PG PROBLEMS: Dallas has not welcomed the point guards of their past with warmth and success thus far this season.
The injury occurred when Nash collided with Tyson Chandler in chase of a loose ball. Adding insult to injury, Chandler was able to feed the ball forward to Caron Butler for a powerful dunk as Nash lay on the floor.
"I just bumped my head at a weird angle and had a spinal cord situation, lost feeling in my arms and legs,'' Nash said later. "There were 10 seconds there that were really scary, but it came back, and they just didn't feel like it was worth risking it tonight.''
Added his ol' buddy Dirk: "We were all on the court, he's laying there screaming, 'I can't feel my hands.' So that was one of the weirdest things I've obviously ever seen, so very, very unfortunate. Hopefully he'll be OK. He's a warrior, and he'll recover quick."
The Mavs entered the night with designs to "make Nash work," but found this part of their plan quickly filed away for future implementation. They caught a break. … but of course, such breaks are frequently the difference between success and failure.
BALLIN' FROM THE BENCH: "Bench play is critical every game," coach Rick Carlisle stated before the opening tip … and only a quarter of basketball filled the space between when his words were spoken and when they jumped to life.
With no Nash to contend with, the Mavs essentially put the game away in the second quarter behind the dominance of a duo of bench players – the "Two Sixth Men,'' Shawn Marion and Jason Terry. The pair combined to go 11-of-14 from the floor for 26 of the Mavs 32 points in the quarter, and sent Dallas into the intermission with its biggest lead to that point (12).
Bench -- who combined for 51 points including 18 from Jason Terry and 15 from Shawn Marion . . .
"Shawn and I always communicate, on and off the court,'' said Jet, part of a bench that scored 51 points. "And so that chemistry is there. I know where he's gonna be at on the floor, he knows where I'm at. And it helps us out there, especially on the offensive end.''
It's that Chemistry Vibe, you know.
Really, Phoenix – a team we say has an awful lot of useful but ill-fitting parts – got nothin' outta nobody. No Phoenix starter exceeded Jason Richardson's 12 points, while four Mavs starters played part-time and yet scored at least 15, highlighted by Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry each scoring 18.
ANOTHER RUN: On the back of a 15-4 Dallas run in the second, and another of 21-to-7 in the third the game went from within contention, to out of reach.
This was very much about Dallas being able to match Phoenix' desire for a 100-point pace (the Suns are not 0-8 in games when they fail to reach the century mark) … and about Dallas being able to execute better at any speed. Usually, the Mavs by habit rip down a rebound and immediately try to find Jason Kidd to center their break. For the first time all season, that wasn't a focus. This was more "rip-and-run,'' first-guy-to-the-other-end-wins, and everyone including Shawn Marion and DeShawn Stevenson got in on the act of serving as fast-break QB.
CELEB WATCH: Fans in the arena were shown a couple of stars on the big screen over the course of the game, perhaps one larger than the other. First, there was Santa. A moment later, there was Martin Lawrence sitting courtside.
What's Martin Lawrence doing in town? We can only guess, but maybe he's visiting loved ones, as his ex-wife Pat is now Mrs. Emmitt Smith.
Oh, also, on Thursday night, a pre-game dinner at Cool River, and there was Rocket Ismail dining with Calvin Hill and Grant Hill. Nice folks, all of ‘em.
THAT DESIRED BLOWOUT: In the recent past, it's been close, but the elusive blowout had continued to elude the Mavs. But finally! Double-figure paydirt!
"We did a decent game of keeping the lead and coasting through and getting the win,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, well-aware of the Mavs' recent habit of storming ahead of teams but not always staying ahead.
Yeah, yeah, Dirk. The Suns did make a small push in the fourth to get within 12. But we say the Mavs – who in this game made it five straight outings in which they jumped up by 17 or more -- finished what they started and put away a wounded Suns team.
KNOCK ON ‘WOOD: Once again, we saw a team turn to "Knockin' on Wood" in an attempt to erase a deficit.
With just under four minutes on the clock, Phoenix began to intentionally foul Brendan Haywood, and their plan may have worked as he missed five consecutive attempts before hitting one … if only they'd been able to score more than two points over this stretch.
Carlisle then pulled Haywood – as he did Monday when Milwaukee successfully pioneered the strategy -- and the Suns mistakenly redirected their tactic towards Ian Mahinmi.
Now, maybe the rest of the NBA doesn't know this yet. But the Mavs do: Ian's shot is very smooth, and he's got 15 feet of range on it.
Little wonder he sank four free throws in a row and pushed the lead back to 15.
So, from "Knockin' on Wood" to "Mangling Mahinmi?"
It probably won't happen again. Back against the Bucks, Brendan was comically trying to avoid being intentionally fouled … he was a regular 7-foot Barry Sanders. But Ian? He didn't need to try to sidestep the foul.
Heck, it provided him chances to get in the boxscore.
