Although the Dallas Mavericks lost on Saturday night to the Atlanta Hawks, something positive came out of it.
Guard J.J. Barea made his return after missing the past seven games with a left leg muscle strain and played 17 minutes — it was the first game all season the Mavericks didn’t have a player miss a game due to injury.
“Good to have everybody back and all the pieces together, but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Barea, who had seven points, seven assists and four rebounds. “Give Atlanta a lot of credit, but we have to play better, play harder and show more fire.”
Barea came in and quickly recorded six assists in eight minutes.
“Felt all right,” he said. “It was awesome to be out there, moved well, was able to play my game a little bit, so excited to be back.”
Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris, Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut all have missed significant time due to injury this season.
“In tough times like this, we have to stay together, fight through it and see what happens,” Barea said. “Think we have a lot of positives next couple weeks and hope we take advantage.”
After coming off the bench in the previous two games, Bogut returned to the starting lineup against the Hawks. The Mavericks center finished with a team-high 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. He’s averaging 9.3 rebounds per game in 21 games.
“We rebounded a lot better, we got off to a good start at the beginning of the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We’ll see, I’m pretty whimsical with lineups, you never know with me what’s going to happen next.”
Despite Bogut’s return to the starting five, Atlanta outrebounded the Mavs 47-41. Hawks center Dwight Howard grabbed 20 boards.
“If they have a 7-footer with a 40-inch vertical, there’s nothing you can do about his 20 rebounds,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “If we go big, we obviously like our chances.”
Dallas faces challenges the next three games with Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns (11.6 rebounds per game) on Monday and Jan. 15, and Phoenix’s Tyson Chandler (11.6) on Thursday Chandler grabbed 18 boards against the Mavs on Friday.
“We’ve got different ways we can go, sometimes things may be matchup driven, sometimes they may just be the way they happen to be that night,” Carlisle said.
The Mavericks assigned center A.J. Hammons and guard-forward Nicolas Brussino to the Texas Legends on Sunday.
Hammons has appeared in 17 games, averaging 1.4 points and 1.2 rebounds in 4.5 minutes. In two games (both starts) for the Legends this year, Hammons is averaging 12.0 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 15.5 minutes.
Brussino has played in 27 games, averaging 1.4 points and 1.1 rebounds in 6.8 minutes. This will be his first career D-League assignment.