DALLAS – Coach Rick Carlisle’s message got through loud and clear to the Mavericks’ reserves.
Carlisle publicly challenged the Dallas bench to play with more “competitive energy” after Monday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets. The reserves responded by one of their best performances of the season in Wednesday’s 103-99 win over the Golden State Warriors.
The Mavs got 43 points and plenty of competitive energy from their bench, which was particularly important with Monta Ellis enduring by far his worst shooting night of the season. The four Mavs with the best plus-minuses against the Warriors – Jae Crowder (plus-19), Shane Larkin (plus-16), Wayne Ellington (plus-11) and DeJuan Blair (plus-8) – all came off the bench.
“After we called out, we just wanted to play hard,” said Crowder, who scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 18 minutes. “We didn’t like it all, so we knew exactly what we need to do. We had to come out with a lot of energy.”
That earned the bench from praise from a coach who was publicly critical a couple of nights earlier.
“Of all the games we’ve played all year, tonight was the night we really needed the bench to step up and be big, really at both ends of the court, and they were,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got some guys that we’re developing, some younger guys. They all really stepped up tonight.”
Ellington impresses: Wayne Ellington doesn’t have a defined role. His spot in the rotation was seized by Crowder. It’s Ellington’s job to make the most of sporadic minutes.
That’s exactly what Ellington did against the Warriors, matching his season high with six points in only six minutes, including a spectacular dunk off a backside cut.
“It’s just part of being a professional,” Ellington said. “Whatever is thrown at me, I’m going to try to be as prepared as I can.”
Added Carlisle: “Ellington stayed ready and it’s obvious.”
Thick and Thin: Centers Samuel Dalembert and DeJuan Blair combined for 22 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks against Golden State, production that made Carlisle giddy enough to come up with a goofy nickname for the pair.
“One guy gives us girth. One guy gives us length,” Carlisle said. “They’re like Thick and Thin out there. They both supply a really important element to our team.”