HELLO, BIG WOOD!: Don't think the Mavericks lack awareness of Haywood's presence in the trade gossip as reported by DallasBasketball.com on Friday. I mean, what a wacky coincidence that the person asked to take the PA microphone and address the AAC crowd was none other than the man who could use a hug or two or 20,000, Brendan Haywood!
The good news: Brendan Haywood had one of his best games in the recent past as he bullied his way around the paint for six points, 10 rebounds and a steal. His only weakness, free throws, was highlighted, but did not hurt the Mavs pursuits.
Going 2-of-8 from the line on the night, Haywood fell to 13-of-48 (27.1-percent) on the season.
But again, forgivably if he's going to bounce around like he did here. We especially liked his unwillingness to take any silly business from the Suns' Hakim Warrick, who seemed to spend the entire night trying to kick and trip and make ugly faces at guys.
IT'S CATCHING: So they say something is ailing Big Wood. And that something is this:
He's upset because the media writes that he's upset when he's not upset.
And you know how that makes him feel?
So he doesn't talk to the media … because he's upset that the media says he's upset.
Which upsets him.
Anyway, whatever it is that is ailing Big Wood must be contagious. Because we haven't seen many NBA players look as disinterested as Hedo was on Friday. He worked as if his paycheck didn't cash.
MANAGING MINUTES: We addressed this in Friday Morning Mavs Donuts, and don't we look smart!
The issue: When the Mavs get way ahead, they could conceivably stay way up by simply keeping KIDDIRK in the game. But instead, Carlisle is using those opportunities to get some rest for the big boys and get some burn for the backups.
Voila! With the game in hand, no Mav starter played over 30 minutes.
THE UBERMAN AND BIRD: As we noted, Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry tied for a game high 18 points, with Caron Butler (17) and Shawn Marion (15) close behind.
So Dirk should be highlighted, especially because of the Bird thing.
But he doesn't seem to want the spotlight.
"Obviously, that's unbelievable to me and I really don't know what to say,'' Nowitzki said when asked about closing in on the No. 25 spot in all-time NBA scoring, where Larry Bird is now perched. "If someone we have told me that 12 years ago when I came into the league, and would have said, that they were out of their minds. This whole 13 years has been an amazing ride with some ups and downs but the major thing to me is still a championship and that's still missing so I don't care how many points I've got in this league. I still want that ring on my finger, so that's what I'm trying to go for. I've got four more years here (thanks to his new contract) and hopefully we can get the job done."
FG DEFENSE: Though the stat may be twisty thanks the absence of Nash, the Mavs held Phoenix 18 points below its season average of 109 points-per-game. And, at 39.3 percent, almost 10 percentage points below the Suns' season average of 48. Given their style, their pace and their penchant for good 3-point marksmanship, that's an accomplishment.
And if you don't believe that, know this: That number marks a Phoenix season-low.
FG OFFENSE: Dallas has shot over 50 percent as a team in a game 10 times this season. Though they fell short against the Suns, five of those games have come in the last eight. And you know, we think it's fair to say that if this game stays close enough to require Dirk to be on the floor to finish, the shooting percentage probably would've jumped.
Indeed, in the first two quarters, when things really mattered, Dallas DID shoot exactly 50 percent, (22-of-44).
Oh, and in the middle two quarters, the Mavs shot 57.5 percent.
So, close enough.
RODDY B UPDATE: Our favorite one-footed Frenchman told Gina Miller after the game that he might return in "a couple of weeks,'' or something like that. But … hell, we dunno.
PILING UP WINS: The Mavs closed the homestand by going 5-1 and, including the recent 12-game run, have won 14 of their last 15 games. Carlisle's club – which gets a road test on Monday at Miami – deserves to be pleased with its stellar 21-5 overall record.
"I thought it was a great homestand, 5-1,'' Kidd said. "The big thing is we're learning how to play with a lead, and sometimes we fall in the trap of just going through the motions. But I thought we had a great homestand."
He is pleased.
You should be pleased, too.
CRISPY!: The Mavs committed just nine turnovers. Against a team that the Dallas coaches think has a knack for anticipatory steals? At this pace? Nine turnovers? That's crisp!
JJB FOR 3: Nope. Not yet.
The Phoenix defense came in allowing a league-worst 110 points per game, and this was one of those lopsided outings in which Dallas could've named its score. Struggling subs like J.J. Barea were given every change to bust out; Barea failed to truly do so by missing four of five shots and both his 3 tries.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SUNS?: The Suns were a 54-win team a year ago and a WCF participant due to the work of both Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, who has since departed for the Knicks. Phoenix now represents one of the many Western Conference teams unable to keep long-term pace with a Mavericks franchise that is planning to post an 11th consecutive season of 50-plus wins.
Said Nash of his 12-13 Suns being in transition: "We not only lost guys that were important, confident parts of our team, but we're bringing in a lot of guys that don't necessarily replace them man-for-man by position. We're trying to make it work. We've got a lot of depth and a lot of good players. We're still working on trying to make it a good fit."
Meanwhile, the Mavs, Nash said, "have put themselves in position to take the next step.''
The first next step? Monday in Miami.