J.J. Barea, the reigning Western Conference player of the week and starting Dallas point guard left the game with a strained right groin in the first quarter, returned, and then left for good.
The Mavericks (41-38) still found a way to get it done. What else is new?
Behind a career-high 19-point, 10 rebound performance from rookie forward Justin Anderson and 21 points from Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas strung together a 28-8 scoring run early in the fourth quarter to top the Memphis Grizzlies 103-93.
“Justin is big,” Felton said. “I’m proud of that kid. He’s playing great.”
In a game featuring two very banged up teams, the Mavericks slowed the game down and got excellent ball movement from guard Raymond Felton, who had 14 assists on the night, the most by and Dallas player this year. Felton also played some of the most minutes of the season as head coach Rick Carlisle was limited to just two guards with Barea and Deron Williams out due to injury.
“I feel like I’ve been in a fight, a boxing match,” Felton said. “That’s the type of team they are. I’m not 100 percent but I’m good enough to move around and make something happen.”
One win away:
With the victory tonight, Dallas is one win away from a playoff berth. Currently one game behind Memphis for sixth in the Wesr, the Mavericks are now in a position where they may be able to avoid Golden State and San Antonio in the playoffs.
Barea banged up:
Carlisle said after the game he did not have a timetable for Barea’s return from a right hamstring injury, adding he tried to come back in and play through it but was not able to maneuver properly.
It is the sixth straight game Dallas has held its opponent under 94 points. Felton said the team has put its defense first, a big reason the Mavericks have experienced success over the past week and a half.
“It started with our defense,” Devin Harris said.