There were all sorts of notable sidebars here – from coach Rick Carlisle achieving his 400th career win to the red uniform accents worn by the teams in recognition of World AIDS Day – but it is the achievement of those new-identity goals that stands out most for the 14-4 Mavs.
"We're trying to hold everybody to under 45-percent and under 100 points,'' Terry tells DB.com. "Do that, and we are a championship team.''
Dallas did it again against the lowly T'wolves, who were limited to 39-percent shooting and were behind by double-digits virtually throughout.
The Mavs are traditionally thought of as an offense-first team. But this year, the positive defensive stats keep piling up …
Entering Wednesday's contest with the Timberwolves, Dallas ranked sixth in the NBA in the all-holy category of point differential, at +5.24. In itself, this wasn't a bad place to be – and with a 14-point win here it's an even better place to be now, at +5.72. But the point-differential number becomes more impressive when a couple of additional factors are highlighted within the equation.
By now, you're likely aware of the scheduling hardships saddled to the Mavs with four games over five nights, including three of those games coming against supposedly elite competition in San Antonio, OKC and Miami. This speaks volumes to the hardships of the calendar, and hints at another fact:
By opponent's winning percentage, the Mavs have endured the fourth most difficult schedule in the league to this point, facing teams with a winning percentage of 54.8.
Compare that with the five teams ranked ahead of the Mavs in point differential, three of whom Dallas has already defeated, while losing to none, and you'll find the Mavs have easily had the most difficult path toward the top of the Western Conference.
The closest to matching their strength of schedule in that group is Miami, which ranks 11th, having faced opponents with a winning percentage of 51.9.
Now, moving on to the defense.
Dallas is holding opponents to 8.33 points-per-game below their season averages. Out of 18 games, they've held the opposition to 10 below their average (as of Dec. 1) nine times, and five below their average 14 times.
They have only allowed the opposition to score over 100 three times, which leads the league, and have never given up more than 103 in a game … something no other team can claim.
That 103 points allowed, which stands as the Mavs worst game (though it has happened twice), is also better than what eight different teams allow on average per game.
Into the more traditional stats: Through 18 games, Dallas remains ranked third in points allowed-per-game (92.2) after Wednesday's game. Also , Dallas was tied for third in field-goal percentage allowed prior to game at 43.2-percent, but dropped that percentage to 42.9, thanks to holding the Timberwolves to 39-percent from the floor.
On Wednesday, the Mavs achieved again as:
*Two veteran stars essentially took the night off. Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 points in 23 minutes and Jason Kidd contributed a boxscore-filling five rebounds, five points, four steals and four assists in 28 minutes.
*Tyson Chandler led a win on the boards against a Minnesota team that does one thing well – rebounding. Chandler totaled 18, 14 of those in the third quarter – that's a franchise record -- and Dallas won the battle 50-46.
*The Mavs' offense is starting to cook as well. This marked the fifth straight game the Mavs totaled 100 points or more. Dallas improved to 8-0 when it scores at least 100 points in a game this season. Shawn Marion was a leader there, with his fifth consecutive game scoring in double figures. The Matrix recorded 11 points and six rebounds before intermission and finished with a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds.
*Carlisle is now 400-274 (.593) all-time as an NBA head coach and 119-63 (.654) since taking over in Dallas in 2008-09.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Mavs also rank second in total winning percentage at 77.8. Being 14-4 is the most critical number and is a path to the most critical goal of all.