The stage was set for some more Dirk Nowitzki magic, but Raymond Felton couldn't get him the ball in the final possession, and had to have a potential game-tying three himself. It missed, and so Dallas falls to 28-23, losing to the Heat at home.
Though the Heat led most of the second half, this seemed like a game there for the taking. Wade struggled badly early on, the Mavs had the three-ball working with Barea, Parsons and Dirk. Zaza nearly had a double-double at halftime. Unfortunately, the Heat made enough plays down the stretch. Luol Deng made two key plays -- doubling Dirk and blocking the Big German's fadeaway attempt, then hitting a corner three to stretch the late lead from two to five -- that really helped seal the win.
Slow start for Dirk, but almost a spectacular finish
Dirk went scoreless in the first quarter, but ended up with 28 points on the night. 31 is his season high, which he would have had a shot to tie if Felton could have got him the ball in the waning seconds(do I sound bitter about this...?); oh well. Nowitzki hit a shot from Waco with about 17 seconds left that made it just a two point margin, and you kind of had a feeling that something special might happen when Dwyane Wade rimmed out a second free throw. To Felton's credit, Ray-Ray hit several tough baskets down the stretch that kept the Mavs in it, so we can't simply toss him under the bus.
Hot start for Parsons, but basketball is four quarters long
Chandler Parsons scored nine of Dallas' first 11 points of the game(assisting on the other basket), a little over three minutes into play. I thought this was going to be another monster night for him. He finished with 12 points on 4-13 shooting overall. There were a few plays that he looked either winded or perhaps a little banged up. However, this has been something Parsons' struggles with at times, maintaining his aggressive approach.
Whiteside looms large in return
Perhaps the biggest reason for Chandler Parson's dropoff in production was the fact that Hassan Whiteside didn't play at all in the first quarter. Erik Spoelstra inserted him in the second period and immediately the game changed. Whiteside blocked five shots and altered at least a half-dozen more. He hit all five field goals he took -- including a highlight quality spin dunk on Javale McGee -- and even if his 10 point, 9 rebound line doesn't wow you, his impact on both ends of the court was remarkable.
Justin Anderson gets his turn
With Devin Harris and Deron Williams out, we expected to see some different lineups tonight. Curiously, Carlisle played just eight guys: the starters, bench regular Raymond Felton, and the athletic combo of Javale McGee and Justin Anderson. Obviously, the more remarkable name there is Anderson, who logged just his second 20+ minute game of his career(the first coming in mopup duty against OKC last month). Aside from a well-contested corner three, Anderson didn't do a whole lot on offense, but his activity at the defensive end was sensational. It may just be because Dallas has such a dearth of athletic guys, but it was impossible not to notice the high-flying kid soar for rebounds(he had seven), or blocks(he had a pair). One can never predict what Carlisle's rotations will be on a game to game basis, but you wonder if Anderson didn't earn a longer look again soon. Consider it a silver lining.