With big-boy basketball going on Wednesday in the Mavericks’ finale before the All-Star break, what we learned was that they aren’t afraid of a good barroom brawl. Perhaps it was the residual sting from the previous night when they were humiliated in Charlotte, but whatever clicked in the Mavericks, they responded the way strong-willed competitors are supposed to, grinding out an 81-73 victory over the Indiana Pacers. The Mavericks won in the toughest building in the league. The Pacers lost for only the third time at home against 25 victories at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Mavericks rode a strong night by Dirk Nowitzki and a complete effort by Monta Ellis on both ends of the court. Ellis finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists. He also made one of the critical plays of the game, diving for a loose ball in front of the Mavericks’ bench in the fourth quarter. Ellis cited the embarrassment Tuesday in Charlotte as a huge motivating factor. “We let one get away from us last night and we wanted to come back and finish the break with some great momentum,” he said. “We just had to fight it out at the end, and we did. If we play like this defensively we can play with any team in the league. “We just got to stay on the right path and not get sidetracked. We wanted this win bad. We did whatever we needed to do. We played with an edge.” Never moreso than the one play that typified the Mavericks’ grit. Up 70-66, the Mavericks forced a Lance Stephenson miss. Brandan Wright, playing bigger than his slender build would suggest, fought for the rebound, and when it was tipped away toward the Mavericks’ bench, Ellis made a hustling dive to save it before it went out of bounds and flipped the ball back to Wright. When Wright scored moments later, it was the equivalent of a four-point swing. From there, the Mavericks had to play the right way, milk the clock and keep putting the defensive handcuffs on the Pacers. Ellis made six free throws without a miss in the final three minutes, the last of which put the Mavericks up 80-73 with 30.4 seconds left. And so they finished an Eastern road trip that featured ice and snow and nasty weather everywhere with a very sunny-looking 2-1 record. They go into the All-Star break with a 32-22 record and the knowledge that if things get rough, they can handle it.
Mavericks bounce back from loss in Charlotte, grind out physical win against Pacers
Dallas Morning News | Feb 13