Video: Mavs Coach Carlisle Upbeat Despite OT Loss
No way the good times could last.
Not Tuesday night. Not against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the rest of the talent-laden Cleveland Cavaliers.
It seemed unreal that the Dallas Mavericks were able to bang in 10 of their first 12 shots, look unstoppable and roll out to an eye-opening 23-7 lead on the defending Eastern Conference champions less than seven minutes into the game. At the time, American Airlines Center was shaking, the crowd was delirious, and the Mavs were having their way with the popular Cavs.
But when it got down to money time, time to separate the winners from the losers, the Cavs were the ones who stunned the sellout crowd of 20,347 as they maneuvered their way to a pulsating 110-107 overtime victory over the shell-shocked Mavs.
“We knew we weren’t going to blow them out,” said shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who tossed in 11 points and grabbed seven rebounds. “We knew that the lead at some point was going to get chipped away.”
Oh, that 16-point Mavs lead got chipped away. In a New York minute.
A 15-0 run by the Cavs, capped by a highlight reel fast break dunk by LeBron James, had Cleveland within 23-22 of the Mavs with 1:08 to go in the first quarter.
While the Mavs withstood that challenge and eventually built their lead to 67-56 with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter, they simply couldn’t keep James from barreling down the lane for layups. Or keep Irving or Love from draining 3-pointers.
As a whole, the Cavs were 17-of-44 from beyond the 3-point arc, including 10-of-23 in the fourth quarter and overtime.
“We just couldn’t keep James out of the lane a couple of times when we had to and it’s hard to overcome 17 made threes,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s an awful lot, and yet we were right there and the guys battled the whole way.”
A 3-pointer by Irving was the killer. It came as the 24-second shot clock was about to expire, and it padded Cleveland’s slim lead to 109-105 with 13 seconds remaining in overtime.
That shot took the wind out of the building and out of the Mavs, who dropped to 22-17.
“I think they are top of the league as far as comebacks at 10-point deficits,” Matthews said. “They have a lot of talent on that side of the ball, obviously.
“There were in the [NBA] Finals for a reason, but this was our game.”
While that may be true, James showed why he is still the world’s best player. James finished his sterling performance with 27 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
Meanwhile, Irving produced 22 points and nine assists, Love collected 15 points and 11 boards, and Matthew Dellavedova notched half of his 12 points when he fired in a 3-pointer, stole the inbounds pass and quickly fired in another 3-pointer.
Sequences like that didn’t help the Mavs’ cause.
“I thought it was a great game,” Carlisle said. “I’m not mad. I’m disappointed we didn’t make a couple of plays at both ends.”
In the loss, the Mavs wasted solid night from Chandler Parsons, who had eight rebounds and a pair of steals to go with his season-high 25 points. Parsons was a brisk 10-of-14 from the field and tallied 10 points in the early runout to the 16-point lead.
Also for the Mavs, Dirk Nowitzki had his fifth double-double of the season (17 points, 11 rebounds), Zaza Pachulia collected his 20th double-double of the year (14 points, 12 boards), and Deron Williams added his first double-double of the season (16 points, 10 assists).
But it all went for naught on a night when two of the NBA’s legends – Nowitzki and James – kept fans on the edge of their seats.
“I know you are looking at two of the greatest ever, and both are still playing at an extremely high level,” Carlisle said of James and Nowitzki. “I appreciate all of that stuff – that is not ever lost on me.
“I am just disappointed that we couldn’t get over the hump.”
The loss had even more meaning to the Mavs, who hopped on a plane after the game because they play the Thunder in Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Last week when the Mavs beat the Sacramento Kings in double-overtime at home, they flew to New Orleans after that game because they had to play the next night. However, starters Nowitzki, Williams, Matthews and Pachulia didn’t play against the Pelicans because they each played at least 40 minutes against the Kings.
It’s unknown where Carlisle will use a similar strategy against OKC after Nowitzki, Williams, Matthews and Parsons each played at least 38 minutes against the Cavs.
“It would have been a great win for us, but there is not much time to lick our wounds,” Carlisle said. “We have to get on a plane and go to Oklahoma City.”
And go to Oklahoma City knowing they blew an excellent opportunity at knocking off the other half of last year’s NBA finalists, having earlier beaten the world champion Golden State Warriors.
“We should have won it and we didn’t,” Matthews said. “Now we have to use that frustration and aggression to go get this win in OKC where we dropped a game [in November] we should have had.”
Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @DwainPrice
Mavericks at Thunder
7 p.m. Wednesday, FSSW