Dallas' Forces Of Good Top Heat, 106-95

The evil empire marched into Dallas Saturday night to face your Dallas Mavericks in the form of the Miami Heat. Behind a dominant third quarter, Dallas endured the circus (rather than conquering an empire) and fought their way to a 106-95 win, their fifth victory in a row. Cue John Williams for First Impressions:

* At the half, this was a two-point game … then came the third quarter.

"We made a point to get out of the locker room and get loose; show them that we would be warm and we wanted to pick up the pace." Rick Carlisle said. "We felt that by pushing the ball, it wasn't necessarily their game. Getting the game going up and down is something that worked for us tonight."

And, he may have been understating it.

Where Dallas has lived their own nightmare this season, they delivered one to the hapless Heat, holding them to 3-of-18 shooting from the floor in the third quarter … also known as 16.7-percent.

The Mavs opened the quarter with 13 unanswered points, and went on to a 22-to-6 run before taking the quarter 31-17.

Meanwhile, the cavalry arrived to support Dirk.

* Prior to the game, we pondered what could happen if any of the four rotation players currently underperforming showed up in force. For one night, we found out … at least with two of the four who have struggled.

"We've been telling (Caron Butler) to just catch and shoot and take that first one and then go into your tricks and the game will be a lot easier for him, and tonight we went to him and he delivered." Jason Kidd said of Caron Butler, who tied LeBron James for the game's leading scorer at 23 points, and did so on 9-of-15 shooting, easily his most efficient night of the season.

On his own performance, Butler added this when asked if he had been second-guessing himself, "No, just thinking too much out there at times, but as long as we win, that's all that matters, and just trying to play my part, and tonight I played a big role." Butler stated.

* JJ Barea bounced back from his slump to go 5-of-7 on his way to 13 points … as he crashed into the paint at will, often finding little to no resistance once he got there.

* And as always, there was Dirk with 22 points ... beside him, for the third game in a row, was Tyson Chandler as an offensive force. For the night, Chandler completely controlled the paint with 14 points, 17 rebounds, including seven on the offensive end, and three blocks.

* The Heat arrived with their hectic atmosphere, their epic expectations and having yet to develop true chemistry. Opposing them was a team … not two of the top five players in the league … a TEAM.

* The Mavs have won five in a row, and just completed a sweep of their four games in five nights … only the third time they've done so in their history in 108 tries. Impressive on its own, yet once you consider the opponents (OKC, San Antonio, Miami) it approaches amazing.

* The Heat did make a push in the fourth quarter, including a 15-to-2 run, and got as close as five before the Mavs put the game away behind the offense of Dirk and Butler.

"It feels great and we feel real good as a team. We have so much more to accomplish, and we want to keep this momentum going," Caron said after the game.

* No goals have been reached, but the Mavs have won five in a row … wins over the schedule-makers and tough opponents. For the moment, it's hard not to enjoy the ride.

* From the start, you could feel a shift in the atmosphere surrounding the AAC. Even two hours before tip, the air was saturated with something often lacking in the hours prior to a home game … buzz. Activity.

For a moment, any perceived complacency within the fans surrounding the Mavs was washed away. The traveling circus that is the Miami Heat had arrived with ringleaders Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.

More than any other game this season, it felt like the playoffs.

* The Heat came to town with three different players with a PER above 20, with the obvious choices: LeBron James (23.4), Dwayne Wade (21.3) and Chris Bosh (21).

Your Mavs have one: Dirk Nowitzki (25).

And, those three Miami horsemen scored 67 of the Heat's 95 points.

* Meanwhile, the Mavs had six players score in double digits: Caron Butler (23), Dirk (22), Tyson Chandler (14), Shawn Marion (14), JJ Barea (13) and Jason Terry (12).

As it almost always is, the team defeated the individuals.

* LeBron missed his first attempt at a dunk in the pregame layup line. This proved to be a premonition of his team's performance, and his own – as he went 5-of-19 from the floor, and appeared out of sync against the Mavs zone, as well as the individual defense of Caron Butler and Shawn Marion.

* Speaking of Caron Butler, how nice was it to see him perform the way we know he's capable of? He began the game going 0-of-2 from the floor in the first quarter, and wandered as an afterthought on offense.

For the remainder of the game, he was 9-of-13 on his way to leading the Mavs in scoring.

* Shawn Marion was outstanding in the first half, where he grabbed all of his 14 points … and did so primarily by staying active and making himself available for numerous passes in the lane … not to mention his ever-present defense.

Though he didn't score in the second half, going 0-of-3 from the floor … he remained a difference maker in the whole of this game.

* Are you getting tired or reading it? Because we're not getting tired of writing it: Tyson Chandler continues to impress, even amaze. Against the primary weakness of the Heat, their centers, Chandler inserted himself as a power at both ends of the court.

It was almost odd seeing his constant activity and effectiveness, while also watching Erick Dampier don the Miami uniform in opposition.

*Speaking of Dampier, it was a little surprising to see the reception he received from the crowd … that was not entirely pleasant. There were some cheers, but they were in the minority and nearly overwhelmed by boos.

* Another sign that the Heat were yet to gel coming into this game, other than their new 9-8 record:

Dwayne Wade is shooting a career low 43.8-percent and has a 20.1 PER, his worst since his rookie season.

LeBron James is shooting 44.9-percent, his worst since his rookie season, with a PER of 23.9, also the worst since rookie season

Chris Bosh has a 21.0 PER, his worst since his second season in the league. He's also putting up his worst rebounding totals (7.3 per-game) of his career.

* Two notes from Rick Carlisle in the pre-game press conference:

On who shoots the technical free throws when both Dirk and Terry are on the floor, Carlisle said, "They figure it out. I don't get involved in that right now."

On the situation with Brendan Haywood (fresh off the previous day's one-game suspension for his reported "heated exchange'' with the coach at Friday's shootaround, he said, "Today is a new day … We're moving on."

* The third quarter decided this game, and allowed the Mavs to survive an 11-of-18 shooting fourth quarter for the Heat (61.1-percent), as Dallas managed to hit only 7 of their 22 shots (31.8-percent).

*Miami's reaction to this mess? A 50-minute closed-door players-only meeting.

The 12-4 Mavs' reaction? Back to work, with hopes of extending the streak to six on Monday against the visiting Rockets.


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