*In addition to Dallas' well-chronicled injury issues, there was no Brandon Roy for the visitors. However, what there was: Two teams that showed up willing to fight for another win.
After trading figurative punches for the bulk of the night, Dallas pulled away from the Portland Trailblazers on the back of their dominating defense and another fourth-quarter explosion from Jason Terry to win by a score of 84-81.
This wasn't always a pretty game – especially at the start, when assorted Mavs personnel conceded to us that the newness of the circumstances created some early playbook-following confusion -- but as long as it counts in the win column, it was a beautiful result.
"Other than the first few minutes of the game,'' Carlisle said after the result that pushed the Mavs to 26-8 and a second straight win, "I thought we really battled, we played a really gritty type of game, and that's what we're going to have to do."
*"We're a team first," Carlisle said before Tuesday's game. "You've got to pick up the slack as a group."
Beyond this statement, the coach would stress that their effectiveness as a team would "start with what happens defensively."
In the second period, the Mavs erased the 50 percent they had allowed the Blazers to shoot in the first, and took this message to heart.
For the quarter, Portland would hit 6-of-19 shots (31.6 percent) and score a season low for a Mavs opponent in the second quarter, 16.
With Nowitzki, Butler and Roy out of the game, it's hard to say if it was all great defense or a shrinking of the available offensive threats as Dallas held Portland to 41.8 percent from the floor for the night, while only managing to hit 42.9-percent of their own shots.
"Defensively, we've been a top team in the league all year long and we can't let up now because we're missing two of our main pieces so we really, really concentrate on defense now." Jason Terry said. "We shut them down in the half-court defense the final quarter, so that was big."
*DB.com, Dirk and ‘Take That Wit You!' …. We visited one-on-one with Dirk Nowitzki late into the night. And we showed him our latest creation from Beau Shoulders, the artwork you see above. Nowitzki is aware of the T-shirt fun we have around here, we guess, because he saw the art and blurted out:
"Wow. ... Where can I get one?''
So it's back to the DB.com Store laboratory for us … and hopefully it's back to the court soon for Dirk.
Oh, yeah, the context that will lead to the Officially Approved Dirk T-Shirt:
In the meantime …
"It's an opportunity for us,'' Carlisle said of the star's absence, "because when he's on the floor this year, I think he's the leading +/- guy in the entire league, which I think tells you something about how great he is. When he's off the floor, those are the challenging times for us. Now we're in that situation, and we know we're in it. We'll see where things are on Thursday. This is where everyone else needs to come together and find ways to make winning basketball plays, and it's going to start for us at the defensive end. That's the beginning of everything.''
*For the final minutes, you can't take away anything from the Dallas defense, or the performance of Jason Terry.
With 5:24 left in the game, and the Blazers up 75-72, Dallas called a 20-second timeout after Portland had begun the quarter by hitting 6-of-9 field-goal attempts.
A desperation 3 that banked off the glass and in by Wesley Matthews with 33 seconds remaining would be the only other field goal Portland would convert.
The Blazers began 6-of-9, but finished by hitting only one of their final six.
Beginning at 4:08, Dallas would close on a 12-4 run to seal the victory.
*The trend is nothing short of disturbing … but also continues to grant a near unprecedented level of excitement.
Disturbing? Exciting? And, in the end: gratifying.
It's Jason Terry's ability to shoot 3-of-11 through the first three quarters for six points before going 5-of-8 for 12 in the fourth.
Late, when he wasn't scoring, he was creating for others.
It was Jet's drive into the paint that created the space for DeShawn Stevenson to stand unguarded at the three-point line in the final minute, and the ensuing pass that provided the moment for DeShawn to hit his fourth three pointer of the game.
"He was huge for us, and I was happy for him to get his rhythm back and he makes shots like that we're deadly," Tyson Chandler said of Terry after the game. "It was great to see him in the fourth quarter back to his usual self. … He's so clutch.
Terry would finish tied with Stevenson as the Mavs leading scorers with 18 each.
While spectacular to watch, these short-handed Mavs need Terry to extend his fourth quarter brilliance over the first three as well. We keep saying that … he knows that. …
Still, it's hard to be mad at the guy when he puts the game on his shoulders and delivers the win.
Said Jet: "I had two games in a row where the ball wasn't falling for me people would like I might lose my confidence but I'm a shooter so I just keep shooting.''
*In a sense, doesn't DeShawn Stevenson epitomize what this club is about right now?
