DALLAS, TX — In the Dallas Mavericks’ last two games, point guard J.J. Barea has been the team’s leading scorer while being on the hottest streak of his 10-year NBA career.
Barea, while playing with a can’t-miss feeling, scored 58 points on 22-of-34 shooting, including an eye popping 12-of-15 from three-point range to go along with 16 assists in two wins over the Brooklyn Nets and Chicago Bulls.
“When you’re in a good rhythm, you basically try to look for more shots,” Barea said after the 118-111 win against the Bulls on Saturday. “But today, they were good ones. With the ball screens on top, I just kept working until I was open, and it worked out.”
After scoring a career-high 32 points against the Nets, Barea followed that up by making a career-high seven three-pointers and finishing with 26 points against the Bulls.
The veteran point guard is only the second NBA player to have his first two-game total of 50 points at least 600 games into his career, joining Rory Sparrow, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Not bad for a guy who went undrafted a decade ago due to being small in stature at under six feet tall.
“Little J.J. has been on fire,” Dirk Nowitzki said after the Bulls game. “He’s been incredible the last two games. Seems like he can’t miss.”
Barea’s increase in productivity can be attributed to being healthy and the fact that he’s filling in for injured point guard Deron Williams.
Before his sudden hot streak, Barea was shooting only 38.6 percent from the floor and 30.5 percent from three-point range, and he’d missed six games due to an ankle injury.
But he’s done a complete 180, and here’s just how hot he’s been: Since Dec. 22, Barea has hit 14 three-pointers. No one, not even reigning MVP Stephen Curry, has hit more than 10 three-balls over the same span. On the playmaking side of things, only seven players have more than the 21 assists Barea has dished out in his three games since that date.
The Mavericks attribute Barea’s recent success to just getting hot, and also to his teammates continuing to feed him the ball in all the right spots.
“Our team is a lot about finding the hot guy, riding him when we have to,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “That’s a little bit of the way we’re built. Tonight, J.J. was red hot again. We tried to keep getting him the ball and guys kept finding him.”
Mavericks guard Wesley Matthews added, “These past two games and all season J.J. gives us a different level off energy. His shot-making the last two nights have been keys to our wins – teams have been thinking how they are going to prepare for us, and I’m pretty sure they didn’t prepare for him to go off the way he has.”
Role players like Barea get hot and cold all the time. For the Mavericks’ sake, hopefully this hot streak lasts a little longer and continues to translate into more wins.