With the help of McKinneyDentist.com Quoteboard and the words of the Mavs themselves ... let's set the scene:
DONUT 1: As DB.com's BJ Stahl writes: A second game of Four-in-Five-Plus-Lakers and it's Dallas at Minnesota. Remarkable for its sometimes-ugliness. 'Thank You' cards should be forwarded to Brian Cardinal -- while Dirk sat out with four fouls, Brian scored 12, nicked three steals, and basically held the ship together until Minnesota went on a 15-0 run and went up by 10. Back comes Nowitzki, the Timberwolves make some strategic mistakes, and Dallas gets back in the win column 108-105. Kevin Love notched his 51st consecutive double-double, tying him with Moses Malone's NBA record (nowhere near Wilt Chamberlain, but nobody's anywhere near Wilt Chamberlain).
Got it? Now to the quotes ... and the deeper meanings. ...
DONUT 2: Sigh -- another suspiciously icky effort from the Dallas Mavericks ...
"It wasn't pretty there for a long time. The first quarter wasn't great. I mean, they scored 30 there in first quarter and we had a slow start ... We had a lot of good looks, but nothing seemed to drop." -Dirk Nowitzki
And maybe "effort'' is the wrong word. But five or six turnovers in a single quarter for two straight games? And here, a pair of 30-point quarters allowed?
People talk about "style points'' and how they are immaterial. But with a month left in the season, "how'' you win does start to matter a bit.
And THAT didn't happen. Because the Mavs lost on Sunday and won on Monday. Dallas is 18-2 over the last 20 games. Do we feel negativity? Or do we look at Afflalo and Z-Bo making last-second bombs as inevitable flukes?
DONUT 4: About Brian Cardinal, and his game-saving hard work ...
"Without Cardinal, I don't think we would have won the game. His activity, rebounds, deflections, shotmaking really turned the game around ... I don't remember the last time he has played significant minutes, so to keep himself ready for this kind of situation and go in their and hit four threes and make plays defensively and play they heck out of the game, it says what kind of pro he is." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"He was huge for us, he won the ballgame. He changed the whole rhythm offensively and defensively for us. He gave us a spark and that's what we've done. There's always been somebody to come off the bench and give us life, especially on a back-to-back after a tough loss last night at home. So, he was huge. He got going there and had a couple of heat-checks, but that's the beauty of the game. When you get going like that, you cheer your teammate on and he stepped up big." -Jason Kidd
"Tonight, I was open a little bit on the 3-point arc and I was able to make some shots. It was exciting. We obviously never want to see Dirk get in trouble, but I think we have a deep team that can step in for people." -Brian Cardinal
"The Custodian'' taking eight 3's? And making four? That obviously wasn't the gameplan. But for one day, he's not just "The Custodian.''
He's "The Custodial Engineer.''
DONUT 5: On Dirk's 3 with four-and-a-half seconds left in the third -- Minnesota led by 10 at that point . . .
"That stopped the bleeding a little. I was in foul trouble all night and couldn't stay out there long enough until the end. That was a big shot for us that kind of changed the momentum." -Dirk Nowitzki
Dallas was in the process of closing that quarter of missing eight of nine shots. Minny was in the process of a 15-0 run. I don't remember thinking at the time that the make was a tourniquet, but if The UberMan (25 points and 10-of-10 from the line) thinks it ...
DONUT 6: Veteran play as applied to late-game situations ...
"We don't panic, we've seen it all -- being up one or being down two or three with a minute left. Jet probably didn't have the best night. He's been playing extremely well, he's been off the charts. So, he had a down night, but it was up to him or Dirk to make a big shot and they did that tonight." -Jason Kidd
Jet, in fact, did little but cough up the ball until the final minutes, when a Kidd-to-Dirk-to-Jet movement of the ball resulted in a big 3.
Even Kidd has a weird turnover, just inside of three minutes, when his pocket was picked. But then "we've-seen-it-all'' kicked in. Kidd stole a defensive rebound in the trees, grabbed the steering wheel on this thing, 13 points, nine assists and four steals.
DONUT 7: Some thoughts from the orphans -- Brian Cardinal and Corey Brewer each played for Minnesota before coming to Dallas ..
"It was exciting to be out there playing. I've got a good relationship with quite a few of those guys over there and people within the organization. It was fun to go out there and play and compete against them." -Brian Cardinal
"I really didn't want to leave. The best-case scenario for me would have been to sign my extension but I didn't get one, so I am in a good situation and I am happy . . . I've gone from where you hope to win to where you're supposed to win. Actually, it's kind of the same feeling. Every night at Florida, you went into the locker room knowing it was all about winning." -Corey Brewer
We've handled Cardinal's work. Brewer? He played six minutes, jumped around a lot, got himself a -12, and doesn't seem near ready to supplant Peja.
Meanwhile, by the way, Peja doesn't seem near worthy of retaining his starting spot. arc, he's got to be REALLY open right now to be effective. Over the last five games, Peja Stojakovic's averaged four points with a field-goal percentage of 25.8, including a 13.3 percent conversion rate behind the arc, to go with 3.4 rebounds over almost 23 minutes per game.
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DONUT 9: We're hosting a DB.com Mavs Get-Together on Wednesday. We'll do it at our favorite Dallas hangout, ThreeSheets! Half-price pizza for the first half, a few free UberMan t-shirts to be tossed about, and yeah, I'll probably buy you a shot at the end of the first quarter of Mavs-Hornets! See you at the Get-Together!
DONUT 10: Oh wow, Kevin Love ...
"M-V-P!!! M-V-P!!! M-V-P!!!" -the Minnesota fans
"It's a joke that he's doing it so easily. Unless he gets hurt, I don't see anybody stopping it any time soon." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"It felt great to have the crowd on their feet, such a great ovation. It's one of those moments where you pinch yourself to see if it's real. The Target Center, all the fans, the Twin Cities, all of Minnesota have great all year. They've had our backs. I can't imagine what it's going to be like when we really start winning and turn that corner." -Kevin Love
Perspective on Love's achievements to date . . .
"I'd be jumping for joy if we were winning and everybody was playing great, including myself. I'm just going out there and playing hard and it is just kind of happening for me. But it is kind of an afterthought because we aren't winning." -Kevin Love
"MVP'' is a little much. But 51 straight games with a double-double? And BIG double-doubles, like this 23/17 one? As a native Minnesotan, it makes me happy for my ancestors.
DONUT 11: Hey, today, while you're fiddling around on Facebook ... Please join our Dallas Mavericks FISH Facebook Page ... prizes to be won, fun to be had, friends to be made! C'mon! I seem nice!
DONUT 12: TY's update on Tyson Chandler ...
"I'm feeling a lot better. I got out there and ran a little tonight. Obviously, it was a little more tender than I wanted and that's why I didn't play. But I'm feeling I should be able to go on Wednesday. That's what the hope is. I'll have the opportunity to work out again and see how it feels Wednesday." -Tyson Chandler
Big Wood once again put effort into the challenge of replacing TY. Haywood offered up eight points and 10 rebounds ... but he's not TY, the ex-Hornet who quite likely wants to "go on Wednesday'' because on Wednesday the Mavs go to New Orleans.