FREE Access: Mavs' 100-86 Blowout Of Pistons
FOREWARD: Let's first quickly dispatch with the involvement of the Dallas Mavericks' piteous opponent here. Detroit was as advertised in our Advanced Scouting Report: The Pistons cannot score; they came in 30th in the NBA and averaging 70 points per in their last two roadies. The Pistons have no bench; they played without injured vets Villanueva and Stuckey and Dallas' subs outperformed their backups in a way that, points aside, seemed unfair. They don't rebound, ranking 28th in the league, and they grabbed only 29 here. And what did we say about their defense? The bigs don't get back, the guards can be beaten off the dribble and the rotations are slow.
But … er. … those new Motor City-touting Chrysler TV ads are pretty boss, eh?
The Mavs had been one of the of nine teams in the NBA without a road win this season, hopefully an aberration for a club that at 28-13 away from home last year was the league's best. The Pistons (2-9) are obviously part of the cure for what ailed the Mavs. And the Mavs are at Boston on Wednesday, likely a different story.
But maybe the on-the-road bonding of visiting The White House on Monday served as a team-wide stroke for the defending champs, who again played without Jason Kidd (back) but pulled to .500 (at 5-5) with the victory.
It was odd to see Lamar Odom bust out the headband for the first time this year. (It'll be even better when the ex-Lakers star busts out, period). It was beautiful to see Dirk Nowitzki lope about unbothered by his sleeved knee to make nine of 10 shots for 18 easy points. Why was Big Wood the early go-to scorer? Why was "The Custodian'' getting burn off the bench nearer the top of the rotation? How tighly was Delonte West's head screwed on to resemble the Kidd Jr. he grew up wanting to be?
Well, Rick Carlisle's "Be Ready'' mantra is advisable for players and Mavs fans alike, I guess.
Oh, and now the mantra must be absorbed, too, by Yi Jianlian. His "culture shock'' here isn't about being Chinese; after an NBA life wasted away in outposts in Milwaukee, New Jersey and Washington, we swear we caught Yi often glancing up at the Palace scoreboard, mouth agape as if he was thinking, "So this is what life is like on the other side!
IT HAPPENED FAST: The Pistons were playing their fourth game in five nights … and the stage was set for the Mavs to establish early who was whom around here.
If you, say, have a job and you were a little busy around tipoff at 6:30 (which means you missed Bob Ortegel and Fish on FSSW and shame on you!) ... well, you missed the determination of the winner here. Dallas streaked out to a 19-4 lead and never looked back. By the time it was over, "100-86'' stood as "deceptive.''
We say "deceptive" in regards to that final score as the lead grew to as much as 28 and seemed to hover around 20 until Detroit closed the gap in the final minutes as the Mavs were resting prime players for Wednesday in Boston while allowing Yi, "The Custodian'' and Brandan Wright to work together in the front court (completely obliterating the debate about which of them is a 4 or a 5).
WELL HELLO, DELONTE WEST: As Jason Kidd allows his ailing lower back to heal (hopefully he'll be ready by Friday), the Mavs have had no choice but to hand a bulk of the point-guard duties to someone else. Once again, that someone was Delonte West … and West once more lived up to the faith being placed in him.
For the first time all season a Maverick finished with at least 10 assists. To go with a dime's worth of dimes, West added six points, three rebounds and five steals … as he and Shawn Marion almost single handedly put the kibosh on an anemic Pistons' offense in the third quarter, ushering the Mavs to a 16-2 start to the second half.
Since day one, we've been pleased with what we've seen from West on the court. Headlines were made this weekend as he took to Twitter-ranting , causing some to raise their red flag. But beyond this moment (which clearly had zero lingering effect on the court) West has given this team all that it has asked.
In an age that may forgive but will never be allowed to forget as the past plays on endless repeat in the vines of the internet, there is no leaving your baggage at the door … but take a moment to enjoy what West is providing the Mavs on the court.
He has good enough size for a point guard, can defend, finish at the rim and has shown a willingness to create for others. What happens off of it remains worth eyeballing, but on the court, West has been a steal.
The Mavs acquired him (at the $1.4 mil minimum) with the hope that he could hustle like Barea and thug-it-up a little like DeShawn -- at a fraction of what they would eventually be paid elsewhere. For the moment, Delonte is part JJB, part DeShawn and yes, part Kidd, too.
By the way, Delonte is now in apology mode and that's a good thing, too.
