Dallas Mavericks

Smaller lineup paying big dividends for Mavericks in recent surge

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has implemented a smaller lineup the past two games and it has helped result in wins over Minnesota and Phoenix.

The new look includes starting Seth Curry at shooting guard and Dirk Nowitzki at center.

Six Mavericks scored in doubles figures in both games, which has happened seven times this season. Dallas has won back-to-back games for only the third time this season.

“We are 10 or 11 guys deep now and this roster was built on depth,” Carlisle said. “It was built on skill, energy and in large part, character.”

Dallas (13-27) is averaging 105.5 points, 25 assists and 9.5 steals the last two games while holding the advantage in all three categories over the opposition.

“As we know, the league these days, you need multiple ballhandlers out there. It’s just not a league where one guy is dribbling,” Nowitzki said. “Always helps when there’s a few pick-and-roll players that can run and make plays for us.”

On Sunday, Deron Williams had 13 points and 10 assists for his second consec utive double-double. Devin Harris scored 10 points off the bench and J.J. Barea added 15 points in 17 minutes, including 11 consecutive that turned a 77-70 Mavs lead to 88-76 with 8:01 left in the fourth.

“I knew the bench had to do a better job in the second half, and I was aggressive and got in a little rhythm,” Barea said. “I made a couple shots and kept being aggressive.”

The Mavericks might stick with the smaller lineup with center Andrew Bogut (strained right hamstring) out for the foreseeable future.

He’s still Dirk

Nowitzki is averaging 20.3 points over his past three games, up from his season average of 13.5. During that span, he is shooting 48.9 percent from the field (22 of 45) and 57.9 percent from 3-point range (11 of 19).

“There’s weeks where it seems like you can’t miss, then there’s weeks where the easiest stuff isn’t going,” Nowitzki said. “So I just have to keep this going and keep working on off days, keep shooting, mix in extra conditioning to get even better and getting stronger legs-wise.”

Nowitzki has played in 10 of the last 11 games after missing 24 of the first 29 games, primarily because of a right Achilles strain.

“He’s doing better every single day,” Carlisle said. “The fact that we’re getting more playmakers out there with him contributes on some level, but it’s really more about what he’s doing and the work that he has put in to get to this point.”

With 28 minutes played in Sunday’s 98-87 home victory over Minnesota, Nowitzki has logged 47,621 minutes in his career, moving him past Hall of Famer Reggie Miller for ninth all time in NBA history. Next on the list are fellow Hall of Famers John Stockton (47,764) and Wilt Chamberlain (47,859).

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