Basketball season has returned, and not a moment too soon.
On Tuesday, the Mavericks will suit up and play their first regular season game of the year, after beating the Bobcats to finish the preseason. It was nice to see a win, although the line-up was far from complete. In addition to Dirk and Kaman, Wright was out with an injury and Elton Brand sat for rest.
For the players who did play, it was nice to see a big win over a team that they were (and everyone else in the league, and some college teams, and who knows who else) were suppose to beat. It got within six late in the fourth quarter, but Vince Carter came off the bench to hit a few clutch jumpers to take any cute thoughts out of Charlotte's mind.
It might seem silly, because this was just a preseason game against Charlotte, but the Mavericks should be able to take a little momentum out of this. It doesn't matter the venue -- when player's play well, they develop confidence and it really looks like the Mavericks are feeling comfortable in their roles. I suppose this theory will be tested when the Mavericks go into Los Angeles on Tuesday, a team who went winless in the preseason.
- Eddy Curry's Maverick debut! After five games with the Spurs this preseason, Curry made just this one for the Mavericks. All his career he's been an offensive player, and he looked very fluid around the basket, easily gaining position into the paint when posted up. He scored 11 points on 4/8 shooting and picked up added in 7 rebounds. As the starting center, though, he has to take the fall for the absurd 24 offensive rebounds accumulated by Charlotte. It obviously wasn't all Curry's fault, but for a big guy he's got to be very aggressive about putting a body on someone.
- Let's focus on the point guard position, starting with Darren Collison. He was terrific, and Rick Carlisle lauded how under control he was throughout the entire game. He ran the offense well, six assists to three turnovers, and more important was able to attack the defense and get to the rim (12 points on 5-9 shooting). Most of those misses were jump shots, and it's clear his jumper is still totally lost at the moment. One miss was an airball after getting a wide open three point attempt in the corner off the fast break. Collison knows he's struggling, though, and resorted to the pump fake several times instead of shooting. While he will eventually have to make shots for it to work, he was actually able to use it effectively a couple times.
- Collison also had a huge dunk in transition, so go check that out. I didn't even realize Darren could do that.
- Behind Collison? Not so much. Roddy played 16 minutes and Cunningham had 14, and between the two of them they were 1/10 for six points. Worse, they dished out just four assists to three turnovers. Carlisle mentioned that Roddy's ankle is still bothering him, but it was clear he wasn't happy with the results. Delonte West might not have been playing all that well, but he sure would have surpassed anything those two brought to the table tonight.
- Shawn Marion showed he's ready for the games that actually count. He led the team in scoring with 24 and did that in all sorts of Shawn Marion ways. Fast break, drives, catches around the basket, offensive rebounds, and even the normal one-foot pull-up from 18-feet. He got his double-double with 12 rebounds and, as usual, made a big impact on the defensive end with three block shots.
- O.J. Mayo was all over the place. He shot 4-15 for 13 points but also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out nine assists and grabbed a couple steals. Over half of his shots were three point attempts, and I never really saw any that he forced. It's just a matter of him hitting the shot. Inside the arc, he was trying to made something happen a little to hard at times, taking contested fadeaway jumpers that never really had a chance. It's good to see effort, at least.
- Bernard James is still small. He'll get pushed around some, and he was definitely a reason for the 24 offensive rebounds the Mavericks gave up. However, he's incredibly energetic and really plays big on defense. He blocked four shots tonight and made a couple buckets, including a sweet reverse layup. He's much more developed than anyone might have expected, and will definitely be getting minutes early in the season with the Mavericks still troubled with big men injuries.