DONUTS: Schedule Offers Lemons, Mavs Make ...

Saturday Morning Mavs Donuts: Where the schedule-making NBA computer spits out for the Mavs the league's toughest schedule ... and the Mavs spit right back with wins:






DONUT 1: The last 10 games for the Mavs? Opponents' winning percentage of .627.

That's as tough as it gets in the NBA, and combine that with the four-games-in-five-nights, the pair of b2b's, and the roadies at OKC and San Antonio, and this could've been a week to simply survive.

Instead, the Mavs are thriving, looking for a fifth straight win tonight against a visiting Miami team that doesn't quite make the .627 jump ... but we all recognize it's a challenge.

Tonight, Tyson Chandler says, "is a game that we want to win. It's a game that we feel we can win.''

Why should this lemonade-producing group feel any other way?

DONUT 2: If word gets out regarding exactly what Brendan Haywood did to earn himself a one-game suspension in San Antonio (and it will), Mavs coach Rick Carlisle probably won' t be the Deep Threat.

Big Wood committed a "violation of team policy," Carlisle said. "I'm not going to expound on it any more than that. It's going to remain an internal matter. The only thing I'll say is in two-plus years, one thing I've grown to respect and admire about Mark (Cuban) and this franchise is that everyone's treated great and everyone is held to a high level of accountability. We expect a lot and we're going to make sure things are right."

The most immediate issue isn't necessarily what Haywood did (I'm willing it's anything from starting a food fight at the team's Thanksgiving meal in San Antonio to milking that thigh injury for more than it was worth in OKC) … it's what he'll do next.

He's being allowed back with his mates for tonight against the Heat.

It'd be grand if he's show up, body, mind and spirit.

DONUT 3: My colleague Eddie Sefko characterizes the Mavs-Spurs game as "not normal'' and "strange'' and "weirdness'' and he noted that it all fight right in with the Ripley's Believe it or Not outlet across from San Antonio's AA&T Center.

With all respect to Eddie, the view from my seat looked different … in that it looked the same.

The Spurs roll along with a declining Duncan, try futilely to discover someone on their roster who can guard Dirk, seem hurt by their lack of size, get high-speed production (OK, this year it's higher-speed) from Parker and Ginobili, endure a disappearing act from Jefferson and, in the end, always have a chance to win the game.

Same old, same old.

Yeah, the Mavs' defensive effort and personnel, that's different. … from years past. But now, 15 games into this season, can we dare suggest that winning 103-94 at the Alamo against the No. 1 team in basketball … while holding them to 14 points below their explosive average … is now "normal''?

Anyway, it felt like a playoff game. Like these usually do. Said Jet, after pretending "We didn't know what the streak was'':

"This is what the rivalry is about. We play them three more times and probably in the playoffs again."

Here's the NBA.com video recap. You be the judge:

DONUT 4: It must be pointed out: When Dallas mounted its 9-0 run to take the game away from the Spurs in the fourth, among the buckets: Marion with a three-point play because he was working in the paint, Chandler getting a bucket in their, too, and Terry getting another three-point play on a drive and a high-banker over Duncan on which he was fouled by a chasing Parker.

Big buckets. All inside.

DONUT 5: To the charge that the Mavs are "tough to watch'' or "too old'' or "too frustrating'' or "not going anywhere, anyway,'' I once again offer the suggestion that this is pretty much how sports is everywhere, and that you'd see that if you'd take off your microscope lenses and try a telescope.

An example stares you in the face:

Pretend you are a Spurs fan.

You were 13-1. But were you really better than the Lakers?

You were 13-1. But now you've lost to the Mavs. … and are you really better than the Mavs?

You ought to be able, after all these years, to figure out a way to guard a "slow white guy.'' Yet Dirk Nowitzki just made 12-of-14 shots against you, and not until late in the fourth quarter did you double-team him with regularity.

Pretend you are a Spurs fan.

Isn't that "tough to watch''?

Seriously, go be a fan of another team for, say, a month. Or a year. You will get a chance to experience how "tough to watch'' every team can be … and how it "seems pre-determined'' that you don't win the title and how you have "just been set up for failure.''

Go. Try it. Report back.

DONUT 6: It's an odd compliment, saying how Shawn Marion controlled Manu Ginobili. But Manu had 16 first-quarter points (despite the efforts of defensive ace DeShawn Stevenson) … and then only 15 through the ensuing three quarters.

"That's what we need from Shawn,'' Tyson Chandler says. "I don't care how many baskets he makes, he makes so much happen out there on defense, and on offense. He definitely earned his nickname tonight -- the Matrix.''

Here comes LeBron and here comes Wade.

Here comes a similar challenge, times two, for Marion, Butler, Kidd, DeShawn and anyone else who'd care to pitch in.

DONUT 7: Free throws were almost a huge problem … and are still a bit of a mystery.

The oddities are such that for the second time this week, Jason Terry was allowed to try a technical shot despite the presence of Dirk Nowitzki, who didn't get to the line at all and is shooting a subpar (for him) 84.3 percent.

And it's catching.

More: Dallas was just 4-of-10 from the line to begin the game when the score was 18-12. Ah, eight extra makes would've been nice.

More: By halftime, I have Dallas having missed nine of 23 FTs. The Mavs were down 51-49, and yes, those FTs could've made all the difference.

More: For the game, the Mavs were 20-of-31. At the risk of belaboring the point … It's odd when you must be carried at the line by your center (TC was 13-of-16 from the line) as the rest of the guys were 7-of-15.

DONUT 8: Dirk has averaged 34 points per in the three games this week. But with 26 here, he seemed relieved to not have to carry the entire load in San Antonio

"Offensively, there were times in the past where we would force-feed the ball to me," he said. "But we haven't done that the last couple of games. We kept moving the rock."

Five guys with double-figures, plus Caron, who scored eight early. There's not one Robin. But this week, there have been an assortment of Alfreds.

DONUT 9: Another way in which this Mavs-Spurs looked familiar: an accidental Dirk elbow catching Manu in the nose. It's an easy target, no doubt. But it's the same thing that happened in Game 1 of last year's playoffs.

And if it happens again, that'd be fun!

DONUT 10: Quote Available To Take Completely Out of Context, courtesy of George Hill:

"You can blame it on the little turkey or whatever," Hill said.

"The Little Turkey.'' Is that what the fellas in SA call Tony Parker?

DONUT 11: Ding dong, the witch isn't dead:

At 13-2, San Antonio is still off to the best 15-game start in its illustrious history, and still has the best record in the NBA.

DONUT 12: No shootaround today, for either team, as both got into Dallas early this morning. (The Heat team is staying at the Crescent. DB.com spies had Wade and LeBron going up the elevator at 3 p.m., bellmen trailing them to carry their egos.)

So … no shootaround means we'll have to wait until tonight for answers on Big Wood, on Damp in Miami, on all things Mavs and Heat … but we will be on it tonight.

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

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