The Dallas Mavericks (12-13) came away with a hard fought win Tuesday night against the Philadelphia 76ers (12-13). Playing without two key players in Andrew Bynum and Jrue Holiday, the Sixers managed to keep the game close and leading for stretches of the game before succumbing to a late Dallas effort to put the game away. O.J. Mayo lead Dallas with 26 points and 8 assists while Dorell Wright scored 25 on 7-from-13 from beyond the arc.
There's really two ways we can approach this game -
1. Dallas struggled to put away a team that played without its two best players OR
2. The Mavericks got a number of great performances from the whole rotation to come away with a much needed win.
Let's go with the latter! The Mavs started hot, pushing out to an 11-2 lead just over three minutes into the game. Following a Sixer timeout, Dahntay Jones fouled Nick Young on a three point shot leading to a four point play. Evan Turner then asserted his will, bringing Philly within two points before Shawn Marion became the 95th player in NBA history to join the 16,000 point club. Dallas traded baskets for a time before pushing the lead to 28-23 at the end of the quarter. Derek Fisher strained his knee during a layup attempt and would not return to the game.
The second quarter saw Dominique Jones start off with a strong move, driving the lane and spinning for a score. He finished with eight points and three assists in 16 minutes of action. The 76ers kept it close and finally took a 37-34 lead off of a Dorell Wright three. Chris Kaman put Dallas into the bonus with 6:54 left in the quarter; Dallas took advantage by repeatedly attacking. Mayo, Kaman, and Marion all went at the bucket hard, at one point stretching the Dallas lead to 47-41 after a Marion dunk off an in bounds play. A variety of Philly players pushed them back within striking distance; a couple of offensive rebounds in a row resulted in the Sixers tying the game at 52-52 before a Mayo drive and kick to Collison for three and a pair of Mayo free throws saw Dallas take a 57-52 lead into the half.
The third was a bit frustrating; the trading of baskets paired with the now-typical Maverick turnover barrage saw Philly retake the lead from Dallas. After three first half turnovers, the Mavs gave up the ball four times in the first five minutes. The Mavericks were able to continue to score points for the remainder of the quarter, but could not seem to get on a run. Evan Turner, Dorell Wright, and even Kwame Brown got in on the action. Mayo scored the last five points of the quarter, including a pair of free throws to give Dallas a 76-74 lead heading into the final period.
A wild final period started with Brandan Wright tapping the ball back out to his teammates to give Dallas two extra looks on the first possession. Dominique Jones again answered the call with a power move towards the rim for a spin move lay in. Brandan Wright drilled back to back jumpers to give Dallas a six point lead. Carlisle opted to bring the starters back in which then lead to a Mayo-Kaman powered run, pushing the Dallas lead to as many as 10. Dorell Wright, however, would not allow his team to go quietly into the night, with back to back threes bringing the Dallas lead back down to six. O.J. Mayo scored on a jumper out of the ensuing timeout and followed that with a rebound and coast to coast lay in to essentially end the game. Wright managed to hit a few more late game threes to make it interesting but Dallas escaped with a win.
-Six days ago O.J. Mayo had nine turnovers. Tonight he had eight assists. His 25 game development is nothing short of remarkable. In my preview I said it would be nice to see him get to the line more, as on the season he's averaged 3.9 free throws a game. Tonight he got to the line nine times. I know he's not reading my stuff, but ti know the coaching staff is imploring him to improve everywhere and that he's responding is really fantastic. It's so nice to see a player get better for once.
-I'm really trying not to be an Eeyore but that game should not have been close. Of course Dorell Wright setting the world on fire from deep was hard to forsee, but getting crushed on the offensive glass 14-6 is ridiculous. Shawn Marion was responsible for four of the Dallas six offensive boards or it might have been worse. Of course the 76ers took and made a lot of threes in the first half before cooling off. Maybe I just expect too much sometimes.
-Speaking of Marion, it's funny how he's often featured at the center of every trade anyone talks about with Dallas whether than person is a Mavs fan or someone operating the trade machine. When Dallas signed him to his contract I scoffed that he would be this effective at this point in his career. He's more than effective, he's the glue that holds this rickety Dallas ship together. 14 points, 9 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block. He set the tone tonight and kept the Mavs in it early. He's our rock and I really hope we keep him. I understand if the Dallas front office finds something different, but replicating what he contributes to this team is an insurmountable task.
-How about that Chris Kaman! It's amazing what he looks like when he's not settling for jumpers. Don't get me wrong, his jumper is nice, but it's great to see him whirling at the basket. He's so great with both hands and that's a rare skill in case you've forgotten what a Haywood jump hook looks like. He still can't rebound with a darn but what non-Marion Mav can?
-If the Mavs manage to find a corner three point threat the league better watch out. The ball keeps ending up there and Collison and Dahntay Jones look a bit unsure what to do with it (though Collison has his threes from that area twice in two games).
-Let me get this out there since its going to get me yelled at in the comments. Brandan Wright had a great stat line tonight: 10 points, six rebounds, 5-of-6 from the floor in 17 minutes. Great. I'm glad for him. But he also scored six of his points and grabbed five of his rebounds in the first seven minutes of the fourth. His two offensive rebounds in the fourth were great, but the other three he had fall into his lap. That means he played 10 full minutes and grabbed a single rebound. I want him to play more and I think the Mavs need him to play more but he gets bullied from pillar to post when he tries to box out and he still goes after shots to block that he simply cannot get to, thus giving his man great offensive rebounding position far too often. Tonight it didn't hurt them, but it has and it will. He has to get better at boxing out and keeping defensive rebounding position. Don't be surprised if he doesn't play much at all against Miami, though I really hope I'm wrong.
Over all a good win. The Mavs needed it. I'm just delighted with O.J. Mayo. Now prepare yourself for the Flying Death Machine that are the Miami Heat!
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Over all, good win. We needed it.