First Impressions: OKC 106, Mavs 92
"Roddy and Dominique did a good job penetrating,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, "and making things happen.''
Nowitzki and Kidd never removed their stylish new Mavericks warm-ups and Jet only played nine minutes. That left substantial burn for Carlisle to give to important newcomers Delonte West (projected as Kidd's backup at the point but the 1-of-7-shooting starter here), Vince Carter (with nine points and plenty of "wow''-worthy offensive moves) and Lamar Odom (fitting in nicely as a Swiss Army knife with 14 points and seven rebounds).
"Odom,'' Carlisle said, "will be a fan favorite here. You can tell by his body language that he is just a really likable guy. He's a competitor. He's been a part of a lot of winning, and our fans recognize that; they know the problems he's given us over the years.''
The ex-Laker is already drawing an appreciative crowd – though many of them are members of the Kardashian family and TV crew that occupied the pregame Mavs locker room. (Yes, Khloe was in attendance.) While Dallas does know what it'll get out of L.O., the defending champs come into the season less certain about DoJo and Roddy B, who were considered candidates to backup Kidd before Delonte's signing and now are fighting for rotation time in any way they can get it.
Two thumbs up for the kids after Sunday, as each of them scored 17 points while staging a fast-motion fourth-quarter comeback in an exhibition game largely controlled by Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
Said Roddy B of DoJo: "He's very aggressive, so he can create open shots for me. It was great."
Said DoJo of his place on the Mavs: "I'm just excited about everything that's going on right now. I love being on this team."
OKC opened the second quarter with an 11-0 run and led 90-70 after three quarters, in part the result of the Thunder rolling out the same group that opposed Dallas in last year's WCF. Durant was the leader – and he led while making just four field goals, his damage done at the free-throw line, where he was 13-of-14.
There was no stopping defending-scoring-champ KD, but at this early stage, the Thunder didn't have answers for Roddy B and DoJo, either. The Mavs scored the first 14 points of the first quarter and got to within five on a dunk with five minutes left from The Ianimal (Haywood's lone true backup at center, at least until Dallas seals a deal DB.com revealed on Friday). Carlisle complimented Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal for their high-energy interior work.
Jones complemented his aforementioned scoring with seven assists, while Roddy B did work on the perimeter by hitting on a trio of 3-pointers. Both kids came off the bench while passing their own personal tests, Beaubois continuing to look dazzlingly healthy after his series of foot surgeries and Jones being pleased to have added some muscle in his chest and shoulders while still working himself down 10 pounds to his playing weight of 210.
The Mavs' starters were West and Carter in the backcourt, with Odom joining incumbent Mavs Marion and Brendan Haywood upfront. That's a page out of Carlisle's "Be Ready'' bag of tricks that we might see again. The extensive use of camp-fodder guards Drew Neitzel and Jerome Randle? The fivesome of Randle, Roddy, DoJo, Neitzel and Mahinmi that worked together late?
"I like playing Dallas,'' OKC coach Scott Brooks deadpanned, "without Dirk and Kidd.''
Though Randle's quicks are impressive, no, we won't likely see much of that group in the future – and that includes in Tuesday's game at OKC, the second and final preseason game and one that might be used as a truer tune-up for a 66-game schedule that launches with the villainous Heat in Dallas on Christmas Day.
What positions will DoJo and Roddy B be in on that day? They may have just scooted themselves one seat up on the Mavs bench.