After the game, when approached by a media member to discuss the injury, a terse Matthews said:
"Unless you want to talk about the game, I don’t have any answers.’’
Coach Rick Carlisle didn’t sound like Matthews’ injury was anything alarming. But he also didn’t wave any pompoms, and didn’t know if the eight-year veteran will be ready to play in Wednesday’s game in Washington, DC, against the Washington Wizards.
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"I believe it’s a mild strain,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "I didn’t want to risk it bringing him back.
"We’ll see how he’s doing tomorrow and then on Wednesday. I think he’ll be listed day-to-day, but we’ll see.’’
Matthews, who recently missed two games with a hip injury, was more than willing to analyze the game and give his opinion on what he thought led to the Mavs’ worst loss since they dropped a 110-87 decision to the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 6.
"We missed a couple of shots that were there for us, I felt like we moved the ball well,’’ Matthews said. "Untimely turnovers and untimely mistakes led to opportunities for them and they capitalized.’’
So how do the Mavs find the gumption to bounce back and defeat a red-hot Wizards team?
"We’ve got a tough Washington team, and we’ve got to go into their place and they’re playing well,’’ Matthews said. "We just got to keep moving the ball and shots will fall and it’ll get back contagious.
"We just have to get back on defense, guard our man like we don’t have help, play help-side defense like we’re going to get beat and we’ll be alright.’’
In the second half Monday, the Raptors turned the Mavs’ inside-out, sending them into a tizzy and making life difficult. Toronto barely led at the half (50-46), but outscored the Mavs 50-32 in the second half and won going away.
The Mavs were seemingly helpless as they finished the game shooting a frosty 36.5 percent from the field and also got hammered on the boards, 55-34.
"There’s going to be games like that,’’ Matthews said. "Unfortunately that’s the league – there’s going to be games like that were we don’t shoot it well.
"But we’ve got to be able to stop teams. We get the stops, we get out and run, we move the ball, it gets contagious, everybody is touching it, everybody gets energized and we go from there. We get good looks from three, we get good looks inside the paint and we get the team back on their heels – that’s where you get good mojo and you take the air out of the team, especially on the road.’’
Matthews left for good with 1:07 remaining before halftime, and his absence was clearly noticeable. So, too, was the absence of center Nerlens Noel, who missed his third consecutive game with a sore left knee.
"We missed some of our guys,’’ said Dirk Nowitzki, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. "Obviously, Nerlens has been out for three games now, and we need him back.
"And no Wes in the second half. It was tough."
While that may be true, the Raptors were playing without All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, who recently underwent right wrist surgery. Still, that didn’t prevent Toronto from shooting 47.4 percent from the field while making life miserable for the Mavs.
"We’ve got to be a stingy team on the defensive end and continue to move the ball on the offensive end,’’ Matthews said. "Everybody’s got to touch it, everybody’s got to get involved, because we’ve got that kind of team that can do that.
"And once the shots fall, we have the potency to (open) the floodgates.’’
The Mavs had 15 assists on their 19 first-half baskets against the Raptors. But in the second half they only produced six assists on their 12 field goals.
"I think we still got some good looks, (but) shots just weren’t falling,’’ Matthews said. "And it’s pretty deflating when you don’t get a shot to fall that’s a good look, and it’s a team shot.
"We’ve got to put together two halves."
And hope Matthews and Noel will be ready to play against the Wizards.