After a 1-2 roadtrip, it was nice to see Dallas dominate a lesser team. Brook Lopez put up a good fight, but the Mavericks were clearly the more talented team here, and they played like it. Which is what you want from a team fighting for a 4-6 seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Everyone enjoys a nice easy win in which your team is up by double-digits most of the game. So let's talk a little bit about some of the fun that was had tonight.
Zaza Pachulia missed the last three games, in case you missed that. In his absence, the Mavs went 1-2. I feel like Salah Mejri performed admirably, starting in Zaza's stead, but we all know how special Pachulia has been this year. It was just wonderful to have him back. In his first game back after having just missed being voted into the All-Star Game as a starter, Zaza looked every bit the glue piece holding this team together that we know him to be.
Did I mention that Zaza tied his career high in double-doubles for the season tonight? The fan-favorite Georgian looked rested, energetic, and feisty tonight. At one point he wrestled Brook Lopez to the ground to force a jump ball. He had that double double pretty early on in the 3rd quarter, but he just kept on coming. It felt like maybe the Nets might threaten a bit with under 7 minutes left in the game, but Zaza responded all on his own. He hit a nice jumper, then on the next possession tossed a gorgeous pass to a driving Barea for a reverse layup as the clock expired, then on the next possession, drew a foul and hit one of two.
Zaza will never be a star, but honestly, he feels like the most important player on this team more often than not. He is absolutely the glue that holds this ridiculously fun contraption together. In case you were wondering, he had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists tonight.
Chandler Parsons is the captain now
All due respect to Dirk, but the Mavericks are becoming Chandler's team right in front of our eyes. The handsome young star continued his recent streak of excellence by notching his first double-double of the season. 19 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Honestly, it was such a treat watching Parsons and Pachulia tonight. Especially together. There was one possession in the 2nd quarter where Parsons got blocked driving to the basket, only to have Zaza save it with a fearsome rebound to pass it back out to Parsons for a wide open corner 3. It was beautiful and fun and awesome.
Parsons is looking really fantastic in the role that Shawn Marion never quiet felt right in. Parsons works equally well at the 3 with Dirk and Zaza or at the 4 with Zaza or Mejri. Dude is rebounding out of his mind lately. I'm beyond impressed by it. But he is also just playing really smart in all respects. He's taking the right shots. Driving and shooting in equal measure. His game is just so diverse, and he's really starting to explore all of it. I can't wait to see Parsons continue to blossom as he takes on more and more responsibility.
Brook Lopez likes playing the Mavs
There were more than a few moments tonight when it felt like the Mavs were playing against one player rather than another team. Lopez always seems to perform well against Dallas, but tonight he was just absurd. He finished with 28 of Brooklyn's 79 points, That's 35% of the Nets' scoring. He also had 12 rebounds and 3 assists.
But despite his best efforts, this game was never really in danger for the good guys.
Good to see Dallas dominate a bad team
Lopez aside, this victory never felt in danger. Which is what you expect from a playoff team playing one of the 3 worst teams in the NBA. After a shaky road trip that saw Dallas slip a spot in the Western Conference standings, it was great to see Dallas thoroughly outperform a less talented team. Dallas shot 48% tonight, with 38% from beyond
I was a little disappointed that we didn't get the Deron Williams revenge game we were hoping for, but truthfully, a quality team win is worth more than that. Especially for this team, which is built on chemistry and dudes who enjoy playing with each other. This Mavericks team is so much fun because of how balanced it is. This is a team with all five starters averaging double-digit scoring, even if none of them is scoring more than 18 a game.
A really fun stat from tonight: Dallas's bench outscored Brooklyn's 34-2. Yeah. That happened.
Enjoy this win. A few more games stand between Dallas and the breather that is the All-Star break. Let's make the most of it.