Following a tumultuous week that included claims of serious sexual harassment and assault within the organization, employees being fired in response and owner Mark Cuban launching an investigation as well as offering a new spin on tanking, the Dallas Mavericks welcomed a new executive to the business side and got back to the on-floor product Monday night.
Dallas completed a season-sweep of Indiana in a 109-103 win at American Airlines Center, the second time this season (Washington) the Mavs have done so.
They also welcomed former AT&T human resources executive Cynthia Marshall to the interim position of chief executive officer to see through an investigation launched by Cuban last week after claims were made in a scathing Sports Illustrated article.
As for tanking, the NBA hit Cuban for a $600,000 fine for comments he made on Julius Irving’s podcast last week, but his team looked nothing of the sort against the Pacers.
Dallas (19-42) stayed toe-to-toe with Indiana through a miserable third-quarter stretch before a thunderous 13-3 run in the fourth quarter gave the Mavs some cushion.
The Pacers (34-26, 5th in the East) made their own run late in the game, but a clutch 3-pointer from guard Wes Matthews would help seal it for the Mavericks with 33.4 seconds remaining.
Six players scored in double figures for Dallas with forward Harrison Barnes finishing with 21 and guard J.J. Barea adding 19 with nine assists.
For Indiana, forward Myles Turner was lights-out, scoring 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting and showing his progression into the NBA with a sharp prowess from the perimeter.
The former Euless Trinity star also had 11 rebounds working against Dwight Powell, Barnes and Salah Mejri.
Guard Victor Oladipo also had 21 points for the Pacers.
Dallas finally got on track for good with about 3 minutes to go in the third quarter, after both Powell and Dirk Nowitzki rallied from an 0-for-10 start from the floor.
After re-entering the game, Powell came off the pick twice to work easy baskets off feeds from Barea and Nowitzki to get some rhythm going.
That tied things up at 63-63 when the Mavs' all-time leading scorer got hot.
Nowitzki hit a 3-pointer and Doug McDermott hit one at the third-quarter buzzer to give Dallas a 68-65 lead.
The hot streak continued into the fourth quarter when Nowitzki showed some semblance of yesteryear, knocking down a one-legged jumper, then hammering home a long-range bomb on a feed from McDermott.
That one gave the Mavs an 80-75 lead with 8:29 to go and got the big German to exult a rare show of emotion this season.
McDermott ended a 13-3 run with a 3-pointer from the corner to give Dallas an 88-78 lead with 6:55 to go.
Despite the good fortune, much work remains down the road to rebuild confidence on the business side of what was thought to be a marquee NBA franchise and progressive place to work.
“I’m not saying that I am coming here to be the savior of the world,” Marshall said in a pregame press conference. “Transformation is what I do, it takes a team and a village and we’ll get this done.”