Simply put: The Dallas Mavericks suddenly look as playoff-ready as any team in the West. And yeah, that includes the feared Lakers.
"Look, we're trying to win games," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said before 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.
Everything, really, was perfect.
The Mavs were in control in every category but one: How the Lakers would fare against Oklahoma City, as those teams were also playing later on Sunday. For the moment, the win for 55-25 Dallas pulled the Mavs to within a half-game of LA for the No. 2 spot in the West (with the Lakers holding the tiebreaker). So there was some scoreboard-watching … even as the Mavs filled up the scoreboard themselves.
*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's recent bouts with temper were not in evidence. What Jet brought to the game was his 1,000th 3-pointer as a Mav.
"We're human,'' Jet said. "Things happen. We got over that.''
*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.
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.
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. They are getting some rest, Jason Kidd returning to the court after having taken a pair of games off. They are getting right …
They are suddenly getting everything right.
"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.''
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