"At the end of the day, I did what I've done most of the time in my career -- I dug myself into a hole and that's just not what I was trying to do,'' West said. "That's not the impression I'm trying to put out to the Dallas area.''
AS CONSISTENT AS THE TIDE: For three games the water retreated, but we knew we need only wait by the shore for it to return. As consistent as the rise and fall of the tide, Dirk Nowitzki shrugged off hitting only 12 of his last 39 shots over the past three games (5-of-22 the past two) to sink everything he tossed up in the first half, going 6-of-6 from the floor, and finishing with a team-high 18 points on 9-of-10 shooting … not to mention a game-high seven rebounds (tied with Greg Monroe).
We were never worried about the "uberness" of The UberMan, but were glad to hear him dismiss any issues with his knee (though he did wear a sleeve there again). And as meaningless as we felt his slump to be, it was good to see him snap out of it.
On display was the "One-Legged Euro Lean-Back.'' And a spinning dunk. Really, all the reasons our Player of the Game award is called "The Dirkie'' ... and one of the reasons you should go vote yourself!
Before you vote for someone besides Dirk, know this: Dirk's +42 is a career-best.
REV UP YOUR ENGINES: In recent days we've learned that Vince Carter celebrates a big dunk or particularly strong play by mimicking the motion of revving a motorcycle with dual throttles (does such a thing exist?) … against the Pistons, it was Dirk who walked away from an impressive third-quarter dunk revving with both arms.
Maybe it was nothing, but it could be the whisper of a growing chemistry between this Mavs roster as Dirk clearly paid homage to Carter. Throw on top of this the manner in which West and Shawn Marion seemed to take over the game for a span as a duo, and that whisper carries a little more volume.
This group remains in their infancy as a collective and we remain far from knowing what they will become or what they can achieve, but there's a certain degree of positivity you can take from such small signs … even if they do come against a team the caliber of these Pistons.
Growth is growth. Undoubtedly, there will be setbacks, but this wasn't a night for them. This was a night for the Mavs to rev.
VINSANITY: It seems almost every game now we're saying something complimentary of Carter, from his hustle to timely shots to his ability to create for others to the fact that he has said the right thing at every opportunity … and that won't change tonight.
Carter started hot, hitting three of his first four shots – all of them coming behind the 3-point arc – and would finish with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting, three rebounds, five assists and three steals in only 19 minutes.
When Vince is hitting his shots the offense can take a new form of deadly. He brings size, an ability to finish at the rim and drain 3-pointers. How long has it been since Dallas had a shooting guard with all of these characteristics? Was Michael Finley the last? Stack, maybe?
He won't be sending Jason Terry to the bench anytime soon, but he can add a dimension to this team. And we like the idea of VC doing what Van Exel and Stack did here before him: New guy, old veteran, new passion that other mates seem to feed into and feed off of.
Heck, Vince's relationships with boys in blue even extends to fans sitting on his bench, apparently.
Turns out, the "fans on the bench'' aren't exactly "on the bench.'' Still funny, though.
THE YI! NETWORK: Yi wore his No. 9 Mavs uniform for the first time against the Pistons, entering the game for the first time with 5:24 to play and Dallas up 91-66. He would grab one rebound and one personal foul during this time.
Given his pedigree, his stellar international play as of late and the manner in which he tore up the D-League (averaging 23 points and 12 rebounds in two games with the Legends), as well as the fact that he is the newest acquisition, there's been a lot of talk about Yi in the past few days.
Among some, there's even been discussion of him as a possible starter. While the talent is there, this is extremely optimistic thinking for a player that has never practiced with the team. For a more realistic view, you need only listen to the phrasing of Rick Carlisle when describing Jianlian. The keyword from Carlisle: "prospect.''
Reading between the lines and considering how coach has used this term in the past, it may be wiser to view Yi on the level of Brandan Wright, Dominique Jones and Sean Williams … for now. These guys are what we call "LIBBs'' -- Lightning In A Bottle Boys. This can change in an instant, and we have no intention of burying any excitement over his arrival, but want to afford him the same patience any other new addition would be granted.
The talent is there, we'll just have to wait to see more.
Having said that, DB.com is the place that first visited at length with Del Harris, who coached Yi in China, in Jersey and in Frisco with the Legends. So we might as well spill the Del beans here:
"If he had an entire training camp, I'd be even more hopeful,'' Legends coach Del Harris tells DB.com. "But I think he is going to have a long NBA career. I think he can be a rotation player on a good team. I think they (the Mavs) are looking at him as part of the three-man rotation at center.''
