The Dallas Mavericks defeated the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center, 105-95. Dirk Nowitzki led all scorers with 25, on 11-20 of shooting, and moved past Adrian Dantley for 21st on the all-time scoring list. One-time Mav (sort of ) Rudy Fernandez led the Nugs with 17.
The Mavs rode an impressive first half, as usual, into a second half where they did, again, not as much as you’d hope. After scoring over 30 each of the first two quarters, they had 23 in the 3rd and 18 in the 4th, a trend that has become all too common. This time, however, thanks to some (thankfully) expected shooting from Dirk Nowitzki, and some timely contributions from Vince Carter, the lead never really shrunk into dangerous territory.
Likewise, the Mavs defense wasn’t necessarily better than it has been, but the Nuggets, small as they are, weren’t quite the force on the boards the Mavs have gotten used to, and couldn’t take advantage of some open shots. And so the Mavs not only survived, but thrived.
1) Jason Terry’s see-saw act this season has not been amazingly fun. Not only do we all love the Jet for sentimental reasons, but for basketball reasons and at times this season he’s been the Mavs’ only bright spot. He played brilliantly against the Thunder, but didn’t get much help, but has had three bad games in a row. Before that, he single-handedly won that Spurs game. In a way, the Mavs season has been kept alive by surprising Jet and Matrix games while Dirk recovers, but at this point consistency would be much better. Here’s hoping the Jet gets right, soon.
2) The Mavs, fresh off the heels of some defensive regression, would seem to have a center controversy, if controversy is the right word. Haywood has played over 20 minutes only once in the last five games (28 against the Pacers), and has broken double digit points or rebounds only once in that span (10 points against the Cavs). Mahimni went from 23 minute against OKC to 16 against the Pacers and 11 against the Nuggets. His rebounding, especially, has not been impressive. Brandan Wright got 25 minutes against OKC, 29 against the Cavs, 16 against the Nuggets.He’s looked like the most polished scorer of the group, but his rebounding (1 in 25 minutes against OKC) needs work, and I’m not sure about his defense. Possibly, rather than looking for the answer at center, Rick's looking for AN answer and doesn't plan to settle down. More on this as it develops.
3) Dirk’s back! He whiffed on some he’d never have missed last year, especially from three, and he’s not going inside with much enthusiasm or frequency, but his third straight game of 24+ points, 50% + shooting should begin to allay lingering concerns about him. He also seemed much more in sync with the rest of the offense today, as the PGs repeatedly looked for him, when he was in, and he delivered.
4) Now that the buzz about Lamar Odom has sort of faded, it’s worth noting that there’s nothing wrong with solid, but not spectacular contributions. Lamar notably avoided the three ball tonight (probably a good move) and has consistently rebounded and passed relatively well, of late. Carter, the Mavs less-heralded FA pickup rebounded himself from a tough night last night to toss in 17 on 12 shots, grabbed 5 boards and dished 8 assists, as well as stealing 2 and blocking 1. Why we all thought that a guy who scored more than Lamar Odom every year of his life except for last year, when Lamar had a pretty fluke-y year, would turn out much worse, we may never remember.
5) Roddy-Watch: Some ups, some downs. Rick did not seem comfortable trusting Roddy with point, but he did play him twenty minutes and Roddy responded by making 5-7, 2-3 from three, for 13, and ended a +6. 13 from Roddy sounds like about what to expect this year, if he gets consistent.
6) Mavs win! Our long national nightmare is over!