NEW YORK – Down two guards and still with two players under a minutes restrictions, the Dallas Mavericks have to put everything together these days seemingly with super glue.
That was the case during Monday’s 104-97 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
Guard J. J. Barea missed his fifth straight game with a sprained right ankle, and guard Devin Harris is hopeful of playing in Wednesday’s home game against Atlanta after sitting out the contest against the Knicks with bruised ribs.
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Seldom-used players John Jenkins and Jeremy Evans played some better than decent spot minutes against the Knicks. And that helped the Mavs from having to run up the minutes of guards Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, who each played 34 minutes.
"We had to make some adjustments with our rotation,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. "Jenkins played very well, I thought Evans gave us a few minutes, Powell’s back from the knee thing, so he contributed and gave us some activity and energy and scoring around the basket, and he’s always going to battle on defense.
"Luckily, we were able to keep (Williams’) minutes reasonable – he’s at 34, Matthews is at 34. Those are good numbers, considering the fact that there’s no Barea and no Harris’’
Dirk Nowitzki (25 points, six rebounds), Williams (20 points, seven assists), Raymond Felton (14 points, five rebounds, five assists), and Matthews (10 points, five boards) paced the Mavs against the Knicks. But Chandler Parsons (nine points), Dwight Powell (eight points, six rebounds) and Jenkins (seven points) all made solid contributions off the bench.
"Parsons is off the bench,’’ Carlisle said. "That’s like having a starter off the bench, too.’’
After winning at Washington, 116-104, on Sunday, the Mavs went 2-0 on this brief road trip and hope to ride that confidence into the game against the Hawks.
"It’s a great road trip for us,’’ Williams said. "After dropping that one (last Friday at home) against Houston, it was good to get these two.
"It makes us feel a little bit better about losing that one (against the Rockets), but we’ve got to keep this thing going. We go back home against Atlanta and we’ve had the tendency to come off the road and kind of crap the bed at home, so we’ve got to avoid that.’’
The Mavs also have to avoid nearing coughing up a 23-point lead and turning a blowout into a less-than-comfortable victory.
"It’s hard to keep a 20-point lead, especially on the road on a second night of a back-to-back,’’ Williams said. "With that being said, we’ve got to do a better job.
"But we were able to close out the game and that’s all that matters.’’
Matthews also admits the Mavs must do something about better protecting a 23-point lead that dwindled down to four with less than a minute left.
"They’re a talented team and they’ve got guys that can fill it up and get hot on any given night,’’ Matthews said. "We never relaxed when our shots stopped falling, so it kind of gave them a little bit of life."
At least the Mavs shut down high-scoring forward Carmelo Anthony, who finished with just 17 points and one technical foul and was only 6-of-18 from the field. Anthony also had eight assists, six rebounds and five turnovers.
"We were able to buckle down and get some stops and force some offensive fouls on them,’’ Williams said. "Wes did a great job on Carmelo just making things difficult on him and giving him different looks.’’
The Mavs exploded out of the gate and made six-of-10 shots from beyond the 3-point arc in the first quarter Monday. That set the table on a night when the Mavs made 13-of-31 shots from downtown.
Monday’s victory was a stark difference from Sunday’s contest in Washington, but Matthews said there are different styles to win games, and the Mavs simply showed another side of that against the Knicks.
"Up and down is a track meet against Washington, and this is a slower methodical grind,’’ Matthews said. "You’ve got to be able to win in every way in this league.’’
Rookie Kristaps Porzingis tallied a game-high 28 points for the Knicks on 13-of-18 shots. Some of touting him as player Nowitzki will be passing the European torch to whenever he decides to retire.
"Porzingis is a special player,’’ Carlisle said. "The city of New York has (Knicks executive) Phil Jackson to thank for that one, because there were others who didn’t have the (guts) to pull the trigger on that one.
"He’s a great young player who’s got a chance to be truly special.’’
Nowitzki was acutely aware of Porzingis’ shot-making abilities.
"It’s hard to impress me even more, because he’s going to be fantastic,’’ Nowitzki said. "He’s putting it on the floor both ways and making some runners.
"Yeah, he’s the complete package. I just told him good luck, keep working and the sky’s the limit.’’
The Mavs believe the sky’s the limit for them, also. As soon as they get their walking wounded healthy, and get JaVale McGee and Parsons off a minutes restrictions.
Dwain Price can be heard every Wednesday from 3-4 p.m. on dfwiradio.com