Wednesday Morning Donuts: Mavs Over Warriors

I asked Mavs GM Donnie Nelson if he thought his dad, Nellie – one-time honcho of both the Mavs and the Warriors – was watching the Tuesday nighter. "Oh, he's still coaching,'' Donnie said.

Really? "Yeah, he's on the beach in Maui, coaching the Sea Turtle Races.''

No room for turtles in the 105-100 Mavs win; this was all rabbits. French rabbits. Wednesday Morning Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Dirk Nowitzki wasn't trying to fill the role of ungracious host to the media members in his locker room. Rather, he was trying to serve as an assignment editor.

"Go talk to the two Frenchmen,'' instructed the Mavs star, graciously steering the credit for Dallas' 10th straight win to the team's relatively-unknown pair of foreign-born backup bigs.

Nowitzki did his part, scoring 25. Jason Terry busted out of a slump with 20. And Caron Butler benefitted from the up-tempo game dictated by the Warriors with 19. But Dirk is right: Along with Dallas' NBA-best winning streak, the storyline here as the club begins a season-high six-game homestand was the work of Ian Mahinmi and Alexis Ajinca.

Who?

Smile

DONUT 2: Well, WE know them. Mahinmi was signed away from San Antonio this summer as a third-string center. Ajinca was a throw-in in the deal with Charlotte that brought Tyson Chandler to town. But with Chandler suffering from a stomach virus that rendered him unavailable, Dallas had to dig deep.

And after Brendan Haywood started but gathered some early fouls, coach Rick Carlisle went to The French Connection, Mahinmi and Ajinca.

(French Connection? French Toast? ‘Lex In The City? Ian And The Restless? I dunno.Y'all decide.)

Mahinmi notched his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He made 8-of-10 free throws and also had two steals and a block in 21 minutes.

Ajinca – who had played three minutes all season – recorded a career-high six rebounds, plus two blocks, a steal and three points, all in nine minutes.

DONUT 3: Now don't get all nuts here. The 7-foot center is like the lefty pitcher in baseball and the 4.2 sprinter in football: You sign as many as you can find. Collect ‘em all! You give them endless chances. And maybe in a month or a year or a couple of years, you find one.

Or hell, maybe you are the Mavericks and you find four.

Let's not give up on Big Wood, shall we? I said this on the FS Southwest "Mavs Live'' pregame show last night (geez, I was nervous, by the way; did it show?): There is no time for Brendan to pout. There is not even time for self-reflection. The Mavs have a 10-game win streak. The Mavs have a six-game homestand. They are truly starting to believe they can contend for a championship.

They need every inch of every dude. Especially the dudes who have 84 inches to offer.

And at the same time, no anointing oil for the kids. A French Toast? Yes, that's in order. An extra minute or two in a lopsided game? Yes, that is merited. (Hey, on Thursday, Avery Johnson's Nets come bumbling into town. How about then?)

DONUT 4: So let's do baby steps and savor the raw athleticism of these two kids – and the surprising self-confidence they possess.

Props to the coaching staff here; Ian talks like he really has an identity here, even though according to the Mavs, his mother and father don't completely agree on the proper pronunciation of his first name. ("Yahn,'' which is what his friends call him, vs. "EE-an,'' which is how British people talk.)

Says Ian: "Coach told us in shootaround to be ready to play tonight because Tyson was most likely going to be out tonight. I had my mind ready, I was ready to go and I was really focused tonight. My plan was to go out and be aggressive and be ready to play."

When we've observed him on the court (Fan Jam, preseason, etc) Mahinmi often looks like a small forward in a center's body. He's powerful and he's agile.

"This seemed like the type of game that he would really be suited for because of his quickness and their quickness,'' said Carlisle.

And speaking of confidence: Late into the night at the AAC, near the players parking garage, there was ‘Lex … uncaring about his surroundings, getting … um … amorous … with his sweetheart.

French Kiss.

The Quote of the Night comes from ‘Lex, reflecting on the fact that fellow Frenchie Roddy B last year scored his 40 points against this same Golden State team:

"I guess,'' Ajinca jokes, "French guys don't like Golden State.''

