THE FIVE W'S: So who's who among the five-plus Dallas Mavericks guards who are maybe getting more rest, bidding for starting jobs, hoping for minutes, wishing for even a chance to dress for the playoffs?
Let's do the FS Southwest pregame thing first:
KIDD'S START: Jason Kidd wasted no time getting back into his groove after taking two games off to rest. In the first quarter alone he had five points, four assists, two steals, and one rebound with only one turnover. Kidd made it a point to say how refreshed he was after the rest, but he was also ready to get back on the floor.
That's great Jason. We saw it and you proved it.
Now play your 28 minutes, hit the pine, and keep resting up.
Unless … Well, I'll get to the Lakers in a moment.
RODDY B ISSUES: It was another slow night for Roddy B, who was in foul trouble all game. In just 11 minutes he had five points, two assists and a rebound… and four fouls. The good news is that a solid performance from Roddy B wasn't necessary to get a win in this one, but we remain waiting for the show where Beaubous puts it all together.
And time is running short. Right, Rick?
"He only played 11 minutes, so he's going to have to give us energy (Monday in Houston) and we need him,'' the coach said.
For what it's worth, Carlisle remains committed to "the plan'' with Beaubois, which apparently means continued starts … but question marks after the initial minutes. JJB is obviously the backup PG, so that part of the Roddy B Experiment seems shelved.
FREEDOM FOR COREY B?: In a game that required more wing players than big men, Ian Mahinmi was made inactive and Corey Brewer was activated for another night. Brewer definitely earned it with his play recently as he has created some buzz with his potential. Does that mean he was free to start again?
Eh, not exactly.
Brewer was not in the starting lineup due to Kidd's return and Coach Carlisle's commitment to Roddy B, as Beaubois got the nod at the 2.
Corey still played big minutes, though, right? Inasmuch as it was a blowout?
Well, no. Brewer only played seven minutes and had two rebounds and an assist. Is Brewer ahead of DeShawn? Yeah. Until, maybe, Monday night in Houston, at which point, who knows?
Some of those Five W's are still hanging out there …
YOUR NBA HIGHLIGHT PACKAGE: Look closely. You might see one from a Sun. ... And I think the first half is more than enough, don't you?
SUN AND DONE: The Suns looked every part of a non-playoff team that was ready to go on vacation. Yes, most of our focus is going to be on the Mavericks, who jumped to a 21-9 lead right off the bat and never looked back. I'll be all over Dirk Nowitzki scoring 19 points, Shawn Marion scoring 18, and Peja and Jet finishing with 17 points each.
I should mention the Suns and Steve Nash, The Greatest Team That Never Was. I don't say that mean-spiritedly; I like Nash personally and professionally, and always have. I'd take him (back) on my team any time.
Still, Nashie's team now ALWAYS loses to Dirk's team. Steve had six points and nine assists (albeit with a hamstring problem that is one of his many nagging ailments), but while so many Mavericks fans justifiably wonder what might've been had two-time MVP Nash never left Dallas, I'll tell you the deeper thought:
What Steve Nash wonders about what might've been. I mean, he's the one who left, right?
Nash was asked about the challenge of coming back to Dallas and whether it excites him.
"Yeah,'' he said frankly, "when it means something. We've been out of it [the playoffs] for a little while. I think a part of it is that when you're out of it there's a downfall; you're in there shooting and you're turned off mentally just a touch and you miss shots you normally make, and it's hard.
"It's hard when you're not playing for anything to try and make it count.''
The Suns have lost seven straight in Dallas and lost all four times this year against the Mavs.
It's Nash's old team that now makes these meetings count.
R AND R: Limiting minutes for certain players wasn't the advertised plan going in, but the blowout of the Suns allowed Carlisle to do just that.
"Yeah, things don't always go to script, but it helps us for (Monday night in Houston),'' Rick said. "It doesn't guarantee anything, as always.''
Ah, but it always helps when the heavy-lifters get help.
Dirk, Jason Kidd, and Tyson Chandler played 27, 28, and 19 minutes respectively – reducing the effort required to record this 55th win to hard-practice level.
The minute limit was perfect as Kidd – having sat out the previous two games -- was still able to get back into his groove, Tyson could take it easy on his various aches (you ever had a bruised tailbone? It's a pain in the ass) and Dirk … well, The UberMan isn't hurting.
So for him, this was a way to avoid any possible injury before the playoffs.
WE'RE NO. 2?!: Now to the Lakers.
A couple of days ago, Dallas was playing poorly enough that Rick had to assure us that the Mavs weren't trying to slide down to No. 4.
