Deron Williams posts up in the first quarter. Wesley Matthews sprints around a down screen on the weak side as Williams, backing down his defender, hurls a cross-court pass to the wing. Matthews drills a 3-pointer.
Matthews, in his first regular season game since suffering one of the most brutal injuries in the NBA, starts the game guarding Markieff Morris. Morris is a 6'10, 245-pound power forward. Wes Matthews is a 6'5, 220-pound shooting guard. Morris finishes the game 1-of-6 with four points. Matthews only lets him make one bucket on him.
Charlie Villanueva spots up in the corner, gets an open three-pointer off dribble penetration. He drills it.
Dirk Nowitzki trails the fast break a foot -- maybe several -- behind the arc. He steps into a shot he's made about a thousand times. Swish.
Zaza Pachulia gets the ball after a pick and roll. He drives toward the basket against a scattered defense and then casually drops the ball off for Dwight Powell, who promptly dunks.
The fourth quarter starts. Jeremy Evans receives a backscreen and skies toward the rim. Devin Harris finds him for a silky, powerful alley oop.
The Mavericks aren't supposed to be good this year. They're supposed to be hurt, desperate and lacking talent. Some think that they are going to tank.
Maybe they still will. The chances are they won't be the curb-stomping, stone-cold killers they were Tuesday night in Phoenix.
But I don't care. Hot damn, that was that fun.
It's been a hot minute since we could say that about Mavericks basketball. The Rajon Rondo trade sapped all the fun we had. Gone was the pristine ball movement and solid spacing. In its place was a tug-of-war, bullish offense supported by a defense overwhelmed by bad decision makers.
The Mavericks aren't necessarily more talented than that team. But they seem smarter. Against the Suns, everyone knew where to go, even the new guys. Zaza is not a rim protector, but for a night, he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.
Wes Matthews isn't a ball-hawking, havoc-generating machine, yet none of the Suns players could drive past him. Deron Williams isn't throwing behind-the-back passes, but he's drilling his spot-up threes and making the right reads in the pick and roll.
That lack of "pop," for lack of a better word, isn't going to work against everyone in the West. You need those havoc-generating, rim-protecting, flashy passing dudes to outduel the Warriors, Thunder, Spurs, Rockets etc. But against those middle tier teams? Against the Suns? That'll work.
That'll work for us too. It was refreshing to see the Mavs start a backcourt without some insane shooting deficiencies. It was wonderful to see Monta Ellis not lose track of his man during a half-court defensive possession. It was cool to see a point guard be respected outside of the paint.
It was also nice to see young guys get chances. Sure, Justin Anderson and John Jenkins weren't given real burn, but Jeremy Evans is already a real rotation player. DWIGHT POWELL was the first big off the bench. Both of those dudes looked great. The defensive upgrade of this Powell compared to Amar'e Stoudemire from last season is staggering.
It's one game. Tonight is the Clippers. The Mavs should get run off the court. But Tuesday was fun. I smiled more in two and a half hours of that game than I seemingly did during last season's second half.
No more Rondo. No more Monta moodiness. Just some dudes playing smart basketball. Let's enjoy it because this is fun.