Monday Morning Donuts: A Subtle Dirk Strategy

Monday Morning Mavs Donuts: There was one strategic decision that helped determine the outcome of the Mavs' 99-83 Sunday win at the Clippers – and is has to do with an admission of failure … Did The Matrix hit the snooze button too many times? … Halloween History actually predicted this result (information for entertainment purposes only) … Cuban's in the "Shark Tank.'' … RIP to an NBA legend …

DONUT 1 A strategic switch was flipped very early in the Mavs' 99-83 win Sunday afternoon at the Clippers. It's not the sort of thing the coaching staff will be able to take much credit for, because who is going to ballyhoo a strategic admission to failure?

The original plan: Dirk was going to guard "second-year'' rookie Blake Griffin, the double-double machine. If Nowitzki could survive that, the logic went, the domino effect would allow Dallas to win matchups at the other positions, including Tyson Chandler guarding the dangerous Chris Kaman.

Dirk guarding Griffin? It lasted two possessions.

The UberMan can do a lot of things, and because Griffin is an untested commodity, there was no way to know for certain whether he can do this.

Now we know. After a blow-by and after a rag-dolling, now we know.

He can't.

So Rick Carlisle flipped the switch. Quickly and smartly. Dirk, you go guard Kaman. TC, you'll have to get Griffin.

And it worked. Griffin's physical nature earned him a day-long march to the line, but he shot just 4-of-15. Kaman got 13 rebounds – he is sound enough to always try to find a way – but he shot just 5-of-15.

So again, now we know. Props to Carlisle and the coaching staff for being willing and able to concede that Dirk wasn't willing and able to fulfill his assignment ... and for finding another way to win.

DONUT 2 We said going into the Mavs-Clippers game that a Dallas strength may just pair up nicely with an LAC weakness: Two games into the season, LAC's shooting percentage was bogged down by Baron, Kaman and Gomes and others who were shooting around 30 percent or lower. Meanwhile, Dallas came in allowing 39.4 percent shooting, second-best in the NBA.

Result: Dallas held LAC to 34-percent shooting. The first seven guys in the Clippers rotation were limited to 16-of-59 shooting (and that includes a way-worse-than-it-seems effort by Baron, who now plays basketball in LA as if he's a sunglasses-indoors type of guy.) LAC also managed to make just four of 21 shots from the arc for 19 percent.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle keeps saying Dallas isn't yet in synch, and that is certainly evidenced by the turnover totals and more general sloppiness in this game, especially in the second quarter, when what were double-figure Dallas leads were erased.

But Rick's got ‘em playing defense at a pretty high level of intensity. And it's gone on for a week now – a long stretch for this bunch.

DONUT 3: Weird: The Mavs have won an NBA-high eight straight games on Halloween. Meanwhile, the Clippers have lost seven straight games on the same holiday.

Weird, like, spooky weird!

DONUT 4 Around here, I let my man Angry Trey handle the college football analysis, especially when it comes to his precious Horned Frogs. And here he comes, legitimately touting TCU's national championship aspirations: In the last eight games, Angry Trey points out, contenders Auburn and Oregon combined to allow 63 points this weekend alone.

Meanwhile, in eight games, TCU's defense has allowed 57 points … total.

DONUT 5 In the first two games, the rookie Dominique Jones was spoon-fed some early minutes. It was a get-his-feet-wet plan.

In LA, we saw the beginning of DoJo getting early minutes … and then significant minutes.

Jones played 13 minutes total, and while his effort in LA was something short of a burst-onto-the-scene success (he has a couple of assists, a rebound and some physical defensive play while shooting 0-of-2), DoJo was a +1 for the day … making him the only bench player on the plus side of the ledger.

Now, there is plenty of proof from this boxscore alone that we cannot put too much credence on plus/minus; if you watched the game, you saw Brendan Haywood shoot 5-of-6, you saw him get six rebounds and three blocks, you saw him (and Tyson Chandler) go to the floor for loose balls, and you saw him bring a physical presence to the inside against a Clippers team that can answer with Blake Griffin doing some of the same.

And then you see that Big Wood was -3?

The bench's numbers aren't good (c'mon, JJB!), but Haywood was a force. Marion was a force (as soon as he decided to quit yawning and wake up; did The Matrix forget this was a lunch-time start?) And DoJo is inching toward being a factor.

DONUT 6 I said it before and now the evidence is in: The 24-minute limit for Yao Ming in Houston is terribly arbitrary … and on a game-by-game basis, actually sort of hurts the Rockets.

DONUT 7 A sneak peek at how www.iDealGolfer is going to work for your benefit: You bid, you save, you play. This morning, a chance to visit Mansfield National for just $20!

DONUT 8 You can tell DFW is a candidate for Sports Center of the Universe by knowing the hosts at the restaurants. So …

On the DFW Scene-and-be-Seen: Joe Buck spend Saturday night hanging out at the Ritz-Carlton, Jim Nantz ate at The Mansion, it was a Sunday lunch date at Cool River for Bud Selig and Hank Aaron and "Today Show'' host Matt Lauer is goofing around town looking for something to do.

Oh, and the San Francisco Giants are staying at the Four Seasons in Las Colinas. But nobody is supposed to know that. So shhhhhh.

DONUT 9 The Mavs were very polite in explaining to me over the summer that they would not be interested in pursuing the troubled Delonte West. The Celtics eventually decided their locker room could absorb West's personality.

So far, all the Celtics have absorbed from West is a sucker punch to Mav-for-a-week Von Wafer.

DONUT 10 A handy trip to LA for the Mavs, and of course, owner Mark Cuban was going to be there anyway … but this way he gets to stroll down Hollywood Boulevard so he can make his appearance on the coming ABC show "Shark Tank.''

DONUT 11 Timmy Mac (along with Carlisle) issues a valid point about Caron Butler, saying that "Tuff Juice'' shouldn't lead Dallas in shots taken. But I'm less about counting the shots and more about chronicling how they are taken and when they are taken and most of all, whether they go in.

What Butler did Sunday in LA from the field goes down officially as 4-of-10. Nowitzki and Terry each took 14 shots and Shawn Marion took 11. Too many for somebody? Not enough for somebody else? I don't see how it matters if Caron – who is supposed to be somewhere on that totem pole, right? – makes his 10 FG attempts also translate into 10 FT attempts. If the Mavs get Butler to contribute an 8-of-10 night from the line, there's no reason for dissatisfaction. It'll mean he's getting his shots in flow – and it likely means he's doing more than launching jumpers.

DONUT 12 R.I.P., Maurice Lucas, a talent and an enforcer and one of the faces of the classic 1977 NBA Champion Portland Trail Blazers.

Follow Fish at ... Friend Fish on Facebook 729am nov. 1 2010

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