The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Hornets 83-81, in New Orleans, and move to 10-7. Delonte West chipped in 16 points to go with 5 rebounds and 6 assists, Odom threw in 16 and Marion had an impressive 14-12.
On the one hand, and for the most part, the Mavs can be very glad they were not playing the most impressive opponent. On the other hand, there is no way the Mavs win this game last year, and that’s worth a little something as is the win itself.
With Dirk and Carter missing in action, and fans everywhere kind of wishing Jason Terry (14 for his last 53) and Jason Kidd (4 for his 19, including 1-15 from three) could find some way to be missing in action or else learn why their jumpshots are, you wouldn’t have laid bets against the Mavs beating any opponent, even that mutant team Professor Farnsworth comes up with in Futurama AFTER their best player exploded.
But they did, and once again, the defense is the reason why. And, once again, it is hard to say exactly how. Granted the Hornet’s 28 in the 4th had a lot to do with their 17 free throws in the frame, but surely that’s part of being a good defense.
Incidentally, this is an unofficial count, but I believe the Hornets had 97 and-ones in that game. Someone can check my math.
The game started out nice had a good two-pointer then canned an open three. Lamar Odom, Delonte and even Haywood made some serious noise. Though the Hornets kept pace, Rick loosened up enough to put Yi Jianlian in with 2:29 to go, and even young Roddy Beaubois with 1:08 to go, despite the fact that Roddy had taken at least one dumb shot last game and therefore was presumed to have been deported to Siberia.
Roddy immediately made a quick layup. Jason Terry immediately missed a three, which should probably be shortened to TMAT at this point in the young season (love you, Jet! Know you’ll get right!) and Roddy grabbed the O-board for a Mahimni hook. Landry missed, then TMAT.
This led unfortunately to a delightful 2nd quarter in which Roddy made a layup, Terry turned it over, Yi committed a shooting foul, Roddy made a three, Yi committed a foul, Yi turned it over, Yi was deported to Siberia and then…uhhh everyone missed everything for a while.
Indeed, in one particular notable section, Odom missed a layup, Mahimni grabbed the o-board and missed, Odom grabbed the o-board and dished to Terry who missed, Odom grabbed the o-board and got fouled and missed two free throws. A Delonte twenty footer would be all the Mavs would get until a Hay dunk with 1:52 to go, a Terry make and a Marion free throw.
For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was in short pants (…what?) the Mavs started out the third hot and quickly took a 12 point lead on two threes by Odom and Delonte. Scientists will spend a lot of time trying to figure out whether the next 5 minutes of could possibly have happened in a game played by professionals, but until they adjust reality it is a matter of record that from 8:22 left in the 3rd to 3:29, Terry had a 16-footer and Dajuan summer had a dunk. And that was it.
Nevertheless, after they unpiled the twisted mass of metal and glass that the game had become, it actually got a little interesting as Carlisle threw in a lineup of Jet, Beaubois, Wright, Cardinal, Mahimni. Right? It was amazing as it sounds. Wright continued his reign of making basically everything (outside of a 1-6 game, he has now hit 13 of 14), and had the play of the day with the Ianimal when Roddy threw it to him for a dive cut north-south, and he threw it to a east-west dive-cutting Mahimni, who threw it into the basket with serious force, and it stayed there.
Roddy missed a three at the buzzer and was last seen on a bus, wearing a winter hat and a huge parka.
The Mavs 11-point lead at that point was exactly what they needed to just barely weather a 28-19 4th quarter in NO’s favor. They were, may it be said, not able to catch a break OTHER than the Hornets not being a very good team (admittedly the key one). After B-Wright made a layup (of course), and TMAT, it went a little off the schneid as somebody named Greivis Vasquez had NO’s three thousandth and-one of the game, Jack hit two free throws, Emeka made a fall-away jumper (….what?) , cutting the lead to 4 with 9:34 to go, and the Hornets entered the penalty at roughly the same time.
It was not pretty after that, but there’s no need to talk about such things. The good news is that the Mavs were, basically, saved by Lamar Odom who made a great layup, then took it into the teeth of the defense twice, got four free throws and made three, marking a personal 5-2 run that kept the Mavs lead at 5 with 7 to go. He then hit a two pointer about a minute later to extend it to 7. And the Mavs needed every one.
The end of the game was particularly agonizing, as Carl Landry made 1 of 2 free throws to pull within one with a minute to go, Terry missed a jumper, and Ariza missed a jumper, followed by two made Delonte free throws, followed by Jarrett Jack falling down with the ball, which should have ended the game, except that he held on to it. Followed by Delonte grabbing it, winning the jumpball, which should have ended the game but instead went out of bounds, followed by a lightning-fast Carl Landry dunk that brought them within one.
Followed by Terry going to the line with the chance to make the game vulnerable to the Mavericks special last—second game-winning three, but, god bless him, he made both. Followed by the Mavs fouling Jarret Jack approximately a quarter second before he launched a three, giving him two free throws instead of three, followed by his intentionally missing the second, getting the ball back, and missing the shot that would have tied it, so the Mavs ended up with the win.
Bottom line, if the Mavs had lost this game, I’d be writing a very different recap. However, even then I would have had to admit that without Dirk and Carter, with Kidd and Terry struggling, this is not really the Mavs and it would be hard, rationally, to get too upset, although emotionally it would be super easy. In fact, I did even though they won. That’s how easy it was.
What they’ve won is the right to still be at .500 (or better) no matter what happens while Dirk is getting right. In the morning, I’ll even be able to be proud of them for finding ways to win when nothing that was supposed to be going right is. That bench is something, and that defense is REALLY something. Good enough, tonight, and that’s what matters.
There is little doubt, right now, that the Mavs MVP of the early season is Shawn Marion, and bless the Matrix. Let’s hope the Jasons find their shots again, that Dirk limbers up, and for now, let’s applaud the guys for getting one, whatever the circumstances , and for the fact that despite their difficulties they’ve won or been within just a couple every day since January 5th. That’s what champions do. They've had to do it with Delontes and Mahimnis, rather than Dirks and Terrys, but they've done it, and they're on a 10-4 run. Who knows what they might look like if things start going right?