This was BIG.
That's the only way I can properly describe the Mavericks 100-98 win in Orlando Friday night. The Orlando Magic are a good time. Sometimes great. Heck, even sometimes elite. But then they lose to the New York Knicks by 30. They'll score less than 60 points against the Celtics.
The Magic are just as a baffling inconsistent team as the Mavericks. And after the Magic's previous loss coming into Friday night, combined with their (wrong) public perception of being a good team but without substance (the Magic really are really good. Promise.) a loss Friday night would have increased the scorn seen from Thursday night.
Onto the bullets:
- You could go through every adjective in the English dictionary and still run out of ways to describe Dirk's transcendent, translucent game-winner. Dirk's made all sorts of game-winners in the past: layups, jumpers, fades, three-pointers. But I don't think I've ever seen one like that. Honestly, I think Dirk was surprised how tight Hedo Turkoglu was playing him. He most likely expected to have more space on his shot and when Turkoglu crowded him, he adjusted. It was awkward but beautiful. Dirk's subsequent celebration was wonderful, walking back to the bench, with no fist pumps or hip bumps. Just a quiet stroll full of swag. And tongue.
- Until the fourth quarter, Dirk was the Mavericks offense. He isolated and destroyed every defender in sight but his teammates failed to join him. The game had a very 2008 or 2009 feel to it until the fourth and it looked like no one would be stepping up to take the load of Dirk's shoulders.
- But hello Jason Terry and Delonte West in the fourth. Terry and Dirk combined for 16 points in the frame and West put in his share of buckets as well. Dallas guard play against the Heat was abysmal Thursday but on Friday, it was a tremendous upgrade.
- Jason Kidd didn't play the entire fourth quarter and it was the best decision Rick Carlisle has made in weeks. While Kidd's "benching" more likely was due to the second night of a back-to-back it didn't help that Kidd couldn't make a shot. And as the Dallas offense as a whole was awful leading up to the fourth, it's not like Kidd's playmaking was changing the game. Putting in West was the right move and a move I hope Carlisle makes not just on second night's of a back-to-back if Kidd is struggling.
- Welcome back, Shawn Marion's offense. Marion went 7-for-10 from the floor with 15 points. It was his best shooting night in weeks and I can't help but notice it comes against a team without a giant threat to score from the wing. Not checking a perennial All-Star definitely gave Marion the boost he needed to thrive in the paint.
- Dwight Howard scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds but Brendan Haywood did a tremendous job, along with Ian Mahinmi. It was quite the task to ask Haywood to return from an extended absence against the best center in the universe, but Haywood (and Mahinmi) battled. They forced tough shots and fouled Howard whenever he got away, as Howard ended up missing nine free throws. Howard shot 6-for-13 and while on paper that isn't necessarily bad, for someone who does all his work around the rim, it was pretty damn good defense.
- the Brandon Bass for Glen Davis trade might go down as one of the dumbest small trades in NBA history. That is all.