If shots are falling for the Dallas Mavericks, they’re awfully difficult to beat. Their latest game proved to be a surprising exception.
After falling to third place in the Western Conference, the Mavericks try to bounce back and avoid a third consecutive defeat - and fifth in seven games - when they wrap up a quick two-game road trip Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.
Dallas (47-20) shoots the ball better than any team in the West, connecting on 47.7 percent of its attempts, and when Dirk Nowitzki(notes) and his teammates are hitting they’ve been practically untouchable. When the Mavericks shoot at or above their average, they were 30-5 heading into Tuesday’s visit to Portland.
With that in mind, it’s hard to believe Dallas’ season-best 59.7 percent shooting performance - which included an 11-for-11 start - could have led to anything but a comfortable victory. But with Tyson Chandler(notes) battling foul trouble and Brendan Haywood(notes) out, the Trail Blazers used 15 offensive boards to create extra possessions in a 104-101 victory that dropped the Mavericks behind the Los Angeles Lakers.
Dallas fell to 36-4 when it scores at least 100 points while losing for the fourth time in is last six games overall. Those defeats have been by a combined 10 points.
Neither of Golden State’s past two games has been close. The Warriors (30-37) turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the season Sunday, holding Minnesota to 36.6 percent in a 100-77 win, but that didn’t carry over Monday against the West’s worst team.
Sacramento shot exactly 20 percent better than the Timberwolves had a night early, outscored Golden State 66-38 in the paint and led by as many as 25 in a 129-119 victory.
Warriors coach Keith Smart wasn’t surprised with his team’s lackluster effort even though it was hardly taxed the night before.
“I knew we were going to be flat,” said Smart, who kept Monta Ellis(notes), Stephen Curry(notes) and the rest of his starters out for the fourth quarter. “I was hoping that we wouldn’t, but we didn’t have the juice. We couldn’t match up to the speed of the game. We didn’t have the energy.”
Sacramento’s Marcus Thornton(notes), who averaged just 9.8 points coming in, had a career-high 42 points, but that’s not the first time Golden State has let an unheralded guard have a career night. Dallas’ Rodrigue Beaubois(notes) had 40 points - hitting 9 of 11 3-pointers - in his team’s last trip to Oakland, a 111-90 rout on March 27.
Beaubois, who missed 55 games this season with a fractured left foot, has never scored more than 24 points in another game.
Golden State and Dallas will get well acquainted over the next few weeks, though. They’ll play again Sunday at American Airlines Center before meeting once more in Oakland on April 2.
One problem for the Mavericks lately - particularly as Chandler has found himself in foul trouble - has been a spike in the second-chance points they’ve allowed. Portland had 18 Tuesday thanks to their dominance on the offensive glass, and Dallas has given up 17.0 per game - 4.4 more than its previous average - during its 2-4 stretch.
It’s unclear if Haywood, who’s battling a sore back, will return Wednesday.