For about 24 minutes, this felt like an Eastern Conference basketball game. Bad shooting, sloppy mistakes, weird shot selection. It was ugly and had no flow, probably exactly what the Celtics wanted, up against a far superior Dallas team.
It felt like one of those games, especially with Dirk's first quarter, where the Mavs would get nothing from everyone but Dirk and just ride his hot hand to an ugly win with the score in the 80s.
But coming out of halftime, the Mavericks woke up. They jumped on the Celtics right out of the locker room and buried them in the fourth quarter. Dallas wins big again, taking care of business and now move to 7th in the West.
Like I said earlier, it wasn't a pretty start. Dirk started 3-for-3 from the field with seven points but no one else on the team could score. That trend continued in the second half, with Dirk the only player in double-figures with 15 points at halftime.
For awhile, it looked like whoever scored 80 first would win. Shawn Marion missed some runners, Monta Ellis just wasn't looking like his normal self (nursing a bum hamstring) and Vince Carter took and missed at least three long, foot-on-the-3-point-line jumpers. It just wasn't pretty. It was 44-38 at half.
The second half saw everything change. While Dirk cooled off a bit, Jose Calderon started to get hot, Brandan Wright and Devin Harris took over the game and Vince started taking (and making) smarter shots. Wright and Harris continually punished the Celtics second-unit with pick and roll after pick and roll and Dallas cruised after building a 24-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Despite the awful start, Dallas ends up shooting 45 percent from the field and about 43 percent from three. The Mavs scored 30 points in the paint and had just nine turnovers. A very clean game.
Boston made the score look closer than it really was thanks to D-League call-up Chris Johnson knocking down some 3s, but the game was never in doubt. Dirk sat most of the fourth quarter and while he played 32 minutes, it was a pretty easy 32 minutes.
All in all, a good win. Dallas needs as many of these easy wins as possible. Good to see them take advantage of the schedule. What did y'all think? Onto the notes!
- It appeared like Dirk was well on his way to another 30 or 40-point game. He nailed his first three shots and the other Mavs just looked dreadful. He ended up 7-for-16 from the floor and only scored 20 points. His presence was everywhere though. Dirk just makes the game so much easier for everyone. Nice to see the Mavs adjust and not have to rely on Dirk bailing them out.
- Hey! We saw Samuel Dalembert again! That was fun. It seems so weird to say that Dalembert is the key to the team, but he sorta is. Anytime Dalembert plays well on both ends, he gives the Mavs something they don't really have. Sam grabbed 11 rebounds and scored six points and was a constant factor whether it was guarding the rather undersized Boston front court or setting screens on offense. An engaged Dalembert makes the Mavericks pretty good. Let's hope for more.
- Not sure what more can be said about the Harris-Vince-Wright combo that leads the second-unit. Harris and Wright just torched the Celtics in the third and fourth quarters, with Harris throwing Wright two alley-oops, another assist on a Wright lay-in and then using Wright sucking up the defense to get Dirk an open 3-pointer. It almost feels like the Mavs second-team right now would be a playoff team in the East. Having Dirk plugged into that combo just pushes them even farther. It's such a luxury that the Mavs can rely on that trio off the bench. Most teams in the league struggle to get consistent scoring from their bench and here the Mavs are, with a guy shooting 68 percent, a point guard with a 16.6 PER and a sixth-man contender coming off the bench.
- Dejuan Blair played five minutes in the first half and was the first big off the bench, not Wright. Those would be the only five minutes Blair would play. Rick Carlisle is so close to finally cutting Blair from the rotation. Nothing against Blair, who can still be very useful in certain matchups, but Wright deserves almost all the backup minutes to Dalembert.
- After missing some open pull-up jumpers early, it was nice to see Jose Calderon finish the game well with 18 points and 3-of-6 from three. Calderon has had a down month (by his standards) so glad he could get going.
- Not sure why Monta Ellis played tonight. Hamstring injuries are very fickle and can flare up at any time. Ellis wasn't as aggressive going to the rim and mainly hung out on the perimeter. Why not give Ellis the night off against one of the worst teams in the league? Oh well. As long as Ellis doesn't aggravate that injury, no harm, no foul I suppose.
- Continuing his almost absurd ability to play a lot of minutes but get no stats, Jae Crowder played 21 minutes tonight and had 2 points, 1 rebound, 1 steal and 1 foul. That's it. But actually I'm not here to crush Crowder like always. He played a majority of his minutes with the Harris-Vince-Dirk-Wright lineup and I feel that's his best place moving forward. Crowder doesn't bring anything on offense, so the more players around him that can cover up his flaws on that end, the better. Putting Crowder in this lineup means he doesn't even have to think about scoring, he can just focus on defense, which he's pretty good at.
- The Mavs, who looked so lifeless about what, three weeks ago, are now 10 games over .500. It's the Mavs highest mark of the season. They're now in 7th place and right on the heels of the Warriors for 6th and in shouting distance of 5th place Houston and 6th place Clippers. Not bad.