The Dallas Mavericks overcame a sloppy game in Philadelphia to beat the 76ers on the road, 124-112. Dirk Nowitzki lead the Mavs with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists in only 27 minutes. His point total included five made three pointers. Thaddeus Young lead the Sixers in defeat with 30 points, 13 rebounds, 6 assists, and 7 steals. The Sixers have now lost 10 straight.
The first quarter was bizarre. As I'm out of the Dallas area, I got to listen to the Sixer broadcast and their announce team spent the entire quarter talking shop with GM Sam Hinkie. It was entirely devoted to the trade deadline actions and Hinkie's draft philosophy. It was actually very interesting and I'd love to hear Donnie Nelson do the same thing. All this meant that the game itself wasn't discussed. The Mavericks got out to a big lead on the back of Dirk's strong shooting and the Sixer's being a squad devoid of a lot of talent. The Mavs got up by as much as 22 before sloppy ball handling came into play. Dallas lead 41-23 after a quarter despite 8 turnovers. Shooting 77% from the field covers up a lot of problems.
The next period got off to a bad start. The Sixers had begun to full court press by the end of the first quarter and the Mavericks didn't seem to know how to handle it. The press then shifted into sporatic trapping, which caused even more confusion for Dallas. DeJuan Blair (of all people) had two stupid turnovers in a row, which seemed to fuel the quarter for the Sixers. Dallas kept forcing the issue despite numerous timeouts from coach Rick Carlisle to try to settle things down. Philly managed to close the lead to as few as five points before the Mavs woke up again. A few shots upped their lead, but the Sixers pushed the ball at a relentless pace and Sam Dalembert and Brandan Wright are rim protectors the same way I'm a paid journalist. The SIXTH Monta Ellis turnover right before the half allowed Philadelphia to close the Maverick lead to seven, with the Mavericks leading 69-62 at the half.
The third quarter saw some sense of sanity return to the Mavericks. After committing 16 turnovers in the first half, Dallas only committed two in the third period and managed to build a decent lead. The Sixers took full advantage of the lack of Dallas rim protector (sorry, Sam Dalembert, but you don't count) by forcing the issue repeatedly early. Philadelphia managed to close the lead to four before the Mavericks finally woke up. A Dirk three and Marion runner built the lead back to nine, and for the rest of the quarter, the lead would stay between nine and twelve points. Dirk hit a buzzer beating three to give Dallas a 101-89 advantage heading into the fourth.
The final period saw Dallas continue the steady work from the previous quarter. The Sixers cooled off after having scored 66 in the previous two periods and Dallas went to work with a measure of patience. Devin Harris set the tempo, driving hard after a make or miss and making colleague Brandan Wright look good. Once Wright saw the ball go through the net a few times, he decided to rebound and play defense. The Sixers, meanwhile, finally ran out of gas. They had dressed only 8 players and, if we're being fair, only two of them were NBA-quality rotation players (Michael Carter-Williams and Thaddeus Young). The game was essentially over by the nine-minute mark of the fourth, and thankfully, Dallas didn't give up a late quarter lead again. The game ended 124-112.
-Thank goodness Dirk didn't play the fourth quarter. There aren't going to be many times for rest for Dirk from here on out and with the way the the Mavs played early I was really hoping this wouldn't be a 33-35 minute game for the Big German.
-Ellis is really strange. He seems to get himself hyped for big games and then plays terrible against bad teams. Most of his turnovers were of the careless variety, and Dallas can't have that from it's primary ball handler. Oh well, at least he isn't O.J. Mayo.
-Blair scored a lot of points! (16)
-Glad to see Shawn Marion recover from his disastrous game against Miami. Dallas needs him alive as the season wears on. A lot of folks wanted to see him traded but what he gives the Mavericks, when he's with it, cannot be duplicated.
-Jae Crowder made a strong drive AT the hoop. I'm hard on him because he should be so much better than he is but I do think it's important to note when he plays well. He did.