THE TOP STORY: Paraphrasing the scribbled headline on the Dallas Mavericks offensive-gameplan greaseboard in the home team's pregame locker room at the AAC:
Run and score.
Paraphrasing the defensive-gameplan scribbles:
In other words: Be prepared to run … a lot.
That's what Rick Carlisle wanted to stress beforehand. And afterwards?
We'll handle the numbers as we go, but here's the central point to us deciding that this is The Top Story: It's been awhile around here since Dallas has demonstrated a wire-to-wire ability to openly state its gameplan intentions and then execute those intentions.
The Mavs rested up for a day-and-a-half and showed up for work on Sunday, talked the talk, and then walked the walk.
Or rather, ran the run.
TY DOMINATES: Also before the game, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle stated one of his pet themes:
"Aggression vs. discretion.''
Rick stressed the importance of "aggression with discretion'' from Tyson Chandler. Recent foul trouble has limited Tyson's effectiveness, though not always his minutes. And as we've noted a few times, that "heart-and-soul'' emotion needs to not result in punching balls and technical fouls and over-the-top demonstrations.
Against the Warriors, TY collected only two fouls over the course of his 28 minutes … and not surprisingly, his effectiveness soared because of it.
Despite going 0-of-4 from the floor, Chandler finished with seven points (all coming from the free-throw line, where he hit 7-of-8), 17 rebounds (one off his season high), one steal and one block.
It was a weird way for TY to serve as a candidate for "second banana,'' but …
"The 17 boards is a massive number,'' Carlisle said. "And even though he only had one blocked shot, he altered a lot of things in there.''
THE DIRKIE PLAYER OF THE GAME?:
We all get a vote. Who Deserves The Dirkie? Go vote here!
Your humble correspondents nominate Peja.
Shawn Marion sat. (More on that in a bit). Peja Stojakovic stood up.
Peja's back. And by "back,'' we mean as a verb, not as a noun.
After missing six consecutive games, Peja returned to action and quickly made his presence known … reminding us all of what he can bring to the table, something he hasn't done since the trade deadline (more on that in Monday's deep-thinking Mavs Morning Donuts).
When his shot is aligned (along with his neck, back and the rest of his body), he opens the floor by forcing defenders to stay close. The Mavs have had strong three-point shooters, but, outside of Dirk, none that demand the respect of the defense as much as Peja … respect that can convert to a hollow feeling of dread in the stomachs of opposing fans upon seeing an open shot released.
Considering this, it was great to catch a glimpse of Peja back on the court and back in form.
Over a three-minute span in the second quarter, Stojakovic drained back-to-back-to-back three pointers, giving him nine points for the three minutes he played in the period … and he didn't stop there.
"As always, when you come off the bench you have to be aggressive." Peja said. "I knew that I would be coming off the bench early on and I was lucky that I was put in position to make the shots that I did."
Peja finished with 17 points on 6-of-11 shooting … including 5-of-8 from three-point land.
Said Rick: "Obviously, Stojakovic coming back and being able to get it going was a big key for us and gave us momentum. … Some guys that have this experience have the capability to get it going like this. If you think about it, he's been shooting the ball at that level for 20 years. If you look at 20 years, 10 days is not that much. You can tell that he's been working to keep his conditioning. It was big for us tonight. We needed it."
Said Peja: "My knee was feeling much better, I felt that I had a good practice yesterday and I felt good enough to play. I was a little cautious in the beginning, worrying about it, but I didn't feel any pain."
Wait. Did he say knee? We've been told his absence was due to neck and back issues. … Um … The Mavs Shroud of Medical Secrecy strikes again?
Either way, Peja's work here made our recent reports from Coach Fain and Del Harris, stressing the importance of his sheer presence, look awfully smart.
Is it too much to ask for this Peja hang around to-and-through the playoffs?
HOW'S ‘TRIX?: Shawn Marion sat out the game with a sprained right wrist, what we believe are some still-sore ribs, and what might be a screwed up pinkie finger, too.
"I'll be all right for the next game," Marion said before tipoff. "(The wrist is) a little tender and sore, but way better than it was before."
The Mavs likely won't practice on Monday, so the week's schedule works in ‘Trix's favor. And when he returns to health, if Peja's health coincides,
Dallas will likely move Marion back to the bench, where the team believes the combo of Marion and Jason Terry is a second wave of talent virtually
unmatchable on other NBA teams' benches.