"Athletically, he fits,'' Del says. "He can run incredibly well for a man his size. He's got 3-point shooting range. I'm a believer. I'm a believer that with time and the right situation, he can help you. A big part of it is knowing that his team has confidence in him.''
"He's got skills that Haywood and Mahinmi don't have,'' Del says. "He can catch the ball well, and he can create. He's an offensive threat away from the basket. Now, he can't muscle in down low. So in that regard, his body is more like Dirk's. But he does some different things than the other guys, so I think he'll be part of the (center) mix, yes.''
THE PLAY OF THE GAME: In a game with a plethora of highlights for the Dallas Mavericks, one likely claims a more prominent spot in the minds of those who saw.
The game was already well in hand when Jason Terry dribbled to the left of the rim and tossed a pass high into the lane where it collected a slight bit of dew as it scraped the underside of the dark clouds that now seem to hang over this Pistons' team. Suddenly, rising to part those same clouds a shark-fin-like single left arm extended high as Brandan Wright plucked the ball from its flight to redirect it with increasing force through the rim with a thunderous slam.
There was a predictable factor here; you will recall our Advanced Scouting Report noting that the Pistons can't run the floor the way Dallas can. But also ... well, it was one of the prettiest alley-oops you'll ever see. One-handed, flying among a wealth of positive feelings for the Mavs, it will be hard to forget.
RODDY B, FREE: It's been interesting to see the shift in approach from the Mavs coaching staff, as well as Dirk, in regards to Roddy Beaubois. From endless platitudes and promises of being the team's future, after Saturday's win over the Hornets there came a first wave of what some would define as "tough love."
His decision-making was questioned at both ends of the floor, and the lapses that once seemed to be accepted as a part of the learning curve went unforgiven.
Whether the product of West having such a strong game or further indications of a less tolerant approach, Roddy played just 18 minutes on a night that felt destined to deliver him more. He totaled two points (1-of-5 FGs), three rebounds, three assists, two steals … and, some good news, zero turnovers.
His second season was washed away by injury on the court, but the time to observe and learn was not. Entering his third season in the system, though he continues to be refined within a position that does not come naturally to him, the time is now for Roddy B to begin to evolve beyond the flashes of brilliance crowing a mountain of potential to become a member of the core rotation.
We're not demanding stardom. We're not demanding he be, say, Jet. We're not demanding he be one of the best five players on this team. But, it's time he proves himself worthy of remaining in the rotation. At this point, that's all. Simply among the top 8-10 players … that is growth, and all we are asking to see … very soon.
As you probably know, we talk to Roddy a lot, at practice, away from the gym, whenever. We are fans of the kid. We want him to start handling the game of basketball the way it appears to us (in this exclusive DB.com video) he might be able to handle a soccer ball:
MAVSELLANEOUS: Dallas made its first eight shots of the game, not missing until Delonte West failed to finish a break-away dunk as the ball slipped from his hands on the way up … This was the Pistons' fourth game in five nights, but they've had a season of inept offensive play, ranking last in scoring offense … Will Bynum scored 20 points for Detroit. ... Dallas recorded 13 steals ... No Mav played more than the 28 minutes Dirk gave, a nice benefit from the blowout heading into Wednesday's tough matchup with the Celtics, who haven't played since last Friday. ... Despite the slow start, the Mavs are only a game behind SA for first in Southwest Division. ... Dirk at Boston? That's where he has averaged 27.8 ppg in his career. Only guys who've been better at Boston? Jordan at 32, Kareem at 30.7 and Wilt at 29.8. ... We're told the Mavs engaged in a "team meeting'' of sorts as part of the morning shootaround. We don't generally put much stock into such things -- unless they lead to lopsided victories. ... Need tickets for this weekend's games, any Mavs games, or any events? Check our MavCowTickets! They've served hundreds of DB.com readers with personal care and they'll do the same for you!
THE CENTER PLAY: Anticipating the future is part of the fun. As DB.com readers now know, there is a deeply detailed way for Dallas to eventually pursue Dwight Howard and Deron Williams and team them with Dirk. We've got it all here. But while we await more on "The 3D Blueprint,'' we are certainly enjoying watching an enthusiastic Haywood work his way into being an offensive semi-threat and "The Ianimal'' certainly doing the same. The pair combined for 19 points. Tyson's not forgotten. "The 3D Blueprint'' isn't, either. But while we mourn the departure of one and hope for the arrival of another, 19 points is surprisingly good production.
QUOTEBOARD: BJ Stahl combs the world for lcoker-room stuff:
Pain in Detroit ...
