Mavs 99, Cavs 96: Dirk's Covert X-Ray Visit

First Impressions of Mavs 99, Cavs 96, where the real story of the night didn't occur until after Dallas' ninth straight win and Cleveland's 25th straight loss, when saw Mavs MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki – who'd injured his right wrist during the game – trudge down a hallway and into the AAC x-ray room …

*Despite the win, the news of the night will undoubtedly be Dirk Nowitzki's right wrist. At the end of the first quarter, he would take some contact from teammate Ian Mahinmi and Cleveland's Ryan Hollins while positioning for a rebound, appearing to bend his wrist awkwardly against Mahinmi's side.

Dirk would disappear to the locker room for some time before returning with a wrist wrap he would discard before taking the court.

With the arrival of the second half, came the reappearance of the black-tape wrap on Dirk's wrist. He would play, but clearly was not looking to assert himself on offense, as evidenced by the fact that he took only 11 shots and totaled only 12 points.

He would also continue to massage the wrist for the rest of the night.

"I know it's sore,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "(Trainer Casey Smith) took him back in the locker room (during the game) and checked him out. He said he was OK to keep going. Look, we need him on the floor as much as possible because of how he changes the game, even when he's not shooting the ball. He got one critical jump shot in the fourth, and he's involved in a lot of important things for us out there."

It was a relief to see Dirk back on the court, though he did sit for much of the fourth with Mahinmi playing well in his place beside Tyson Chandler … a relief, that is, until after the game … when we witnessed him wearing blue Mavs t-shirt and shorts and shower slippers as he made his way, unannounced, to the x-ray room.

Unsettling, to say the least, but we wanted to assume the best unless we heard otherwise. We were being careful to say nothing about the injury's seriousness, the results of the x-rays, or even if there WERE x-rays. We asked, and the Mavs in charge of such things offered no information. But, we must add that Dirk didn't seem overly concerned. … as finally, he announced himself that our eyes did not deceive us, that he did undergo some x-rays and ...

"I just got caught the wrong way there,'' Dirk explained of the play. "I was boxing out and somebody got pushed, and I just got caught in the air at the wrong angle. I took some X-rays, they were negative. So, it will be better from day to day."

*The Cleveland Cavaliers would hit 11 of their first 18 shots, or 61.1 percent, but would then go on to hit only 9-of-27 (33.3 percent) for the remainder of the first half.

Despite those numbers, the Dallas defense did not appear desirous of stepping up and shutting down the Cavs. Instead, poor offense and stretches of lackadaisical defense kept the Cavs in the game, causing the decision to remain in doubt until a final nine seconds of poorly-delivered basketball from Cleveland.

Dirk Nowitzki would be credited with two turnovers in the final minute, as Dallas didn't truly out-execute the Cavs … but got out-botched … as Anthony Parker took a quick 3 with six seconds on the clock and Shawn Marion contesting. The rebound would carom to Antawn Jamison with time on the clock.

However, there would be only two more passes and no final shot attempt, ‘Twan apparently forgetting how little time was left.

The loss amounts to 25 in a row for Cleveland, the longest losing streak in NBA history … and – despite true effort from an overmatched Cavs club -- we saw why.

At the other end of the pendulum's swing, Dallas has now won nine in a row.

*Peja Stojakovic would get the start at small forward and began the game one 3-pointer behind Dale Ellis for fourth on the NBA's all-time list, and would finish tied with him at 1,719. As you may remember, Jason Kidd (1748) passed Ellis not so long ago to currently sit at third on the same list.

Jason Terry's name isn't far behind, coming in at No. 8 with 1,592 3-pointers made.

This means the current Mavs roster throws three of the top eight most prolific three-point shooters in NBA history, and assuming Peja still has his stroke, all three continue to knock them down with some regularity.

You wouldn't have guessed it on this night, when the trio went 5-of-16 behind the arc, but it could be nice to watch as things progress.

The first play of the game was designed to deliver an open shot to its newest member, though it would take Peja a few more minutes to get his initial points as a Mav at the free-throw line with 9:08 to go in the first.

