Rick Carlisle may have graciously said that fans couldn't have asked for a better game after the Mavericks' season-opening loss to the San Antonio Spurs, but I have a feeling no one's complaining after this home-opener route of the Utah Jazz.
The Mavericks rode to a 120-102 victory on balanced scoring with seven players in double digits (though one exception was the scoreless Richard Jefferson, who failed to give us the revenge game we were all hoping for). Starters Dirk Nowitzki and Chandler Parsons led all scorers with 21 each, but it was Al-Farouq Aminu off the bench who put up one of the most impressive lines of the night with 16 points on six of seven shooting and 10 rebounds.
The Mavs' offensive success was in part thanks to a roster full of offensive weapons, but also to Utah's lackluster defense. The one bright spot for Utah was their solid perimeter shooting from Alec Burks, Trevor Booker, and Steve Novak. But despite shooting 40% from three as a team, facing the Dallas offense on the road on the second night of a back-to-back proved to be too much for the young team.
The Mavericks' first quarter was absolutely ridiculous. Dallas opened the game shooting 100% for the first five minutes of the game, a streak that started with a trademark Dirk fade-away and ended when Chandler Parsons finally missed a three-point attempt. Tyson Chandler may have been brought back into the fold for his defense, but he wasted no time reminding Mavericks fans what he can do on offense, with three pretty spectacular alley-oops in the first quarter alone.
Dallas' early lead meant Chandler's fellow 2011 alum JJ Barea got significant minutes starting in the first quarter, and even though at times it was obvious that he just joined the team yesterday, he got a warm response from the ACC crowd every time he checked in.
Although the Mavs were shooting like mere mortals at 60% by the end of the first quarter, they closed it up 16 and continued their offensive clinic into the second quarter, going on a quarter-spanning 15-2 run that would put them up by as many as 30 points before the half. Chandler Parsons had a shaky start to this game after struggling earlier this week in his debut as a Maverick, but in the second quarter he seemed to settle into a groove and looked considerably more comfortable than he did against San Antonio, finishing the game with 21 points on 50% shooting from the field and seven rebounds.
The Mavericks closed the first half with a 25-point lead and spent the second half of the game just holding steady. Despite the large lead, all of the starters returned and played significant minutes, with Carlisle waiting until just a few minutes were left in the game before clearing the bench and sending in Charlie Villanueva and Greg Smith. Utah made a few efforts at a comeback in the second half, but never managed to cut the Mavs' lead to less than 14.
It was clear throughout the game (especially the first half) that the Mavericks planned to rely on their white-hot offense to carry them past the younger Jazz, and with strong shooting and only three turnovers in the first half, it was more than enough. Many of the changes Dallas made in the offseason were with the goal of shoring up the defense, and this game didn't really give us a clearer sense of how much improved Dallas will be on that the end of the floor this season. Tyson Chandler looked great defending the paint, but it often seemed like Dallas just didn't want to expend much defensive energy in a game they obviously had well in hand from tip-off. This gave the Jazz plenty of opportunities from the three-point line, where they connected on 14 of their 35 attempts.
Dallas' next match-up (the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday) will almost certainly present more of a challenge.