When the Mavericks' end-of-game lineup is Josh Akognon, Jae Crowder, Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Dominique Jones, and they only lose by six, I think it's pretty clear that we're in the midst of the preseason.
The Mavericks didn't tank the game, with all of the starters playing over twenty minutes, but they clearly were not worried about falling to .500 in preseason play.
One J-Bowe observation I completely agreed with was just how much versatility the Mavericks have on their pick-and-rolls. The strangest one I saw was Kaman running his man off of Elton Brand for a 10-foot jumper, but there are plenty of combinations that Carlisle can use depending on what he's looking for.
At one point, there were back to back defensive three second violations, just a reminder that this is still a pretty new bunch that has a lot to learn. Rick Carlisle's zone defense is going to be a pretty crucial thing to figure out.
Shawn Marion: Saw a couple nice defensive plays out of him, just a reminder of what he's capable of.
Elton Brand: He came out very aggressive, looking for his shot with little to no hesitation. His seven first quarter attempts (five made) all started on the perimeter, immediately shooting it on most. However, mixed in was a drive to the basket and a face-up step-back that were all good looks for him. He was pretty quiet after that, but only played 21 minutes.
Chris Kaman: He does work. Sure, he got some easy looks, but he also makes some shots look easy when they aren't. His mid-range jumper pales in comparison to Dirk's, but it's pretty reliable on looks around the basket. Another Boweman observation: he likes to take one dribble to the right before jump shots, which sometimes got him a worse shot than the original one.
O.J. Mayo: He can disappear for moments at a time, but I see that scorer's mentality in him. Go ahead and pencil him in for both a 2 point and a 40 point game this season, and who knows, they might be back to back. Everybody likes a player who can be consistent, but remember, Mayo is replacing Jason Terry, one of the streakiest shooters in the game.
Darren Collison: It was a mediocre night for the former Pacer, who didn't really look like a point guard for this team. He's still struggling with passing to the paint, and for an offense suddenly focused around their front court, this will pose a problem.
Delonte West: Nice to see he's back. It's nice to have someone willing to dive into the second row in order to save a ball going out of bounds, as he did at the end of the third quarter. Hit a really difficult turnaround jumper at the elbow, too.
Vince Carter: The sometimes streaky shooting of Vince Carter was hot all night, with three triples at half-time and another long two. I've said this plenty of times already, but don't forget about him. Someone has to soak up those three point attempts that the Jason's used to take, and why not the guy who has the 18th most three point makes in NBA history?
Jae Crowder: What more can be said about the kid? He's everywhere. Making tough jumpers with a hand in his face and grabbing a rebound in the midst of opposing players and throwing a crisp outlet to start the break. Another sighting, this time with a chase down block. And of course, throw in a few defensive plays. This kid is a starter in the making, and maybe a lot sooner than any of us think.
Brandan Wright: Had no luck with his mid-range game tonight. Still plenty of aspirations for the kid this season.
Dominique Jones: He just doesn't have "it", whatever it is.
Jared Cunningham: Needs polishing, as he still plays out of control. Definitely an athlete, and though it's still early, he looks more like an NBA player than Dojo.
Dahntay Jones: His corner three-pointer is a weapon when he's on the court. Of course, Cunningham got his number called before Jones, so we'll see how often he actually is on the court. I have a feeling he might find a way into the rotation mid-season.
Josh Akognon: Crossed a dude over and scored, which was cool. Even cooler was the steal and layup right off the Phoenix inbounds, which brought the Mavs within two in the fourth quarter. Still can't see a way for him to make the team, unless someone is dumb enough to take Dominique Jones from the Mavs.