THE NUMBERS GAME: Let's crunch, Cap'n …
* The 101-73 margin marks the fewest points allowed by the Mavs this season.
*And … this is the largest margin of victory for Dallas all year.
*Part of the running game included the openness to launching treys. The Mavs made 12-of-34 attempts from 3-point range, which is their second-most attempts from the arc this year.
*With the win, the Mavs have clinched a spot in this year's playoffs. No, no, we're not calling for a parade. But it shouldn't be taken for granted, either. Eleven consecutive years. If you don't think it's a nice deal, or a big deal, please consider the alternatives.
"We did? All right!" said Dirk Nowitzki, in a stagey overreaction to the expected.
But he knows. He knows this should be valued. He even knows "10X50.''
"We have 10 50-game seasons in a row and it's probably going to be another one this year, so consistency has been great,'' he said.
And yes, he knows the other thing, too.
"But there's only thing missing,'' Dirk added, "and that's a ring."
QUOTEBOARD: "Oh. My bad.'' – Roddy B, when it was explained to him that it was a collision with him in the San Antonio game that caused Shawn Marion to injure his wrist.
MAVSELLANEOUS: "We got hurt a little bit by a surprise player that came out of nowhere -- Peja,'' said Warriors head coach Keith Smart on Stojakovic. Yeah. OK. But DallasBasketball.com was tweeting at 5 p.m. -- 90 minutes before gametime -- that Peja was active. Coach Smart, do y'all not follow us on Twitter? ... Rick on The Peja Presence: "It helps our spacing; it gives us another major threat in transition and spotting up. He's a terrific player off movement. And defensively, he holds his own. He does better than a lot of people get credit for because he's experienced, he's tall and has length, and he knows how to play angles.'' … Chandler and Mahinmi for 30 combined boards came close to GS's team total of 39. … At halftime, trainer Casey Smith and Tyson Chandler were honored for their participation in Team USA's success. TY got his ring. Wanna see it? Take a look!
JJB TO RODDY B TRANSFER: Almost in a blink (since the Lakers game), the rotations have begun to show a slight evolution within the guard ranks. JJ Barea is seeing his minutes at shooting guard evaporate, while acting almost solely as Jason Kidd's backup at point guard.
At shooting guard, Jason Terry and Roddy Beaubois are now getting a significant bulk of the minutes (barring foul issues).
In the last four contests (post-Lakers game), Barea has played under 15 minutes twice, and was on his way to a third (11 minutes through three quarters) until the Mavs turned this game into a blowout, allowing Kidd to stay on the bench for the entire fourth … something (Barea playing under 15 minutes) he had only done 10 times over the first 66 games of the season.
Meanwhile, Roddy B has played over 20 minutes in all four games, averaging almost 29 per. In that span he has averaged 14.3 points while shooting 53.7 percent from the floor … though only 33.3 percent behind the arc.
Against the Warriors:
Roddy B finished with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists (which could have been at least a few more had open shots created by Roddy B's flurries into the paint had been made with consistency), two steals and five turnovers.
Carlisle is rightly concerned about this team's turnovers – "Where we got into trouble was the second quarter where we started throwing it around and turning it over,'' he said, "that went from 17 (ahead) to six or eight, and that wasn't good'' – but Beaubois' drive-and-kick game was truly dazzling. The body control, the leaping ability, the speed to overcome errors …
This was a strong overall performance. The Mavs are slowly beginning to let Roddy B (and JJB) see their roles find definition.
Thoughts, Roddy B?
YOUR QUESTIONS … ANSWERED!: We asked you to toss out some issues you'd like DB.com to cover in our visits to the locker room, and we will probably have a complete list of answers by Tuesday – because on Monday night is Jason Kidd's Celebrity Casino Night for charity and we'll get some extra one-on-one time with the fellas. But here's one:
Jason Kidd says a lockout next year might force his retirement. What about Dirk?
He said last night he'd want to go into action for the German national team this summer.
