MINNEAPOLIS – As expected, Dallas Mavericks guard J. J. Barea was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player Of The Week today for his performance last week.
Barea averaged 23.5 points and 6.8 assists and shot 52.1 percent from the field (38-of-73) and 48 percent from 3-point land (12-of-25) last week while leading the Mavs to a perfect 4-0 record. On top of that, Barea also had a daughter born last Thursday in Plano.
"It was certainly an awesome week, man, that was awesome,’’ Barea said. "I’m enjoying it to the fullest.
"This winning, having a baby, everything’s turned out to be a solid week, so I’m just excited to go back home.’’
The Mavs were the only team to go undefeated last week while playing at least four games. And this is the first time Barea has ever won the NBA’s weekly award, and the first time a member of the Mavs has won it since Monta Ellis on Apr. 13, 2014.
Barea capped his tremendous week Sunday by scoring a team-high 21 points and handing out a team-high six assists as the Mavs grinded their way to an 88-78 triumph over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center.
In the first quarter of that game, Barea scored half of the 22 points the Mavs scored, keeping them within five points of the Timberwolves by the time the period ended.
"He carried us during that period,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was much needed, and I thought as the game went on other guys took up the slack and we just found ways to get shots.
"Barea’s been here before, he’s been heavily relied upon and he’s had to fill-in in big situations. So he knows what this is about.’’
For the Mavs, what everything is about now is climbing the Western Conference ladder. Dallas (38-37) is currently seated seventh in the standings, but is only one game behind sixth-seeded Portland (41-37) in the loss column, and a mere two games behind fifth-seeded Memphis (41-36) in the loss column.
However, eighth-seeded Utah (39-38) is tied with the Mavs and ninth-seeded Houston (38-39) is just one game behind Dallas in the loss column.
The Mavs just hope Barea can maintain his hot hand when they host the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night.
"I’m in great rhythm,’’ Barea said. "And coach and my teammates are doing a great job of putting me in good situations, and I’m taking advantage.’’