Defense first. Needing to overachieve. Playing out of position because there are simply no other options.
Said Carlisle: "All our guys love him and he stands for what we need to be about right now, and that is just hanging in, being tough, having the guts to step into big shots, and he was great. It wasn't just the one shot towards the end, there were one or two other plays during the game that just timing-wise were very big shots for us, and defensively, he is just going to give it to you every night."
*DB.com sat down with DeShawn for a moment later and relayed those remarks to him. Especially the part about "He stands for what we need to be.''
Said Stevenson: "That's high praise. Especially coming from him. He doesn't usually say stuff like that.''
No, DeShawn, he doesn't. But you've earned it.
*On TV Sunday in Cleveland, Mark Followill mentioned the incredible efficiency with which Tyson Chandler has been shooting. This stretch continued against the Blazers, where he went 7-of-9 (and didn't miss until less than two minutes remained in the third period) for 14 points and 13 rebounds, including an impressive six at the offensive end.
"Down the stretch we played some pretty good defense and offense we missed some shots, but I was trying to give us some extra possessions," Chandler said after the game. "So, I just tried to stay low and I was able to get my hands on a couple balls and kick them out."
This was Chandler's sixth double-double of the season, and the Mavs sixth victory in those games.
Over the last 12 games, Chandler is shooting an amazing 49-of-63, or 77.8 percent.
On a side note: If the NBA ever decides to track the number of times a defender gets within an inch of an opponent's shot, is there any doubt Chandler would hover near the peak of this category.
He may not get a huge number of blocks, but he certainly changes a high volume of attempts.
*At the opposite end of the shooting efficiency department has been Jason Kidd. Tuesday he went 3-of-12, putting the final touches on a seven-game stretch that has seen him go 27-of-86 (31.4 percent).
While this is a worrisome trend in itself, it's managed to remain beneath the radar of most due to the plethora of other contributions Kidd is bringing to the table. He may not be hitting his shots, but he is getting assists, rebounds, steals and playing very solid all-around defense.
He finished this game with eight points, eight assists, six rebounds and two steals.
Some may wonder if there is a double standard with the shooting woes of the two Jason's – a double standard, that is, in our evaluations of it all.
But it's all of these "other things'' that allow Kidd to struggle to find his shot without an equal level of scrutiny … and the difference of the roles they are asked to fill.
Terry is asked to be a primary scorer. When he struggles to do so, it's readily noticeable.
Kidd is a creator, a floor general, and in these areas he has maintained a high level of effectiveness. We don't like the poor shooting, but we'll take the rest.
*Rodrigue Beaubois told DallasBasketball.com on Tuesday that he has been cleared "for some jumping'' and is scheduled to visit the doctor on Wednesday for another examination that will hopefully lead to his sooner-rather-than-later return from the broken foot that has sidelined the Mavs' prized youngster all season.
"We'll see what the doctor says,'' Roddy B said before the Blazers-Mavs tipoff. "But I was allowed to do some (jump-shooting) as of a couple of days ago. I am going (to the doctor) tomorrow. So, we'll see.''
We don't want to jump the gun – pun intended. But for team that could use a bit of positive news on the health front, this is a little something. … little cautious something.
The organization is continuing to take a safe approach, even as the Mavs are playing without Caron Butler (with a knee injury that ended his season on Tuesday) and Dirk Nowitzki (who sat out his fifth straight game with a knee sprain). Art Garcia notes that Mark Cuban suggests we may be a month away. Coach Rick Carlisle continued on Tuesday to essentially refuse to discuss "what-if's.'' Carlisle said that he will do so until Beaubois' return appears "imminent. … at that time, we'll let you know,'' Carlisle told the media.
Before Beaubois sustained a broken foot in early August while practicing with the French National Team, he was projected as a possible starter at the 2-guard, all based on the strength of a stellar rookie season. He was placed in a protective boot following the injury and DB.com was told it might be a "two-to-three-month'' rehab. But two months later, after Beaubois was allowed out of the boot, there was seemingly a setback … and Roddy B was put back in the protective device.
In theory, if the foot was re-injured to set up another two- or three-month wait, late January could serve as a new target date. said he has yet to
begin plotting how he'll work the second-year guard into the rotation.
"The good news,'' Beaubois tells us, "is that I'm young. I have time. It is frustrating, but I know it's the best thing (to be patient.)''