DONUT 5: In the "Which French Guy Will Be The First To Make A Major Impact On This Mavs Season?'' Office Pool, I have to admit, I didn't have either one of these cats.

FREE RODDY B! … free him to visit the doctor again in a week with the hopes of some sort of dang progress.

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Smile

Ryan at MavCowTickets is pulling all the strings he can. …

And he just pulled another one: Everyone who takes advantage of this deal will be eligible for a DB.com Night at the Mavs drawing ... and one of you is ALSO going to a Mavs-Blazers game with four tickets ... and another of you gets four tickets to a Mavs-Clippers game. ... and another of you gets four tickets to a Mavs-Rockets game ... and another of you is going to a Mavs-Thunder game with four tickets!

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DONUT 7: This wasn't quite the usual shut-down Dallas defense we've seen this season; Golden State (averaging 101 points per coming in) made sure of that. But the Warriors are going to play up-tempo, and I thought it was impressive that Dallas sort of "agreed'' to play along.

The pair of Frenchmen ratcheted up the Dallas energy, their blocks along with an assortment of Mavs steals triggering fast-break chances. Dallas had 10 blocks in the game and 12 steals. So defensive plays led to the offense, making the points allowed (one less than the Warriors average) tolerable.

Something else is happening as a result of the Tyson Chandleresque interior defense: The Mavs are cherry-picking.

Does anybody still call it that?

Watch Jason Terry: When the opponent takes the ball inside and the shot is about to go up, Jet is leaking down the floor. Dallas clearly believes it is going to be competitive enough on the boards with the Mavs' bigs, so Terry is free to run a 9-route in search of a touchdown pass.

Wanna get Jet untracked on the way to 20 points? Allow him a few uncontested fast-break layups.

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DONUT 9: The 10th straight win for Dallas comes at the hands of a Warriors team that lost its fourth straight and ninth in 10 games. Funny thing, though: To some Mavs, these Warriors are "those Warriors.'' Jet went so far as to call them "bitter rivals.''

Truth: These Warriors aren't those Warriors. These Warriors are more "interesting'' than they are "good.''

More truth: I bet half the guys in this locker room hear Jason Terry say Golden State is a "bitter rival'' and haven't the slightest idea what he's babbling about.

Smile

DONUT 10: It's almost automatic now: The Mavericks don't have to be ahead after three to be ahead after four. Dallas was down 72-71 after three quarters. But the Mavs are now 5-1 in those situations.

"We're a veteran team,'' Terry said. "We have savvy. We expect to win in these situations.''

DONUT 11: I thought going in that the pace would demand that somebody like Caron Butler help Dirk match Ellis and Curry shot-for-shot – "volume shooting'' along with "volume making.''

Thumbs-up to "Tuff Juice,'' who after three quarters had 18 points – identical to Dirk.

Caron even got to play in the fourth (instead of giving way to Shawn Marion) and ended with 19 points to Dirk's 25.

Curry reached his average of 21. But Ellis – who averaged an ungodly 41.5 points in two games in Dallas last season and was incredible in that "Six Little Indians''debacle -- finished with 18 points on 7-for-17 shooting with seven assists and six turnovers. It's rare to limit this fella to under 20 … and even better if you can offer up one, two and three scorers to match him.

DONUT 12: Now the Mavericks need to get point guard Jason Kidd's shot fixed and there will be a lot of cylinders firing. Kidd was was 0-for-6 and scoreless until 32 seconds were left in the game … and he canned a much-needed 3.

I imagine Kidd will be firing just fine on Thursday when the Nets show. New Jersey is his former employer, Devin Harris is a rival of sorts, and I bet Kidd will savor the chance to demonstrate to Avery Johnson that he remains beyond needing to be "re-programmed.''

The Mavs will be going for an 11th straight win. The lowly Nets? My colleague Chuck Cooperstein is predicting that Avery will "coach this game like it's the NBA Finals.''

By which I guess he means that Avery will have his team inexplicably change team hotels, put Devean George into the starting lineup, tell Kidd to sit on the bench and take credit for Dirk's MVP candidacy.


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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