The Dallas Mavericks have started their season 3-1, and their win tonight came against a Portland Trail Blazers team with a lot of new, young faces who are still integrating themselves into the team.
Dallas scored a blistering 31 points in the first quarter on the shoulders of their outstanding shooting. O.J. Mayo couldn't seem to miss, and Darren Collison was still finding ways to get to the basket REALLY fast. Between the two guards, the offense felt fluid and clicked, that is until Carlisle threw the bench in (Troy Murphy, Chris Kaman, and Dominique Jones, to be specific) and it slowed considerably. For some reason, that lineup stayed in to start the second, but thankfully Kaman was able to create some shots for himself. And yes, Troy Murphy did finally make his first basket as a Maverick. After two failed three-point attempts, mind you. He did, however, pull in quite a few rebounds, which, as we all know, isn't this team's greatest strength. SO there's that.
Though the Mavericks continued to shoot well tonight, their defense was still sub-par. They managed to lead until 3 minutes left in the first half, after which they allowed Portland to sneak back in. Then Rick's favorite 'windshield wiper basketball' reared its ugly head, and defense took an early breather as the two teams seesawed back and forth for the lead. Dallas led by two at the half, shooting an absurd 63% and committing just two turnovers. However, the shooting percentage was deceiving. According to a tweet from Michael Dugat (@mdug), they shot 68% in the 2nd quarter, but lost that one 28-26. Not exactly how you win games.
With the second half, began the Shawn Marion show. He was all over the floor, and along with Elton Brand, he was starting to get some stops on the defensive end. Unfortunately he was pulled out with a sprained knee and didn't return to the game. The defense wasn't enough to stop the Blazers from scoring completely, but it became... less easy? Size was absolutely in Portland's favor against the Mavericks, so despite their best efforts to clog the lane and force awkward shots, the Blazers' big men were having their way against Dallas. Fortunately, the Mavs' shooting didn't slow down. Mayo had 12 points in the third alone, and Collison reached his second double-double of the season.
The fourth quarter, strangely enough, was the quarter of Dominique Jones. He was facilitating the offense, hitting Kaman and Wright with beautiful assists, and creating his own offense off the dribble. Between Jones' hustle and Wrights' high-efficiency shooting, the Mavericks were able to extend to a comfortable lead as time wound down. Even Elton Brand and Jae Crowder got in on the offensive action, and the team broke 100 with several minutes left to play. And then... well, then there was Mayo. If he was unconscious in the beginning of the game, by the end the poor fella was straight up dead. Threes, midrange jumpers, hell he even dunked on a fast break.
Be honest, guys. Without Dirk, did anyone see us starting the season 3-1? Ok fine, maybe some of you did, but I had my doubts. Color me surprised that the Mavs had near-60% shooting in back to back games without their best scorer. Which leaves us (and everyone else) wondering... how good can this team be with a healthy Dirk Nowitzki? I like to keep my expectations low, but after seeing how quickly these new Mavericks have learned to play with one another, there's room for hope.
A few bullets:
- Brandan Wright got the start again at center. He's really been showing an improved game, and while rebounding could still see some growth, he's scoring at an incredible clip, and not just on high flying dunks, either. His jumpers look smooth and easy, and he's making some clever moves to get open.
- O.J. Mayo is endearing himself to this fanbase, and quickly. He's had two 30+ point games in a row, and he's making it rain from all over the court. The difference between him and Jason Terry is that he can make nice passes and create his own offense rather than just standing in one spot and waiting for a dish. Also he's not quite as cocky. Miss you, JET.
- Elton Brand may not be lighting up the score board, but that's not why we got him. His defensive acumen is quite nice, and he plays with a lot of effort. He's not huge, but he manages to take up a lot of space and force people to take shots they don't want to take. I still think he's going to fit nicely with this team.
- How good is Darren Collison, right? We're going to be in shock for a while because we're so used to going from genius basketball IQ without points from Jason Kidd to spurts of offense but mostly bonehead plays of Jose Barea with the occasional brief appearance from Rodrigue Beaubois that never really amounted to more than 8 seconds. Now we have DC, who is fast as all get out, but also has GREAT vision and isn't afraid to take it to the rim himself. Just a pleasure to watch. I hope I never get tired of it.
|Final - 11.5.2012||1||2||3||4||Total|
|Portland Trail Blazers||27||28||24||12||91|