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Mavericks scrimmage recap: Bench unit surprises the starters, pulls off upset

Recapping the Mavericks' Fan Jam scrimmage, live from the American Airlines Center.

The Mavericks won a game today.

Okay, the game was just a scrimmage, and the win was the Blue Team over the White 40-37, but still, let's focus on the important stuff, that the Mavericks won a game today.

The White Team, featuring the full starting lineup, quickly scored 15 or so points in the first five minutes (the teams played two 10-minute halves), but a strong Blue Team second half was enough to pull up the upset greater than any of those college football games that are happening today.

The game started off with a couple of Monta Ellis-Tyson Chandler pick and rolls, which might have caused me to drool just a little. Since I don't have Ebola, the drooling wasn't too big of an issue.

Dirk, who dunked three or four times in some pre-scrimmage drills the team ran, only hit one shot by my count, a quick release 18-footer when Al-Farouq Aminu left him for a moment. There's not a really noticeable change in his delivery, but it did seem like he didn't dip the ball quite as low before shooting.

After the game, Carlisle said Aminu's been playing about half his time at the 4 (and the rest at the 3, of course). As they are prone to do, the Mavericks look posed to break out some interesting smallball lineups this season.

Dirk's hook shot has been in the news and he almost broke it out, but kicked it out to Monta who hit a pull-up jumper that went down.

It was just a scrimmage, of course, but the Mavericks starting five is going to be incredibly hard to defend. One play that stood out starting with Chandler Parsons on the right wing. There was nothing happening on the high pick and roll, so the Mavs swung it around the perimeter and found Jameer Nelson wide open in the corner.

White finished the half strong.

But in the second, the Blue Team, led by Devin Harris and an animated Jae Crowder, roared off to a great start to the second quarter. Greg Smith looked pretty good with a running hook shot and a nice finger roll, until he caught an elbow to the face that chipped part of his tooth.

During a timeout a few minutes later, Smith chatted with Sarah Melton (Mavs director of PR), Bobby and I sitting courtside and told us he was fine, so there's no long-lasting worries there.

Ricky Ledo buried a couple of 3-pointers down the closing stretch, and the Blue Squad looked in position to comfortably close the game out.

But with about 30 seconds left, down seven points, Raymond Felton caught the ball and pulled up from about 30 feet, burying a shot that was nothing but net. On the next play, Ledo and the inbounders had a miscommunication and Charlie Villanueva grabbed the ball in the corner. Without a second of hesitation, he turned and buried a shot from the corner.

It looked like the referees were initially going to wave the shot off saying he stepped out of bounds, but Dirk, Monta, Tyson and Parsons all left the bench (on the opposite side of the bench) to complain. The shot ended up counting because, well, Dirk's always right.

(Let's not mention that both teams seemed to have infinite timeouts, as both head coaches kept complaining to the other about. That'd be a nice trick Rick should pick up for this coming season.)

The Blue Team put in a couple of free throws, which made it a final shot situation with just about three seconds left. Jameer bobbled it on the catch and had to swing it to Villanueva, who took one dribble and launched a shot that bounced off back iron.

No one really wanted overtime (well, I was told later a free throw contest would probably decided a tied game), so that's a good thing.

Dirk got bumped in the second half and subbed out, not to return. Carlisle said he was fine after the game. Dirk's best moments were actually his smiles and waves to his wife and one-year-old daughter, sitting three or four rows back in the VIP section.

I guess we really shouldn't have been surprised about the result.

Rick Carlisle all but confirmed Jameer Nelson would be the opening day starter after the game. "I like Devin off the bench," he said, saying that the Mavericks have a history of having really good players in the sixth man role. "He's probably one of our three or four best players," Carlisle said of Devin.

If Carlisle likes Devin off the bench, and Felton is suspended for the first four games anyway, that leaves the opening lineup to Jameer.

Carlisle also said good things about Jae Crowder, who really seemed to take charge of his team during this scrimmage.

We didn't learn too much from the scrimmage, but it confirmed a lot of things we've been thinking for a while. With an announced attendance of 6,440 fans, it was good for the Mavericks to give Dallas a little taste of what's coming.

See you Tuesday night for the preseason opener against Houston.

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