We've been using the word ‘emotional' a lot when talking about this Mavericks team. It's hard not to, when you think about all they've been through in the past few decades. But there really is no other way to describe the banner raising ceremony. Emotional, satisfying, epic, it all means the same thing: The Mavs are World Champions and no one can take that away from them. With all the emotion, however, there was still basketball to be played. SO I guess we'll talk about that.
The Mavericks won the tip, but could not make their first several shot attempts. The Heat made it on the board first. And then second. Even Dirk's patented Euro Leanback only hit iron. It took Jason Kidd drawing a foul behind the three-point line for the Mavericks to get on the board with 9:30 left to go in the opening quarter. He calmly sank all three, and it became a two-point game.
Vince Carter, who had missed his first two shots, finally sank a three, much to the relief of the entire arena. Then Dirk Nowitzki sank his first shot and the arena erupted. It was a sight to see when the two perennial contenders for sixth man of the year, Lamar Odom and Jason Terry, checked in off the bench together. Talk about a spark... Odom immediately hit a three to tie the game, but Miami answered quickly on the other end.
Then there was what we in the biz call a dry spell. The Mavericks could not (or would not) make a bucket. They kept committing fouls, putting the Heat into the bonus rather quickly. Dirk tried to inspire the troops with a dunk, but LeBron James fouled him on the way up. Instead, he got his two points from the free throw line. He then quickly found himself back on the line for two more, bringing the deficit back down to 9. And then Delonte West entered the game. Soon followed by Brandan Wright.
Mavericks, I hardly know ye.
The awful scoring draught was ended with a long two from Jason Terry, with his first points of the game. As the quarter drew to a close, the Mavs saw themselves with quite a hole to crawl out of, down 32-17.
The Mavs came out in the second quarter with some aggressiveness, but they weren't seeing many results, other than some solid defensive stops. Delonte West showed his skills as as a defender, and Odom showed off his passing skills. But the score only increased by one when Odom hit just one of his three free throws.
It took some fancy play from the Jet to get the Mavs past the 20-point mark, but the Heat kept on climbing. The crowd lost their interest rather quickly, with nary a cheer to be heard. They made more noise (in anger) when the Heat did fancy things like dunk. Or score. With about four minutes left in the half, a rare sighting peaked their interest a little more: Rodrigue Beaubois, the elusive guard, made his first appearance of the game.
Roddy made a nice defensive strip under the Heat's basket, and then on the other end, Dirk got himself his first and-one of the game. That put him in double figures. With just under three minutes to play, he was the only Maverick with 10+ points. Yikes. Jason Kidd was next in line with nine points to close the half when he dropped two three-pointers to close the lead to 21 points. The quarter ended with the Mavs down 62-41. Probably not our best half of basketball.
You'll be saddened to know I missed the majority of the third quarter waiting in line for bad nachos.
I do know that Nowitzki went on a bit of a scoring tear, but the Mavs couldn't really get any closer to the Heat. And also, apparently Odom picked up two technical fouls and got himself ejected from the game. So that was cool. Shawn Marion joined Dirk in the scoring club, putting up several pretty plays. Well, as pretty as his shots can be, right? Jet threw down a three to aid in the cause, but the Mavs still ended the third quarter down 97-65.
It was nice seeing Delonte West hit a three early in the fourth. He seems to be a nice prospect for this team's future, what with his hard-nose defending and decent shot. He also ran a beautiful fast break that ended with a Terry jumpshot. There was also a pretty moment where West found Carter who passed up a shot and instead hit Mahinmi with the assist for an and-one. Ian couldn't complete the three-point play, but it was still exciting to see the kind of basketball Mavs fans are used to.
Another pleasant thing to see (besides James missing free throws) was that the Mavericks were down by a lot, but still playing like they could win. They had so many come-from-behind wins last season that it was fun to think they could possibly do it again, even though we knew in our hearts that they wouldn't.
As the game wound down, Rick Carlisle threw in his "young guns" unit, and they surprised with some gutsy play, cutting the lead down to a respectable 11 points. Beaubois and Dominique Jones got some burn time, to the satisfaction of many. It didn't exactly end the way we wanted it to, but who really expected a team with this many new pieces to be good right away?