DALLAS – The Indiana Pacers heard all the buzz about .500 beards and Omar the barber.
They made sure Omar’s clippers didn’t do any buzzing in the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room Thursday night.
“We wanted to shut that s--- down,” big man Roy Hibbert said after the Pacers’ 103-78 blowout win, which guaranteed that the bearded Mavs won’t be shaving on this homestand.
During the Pacers’ morning meeting, coach Frank Vogel made a point to mention that the Mavs planned to have a barber at the American Airlines Center in preparation for a potential postgame shave for the six players who made a pact a couple of months ago to let their beards grow until Dallas’ record reached the break-even point.
That little tidbit was leaked to the media by shooting guard O.J. Mayo upon playful questioning following Tuesday night’s thrilling overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He meant no harm, but it was convenient fodder for an opponent looking for a little extra juice on the second night of a back-to-back.
“I don’t think anything was meant by it as far as disrespect to how good the Pacers are,” Mavs center Elton Brand said. “We knew that wouldn’t be a cakewalk by any means. We knew that.”
Just in case there was any doubt, coach Rick Carlisle gave the Mavs a stern reminder after the morning shootaround. His message: You better be ready after all this talk about razors and barbers.
The Mavs hung in for a half, and then it got uglier than Dirk Nowitzki's neck hair. The Pacers outscored the Mavs by a 34-17 margin in the third quarter, when All-Star wing Paul George scored 13 of his game-high 24 points, and the Pacers rolled to the rout.
As Nowitzki so eloquently put it, the Pacers kicked the Mavs’ butts in every facet of the game.
Some facets were worse than others –- the 55-34 rebounding differential definitely stands out –- but this is as thorough a beating as the Mavs have taken in a while.
To be precise, they hadn’t lost by 25-plus points since March 3 in Houston. The Mavs had won nine of 12 games since that humiliation, putting them a win away from shaving before being pounded by the Pacers, who moved up to second place in the Eastern Conference with the win.
“I think a team like that blatantly brings out our weaknesses and shows our weaknesses,” said Nowitzki, whose 21 points on 10-of-20 shooting was one of the only things that went well for the Mavs. “That’s why they won. I don’t care if they didn’t want us to shave or not, but they’re a better team.”
That left the Mavs with a 35-37 record about two months after they started growing those beards, which they’re frankly tired of talking about now.
Carlisle started a personal ban on beard questions after addressing the issue with his team Thursday morning.
Mayo didn’t have much to say on the subject after the morning shootaround, either, and he didn’t address the media after his seven-point, 3-of-10 shooting outing in the loss.
Sixth man Vince Carter believes all the beard talk has grown out of control.
“The whole motivation of it was to really get everyone on board, and it’s been wonderful,” Carter said. “It’s kind of a little too magnified. They’re making a big deal about it now, as far as everything that’s been magnified the last couple of days.
“I’m glad everybody is on board. More than anything, the idea and concept was just to keep us all together. It’s done wonders. The longer the hair on the faces has grown, I think the more together we’ve been. After that was done, we’re here. It’s not about that anymore.”
It’s about fighting for a playoff berth, and the Mavs missed out on an opportunity to make up ground on the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers, who are still a game and a half ahead of Dallas despite losing in Milwaukee.
The earliest the beards can get buzzed now is Tuesday night. If that happens, the Mavs will be in decent shape heading down the stretch.
It would require the Mavs to wrap up this six-game homestand with a win Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls, another bunch of East bullies, and then beat L.A. at the Staples Center.
“Hopefully they can get going and get rid of it,” Pacers power forward David West said, smiling. “None of them look good.”
The Mavs hadn’t looked this bad in a long time. And that had nothing to do with those beards.