DONUT 1: The Mavericks make runs. And here, there was an astounding one: The Mavs held New Orleans to 3-of-15 shooting in the final 7:43 of the game while mounting a 21-8 change. Dallas had been down by 10 points before the surge.
What's the meaning of this? Well, if you know that last year the Mavs led the NBA in comeback wins after trailing by 10 or more (with 18 of those), you are left to wonder …
A Does it mean they have the firepower to overcome any deficit?
B Does it mean the dopes find ways to fall behind by double-digits when they shouldn't?
"We have a lot of firepower out there on the offensive end,'' Nowitzki said, "and really, a 10-point lead in this league is nothing anymore. Teams have so many scorers, so many weapons out there you can lose a 10-point lead in just two minutes against any team.''
Yes, and in this game, you have to give credit to the other guys. Falling behind by 11 or 10 or nine – as was the case twice in the final quarter – is no sin against an 8-0 team with Chris Paul at the throttle.
So no, this one goes down as an accomplishment.
DONUT 2: And while we are chalking up freaky numbers in The Carlisle Era, let's address that Close-Game Magic.
Under Rick, the Mavericks are 38-12 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Dallas did it again … though this time it requires a sort of "transformation.''
It's not enough to just note the 26 and the 16. It's not even enough to note that Terry was 7-of-8 in the second half or that J-Kidd came alive with a trio of 3-pointers in those final seven-plus minutes.
We must also get to that "transforming'' part:
What Jet did in the second half came after canning just two of his first 11 shots. And what Kidd did in this game (6-of-8, 3-of-5 from the arc) was get healthy after a six-game skid during which he was shooting just 26 percent.
In the pencil-necked world of Trollinger, you don't get point-differential credit for coming back from being down 10 points to winning by three points against the No. 1-rated team in basketball.
In DB.com World, we give you an atta-boy. And credit for a helluva win.
DONUT 3: I don't know about you. But I feel obliged to get off JJB's ass now.
J.J. Barea was lousy in the first four games of the season. But he hasn't been lousy in the last handful of games, generally serving as one of the few guys on the Dallas roster who can creatively get himself to the rim.
And against New Orleans, he was asked to provide a completely different sort of gutsiness: Hey, JJB, go out there and aggressively rep our zone defense by fighting through an army of screens designed to free Chris Paul.
Yes, JJB, you are guarding Chris Paul. Who else among the healthy bodies on this roster can chase the waterbugs?
(Sidebar: Roddy B can. But … more on that in a moment.)
I'm no fan of The 3-PG Attack. But this was a necessity. Carlisle needed Jet's scoring, he needed Kidd's orchestration and he needed – dare we say it? – Barea's defense on Paul.
And it worked.
The diminutive J.J. Barea drew the unenviable task of chasing around Paul for 20-plus minutes, and Dallas got the desired result against the guy Carlisle terms "one of the top five players in the NBA'':
Paul scored 20 in the first half but just two in the second. In those final seven minutes of New Orleans futility, Dallas held the Hornets scoreless on seven straight possessions. On most of those, the Mavs forced N.O. into having to take desperation shots late into the 24-second clock.
Barea did a lot of that.
DONUT 4: Now that's Barea on defense. … where obviously he had help within the zone and help with Tyson Chandler playing goalkeeper behind him.
But how about JJB on offense, as facilitator/penetrator?
Check out the Mavs-Hornets highlight package below. And while you bask in the fun, pay particular attention to Barea, who in these clips, isn't over-dribbling … he's dribbling with purpose, to draw-and-kick. You'll see it three times, four times …
Until Roddy B comes back, Dallas doesn't have anybody else who can do that, either, except for JJB.
DONUT 5: I did the pregame show with the New Orleans TV announcers and one of their keys to the game was "Run against the older Mavs'' or something like that. Their thought was that the Hornets have Chris Paul to run and that maybe guys like Brendan Haywood and Dirk Nowitzki wouldn't quite be able to keep up.
What they didn't account for, though, was the fact that while Kidd is no longer the player Paul is, he is still the tempo-controller Paul is. And what they didn't account for is that the fast break isn't just an offensive concept; in Dallas now, it's also a defensive concept.
End result: The Hornets managed a paltry total of five fast-break points.
What the what? Oh. It's a deal from MavCowTickets. No wonder.
DONUT 7: Interesting how Rick Carlisle helped set up Dirk to outplay David West:
He didn't have Dirk playing against David West.
