DONUTS Take You Inside Mavs' Turnaround Night

Your All-Access Pass to Dallas 88, Pistons 84 … so much to report and so little time to squeeze it in before the Mavs try to do it all over again tonight in OKC … In separate pieces today we will give you the inside scoop on Roddy B and on Caron Butler, and we'll preview the Thunder game. But right now, Let's do Mavs-Pistons as Donuts!

DONUT 1: Dirk Nowitzki's path to a season-high 42 points:

First quarter = nine

Second quarter = eight

Third quarter = 10

Fourth quarter = 15

"I found a good rhythm," Nowitzki said. "You've got to be in attack mode at all times."

The Mavs believe that the offense will come around … and relative to Dallas having shot a season-low 38.5 percent on Tuesday … yeah. It will come around.

But in the meantime, maybe we shouldn't take an accusatory position on "Nowitzki & The Dirkettes.'' Maybe it's not such a bad thing. Maybe, while Caron adjusts and while Jet seesaws and while Roddy B limps (I've got a scoop on Beaubois' status later today) … maybe Dirk is SUPPOSED to carry a load.

Maybe that's his job, you know?

Here, The UberMan recorded his fifth double-double of the season (42 points and 12 rebounds). The Mavericks are 5-0 when Nowitzki records a double-double. So … recording a double-double should be a nightly occupational goal. Right?

It's kind of cool, by the way, to note that even 13 games into the season, after one night Dirk can jump from having a scoring average of 24.4 (as of 7:29 last night) to 25.8 (when the sun came up today).

DONUT 2: Allow me to give you a hint as to Dallas' offensive gameplan: If Detroit was going to let Tracy McGrady guard Caron, Dallas was going to give the ball to Caron.

I mentioned my knowledge of this to Jason Kidd.

Kidd didn't want to insult anybody.

So he just smiled.

(Again, more on Caron's night – featuring not only the in-game strategy but also the post-game pep talk – later today.)

DONUT 3: Michael Dugat addresses the back-and-forth nature of the numbers in this game:

In the first half, there wasn't much outside of Dirk for the Mavs to celebrate. The Mavs opened the game with a 16-2 run (including a 1-of-9 shooting start by Detroit), only to be outscored 40-22 for the rest of the half … and were severely out-rebounded 27-to-17 before the intermission.

We had a flashback to that nightmare of the Bulls game, an outing that wasted an as-usual superb performance from The UberMan when help failed to arrive. … but one more back-and-forth, as Dallas took the fourth quarter not only with the season-best 32 points but also by managing to take the second-half rebounding edge 25-to-19.

DONUT 4: "I haven't been on a team that's really consistently defensively good, so that's a positive," Nowitzki said.


Suddenly, this team is "really consistently defensive good.'' Carlisle noted that this felt like a playoff game, and in the sense that the teams were reduced to being "mudders,'' he's right. Detroit shot just 42.5 percent and more than that, the Pistons were limited to 31 made FGs.

(Shhh. Don't make a big deal of the fact that 31 is one more than Dallas made.)

DONUT 5: FISHELLANEOUS: Shawn Marion was "feeling ill,'' according to Carlisle, and therefore played just 15 minutes. … Cute scene to and from the postgame presser, as Carlisle was escorted by his adorable 6-year-old daughter – who was either very excited about the win or had consumed one too many Dr Peppers … We've noted that 32 points in the fourth is a season-high. I find this a reason to celebrate especially because Dallas' average points for fourth quarters this year is 20.8 – second-worst in the NBA. … Is this Detroit's idea of "showcasing'' Rip Hamilton for trade? He missed his first five shots, he sat the entire second quarter, and he finished with five points on 1-for-7 shooting. … This is the 16th time Dirk Nowitzki has scored 40-or-more in his career. … Thanks to friends and sponsors like for making what we do here at possible. … This was J-Kidd's 1,200th career game. … Hey, make sure you stay in touch with your Mavs by checking out the Store (and our Dec. 28 Night at the Mavs) and by lurking about on Boards. Oh, and if you are so inclined, Friend Fish on Facebook? ... Today at noon, we've got the Mavs Podcast with Mike Bacsik and Fish for Lunch. Listen in!

DONUT 6: Carlisle said before the game that he wouldn't necessarily juggle minutes or change rotations because of the heavyweight schedule facing the Mavs (four games in five nights, with the Thunder, Spurs and Heat next on the docket).

Well, he did and he didn't.

Ian Mahinmi's time (more on that in a moment) represents a bit of a juggle.

But the demands made on Kidd established that Rick was true to his pregame words when he vowed to "make sure we win this game'' as opposed to saving somebody for another night.

Kidd played 38 minutes, five more than his average, eight more than some might see as ideal.

We had to go with Jason to 38,'' Rick said flatly, "because we just did. And we understand that there are going to be some nights like that. We'll get through it. We're coming off two days of rest. It wasn't a particularly fast game, and we're just going to have to deal with it.''

Well, let's put this down as something to eyeball in the coming days. Truth is, the Mavs missed an opportunity against an opponent they should've/could've been able to put away without needing 40 minutes from Dirk, 38 minutes from Jason Kidd, 37 from Butler and 35 from Terry.

With this being the first of four games in five days, it certainly could not have been the plan.

DONUT 7: You experienced a sampling of what Ian Mahinmi can do. I watched after the game as a very excited assistant coach Brad Davis went off in the corner with the 7-0 Frenchman and appeared to give him tons of positive feedback.

