Dallas managed an ugly win over Phoenix tonight without Dirk Nowitzki or Devin Harris. It was a rough game all around, with both teams shooting below 40 percent from the floor, but Dallas played hard late in the fourth to grind this one out.
The Mavericks managed to nearly beat themselves in the first half, putting up just 21 first quarter points against the second-worst defense in the league. Thanks in large part to Deron Williams, the Mavericks finally started to look alive toward the end of the second, establishing a little momentum and getting some separation from the Suns.
Unfortunately, the always-prescient MMB twitter account called it:
feels like a good end to the quarter right here and the Mavs can run away with this coming out of the half. also what of course they won't— Mavs Moneyball (@mavsmoneyball) February 1, 2016
The Mavs weren't able to build on their second quarter momentum in the third, and they allowed Phoenix to retake the lead. But Dallas took over with a little over five minutes left in the fourth, thanks to several quick points from Dwight Powell that put the Mavericks ahead for good.
Deron Williams is better than the Phoenix Suns
That may be a slight exaggeration, but Williams nearly single-handedly (he had some help from Chandler Parsons) kept the Mavs from totally imploding in the first half. His second half wasn't quite as stellar, but he ended the night with a very impressive 27 points, three rebounds, four assists, and a steal thrown in for good measure.
Missing a 37 year old shouldn't be such a big deal
Poor Dirk. The old man should be able to get the occasional night's rest against a team like the Suns without the Mavs playing like total Marvs, but he was sorely missed tonight. Although the final score looked a little like a blow-out, this game was very close until the final few minutes, and it really shouldn't have been. But Dirk's absence shortened an already thin front court rotation and helped make the Suns' defense look better than it really was. Zaza gave the Mavs nine points, but aside from that the team had to rely almost exclusively on its wings and guards for scoring tonight.
But at times, the lack of offense from the team's big men seemed like a problem of the team's own making. Rick Carlisle is a genius, and we've talked about the little things we may not see that the coaches do, but good lord, could it really have hurt to put Jeremy Evans or Justin Anderson in rather than Charlie Villanueva? Is there any reason Villanueva got one single minute tonight? And JaVale certainly has his nights, but this wasn't one of them.
It's hard to argue with a win, but on a night when the bench managed a collective seven points in the first half, it would've been nice to see a few more options.
Nice to see you, Tyson Chandler
Tyson had a double-double in a better-than-average performance tonight, looking much better than in his lackluster games against the Mavs earlier this season. As good as it felt to get a win, it was sad to see him in such a bad situation where he frequently seemed frustrated by his teammates' sloppy play. Tyson only spent two seasons in Dallas, but it's still hard to see him on a team like this. Hopefully he finds his way to a better team next season.