The Mavericks were certainly dragging on the second night of a back-to-back, and it's the reason they're now on a three-game losing streak. There were some positive takeaways from tonight's game though, as well as some big questions.
JaVale McGee is a delightful surprise
McGee entered the game in the first quarter, after Zaza Pachulia picked up his second foul. In for first quarter minutes, McGee managed four points and three rebounds, while helping stiffen Dallas' defense in the paint.
He saw significant minutes throughout the night, filling in for a foul-plagued Pachulia, and he finished with nine points and six rebounds. McGee had some great rebounds, and moved well without the ball, generally looking pretty fluid in the offense. He's pressing Dwight Powell for playing time, which should only push Powell to play even better than he already has.
Wes Matthews needs to start hitting shots
Matthews is shooting just over 34 percent from the floor this season, and an awful (for him) 33 percent from deep. He's a career 44 percent shooter from the floor, and 39 percent shooter from deep, and Dallas desperately needs him to start hitting shots at his average clip.
He got off to another slow start tonight, but took enough shots to finish with 15 points. He was 6-of-16 from the floor and just 3-of-10 from deep.
Of course, Parsons got off to a similar start last season as he adjusted to a new role on a new team, and it's likely that Matthews is going through the same transition. Hopefully he can find his arrow-shooting groove quickly, because the team's long-range shooting goes as he goes...which leads to my next point..
Dallas' 3-point shooting is horrendous
The Mavericks shot 27.3 percent from three-point range tonight, making just six of 22 attempts on the evening. As a team, they're shooting just 32.3 percent from deep this season, and only Dirk (52 percent) and Deron (38 percent) are shooting better than 33.3 percent from three-point range.
This absolutely has to change for Dallas to be successful on offense this season, as their style relies heavily on good ball movement finding the open shooter.
Dirk's rebounding resurrection
Dirk finished with 14 rebounds on the night, his highest total of the season. His 13 points meant that the tall baller from the G recorded his second double-double in as many nights, and third of the season. Dirk only had six double-doubles all of last year (in the regular season). He's averaging 6.6 boards per game this year, but these past two games have shown that he still has what it takes to bang in the paint.
Zaza's worst night as a Maverick
Zaza found himself in foul trouble early, and he finished with just 20 minutes of playing time. Those weren't productive minutes, either, as he finished with just four points and no rebounds. He was overwhelmed by LaMarcus Aldridge and Tim Duncan, and was rendered completely ineffective.
JJ and Charlie V can't be out there together
The moment that defined this game for me happened in the fourth quarter, when J.J. Barea picked up his dribble out on the right wing, and Charlie V continued to try and set a screen for him. These two guys, while decent in short stints, generally on the offensive side of things, simply cannot be out on the court together. They drag down the offense, and their defensive inefficiencies get exposed too easily.
I know that Carlisle is working things out early on this year, but that's one thing that he can draw a big ol' line through and start to move away from.