J.J. Barea tied a nice little bow around the most efficient week of his career Monday when the Dallas Mavericks’ guard was named the NBA’s Western Conference Player of the Week for his performance last week.
Barea averaged 23.5 points and 6.8 assists and shot 52.1 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3-point land last week while leading the Mavs to a perfect 4-0 record.
On top of that, Barea had a daughter born Thursday in Plano.
“It was certainly an awesome week, man, that was awesome,” Barea said. “I’m enjoying it to the fullest. This winning, having a baby, everything’s turned out to be a solid week, so I’m just excited to go back home.”
This is the first time Barea has won the NBA’s weekly award and the first time a member of the Mavs has won it since Monta Ellis on April 13, 2014.
Barea started his week with 18 points and a season-high tying 11 assists during a 97-88 win at Denver on March 28. The 10-year veteran followed that with 26 points and seven assists Wednesday in the Mavs’ 91-89 victory over the New York Knicks.
From there, Barea scored 29 points Friday in a 98-89 road win against Detroit after he arrived at the arena less than three hours before tip-off, a day after his daughter was born in Plano.
Barea capped his amazing week Sunday by collecting team highs in points (21) and assists (six) as the Mavs rolled to an 88-78 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In the first quarter of that game, Barea scored half of the Mavs’ 22 points, keeping them within five points of the Timberwolves by the time the period ended.
“He carried us during that period,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “It was much needed.”
Forward Dirk Nowitzki marvels at the job done by Barea, who is generously listed at 6-feet tall.
“It’s not like he’s a great cutter or rebounder,” Nowitzki said. “He’s an incredible pick-and-roll player, he’s really smart, and he takes his time.
“He knows exactly what he wants, what he sees. Obviously he’s over 30 now, he’s got experience.”
And Barea has put that experience to good use.
“When they go under [the pick-and-roll], he pulls up,” Nowitzki said. “When they keep coming, he drags the big — he knows when to pass back to me.
“He’s just a really, really smart pick-and-roll player, and we’re going to put him in obviously as many pick-and-rolls as we can, and he’s been terrific.”
This is the first time in Barea’s career that he’s scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games, and the first time all season that he’s played 30 or more minutes in three straight games.
But with starting point guard Deron Williams out indefinitely with a sports hernia, the Mavs have been able to receive a huge boost from Barea during their time of need.
“Barea’s been here before,” Carlisle said. “He’s been heavily relied upon and he’s had to fill in in big situations. So he knows what this is about.”
For the Mavs, what everything is about now is at least maintaining their status quo in the Western Conference standings.
Dallas (39-38) is a No. 7 seed, but is a mere one game behind No. 6-seeded Portland (41-37) in the loss column, and only two games behind No. 5-seeded Memphis (41-36) in the loss column.
But No. 8 Utah (39-38) is tied with the Mavs and the No. 9 Houston Rockets (38-39) are just one game behind Dallas in the loss column.
As far as Barea goes, the Mavs hope the diminutive guard can continue his red-hot shooting touch when they host the Rockets on Wednesday night.
“I’m in great rhythm,” Barea said. “And Coach and my teammates are doing a great job of putting me in good situations and I’m taking advantage.”