Mavs reach No. 1 in key defensive category
DALLAS -- After the Dallas Mavericks held the league's highest-scoring team to 20 points below its season average and to 35.7 percent shooting, Denver Nuggets coach George Karl couldn't help but state the obvious.
"Dallas has turned into an incredibly good defensive team," Karl said after Wednesday night's 102-84 Mavs win. "I think we’re a pretty good offensive team and we couldn’t find many things."
Karl's team was also playing extremely shorthanded with starters Danilo Gallinari, Nene and Timofey Mozgov all injured. Still, Shawn Marion and company limited explosive point guard Ty Lawson to a single field goal and three points and two assists.
The rest of the league is realizing that Dallas is one of the tougher defenses in the league to get good looks against and score against. In fact, they just might be the toughest.
The team that looked as disorganized defensively as any in the first two games now shares the top spot of the NBA rankings in field-goal defense. The Mavs and Los Angeles Lakers are both holding opponents to 41.7 percent shooting. That's better than the Boston Celtics (41.8), the Miami Heat (42.5), the Chicago Bulls (42.7) and the Philadelphia 76ers (42.1), Friday's hard-nosed opponent.
Dallas also continues to move up the rankings in points allowed, giving up 91.3, tied for fifth with the Orlando Magic. Only Boston (87.1), Philadelphia (87.3), Chicago (88.0) and the Los Angeles Lakers (90.5) give up fewer points on average.
During this season-high-tying five-game win streak, the Mavs have allowed 92.4 points and 40.4 percent shooting. At the other end, Dallas has averaged 100.8 points, a significant uptick for a team that's been middle of the pack at around 94 or 95 points a game.
"Right now our efficiency on offense really helps our defense," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the Mavs shot 46.2 percent against Denver with 28 assists on 37 field goals. "It's going to be even more pronounced when we get on the road. It's important that we're tight in all areas. Philadelphia is going to be a different kind of team than [Denver] -- same kind of quickness, but a little different style."
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.