It was only a matter of time (and mathematical averages) until the Mavericks had a game like this. In a 116-104 win against the Wizards on Sunday, shots finally fell with regularity and a red-hot Dallas improved to 12-9.
Wesley Matthews led the way, tying a Mavericks record with 10 made threes. Dallas hit 16 of them as a team, their highest total all year, and shot exactly 50 percent from the floor. It didn't feel like the crispest offensive performance, with the ball sometimes stagnated or possessions devolving into above-the-break isolations, but when shots fall, it doesn't matter.
Wesley Matthews deserved a game like this
I've been nothing but impressed with Matthews in my interactions with him, and on Friday night, you could clearly hear his frustration at his inability to make shots showing as talked about how tired he was of hurting the Mavericks. For him to break out just a game later was fantastic.
A lot of credit goes to Washington, who consistently left him open then closed out slowly in catch-and-shoot situations. The rest of it was Matthews, burying those open looks that he (and the rest of the team!) just hadn't been able to consistently capitalize this year. His 36-point performance is the most any Maverick has scored this year and hopefully a sign of things to come as he begins to feel more and more comfortable since returning from that terrible Achilles rupture.
Dallas didn't rely totally on small ball
Small ball is not bad. It can actually be very good. It has a bad rap in Dallas because Rick Carlisle uses it like that on grandad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding used Windex -- as a cure for literally anything. Often small ball works fine, but there are times when J.J. Barea is playing small forward that you just want to rip all of your hair out and light it on fire on Rick's porch. (Don't actually do that, though.)
Without Marcin Gortat, Washington had no choice but to play with less height than usual. When the Mavericks matched them early in the game without Dirk Nowitzki, the Wizards switched on everything, rendering the Dallas pick-and-rolls less effective than usual. Instead, Dallas adjusted throughout the game, taking advantage of Washington's aggressive doubles on Dirk and doing more than a high pick-and-roll every time. I still don't think it was the Mavericks' most impressive night tactically, but the end goal is to make shots, and Dallas did plenty of that Sunday. And if they do have more room for improvement, then just wait until that happens while shooting better than before.
Chandler Parsons sits out
The notoriously tight-lipped Rick Carlisle doesn't play his cards sooner than required, so Parsons' absence for the evening really only became clear when he failed to enter the game by the end of the first quarter. This makes Parsons available Monday night in New York against the Knicks, but hurt Dallas in the short-term, stripping the offense of their 6-foot-9 dynamic playmaker.
I don't think we'll actually find out -- not to dwell on Carlisle's lips, but they really are tightly sealed -- but I'd be curious to know if this was some sort of advanced health science thing that determined for one reason or another it would make more sense for Parsons to suit up on the second game. If not that, I suppose Dallas just decided the Knicks were the more dangerous opponent, or at least the one Parsons would have a greater effect against. Either way, it's great to see Dallas nab a win without him.
Injuries give John Jenkins a chance
It's a good thing Dallas has a million guard (note: that's a rough estimate; I didn't actually count) because they're dropping quickly these days. In addition to J.J. Barea, still out with an ankle injury, Devin Harris left this game in the first quarter after colliding with Justin Anderson. He was later ruled out for the evening with a rib injury.
With the absence of those two, it was Jenkins who played significantly. While I've criticized Jenkins for his defense, I thought he had a fine game there, making several decisive weak side rotations in a way that just oozed of Rick Carlisle's influence on him in practices. If he can do that and knock down a couple of open shots, as he did, then Jenkins is still a very useful asset off the Mavericks' bench.