The Dallas Mavericks (19-25) beat the Phoenix Suns (15-30) in Dallas Sunday night after a balanced team attack, winning 110-95. Shawn Marion, playing his 1000th career game, lead the Mavs with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Goran Dragic lead the Suns with 18 points and eight assists.
In a surprising move, Carlisle opted to start Bernard James at the center position, giving Dallas their league leading 17th different starting line up. The Mavs started the game similarly to the Friday loss, with the Suns taking an 8-2 lead before the Mavs started seeing shots fall when they attacked the rim. O.J. Mayo tied the game at 12-12 at the 6:37 mark. Dallas took their first lead of the game three possessions later on a Shawn Marion jumper. The Mavs built up a lead as high as nine points, as Phoenix went cold from the field and turned the ball over. Dallas lead 29-21 at the end of the quarter though all around team effort. Dirk Nowitzki, Marion, Mayo, and Elton Brand chipped in six points each in the quarter.
Dallas jumped out ahead 37-21 on a 9-0 run with threes from Vince Carter, Rodrigue Beaubois, and a layup and free thrown from Dahntay Jones. Chris Kaman finally saw game action, entering the game at the 9:03 mark of the quarter after Elton Brand picked up a foul. Both teams exchanged buckets for the remainder of the quarter, with Dallas seeing it's lead expand to as many as 19 points, and Phoenix chipping the lead down to as few as 14. Dallas took a 57-42 lead into the break.
The third period was a sloppy one for Dallas. Darren Collison picked up his fourth foul a minute into the quarter and the consistency of Dallas fell apart. Poor shot selection and turnovers saw Phoenix cut the lead to eight points before a tough Dirk elbow jumper got Dallas back on track. At around the six minute mark Dirk passed Allen Iverson on the all time scoring list with a classic Dirk shot fake and fade away over Luis Scola. Despite some strong play, the Mavericks were unable to put away Phoenix in the third period and took an 81-72 lead into the final quarter.
Dallas started the fourth quarter by committing three fouls in the first 49 seconds of play. The Suns cut the Dallas lead down to five points before a Dirk three and a Brandan Wright (!!!) lay in and free throw got Dallas going offensively. The Mavs built up a 19 point lead by the six minute mark in the quarter as the Suns were unable to get a shot to fall after making Dallas fans very uncomfortable with the lead. The remainder of the quarter consisted of extended garbage time; Dallas finished the game 110-95.
Some final thoughts:
-The move to start someone other than Chris Kaman or Brand was delightful. Sarge James didn't get as much burn as any of us would've liked but if there were a game to experiment, this was a good one.
-Chris Kaman finished with six points, five rebounds and two turnovers in only 11 minutes. It's frustrating because he has the talent to contribute to this team offensively, but he looks for his own shot a little too often and can't play defense for sustained stretches. He wasn't terrible tonight but he wasn't that good either. This whole situation is going to get very interesting.
-Of course, Kaman's so-so play opened the door for Brandan Wright, who played great in his limited time. He hasn't been able to play with any sort of consistency, but I'd love to see Wright get 10-15 minutes a game if the match ups are right. I feel for Carlisle; his real challenge is that he has a variety of front court players with specific skills and talents. Figuring out which player to give time to on a given night has to be like putting a jigsaw puzzle blind.
-Fantastic to see Roddy Beaubois get the back up minutes at point guard. Better still, Carlisle stuck with him when he made some really bad turnovers (he finished the game with a team high four). Roddy runs the pick and roll with Dirk better than any other guard on the roster, so I'm glad he's seeing time. I cringe when he shoots runners or jump shots inside of 10 feet. His arms are so long and his hands are so big sometimes he looks like he's shooting a nerf ball. The result is the ball goes off the rim badly. Oh well, better Roddy than Mike James.
-Speaking of James, Dallas has to make a choice pretty soon about what to do with him. What would you all like seen done?
-Jae Crowder didn't see time until the game was out of hand. I hope he learns the lessons Carlisle is trying to teach him. Dallas needs energy and hustle from him, similar to what Dahntay Jones gave the team tonight. What they don't need is terrible shot selection.
-O.J. Mayo with 6 assists and no turnovers. Delightful, really.
-Carter was amazing. 15 points on 8 shots, with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
See everyone Tuesday!