Now, he also smartly noted that a Dallas appearance in the NBA Finals might change that -- "That all depends on how this season plays out (because) if we have a long run to June, I might not. Everything's kind of up in the air with the lockout. (But) if we're locked out, I might play this summer. We have a qualification coming up for the Olympics again. The Olympics for me in Beijing were so much fun. They were a blast. I'd love to go to London, but we have to qualify for it first. We have that this summer, (and) if we're locked out and I know it's going to be a little longer and I don't have anything going anyway, I might as well stay in shape and play.''
Here's hoping … well, here's hoping lots of things.
And again, more inside answers to your questions on Tuesday.
DEFENSE? AGAINST THE WARRIORS?: Yes!
Golden State came into the night averaging 103.1 points per game, ranking them seventh in the league. Dallas would hold them 30 points below their average, including only allowing 10 points in the final quarter … marking season lows for points allowed in a game (73) and in a quarter (10).
For a defense that has been questioned from every angle as they've seen their effectiveness slip … this was a performance that goes even beyond those Numbers Game stats.
"We've been playing good defense, but our turnovers have hurt us and we've allowed too many second-chance shots," Tyson Chandler said. "Whenever you allow second-chance shots in the NBA, it's going to be tough for you. Tonight we got stops, rebounded the ball and were able to get out and run."
It may have not started ideally, as Golden State hit 52.6-percent of their first-quarter shots, but the final results speak for themselves.
Said Rick: "I thought we really stuck together, we played through long possessions, we were able to come up with rebounds and deflected balls, and for the most part, we did a decent job with the ball. Each quarter we played a little better defensively, and that's a positive sign."
The Warriors finished shooting 35.1 percent … and 29.3 percent after the first quarter.
THE IANIMAL'S TURN: With the matchup being an athletic team without much size in the paint, especially with Andris Biedrins missing due to a severely sprained ankle, Ian Mahinmi was called upon to act as Chandler's primary backup.
Brendan Haywood did not see the court, but don't take that as a comment on his play. This was simply a matchup-driven decision. (Oh, yes, we wish Big Wood was seen as good enough to be the one who dictates his presence to the opponent. Maybe some other time …)
A few nights back, we longed for the Mahinmi that came into the game and unleashed a relentless barrage of energy that sometimes led to positive outcomes, and sometimes delivered less than desired results … we just wanted to see that energy again.
It was back.
In 19:36 Mahinmi totaled nine points, 13 rebounds and a steal.
As a duo, Chandler and Mahinmi combined for 16 points and 30 rebounds.
That's sort of that 20/20 thing that Big Wood was calling for earlier this year, though we're sure he meant for HIM to actually be involved in the fat numbers.
WHO'S COREY BREWER?: All 11 Mavs that played scored at least two points … even Corey Brewer.
There was a funny, or perhaps ironic, moment before the game. A reporter asked Carlisle if Brewer would see any action against the Warriors.
Carlisle's response: "Who?''
The coach would repeat this question several times.
Ok, it had more to do with the quiet voice of the reporter than with the player in question … but considering who it was in reference to, still a little funny. Right?
Less humorous: Brewer's largely ineffective work, especially in his first half, when he launched an ill-advised 3 that went five feet beyond its target, which was followed up by a nonsensical foul on the defensive end.
We keep scratching our heads as to why in the world Brian Cardinal would play ahead of Corey Brewer, and we suppose we just witnessed two reasons.
THE ANATOMY OF A RARE BLOWOUT: So rare, particularly this season, are the arrival of complete blowouts. In the third quarter, when the Mavs saw what was once a 17-point lead dissolved to four, memories of leads squandered drifted to the surface.
For a moment, there was that all too familiar thought of, "Why can't they hold a lead, or even build upon one?"
Dallas led 60-56 … when those questions began to quickly fade.
From that point on Dallas outscored the Warriors 41-17 … and forcefully put the game away.
REST FOR KIDDIRK: One of the benefits of closing the game out and nurturing a big lead: Jason Kidd (looking especially fresh and springy) was able to rest the entire fourth period and total only 25 minutes for the night.
Dirk Nowitzki was the only Dallas player to tally over 30 minutes by being on the court for 31:25. In what serves as a pleasant afterthought, we note that The UberMan led all scorers with 20 points.
THE FINAL WORD: "It gives us something to build on this week,'' Carlisle said of the win and the schedule. "This is a big week for us in terms of practice time and getting better."