He would finish with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting, 1-of-6 from the arc, and would contribute a season-high of five rebounds … it's been a limited "season" for Peja, who had played only eight games.

He did look in good health as he moved without restraint during his 20 minutes. We'll see how he feels on Tuesday during the Mavs' noon practice, but initial results look positive for Peja working his way into the rotation (he did start) and a return to health quickly.

*Beyond the status of Dirk's wrist, the story of the game for Mavs fans had to be the play of Ian Mahinmi, who got the nod as Chandler's backup from the beginning (see the DNP-CD for Brendan Haywood).

"Every time I get on the floor, my first thing is to bring energy." The Ianimal said. "You know, I really want to impact the game with a lot of energy, rebound the ball, play good defense, and then, you know, the offense comes. The more you're on the floor, the more you feel comfortable."

Mahinmi did exactly what he wanted and made a tremendous impact on the game. In 20 minutes, he put up 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting, eight rebounds and one steal.

"He was by far our best player," Rick Carlisle said.

We've frequently expressed the opinion that it may be time to see a little more Mahinmi, even if it means a little less Haywood. We've commissioned Studies on the subject! And nights like this could go a long way towards that becoming a reality … or, if not, could they light a fire under Big Wood?

*Tyson Chandler finished the game with double-double No. 13 of the season (10 points, 11 rebounds), and Dallas reached a record of 11-2 when that occurs.

Shawn Marion would also post a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, though he shot 5-of-15, including 0-of-6 in the second half.

We noted this the last time it occurred, against the Knicks, but this marks the third time this season two players have accrued a double-double consisting of points and rebounds this season.

*While the defense was certainly suspect at times, the offense was easily as inept for long stretches. Outside of a 28-to-7 run by the Mavs spanning the end of the first and beginning of the second quarters, Dallas could never find a consistent rhythm.

Outside of Mahinmi's 4-of-6, no Mav would shoot at or above 50 percent as the team would hit only 41 percent for the game. Remove Mahinmi's efficiency, and the rest hit only 39 percent of their attempts.

*Why is it that Ryan Hollins always seems to have at least one moment of dirty idiocy against the Mavs? Does he resent them for being unable to match the deal he would sign with Minnesota, or for not making his resigning a priority?

Whatever the root, we again saw a flash of underhanded play from Hollins as he made no attempt on the ball on a Chandler shot under the rim, but made every attempt to perfect his form on a headlock.

Chandler was clearly not pleased with the situation, and somehow the play avoided anything beyond a standard foul call.

Just another example of what Dallas fans have come to expect in a game involving Hollins. The other thing we can expect: a loss for Hollins' team, as he is now 1-5 against Dallas since leaving.

*The Mavs bench would score 60 points, their second highest total of the season … though Carlisle seemed less than pleased with their overall play, pointing out that too much notice was going to their points scored … and then pointed to their poor transition defense.

*This season, Dallas has had winning streaks of 12 and nine. This marks only the second time in the franchise's history with two winning streaks of at least eight games in the same season.

The first? It came during the now infamous 2006-07, 67-win campaign, where they would have five such runs, including 8-, 9-, 12-, 13- and 17-game streaks.

*Dirk, Chandler and Jason Kidd have the third best plus/minus for a trio in the NBA at +272. Oddly enough, of the top 25 trios, only four average at least +0.3 points per minute, all four are Mavs.

*When TY and The UberMan are both healthy, the Mavs' record is a stunning 33-6. Here's hoping that moving forward, Dirk's visit to the x-ray room will only be to grab a soda pop or something … and that Chandler and Dirk and the Mavs are up to building that record even higher.

Want to go even deeper inside the Dallas Mavericks? Stay up late with us and check out our Premium coverage -- it's Your All-Access Pass, featuring more scoops, more 1-on-1 stuff, more analysis, more interviews in the locker room and on the court ... featuring video of Peja's on-court warm-up act ... all coming up!

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