The 25-8 Mavericks share that patience while Beaubois works on his conditioning by tread-milling in the pool and pedaling the elliptical machine and stationary bike. But the fact that he's moved beyond a no-jumping rule (he'd been taking set-shots for weeks) is a positive.
Nowitzki is on record as believing that a returning Beaubois will serve as a difference-maker. As conservative as he is on such matters, even Carlisle concedes that Roddy B is "a different kind of weapon.''
Beaubois is a weapon who is now allowed to jump a little … a weapon ready to hear some good news from the doctor on Wednesday.
It's a start.
About those Spurs … The Mavs have won two straight without Dirk (2-3 overall … almost better than "bad'') … and finally some ground was eaten up in the chase of the Spurs, who lost at New York, 128-115. So Dallas is three games back. … and waiting on Dirk to help buoy them soon.
*Boy, did the Mavs play good defense on that final sequence. We'll try to break it down in greater detail later, but for now, check out Blazers coach Nate McMillan's evaluation of it:
"They took away Rudy and Patty,'' LaMarcus came out and you've got to take the first available shot."
So Aldridge took the only shot they could get, a crummy 3 try … all that after a series of deflections and near steals pushed the clock down to that desperate situation. … and that's how you achieve a season-lowtying 81 points allowed.
*Understandably, the mood around the Mavs was a little somber before the game … or, perhaps "determined" may be as accurate of a term … after all hopes of an early return for Caron Butler were laid to rest when he underwent surgery to repair a ruptured patellar tendon in his right knee today.
Carlisle did mention that Caron seemed to be in incredibly high spirits, and that the operation had gone "extremely well."
As Mavs fans witnessed when Caron ignored the pain in his knee to walk off the court under his own power in Milwaukee, there is no shortage of toughness in the player who aptly carries the nickname "Tuff Juice."
This toughness, combined with a strength of spirit and approach, allowed Carlisle to confidently say he felt Butler "could overcome anything."
There's a chance we've seen the last game action with Caron in a Mavs uniform with his contract expiring at the end of this season. Yet, you can be rest assured he will do everything in his power to find his way back to the court as quickly as humanly possible.
*DB.com jumped on the FS Southwest pregame show to offer a one-minute on Caron's situation:
*When the Mavs have two or more guys come off the bench to score in double digits, they are 15-1.
Only four times all season have the Mavs had two-plus reserves meet these criteria in a game where the opponent did as well. In those four instances, they were 3-1.
Put simply, it's a very good thing when at least two Dallas players can find their way to double digits in the scoring column.
They wouldn't do so against the Blazers, but came extremely close thanks to the play of JJ Barea and Brendan Haywood.
*Barea provided a needed spark in the first half by scoring seven of his 10 points, but Haywood may have been the reserve of note this night.
And talk about happy: JJB was the loudest guy in the postgame locker room, exchanging jokes with Roddy B and then complaining that somebody stole his underpants.
"I'll have to go ‘commando!' he yelled.
Haywood finished with eight points, including an impressive jumper with the shot clock expiring during the second quarter, and six rebounds. Beyond this, he appeared to play with a fair level of energy and accepted the challenge of banging with the Portland bigs over his 16 minutes. … and he earned the praise of Carlisle.
The Mavs centers combined to put up 22 points and 19 rebounds.
We'll happily take that.
*Carlisle praised Big Wood and kept right on going down his thinned bench, mentioning by name Brian Cardinal and DoJo and the whole bunch of them.
It was more of that "team first'' talk, and it was appropriate.
*After missing seven games with a sprained ankle, Joel Przybilla returned to the Blazers lineup and finished with no stats in just under three minutes. The Injury Gods simply do not like Portland and no, it doesn't seem quite fair.
*You may notice Marcus Camby finished with 10 points and 20 rebounds and find yourself questioning the Mavs centers.
However, these stats were almost a given from the opening tip due to the matchups. When Dallas wasn't in a zone, Shawn Marion spent the bulk of the night opposite Camby, allowing the Mavs an attempt to slow LeMarcus Aldridge with Tyson Chandler.
Aldridge did finish with 28 points and 10 rebounds, but was forced to work hard for those stats.
Quote of the Night: We'll have the full Quoteboard coming up, but it'll be tough to Beat The Tweet from Caron Butler:
"Back to back wins love it.....''
In a battle of short-handed teams, Dallas didn't wallow in the misery of playing without two of their best players. They took on the task, and the team, at hand, and did what they had to do to win.
There's really nothing more we can ask of them.