"Everyone wants a baby, but few people want to go through the pregnancy. This is going to be hard." -- Pistons first-year coach Lawrence Frank.
Ahh, that's better ...
"We've had some rough ones, but tonight was a good one all around. Everybody was contributing, helping each other." -Shawn Marion
We love this guy -- about Delonte West and his 10 assist, 5 steal night ...
"Delonte was the best player on the court tonight, because of his competitiveness. That's what we need right now. We need consistency as a team, competitively, and he set a great tone for us the last two games." -Coach Rick Carlisle
Regarding Dirk's 9-10 night; nice to have things back to normal ...
"We all had a feeling that he was going to play a great game tonight, just because of the way the schedule [was] these last couple of games." -Coach Rick Carlisle
"I just know to keep on working and getting my legs strong and get my body right. But I definitely had a good rhythm from the beginning." -Dirk Nowitzki
Plenty for everybody so pass it around; 28 assists on 38 makes ...
"That's what this team is predicated on, making plays for each other, and that kind of fits my mold. That's just how we are, a very unselfish team. You got to see a little bit of that tonight. When Jason's on the floor, he's one of the best at it, so that's what I wanted to bring." -Vince Carter
The Play of the Night -- Terry alley-oop for a Wright slam ...
"I just ran the floor. Every time I get in the game with Jet he always say, 'I'm going to look for you, man I'm going to look for you. You run the floor and I'm going to get it to you.' He just tossed it up and I just made a play on the ball. I was flying down the court. I didn't even see the replay myself. It was a good play. I'm glad he hit me, and it felt good." -Brandon Wright
More on The Process ...
"I really like how we approached the game. We had a long meeting and a long shoot around this morning, and obviously that's something we talked about -- how we've got to compete on a consistent basis. But really, at the start of the season it's not so much about who we're playing, it's more about us right now. About always playing hard, about competing on both ends of the floor. If we do that, we're very skilled, and we've got some older guys that know how to play. We've just got to compete a little harder on both ends of the floor, we've got to run harder on the break, and we've just got to get back on the break. I'm convinced it's more about us right now and how we approach and how we play. So I really like what we did tonight." -Dirk Nowitzki
"We would love to be 10-0 right now. It's a long season and you can't get too high or too low on wins and losses until the losses start to hurt you once you get in the playoffs." -Delonte West
Rebuilding -- it sucks ...
"As I've said, this process may be very painful. It doesn't get better just because you want it to get better. I hope we are all frustrated, because when you are, you have two options. The first is to work harder and understand what you want to do. The second choice isn't an option ... We're not losing just because we're playing quality teams. We're losing because we don't deserve to win." -Coach Lawrence Frank
Onward, ho! To Boston ...
"These are the ones you put on your schedule. It's like Miami, it's like the Lakers -- these big games. This is what you like as a professional." -Jason Terry
THE NBA HIGHLIGHT REEL
THE NUMBERS GAME: Calculate away ...
*Nowitzki is now 19 points short of 23,000. We like his chances of accomplishing the feat in Boston, where he is one of the Celtics' all-time greatest opposing scorers.
*The Mavs started the game with a 19-4 run, then started the second half with a 16-2 run
*Over the last seven games the Mavs have held opponents to a field-goal percentage of 42.5 while holding all below 100 points. Over that stretch they are 5-2.
*Dallas has held foes under 100 points seven straight times.
MAVS AT CELTICS AND FISH ON TV: We'll have Fish and Bob Ortegel as the studio analysts for the pre- and postgame MAVS LIVE shows on Fox Sports Southwest on both Wednesday (at Boston). The action begins at 6:30 with Fish, Coach O, Derek Harper, Dana Larson and Mark Followill ... join us on FSSW!
UNFURLING THE KNOTS: The Pistons are not a good team. Rather, they are a very bad team right now. Given this, what can we take from this Mavs victory? At the very least we can say Dallas did exactly what they're supposed to do. They beat a bad team and did so in convincing fashion.
This season will unfurl in odd knots, tangles and smooth stretches, but it will progress. From the Mavs, we can expect a stumble from time to time as they continue to learn to play with each other, and as they battle the rigors of age and a condensed schedule, but as long as we see signs of improvement we can keep some semblance of calm. Against the Pistons, there were signs of progress, of cohesiveness.
We won't put too much into it, but it's far better than the alternative.
THE FINAL WORD: "Momentum,'' Carlisle said, "has been elusive. But our goal is to build on this."
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