Dirk picked a great game to be suspended. So even though the NBA was totally lame and told the team while they were eating breakfast three hours before tipoff, I'm glad they chose this game to do it.
Jason Terry got the start to prevent Dallas from going with an even more defensive starting lineup than usual. He only scored 12 points, but since he didn't come off the bench his 15 point + streak is still alive at 23 games.
Rick Carlisle postgame:
We had to do a lot of things by committee today with Dirk being out. Josh Howard was great. He was just great in all phases. He hit timely shots during the whole game. Dampier was big on the boards, Singleton, Bass did a nice job on the boards. You know it's possessions of the ball so it's key. I thought the other thing that was really important was we had to defend today. In our 20 games leading up to this game, which is when we started to play better, in those 15 games we won we were holding teams to 41% and 91 points a game. In the five we lost, we were allowing them to shoot 48% and holding them (or not holding) to 113 a game. The defensive end of the court is just critical for us. We paid attention to it tonight, we were committed to it, and that was the reason we won.
Does giving guys like Singleton, spot minutes and appearances payoff in games like this?
Those guys getting the opportunity to play in stretches prepares them for nights like this when we need a bench player to step up to a starters role or a depth guy to step up to a rotation role. Look, we've not hesitated to go to anybody all year. Tonight we pretty much stuck with nine guys. Devean George has been playing exceptionally well with us but didn't even get in the game. Yet we had Singleton and Bass step up and plays big games for us. Everything, all the work that goes in, pays off down the line. Guys working well to be ready, and then playing well in short stretches prepares them for this kind of opportunity.