The Mavs see PF West as an offensive force and they see center Emeka Okafor as a JAG on offense. So – it makes sense, right? – why not put a real defender on West while letting Dirk get a blow on the defensive end?
So (again, outside of Dallas playing zone), Chandler covers West and Dirk basically just focuses on boxing out Okafor.
How was that supposed to look? The foul-prone West has his hands full guarding Dirk, but can't get much done against the long defensive ace TC. Meanwhile, Okafor isn't going to do much on offensive beyond rebounding, so Nowitzki can focus on his greatest dimension. Scoring!
The numbers: Okafor had 14 rebounds but an innocuous five points. West had as many fouls (five) as he had rebounds. Chandler matched West's rebounding totals and with seven points, outdid Okafor. And The UberMan was freed up to contribute 25 points, 10 rebounds and three assists, all while taking just 12 shots because he was either drawing fouls (he was 10-of-13 from the line) or passing out of double-teams.
DONUT 8: After the game, Tyson Chandler was asked the obligatory "how does it feel'' question.
He gave something more than the obligatory answer.
It feels great," said the ex-Hornet. "It's definitely a big win for us. The aggressor is always going to get the benefit of the doubt. In the last part of the game, we were the aggressors."
DONUT 9: FISHELLANEOUS: Caron Butler (back spasms) talked calmly about missing the game and about seeing the "big picture'' – meaning he didn't want to hurry back from the injury that's now caused him to miss three straight. Twice yesterday I wrote the word "terse'' when describing Carlisle's mood as he discussed Caron's absence. I don't want to read too much into that – but I'm not retracting the word "terse,'' either … Roddy B is out of the boot. Dr. T.O. Souryal gave him the good news on Monday, and I'll have more news on the injury update later today … Who deserves the Player of the Game? Cast your vote here for The Dirkie on DB.com Boards! … The Mavs seem to have solved their slow-start problem. Again they sprinted to a lead, this time going up 8-1 and 10-3 before settling for a 27-24 edge after one. … Dallas' win streak is now at four games. … Something to look for – and hope is repeated – on Wednesday: When someone for the Mavs can penetrate, the Hornets seem to sag too much, thus defending poorly the 3-point line. At least that's what Dallas basketball brains believe … Hey, if you want to join the conversation on DB.com Boards, it's free and easy to register! Become part of the Mavs DB.com Family right now!
DONUT 10: "The team with the most stops was going to prevail in this game, and New Orleans is the second-best defense in the league right now and we're No. 3. So defense definitely wins games."
The man talkin' defense in that quote? Would you believe Jason Terry?
But it's true. New Orleans shot 50 percent for the first three quarters but was just 7-of-23 for 21 points in the fourth, and I believe we've got ourselves a trend:
While Dallas scored 29 points in the fourth, the opponent scored 19. In five of the Mavs' nine games, they've held the foe to 19-or-fewer points in the fourth. It's gone like this: 19, 22, 17, 21, 24, 18, 22, 15, 19.
"We really had to pitch a shutout the last five minutes to win,'' Carlisle said, "and it is very difficult to do that in this league.''
Indeed. But I hate to say I told you so, but …
The first team to 92 won.
DONUT 11: On the morning of July 12, the Mavericks made a trade offer to New Orleans for Chris Paul. The proposal included "anything but Dirk,'' or as one source terms it, "the kitchen sink.'' The Hornets declined any deal.
This year in New Orleans? It was supposed to be tumultuous … ownership changes, management changes, a coaching change to first-year boss Monty Williams, and maybe a change with Paul, too. His camp made noises about disliking the direction of the franchise, and while that may be revised at some point – Paul's contract with the Hornets takes him through 2012 – there is nothing to dislike about being 8-1.
So maybe the Hornets' electric play will continue, silencing any disgruntlement. But maybe the Mavs – always willing to swing for the acquisition home run – will want to revisit the trade availability of Paul come next February.
But as things stand, the only visiting these two teams' need to do with each other comes Wednesday, when they stage a rematch.
DONUT 12: Doesn't it seem like New Orleans always wins these games?
Dallas (now 7-2 and along with New Orleans and San Antonio crowded atop the division) won at home over the Hornets for the 14th time in 15 tries. But here's what you may be thinking of: On Wednesday, in the second game of these teams' "double-header'' in New Orleans, the Mavs will be attempting to break a losing streak that hovers ominously at nine.