Deron Williams didn't want Friday's Mavs visit to Brooklyn to be about him. In a way, he got his wish, as Dallas built a huge lead before holding on for a 98-90 win that breaks a three-game losing streak for a Mavs team still trying to mature its way into playoff contention. 'Everybody is sitting at the grown-ups table now,' coach Rick Carlisle says. So let's pull up a chair.
The Dallas Mavericks had this.
The Mavs, trying to snap a three-game losing streak that logically strips them of much real chance of making a playoff run, held a lead of 86-66 with 8:23 left at Brooklyn. Deron Williams, who last summer flirted with the idea of joining his hometown Mavs before re-upping with the Nets, was on the way to scoring 24 ...
But his desire to be a non-story here was about to be accomplished.
For a moment there, though, each of these teams' DNA kicked in.
How do the Mavs do in close games? The Mavs’ 1-8 record in OT games this season tells that tale. So does the fact that in games decided by three points or fewer, Dallas is 2-6.
And how do the Nets do in close games? Since P.J. Carlesimo took over for coach Avery Johnson in late December, Brooklyn was 12-1 in games decided by eight or or less coming into Friday.
The Nets did rally here; they were only down 94-90 with 37.4 seconds left. But Dallas had enough to hang on, largely due to O.J. Mayo's 17 points (with just two turnovers) and 20 each from Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitzki.
The fate avoided? One similar to Wednesday night's, when Dallas lost a 25-point lead to lose a game at Memphis.
"I thought we made it a little more interesting down the stretch than we needed to,'' said Dirk, summarizing the night in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately, no ground was gained on Houston. Dallas is still five back of the eighth-place Rockets and they still must leapfrog Portland and the Lakers, too. History says they go into the final 24 games of the year trying to avoid losing six of them. But Nowitzki also said something smart about avoiding looking at the "big picture'' to instead focus on each small task at hand.
He said that concept "sounds lame,'' but it doesn't, really.
It's actually a mature and sensible approach, mirroring what Carlisle said when avoiding excuses about this player's youth or that player's inexperience or this team's overall situation.
"Everybody,'' Carlisle said, "is sitting at the grown-ups table now.''