Dallas Mavericks

Mavericks starters struggle to find rhythm in loss to Rockets

Harrison Barnes again couldn’t find a handle on his shooting touch, scoring eight points while making 1 of 9 shots Wednesday.
Harrison Barnes again couldn’t find a handle on his shooting touch, scoring eight points while making 1 of 9 shots Wednesday. kbouaphanh@star-telegram.com

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle continued to address continuity leading to Wednesday’s preseason game with Houston.

After one quarter against the Rockets at American Airlines Center, it was clear the Mavericks’ veteran presence will be a work in progress when the regular season opens next Wednesday against Indiana.

Houston routed the Mavs 106-91, but more noteworthy was Dallas’ veterans struggling to find rhythm early.

Justin Anderson said it's good for the Mavericks to get a wake up call on poor play in the pre-season.

That’s a trend that has continued in the preseason.

Dirk Nowitzki, Deron Williams, Andrew Bogut, Wes Matthews and Harrison Barnes started and had just two points through seven minutes while looking lethargic against the Rockets’ front line.

"The first half was abominable," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "It was like a Donald Trump debate performance out there."

Guard James Harden, the NBA scoring leader in the preseason, had 23 points in 29 minutes to lead all scorers. Teammate Ryan Anderson had 14 with four 3-pointers.

Matthews led Dallas with 15 points and Nowitzki had 12.

"We didn't get the stops we needed," Matthews said. "We have to come out with a defensive mindset and it's a lot easier to get offense when you're not constantly taking the ball out of the net."

The Mavericks closed to 72-67 going into the fourth quarter, but never led in the game.

Most of both teams’ regulars were pulled with the Rockets up 86-74 with 7:30 to go.

Dallas’ starters were sharper in the second quarter in sparking a 28-13 run to cut the deficit to 31-30.

Carlisle left the starting five in for most of the second quarter before pulling them for good with 4 minutes remaining in the third.

None of the starters hit double figures until Matthews knocked down a jumper midway through the third quarter.

Nowitzki, who played 25 minutes, showed flashes of his usual form with just over four minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Isolated on the block, he backed Anderson in and hit a turnaround 6-foot jumper spinning to the middle of the lane.

That brought the AAC crowd to its feet.

Carlisle had few rotation adjustments outside of the starting five and the second five.

Only Seth Curry subbed in during the first half to run the point with the first team, and Barnes worked with the second unit in the fourth quarter trying to get better looks for his wayward jumper.

Mavericks guard Seth Curry subbed in for Harrison Barnes in the first half Wednesday and was one of just two main rotation changes against Houston.

Barnes finished with eight points and three rebounds in 27 minutes, but didn’t hit his first shot until the 7:42 mark of the fourth quarter. He finished 1-of-9 from the floor.

Guard J.J. Barea didn’t play after suffering a left elbow injury in practice Tuesday, and Quincy Acy continues to heal from a right foot sprain.

The loss dropped the Mavericks to 2-4 in the preseason with only Friday’s visit to Denver left in the exhibition season. Houston improved to 5-1 in the preseason, best in the NBA.














HOUSTON (106)—Ariza 1-8 0-0 3, R.Anderson 4-9 2-2 14, Capela 6-10 0-0 12, Gordon 4-11 3-4 13, Harden 8-14 5-8 23, Wiltjer 2-5 0-0 6, Brewer 0-2 2-4 2, Dekker 1-4 0-0 3, Harrell 2-6 3-4 7, Onuaku 0-0 0-0 0, Ennis 1-4 5-6 7, Brown 3-4 0-0 6, McDaniels 5-8 0-0 10, Payton 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 37-86 20-28 106.

DALLAS (91)—Barnes 1-9 6-6 8, Nowitzki 4-9 4-4 12, Bogut 3-5 0-0 6, D.Williams 3-8 0-0 7, Matthews 5-13 2-2 15, Finney-Smith 1-3 2-2 4, Brussino 1-3 0-0 2, J.Anderson 3-5 0-0 8, Powell 1-3 0-0 2, Mejri 2-2 1-2 5, Hammons 4-5 0-0 8, Curry 1-8 2-3 5, Gibson 0-4 3-3 3, Harris 2-5 2-2 6, C.Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-83 22-24 91.

3-Point Goals—Houston 12-39 (R.Anderson 4-7, Wiltjer 2-3, Harden 2-6, Gordon 2-7, Dekker 1-3, Ariza 1-6, Brown 0-1, Payton 0-1, Harrell 0-1, McDaniels 0-2, Brewer 0-2), Dallas 7-32 (Matthews 3-7, J.Anderson 2-3, D.Williams 1-3, Curry 1-6, Nowitzki 0-1, C.Williams 0-1, Harris 0-1, Finney-Smith 0-2, Brussino 0-2, Gibson 0-3, Barnes 0-3). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—Houston 54 (Capela 13), Dallas 42 (Bogut 7). Assists—Houston 18 (Harden 11), Dallas 20 (D.Williams, Curry 4). Total Fouls—Houston 22, Dallas 24. A—18,988 (19,200).

Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle met the media after Wednesday morning's shootaround in preparation for tonight's game against the Rockets at American Airlines Center.

Mavericks at Nuggets

8 p.m. Friday (preseason finale)

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