First Impressions: Inside Mavs 105, GS 100

The Warriors arrived in Dallas on Tuesday with a streak the Mavs had no desire to break, three consecutive losses, and only two wins in their last 12 games. Though the game was closer than anyone would have liked, the Mavs leaned on their bench and pulled out the 105-100 victory … their 10th in a row. And from our perch at the AAC's press row, we've got First Impressions:

*With Tyson Chandler suffering symptoms of a stomach illness, Brendan Haywood got the start at center … but wasn't called upon to finish a close game.

Instead, with the outcome still in question, it was Ian Mahinmi left on the floor for the biggest minutes of the game. … and he left a big impression.

"I had my mind ready, I was ready to go and I was really focused tonight." Mahinmi said. "My plan was to go out and be aggressive and be ready to play."

And he did. Mahinmi embraced the opportunity presented to him and vastly outplayed Haywood by collecting his first career double-double over 21 minutes of action with 12 points and 10 rebounds to go beside three steals and a block … not to mention challenging everything near the rim in the late going.

The 10 rebounds Mahinmi grabbed are also a career high (previously nine).

We've seen almost all of the Mavs speak of their focus on defense this season, after the game it was Mahinmi's turn:

"We played with great passion tonight, in the fourth quarter especially on the defense and that has to be our main focus, and as long as we're doing that we give ourselves a good chance to win every game," he said.

What did Terry have to say about Ian's performance?

"We have a great chemistry right now and the job that Mahinmi did tonight with Chandler out was incredible." Jason Terry stated.

Shouldn't Haywood have been earning the praise with Chandler out?

Oh well.

*With Chandler out and both Haywood and Ian Mahinmi finding themselves in foul trouble, Alexis Ajinca was the recipient of some early minutes. Immediately his energy impacted the game as he'd bested his previous career high in rebounds (four) within his first six minutes of action, grabbing six boards, including three on the offensive end, to go with three points, two blocks (didn't it feel like more?) and a steal in just over nine minutes total.

Ajinca did slow down after five minutes or so on the court and appeared visibly exhausted … Hmmm. Something a few more minutes could fix?

If he can continue to give that brand of effort, matched by similar results, it wouldn't seem out of the question, at least in small samplings over the course of a long season.

*Missed opportunity: On a night without Chandler, Haywood had his stage to make a statement for the Dallas starting center position. He wasn't going to steal the job, but he could have at least reminded people of what he could bring to the table.

Instead, it doesn't feel like much a stretch to say that Haywood may have been the third best center the Mavs put on the court Tuesday.

In just under 18 minutes, Haywood totaled four points and six rebounds … though he did have three blocks.

*We've mentioned Jason Kidd's struggles from the floor this season as he hovers around his career low in field-goal percentage.

Against the Warriors, Kidd missed his first six shots, including four from behind the arc. Then, with the game at its most critical juncture, what does he do? -- and what did we expect when he launched his fifth 3-point shot of the game? – he hits nothing but net and puts the Mavs up eight with 30 seconds to play.

*Dirk Nowitzki continued his MVP level campaign with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting … oh, and there were the four blocks and two steals.

As much as any other, Dirk is capitalizing on the solid help defense of the Mavs centers and putting himself in the right places to deny shots opposing players are being forced to alter due to the presence, and height, of whoever is manning the five-spot at the moment.

*The Warriors jumped started the game hot, going 9-of-15 to open the game. Over the rest of the first half, the Dallas defense held them to 12-of-34 shots (35.3-percent).

Unfortunately, the defense could not be sustained over the course of the second half, where Golden State shot precisely 50 percent from the floor … including multiple three-point baskets down the stretch to keep the Mavs from pulling comfortably away.

*For the game, the Warriors managed to hit 46.7 percent of their shots, while also scoring 100 points … making it back-to-back games the Mavs have allowed their opponent to reach the century mark for the first time this season since Denver managed to do it twice.

*Caron Butler had another strong game, and also earned the right to be on the court for the final minutes. His stats may say he only shot 8-of-18 from the floor, but those numbers do not accurately represent his offensive efficiency on this night.

Butler missed a last second heave to close the first half from well behind the half-court line, and collected three more misses on a single possession during the first quarter … a possession he helped keep alive, and that resulted in a basket for Shawn Marion on an easy putback.

Butler finished with 19 points and six rebounds.

*We've mentioned the contributions of Mahinmi and Ajinca, the two young 7-0 Frenchman. And now we must pay tribute to a more familiar face, and to what Jason Terry was able to accomplish. As the Mavs bench outscored the Warriors bench 47-to-16, it was Terry's 20 leading the way.

Terry had his second consecutive strong scoring performance, and trailed on Dirk's 25 in scoring for the Mavs. Most impressive, Terry got his points on 8-of-12 shooting, including clutch free throws with 23.8 seconds remaining.

Terry was also strong at times in the passing department on his way to four assists.

Terry had this to say about their fourth quarter play:

"For us down the stretch it's about defensively getting stops. Dirk got a couple of key deflections late and we came up with some key rebounds, and then we executed on the offensive end."

He went on, "We're a veteran ball club and we expect to win the fourth quarter."

And they did, outscoring Golden State 34-to-28.

*Even on a night when the defense was not up the levels we're slowly learning to accept …we hope not, because here is another small nugget: Dallas has given up 30 points or more only three times this season. They've held the opposition under 20 points in a quarter 20 different times.

*After committing seven turnovers in the third quarter (which can hurt the stats of a defense when steals lead to easy dunks), the Mavs then erased the sloppy play by forcing the Warriors into seven in the fourth … five of which were Mavs steals.
Or, as Monta Ellis admitted, "We just made careless mistakes at the wrong time."

The Mavs again allowed a team they should have put away to hang on. But, they also again grabbed the victory as they played without one of their truly impactful players in Tyson Chandler.

It wasn't always pretty – but a win is a win … and this makes 10 in a row.

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