Playing their fifth game in seven nights, with a tough road game approaching tomorrow in San Antonio, the Maverick veterans would have been more than happy to get a few minutes off.
That wizard Steve Nash never makes it that easy.
Early offensive rebounding (seven total in the first quarter) made up for lackluster shooting in the first frame. This would prove to be a theme throughout, with 19 offensive boards total and a +11 rebounding margin overall. The second quarter showed some solid defense throughout as the Mavericks built an eight point lead, queued by an energized Marion (more on him later).
The Mavericks looked ready to walk away with the game four minutes into the third quarter: a Marion interception led to a Dirk layup, then Kidd stole the inbound pass leading to a circus and-one for Dirk. The Maverick defense did not hold up, though, as the Suns would score on the next five trips down the court.
The third quarter ended with a crazy sequence, as Jason Terry finally put down a three pointer as time expired after three offensive rebounds. Not done yet, Terry would go on to hit three more triples in the next four and a half minutes as the Mavericks built their lead into the mid-20's. It is a shame they could not exert any killer instinct and let Dirk and Kidd sit for good with six minutes left, but there are still a lot of positives to look at after the jump.
-Marion, battling the flu, was not even certain to play. Play he did, putting forward the most active outing I've seen by a Maverick this year. He was far from perfect, taking fifteen shots to score thirteen points and committing a pair of turnovers, but his effort was evident throughout. He fought and battled for loose balls, scoring six offensive rebounds, and was moving plenty on defense. Such an effort, especially when dealing with sickness like he was, is something that always needs to be appreciated.
-Haywood also turned in a nice game, doing his part with 12 rebounds, five of them offensive. He's still shot happy, but he's doing a better job of getting to his spot when taking them. He looks confident, at least, and I suppose 2/6 for five points is okay if he's going to bring the other things like he did today.
-The NBA has noticed that Odom has struggled massively this season, specifically with getting his shot to fall. Defenders are leaving him open as a result, packing the lane and limiting his ability to drive and use his playmaking ability. Of course, as a result, Odom is being given great chances to break out of his slump by taking the looks the defense gives him. He looked a little better this game, pulling up to hit several long jumpers, but one step is not enough to get out of this slump he is mired in right now. He looks much more engaged, so I have no fear that it is only a matter of time.
-Gortat...coulda shoulda woulda been a Maverick. I'm quite sure I'm happy with the way things turned out, acquiring Chandler and winning the championship, but wondering what having Gortat on this team still lingers in the back of my mind. He looked excellent with 22 points and 10 rebounds.
-Mahimni did not score like he did against Toronto, but his 25 minutes were very solid. Mavericks can't ask for too much more out of him as a backup center so far this year.
-The Mavericks travel to San Antonio to play at 7:30 CT on Thursday. They're missing Ginobili, out two months with hand surgery, but everyone knows the Spurs are never easy. With a win, the Mavericks can even their record and roll into their "off" stretch of one game in four nights with a three game winning streak.