"Locking in the third seed.''
"We're trying to win, so that's what we're doing,'' said Rick on Friday. "We're trying to lock in the third seed …''
About 48 hours later, Carlisle had ratcheted up his goals.
"Look, we're trying to win games," Rick said before Sunday's tipoff. "We're trying to hang in there for second on the off-chance that could happen, and philosophically we're trying to win."
The chance suddenly exists. The philosophy suddenly is perfect.
LA lost at home to OKC, 120-106. LA and Dallas are both now 55-25 -- a tie for second, though the Lakers (losers of five straight) must finish a game behind Dallas to drop to third because LA owns the tiebreaker.
Should we follow this angle?
It was Jason Kidd's postgame locker-room position that Dallas shouldn't concern itself with LA. He even suggested that the chance that the Lakers could slip shouldn't even play a role in altering Dallas' initial plan to rest Kidd again Monday in Houston on the second night of a b2b.
Kidd's my guy, but I'll say it the same way I say it every time ESPN Radio and FS Southwest puts a microphone in front of my piehole: Dallas should ABSOLUTELY do everything it can to win every game. The Mavs needn't "worry'' about LA, but that's because "worry'' is the wrong word. The Mavs should stockpile all the wins possible and hope LA stockpiles one fewer.
Don't believe one game matters here or there? Let me remind you about last weekend, when Dallas lost to a crummy Golden State team and then sat Kidd during a home loss to Denver.
Would you like to have those two "meaningless'' losses back right now?
BALL PROTECTION: The Mavs committed 14 turnovers, but I'll suggest that the number is misleading.
The truer story: They had only three at halftime.
The second half was basically the Mavs doing a Harlem Globetrotters of the Southwest act, so it is comforting to know that when the game mattered and was in question, the ball was taken care of by Kidd and Company.
THE NUMBERS GAME: Crunching …
*While Phoenix-Dallas feels like a rivalry of sorts – maybe in part because of the presence of ex-Mav Steve Nash as the Suns' marquee player – the Mavs have now won seven straight home games in the series and swept the four-game series series vs. the Suns for the first time since 1987-88.
*Jason Terry made his 1,000th 3-pointer as a Mav.
*Dallas' 26-point lead at halfime was its largest of the season. Dallas led 65-39 at intermission – the third time this season the Mavs have managed 65-plus points in a half. Meanwhile, this was also the third time the Mavs have allowed less than 40 in a first half.
*The Mavs were up 36-17 after one quarter. That represents the most first-quarter points for a Mavs team that this season has often been a slow-starter. Seemingly in playoff-tune-up mode. Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion each scored eight in the first period as the Mavs sped to a 17-4 start.
*The Mavs matched their win total from last season at 55.
QUOTEBOARD: "If we play Mavericks basketball every second on the floor, we're looking at a long run,'' Terry said. "We've got big things in our sights.''
Dallas didn't get Kicked in the Gortats, though Marcin did score 15 points with 11 boards … Nowitzki finished with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting and
grabbed seven rebounds in 27 easy minutes. Marion recorded a double-double, scoring 18 points with 11 rebounds. A trio of Mavericks scored in double
figures off the bench, with Terry and Peja Stojakovic going for 17 while J.J. Barea added 15. … Hakim Warrick's dunk-and-staredown would've really intimidated Dallas had Hakim's team not been down 18 at the time.
Dallas entered the weekend having lost four straight (just as the Lakers entered Sunday night). But the Mavs now have blowout wins over lotto teams the Clippers and the Suns. … Rick searched for a negative and found one: "Foul trouble is a concern with our big guys,'' he said. "But we've got two games to just keep talking to them about using their length and not taking any unnecessary fouls." Fine, Coach. But Brendan Haywood pulled down 11 rebounds to go with five points. He's grabbed 10-plus rebounds in three of his last four games So leave Big Wood alone!
PASSION FUNNELING: I talk about this all the time. Apparently, Rick talks to Jet about it all the time, too.
Terry, in the last week or so, has racked up a flagrant foul, a dumb technical foul and an in-house conflict with JJB.
As expected though, there is no lingering problem, no doughousing, no conflict.
"We're human,'' Jet said. "Things happen. We got over that. … "Things happen in the heat of battle. Things that happen off the court (such as the recent passing of Terry's aunt) you have to live with and deal with. I've been the emotional leader of this team since I became a Maverick. That's not going to change. We've just got to channel it in the right direction."
THE FINAL WORD: The Matrix astutely points out that the last three quarters of this game were garbage time ...