Earlier, at just under two minutes into the game Wednesday night, Jason Kidd hit a shot from behind the arc to put the Mavs up by one for their first advantage of the game … they would not relinquish the lead again as they cruised to victory in Memphis. So one issue (the outcome) was always in control.
But there was that other issue.
As a Mavs fan, you've seen this before … and you've developed certain expectations of "The UberMan." Yet, even as you brag on his incredible pain tolerance, as Rolando Blackman did to Mike Fisher (did you see the postgame show on FSSW?), you couldn't help but fear that this time things could be different … that things may not work out as well.
As it turned out, this wasn't that dreaded time, Dirk started the third quarter. And, though he moved gingerly at times, he was able to play as much as needed. Luckily, thanks to an 18-to-5 run by the Mavs to start the second half that pushed the lead to 18, he wasn't needed for much longer.
Six Mavs hit double figures in scoring, and combined to erase the loss of Caron Butler, who did not make the trip to Memphis due to back spasms, and put forth their best offensive performance of the young season.
Shawn Marion started in Butler's place, and was impressive throughout on his way to 20 points, seven rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
DeShawn Stevenson got the start at shooting guard for the second consecutive game, and again played very well at both ends of the court. He ended the night with 11 points, including 3-of-5 from behind the arc, four rebounds and one steal.
Jason Terry once again came from the bench and may have been the most stirring offensive contributor as he led all scorers with 25 points, while shooting 11-of-16 from the floor, to go with four assists and three steals.
Recent history has shown us that the Mavs have no answer for Zach Randolph, and Wednesday night was no different. Yet, his 23 points were never enough to change the game in Memphis's favor.
As the saying goes, "revenge is a dish best served cold" … but not in sports. The now 5-2 Mavs sought to avenge their late crumbling to the Grizzlies in Dallas, and did so by dominating on every front. And they were anything but cold.
*The blowout victory, which kept the game from ever being in serious contention after the strong second half start, allowed Rick Carlisle to keep the minutes down for two key veteran starters. Neither Dirk nor Jason Kidd played more than 30 minutes.
*Speaking of Jason Kidd, though he was only needed for 25 minutes, he still managed to put up six points and 12 assists with only two turnovers.
*As a team, the Mavs finally kept their turnovers down, totaling only 10 for the game.
*JJ Barea followed up his best performance of the season by redefining "his best performance of the season'' by playing even better. For the night, he scored 10 points, seven assists (with only one turnover, very nice) and five rebounds.
This is the kind of game the Mavs need to see much more often from Barea, when the bench can maintain or build upon leads rather than erode them away.
*In the first half, the Mavs centers played particularly well. Between the pair of Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood, they had 12 points and 10 rebounds … especially impressive is the fact that six of those 10 boards were on the offensive end.
Chandler finished with 11 points (he went nuts on oops), eight rebounds, one steal and one block.
Haywood put up six points, eight rebounds, one steal and one block.
When daydreaming of the best center duo in The Dirk Era, this game came much closer to seeing that hope materialized than any others as of yet.
*We beleive one facet that may have played in integral part in Haywood's play was the fact that he was able to score quickly. Last season, soon after his arrival in Dallas, Haywood admitted that early scoring opportunities could help energize his play.
If he can produce as he did Wednesday, it may be in the Mavs best interest to get him that early look or two when he enters the game.
*Something new – Unofficial Alley-Oop game total for Tyson Chandler. Wednesday saw no less than four alley-oop attempts, with two successful conversions into dunks. On this night, it was Jason Kidd feeding each attempt … with the two failed attempts coming on a pass behind Chandler and on a pass that seemed to split the area between Marion and Chandler … leaving both on the floor in uncertainty.
*Prior to spraining his ankle late in the second quarter, Dirk continued to show a heightened level of aggressiveness into the paint. The first points of the game for Dallas came when Marc Gasol showed hard when Dirk caught the ball on the perimeter, then put the ball on the floor and went hard at Gasol to finish at the rim.
Despite the ankle injury, Dirk tallied his third double-double of the season with 12 points, 10 rebounds and one block.
*Plus/Minus note: The only player who garnered over four minutes of action to not find himself on the positive end of the plus/minus spectrum was Brian Cardinal (-1). Dirk led the team with a plus-26.
Jones was once again left out of the primary rotation with Stevenson starting and Terry getting the bulk of the shooting guard minutes.
But that's OK. Because this one still one of those cliche "team-effort'' nights ... for a team that momentarily feared it'd lost its leader.