This wasn't the most fun games to watch, I'll admit. A Suns team with a unique (if odd) assortment of parts facing off against a team without its offensive anchor. The results tonight were pretty much expected – the Mavs offense was herky jerky but was able to clamp down on the Suns, winning the second game without Dirk Nowitzki, 93-87.
I love basketball, but my eyes drooped a couple of times watching this game tonight. But there were definitely some nice and wonderful things that happened for Dallas, warts and all. More thoughts after the jump.
- Remember that part in The Matrix when Neo realizes he's "The One" and then completely kicks the shit out Agent Smith? That's what seeing Shawn Marion reminded me of. It's as if Shawn Marion knocked down one three and then remembered "Hey, I used to be a 38 percent three point shooter!" and then proceeded to rip the Suns hearts out with three more unlikely three-pointers. As unbelievable as Marion's outside shots were (only made five last season) the reliance the Mavs put on him for getting buckets was perhaps slightly more crazy. For the last two years, Marion has never really been more than a defensive, fast break, hustle points type of player save for the few times the Mavs would isolate him ont he block on a mismatch. But this season, and tonight especially, Marion WAS the offense. Dallas routinely made sure to run pick and rolls and yes, even isolated him on the wing in the "dagger" possession with around 40 seconds left. Dallas would be slightly foolish to believe it can ride Marion to 29 points in 21 shots in Dirk's absence, but on nights like tonight and when the matchup is there, why not?
- That third ranked defense? Yep, still there. Granted, the Suns only have two and a half real offensive threats lately with Marcin Gortat, Grant Hill and Steve Nash but the Mavericks still limited the Suns to 37.3 percent shooting. Gortat was able to get lose in the Nash pick and roll but Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi actually did a good job at containing Nash and preventing any of his runners or jumpers in the lane. The backside rotation wasn't always there, which is why Gortat sprang free. Hill took advantage of some favorable mismatches in the post but other than that, the Mavericks shut down any other Suns player.
- Speaking of Haywood and Mahinmi, the duo was remarkable on offense, getting to open spots and finishing well around the rim. Mahinmi isn't a surprise by now, but Haywood's 10 points were a pleasant surprise. Mahinmi went strong to the rack and the Mavericks guards did a great job of hitting Mahinmi in stride so all he had to do was go up and either finish or get fouled. Mahinmi's 9-for-12 free throw shooting is lightyears beyond what Haywood seems capable of and makes me wonder if that had a lot to do with Mahinmi finishing the game.
- Jason Terry was pretty good. And frankly, after the last two games for JET, that's a welcome sign. With Dirk out, Terry usually assumes the shot making (and shot taking) duties, which has caused Terry to get away from what had worked for him early this year – creating for others and shot selection. Terry didn't take too many cringe worthy shots tonight and while his playmaking didn't show in the stat sheet (one assist) his four steals help fuel a Dallas fastbreak to 13 points on the run. Terry was all over the court on defense, helping hound Shannon Brown and Steve Nash when he was asked to.
- Brian Cardinal saw 17 minutes tonight and, aside for a single charge, I can't see any other reason why he played that long. Rick Carlisle just has to be more comfortable with Cardinal understanding the defensive rotations, but just because Cardinal knows what to do, doesn't mean he can always do it with his complete lack of speed and athleticism. Taking charges is nice and Cardinal is great when you're in a pinch and need someone to grab a few forward minutes and not completely implode, but Cardinal should never play 17 minutes, even without Dirk. Brandan Wright saw a productive nine minutes on the court in the first half and then was lost on the bench for the rest of the game. What intrigued me was Dallas had the chance to completely blow this game open when it led 70-55. The Suns predictably made a comeback, cutting it to single digits. Why Wright didn't get to see a couple of minutes when the Mavericks clearly needed energy baffles me to a degree
- A definite black eye for the Mavericks was rebounding. The Suns collected 17 rebounds (a ton for a somewhat slow-paced game) with Gortat and Markieff Morris grabbing eight offensive boards between them. Not having Dirk hurts but it's not like he was rebounding at his normal levels. There's no reason for Lamar Odom to have only three rebounds and Cardinal had as many rebounds in 17 minutes as Wright did (3). Just something to chew on. The Mavericks rebounding has been a bright spot so far this year, hopefully tonight was par from the course.
- Speaking of Odom, his 11 point, five assist night was welcome but still nothing what we've come to expect from the talented big man. His jumper was nice, but his jumper has never been a real staple of his game. Odom missed a few drives to the rim and still floated for a majority of the game. But still, the five assits were nice I just don't understand why he doesn't post up more often.
- 11 rebounds and eight assists combined from the starting backcourt of Jason Kidd and Delonte West. Let's not even talk about that whole "shooting" part. That's an overrated skill, right?
- Batman Begins is on AMC. Enough said.