So when they were done in the corner, I occupied each of them there, too, one by one.

I asked Davis, "Hey, what did you say to Ian?''

Brad first responded with a facial expression that barked, "None of your damn business.'' But then he relented.

"I just told him he did a good, aggressive job out there,'' Davis said, mostly talking about the kid's singular offensive move, a missed hook shot. "It just slipped off his hand a bit. I told him he's on the right track.''

Then I went to Ian.

"I know my job, which is to always be ready, just in case Coach calls on me,'' said the former Spurs backup, signed as a free agent this summer.

Now, that hasn't exactly happened much. He's appeared in seven games for a total of 12 minutes. He got 3:06 here at the end of the first half working as the third center.

But he doesn't mind his up-close perch.

"I have the advantage of seeing the team and what we need,'' Ian told me. "So when I do go in, I can try to provide the team whatever it needs.''

Of course, against what it needed against Detroit was somebody to help Dirk by scoring 20 points. But we're taking baby steps here. And it was neat to watch Brad Davis celebrate the toddling progress.

DONUT 8: Hanging out in the bowels of the AAC after the game? Spud Webb (now working for the Texas Legends), his golf buddy Mark Aguirre, and Aguirre's old Pistons pal Joe Dumars (the long-time Detroit GM).

"Joe-D used to whip my ass (when they played against each other in the NBA),'' Spud told me, laughing. "But he also pushed off a lot. He cheated. Got away with too much.''

What else did the vets talk about? Oh, maybe about how the Pistons need to make a trade, how they need to get their younger people on the floor, how their lack of size handicaps them, stuff like that.

Speaking of that last issue:

It was almost as if Detroit was conceding that Dirk was going to get his, but that the Pistons thought they could match up elsewhere, four-on-four.

Of course, "getting his'' isn't supposed to mean "getting 42.''

DONUT 9: The video highlights of the game:

DONUT 10: JJ Barea

Yellow light this kid, Coach.

Be happy about the low turnovers and the assist chances that come off his penetration. Be pleased with his undeniable work ethic. But Barea – who shot 0-of-5 against Detroit including 0-of-3 from the arc – causes Dugat to get out his calculator …

*In the first half, the Mavs guards were horrible from the floor. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and JJ Barea combined to shoot 2-of-17, or 11.8-percent.

*Though they didn't finish much better as a group (9-of-31, or 29-percent), it was enough … but no thanks to JJB.

*Over the last five games, Barea has made 7-of-40 shot attempts, an abysmal 17.5-percent.

Maybe Dallas can do at PG what it did upfront when it let Ian have those three minutes. Maybe rookie Dominique Jones is deserving of three backcourt minutes one of these weeks (though not necessarily during this week's gauntlet).

But I say the reins need to be tugged. The collar needs to be tightened. The green light needs a different tint.

DONUT 11: Brendan Haywood and Tyson Chandler didn't exactly fill up the boxscore here. But I still have pleasantries to report.

After the game, the two veteran centers hung out. Told each other some private jokes. Talked about basketball and other stuff. And eventually, yes, perused the stat sheet.

There is no "unhappy rivalry'' here, as some had feared when Chandler beat out Haywood after the latter was "promised''the starting job. And while the results are not yet there for Haywood (really, he's right down there with JJB in terms of being a general disappointment), I can testify that for the last three home games, the first Mav on the floor … every time … has been Big Wood, working with intensity on receiving entry passes and executing post-up moves.

So while there isn't grand production every night … at least there isn't strife.

Now, back to the centers' stats – five points and nine rebounds between the two of them. They didn't attempt but three field goals, so that's not on them. And the rebounding? I keep saying this, but this is what a zone defense does to your numbers: You can get outrebounded 40-29 through three periods, and then in the fourth (we should go back and see how much zone was played in the fourth!) you can gain a 13-6 edge on the boards and end the game down just 46-42 in rebounds.

The worrisome Ben Wallace had just five boards. The Mavs thorn Charlie Villanueva had seven rebounds but was just 1-of-6 shooting.

Some big Mav had to have done a little something right.

DONUT 12: Our man Michael Dugat again, on Nowitzki's free-throw ailments:

There were the early free-throw troubles, Dirk hitting only two of his first five attempts from the line … troubles significant enough that Jason Terry was the man taking a late third-quarter technical as Dirk watched. (That has been Dirk's domain around here for as long as anybody can remember.)

Of course, from that point on he went 11-for-11, including four clutch makes in the final 18 seconds to ice the game.

Said The UberMan: "Overall, my shot feels pretty good but I need to address my free-throw shooting . . . I missed three tonight."

Indeed, Dirk was 13-of-16. His FT percentage is now 82.8. His career average is 87.5. Last season he was second in the league at 91.5.

Jet, for one, seems unconcerned.

"Hey,'' Terry tells, "when you take 16 of ‘em, you are going to miss a few.''



Dallas is 9-4. We've wanted the Mavs to make sure they beat the have-nots and to win at home and to intensify on the defensive end and they just did it – so I'm not complaining.

Besides, there isn't time. Written in big black letters on the dry-erase board in the Mavs' locker room last night was nothing but this:

11:15 on plane

And in the paws of the players as they exited the room were stacks of DVDs labeled "Thunder.''

Time to roll to OKC.

Visit the Store: Night at the Mavs on Dec. 28, two tickets and a T-shirt for $22!

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