Dallas led by as many as 28 points late in the first half and was up by 16 headed into the final frame. The Jazz scored some timely baskets and made things interesting, cutting the lead all the way down to five points with 4:42 left in the game. But the mild scare ended there with Jose Calderon draining a three pointer that Carlisle called the "biggest shot of the game," and the Mavericks moved to 9-4 on the year.
"It was disappointing but wins are hard to get," Carlisle said after the game. "Our execution was poor in the second half on both ends, it was pretty obvious."
The performance in the 3rd and 4th was especially disappointing after a season-low 34 points allowed in the first half. The early defense was stifling.
Monta Ellis did it again, pouring in 26 points, six assists and a 9-10 night from the free throw line. He has scored more than 18 in every game this year, and despite a slightly inefficient night (8-for-19), constantly attacked and made plays. He and Dirk had chemistry from the moment he joined the Mavericks, playing so well off of each other.
But the real star of the game was the center position, which produced 29 points and 21 rebounds -- AND the full 48 minutes. DeJuan Blair finished 5-for-9 for 11 points and nine rebounds, while Samuel Dalembert was perfect in his eight field goal attempts ("It surprised me," he said afterwards, after he had looked at the box score) in what we're calling the "SamDal game part deaux." Not really, don't ever call it that.
But the two centers were fantastic, schooling the young Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. The Mavericks held a +10 advantage on the glass and snared 20 offensive rebounds, good for 20 second chance points.
"Those guys have been doing good things all year. I am not shocked by it," Carlisle said. "We need them to continue to do that. And Sarge has got to be ready to play, too."
With a road game looming in less than 24 hours, the Mavericks might need to shift to an expanded rotation -- possibly including Bernard James. Not to mention the game is at Denver, already a tough atmosphere play in...literally.
It wasn't the sharpest-looking second half against the worst team in the league, but it did the job.
- Tonight, the go-to play for Monta was a simple cut to the basket. Several times, he was able to pass into the post and then get it right back on a sharp cut. The Mavericks simply haven't ever had a player like this to pair with Dirk, and what he's doing out there is just absolutely beautiful.\
- It was Dalembert's first double-double of the season. His full line is worth writing down: 8-for-8 on FG, five offensive rebounds, 12 total boards, two block shots (one of them ridiculous denial right at the rim).
- I was a bit surprised to find that Dirk shot just 5-for-14. He seemed solid all right, with a few shots just spinning out, and he did knock down seven free throws. One nice development: seven rebounds, and some of them were pretty contested.
- It was nice of Shawn Marion to knock down a three pointer tonight after I wrote 1,500 words about his shot this morning. I appreciate you, sir.
- But seriously, it's making an impact. At one point in the second half, the ball rotated to him in the corner forcing a hard closeout from his defender. Marion pumped faked, drove right by him, and got close enough to hit a little runner off the glass. As my man Bobby Karalla pointed out on twitter, that doesn't happen last year. It simply wasn't a threat.
- Nice night for Marvin Williams, who I can confirm DOES still exist as an NBA player. I understand your skepticism, but I saw him with my own eyes. Please believe me. Anyhow, he finished with a team-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. Bravo, sir.
- Pretty nice turnout at the AAC tonight. Good job, Mavericks fans. That Houston game might have flipped the switch for a lot of those guys who don't immediately get involved at the start of the season.
- I'll get up a quoteboard up in the morning. See y'all homies then.