What used to be one of their most potent and prized weapons has suddenly become an unsolved mystery for the Dallas Mavericks.
In recent years, the Mavs’ bench has been one of the team’s sources of pride, which has helped them rack up a lot of victories. It’s been a weapon that has helped them climb out of many a hole, particularly when some starters are having an off-night.
But during the Mavs’ four-game losing streak, the team’s bench has become practically nonexistent. That’s because the Mavs’ bench has been outscored in all four losses 159-83, and by at least 11 points in each game.
The firepower from the Mavs’ bench had been the spark to a 30-13 start. Lately, it’s as if someone pulled the plug.
“We definitely need a lot of production off our bench,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said. “They’ve been good all year and we’ve got to get back to being good.’’
The dynamics of the Mavs’ bench dramatically changed Dec. 18 when key reserves Brandan Wright and Jae Crowder were part of the trade that brought Rajon Rondo and Dwight Powell from Boston. Powell, of late, has been an integral part of the Mavs’ reserves who play, but the rotation has been in flux.
“You know how [coach] Rick [Carlisle] is,” Nowitzki said, referring to a lack of a set rotation. “Sometimes you get thrown in, sometimes you don’t play for three weeks.
“He’s like that, and we all know that, and you’ve got to stay ready.”
Guard Devin Harris, normally one of the first reserves to enter a game, acknowledged that adjusting to the new players has taken some time and might play a role in why things are so chaotic now.
“I think we’re just still trying to figure out how to play with one another,” Harris said. “We had a set way that we played earlier in the year.
“Obviously, we don’t have those guys anymore, so we’re just trying to find out how to be effective with the guys that we’re playing. Obviously it’s different guys every night, so we’re just trying to find a way to play and to be successful and just kind of roll with that.”
The Mavs (30-17) are hoping their bench fortunes will change as soon as 7 p.m. Friday when they face the Miami Heat (20-25) at AmericanAirlines Arena.
During Wednesday’s 99-94 loss to the Rockets in Houston, the Mavs’ bench was outscored 47-18. Houston’s Josh Smith scored as many points as the entire Mavs’ bench, and Harris, for one of the rare times, failed to score and committed three turnovers in 13 minutes.
“There’s a lot of guys that are going through some struggles, so I don’t think it’s fair or appropriate to point the finger one way,” Carlisle said. “We all own this, we all own losses, we all own what happens when it’s a struggling period of time.
“That’s why we always say we’ve got to stick together and fight through it.”
The fight for the Mavs becomes much easier if their bench contributes.
If the Mavericksstarters have to play heavy minutes, it will take a toll that will cost Dallas down the road as the minutes start stacking up.
“We’ve got to include the bench into it,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to get some production out of them.
“We’ve got to keep Devin and J.J. [Barea] aggressive coming in the game and getting in the lane and playing their game.”
And helping the Mavs snap their four-game losing streak.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760
Not sitting pretty
The Mavericks’ reserves have been outscored in each game of a four-game losing streak. Bench scoring for the Mavs and opponents