All-Access: Dirk & Defense Down Sixers
FOREWARD: We mean no disrespect to Jeremy Lin or to LeBron James (and maybe only a little to Sarah Palin and that musical kitten). They are men who've become athletes who've become freak shows. Dallas famously dispensed with one of them so efficiently last spring that it's caused even his hairline to consider whether it wants to continue being a part of Team LeBron.
And Lin? The Dallas Mavericks get their shot at their former Summer League prospect on Sunday in New York in a nationally televised noon start.
And maybe Dallas' defense will produce some new puns for the national wags to chew on.
Why not "Lineffective''? Or "Linnocuous''? "Linvisible''? "Linconsequential''? Or "You Can't Lin 'Em All''?
We'll see. But for now, while people outside of Dallas still don't quite get it ... we hope you do. What we all witnessed on Friday in Philadelphia was a classic Mavericks victory ... one that national viewers may have turned away from when the Mavs were down 15 early.
The Mavs, though, have a way from "looking old'' one minute and then "looking experienced'' the next.
"Tonight was all about grit and guts and 13 guys being together and getting the job done," Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said.
They did that, and so much more, in this sixth straight win, an 82-75 decision over a 20-win Philly team ... a decision that makes Dallas a 20-game winner already, too.
Dirk Nowitzki and Dallas Defense. That's the show.
NOT MARION'S NIGHT? LOOK AGAIN!: Oh, he missed the breakaway dunk and some other bunnies and Shawn Marion ended up clanking 10 of 13 shots.
But Dirk eventually handled enough of the scoring. And 'Trix handled the one thing that doesn't go away: His defense on all comers.
Marion's become not just a stopper, but a PG stopper, too. This night's victim? Philadelphia's Jrue Holliday, who scored three points on 0-of-9 shooting while producing just two assists.
That's what Trix did to Denver's Ty Lawson on Wednesday when Lawson had three points on 1-of-8 shooting and two assists. It's reminiscent of what Trix did to Minnesota's Ricky Rubio and the Clippers' Chris Paul before that.
The fact that Trix has never made an All-Defense team is a joke, and we've never really seen it mentioned before DB.com made an issue of it this week. Good. Steal the angle. Trix deserves the attention.
And he deserves an appearance on that post-season honors team.
One more thing: Just for saying "Who? Lin?'' in this Video Visit, Trix oughta be on the All-Interview team, too:
WHAT DIRK DID: Dirk scored 28 points. We could end it there, because that would be enough, on the surface.
But what Nowitzki really did was score 24 points after halftime. Why is that number significant? Because it matched Philadelphia's total for the half. Dirk was in the middle of a mid-game 19-2 Dallas run that erased a 15-point hole that, at the time, must've had the country running off to watch those YouTube cats or whatever.
The 28 points and the 12 rebounds? "At this point, this is not a shock,'' said coach Ric Carlisle, as dryly as eight words can be said.
Well, don't tell that to Philly. They came in at 20-10 and they don't lose at home and under Doug Collins, they are a disciplined bunch. But ...
"We had a look on our faces of concern, and we have to do a better job of getting out of those funks like that," Sixers forward Andre Iguodala said. "It kind of lingered with us. It's a learning experience."
Yes, yes, those faces. They looked ... well, shocked.
Meanwhile, The UberMan was getting himself fixed, leaving Charles Barkley and Father Time and all the other critics ... well, shocked.
"I had a couple go in, and we all know when a shooter sees a couple go in, the confidence goes up," Nowitzki said. "I knew in the second half I was going to come out and keep firing. I'm glad they went in."
And let me tell you about Dirk's confidence and when I noticed it was back. It was in the third, and Dallas still trailed, but Nowitzki hit a 3 and the Sixers needed a timeout and Dirk tossed his two German-three-fingers into the air -- add 'em up and they are six-shooters -- and then he pantomimed tucking the two pistons into his imaginary holsters.
And in the stands, Holger watched the whole thing and almost smiled. Holger and holsters and no, we guess nobody should really be shocked.
DELONTE'S DEAL: The official word from the Mavs on Delonte's surgery Friday? "There is no timetable for his return,'' announced the PR staff.
Said Dallas coach Rick Carlisle before the game in Philly: "The surgery went well and he'll be out a number of weeks. We're not exactly sure how long, but in the meantime we're going to have to scramble a little bit.''
Respectfully ... we're DallasBasketball.com. And those answers do not satisfy. So we turn to Athletic Trainer Jeff Stotts of the DB.com staff for guidance. Is there a track record, a history, to consider when thinking about the return of West, who in his first year with Dallas has averaged 8.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 22.7 minutes per game in 29 games (20 starts)?
Based on Vince Carter's reaction alone during the Wednesday win over Denver, Mavs fans who watched know Delonte West's finger injury was a nasty one. Since the injury occurred we have learned West suffered what we call an "open dislocation'' and fracture of his right ring finger. It ultimately required surgery. Pins were inserted to stabilize the fracture and a follow-up procedure will be required to remove the hardware.
The question now is just how long will West be out?
Let's start with the good news. From the pictures we've seen it looks like the break occurred in one of the phalanx bones, not the more troublesome metacarpals of the hand. (Think Manu Ginobili this year or Jason Terry in 2009). Another positive that can be taken is the break occurred on the right hand of a lefty guard. When he is able to return he won't be forced to make huge adjustments to his shooting stroke. He can instead focus on maintaining his conditioning as well as rehab specific to his injury.
Unfortunately the injury remains a significant one. Mavericks head Athletic Trainer Casey Smith dealt with a similar injury in 2010 when Erick Dampier suffered an open dislocation of his right middle finger. Surgery was performed and Damp missed 11 games over a three-week stretch.
From what we gather, West's injury appears to be a bit more severe than that, meaning there's a small chance he could be back in three-to-four weeks but we should not be shocked if his recovery window falls in the four-to-six range.
THE NBA HIGHLIGHT REEL: Don't turn it off when they're down 15, OK?
THOSE GOALS: The Mavs want to keep you under 100 while holding you to 42-percent shooting. Done and done.
Philly scored 75 points and managed just an eight-point third quarter. Count the Denver game -- those Nuggets are the NBA's top-scoring team -- and in the last two outings the Mavs have permitted a total of 23 third-quarter points and 57 second-half points. Four quarters allowing 57 points?!
"The story of the game was our defense," Carlisle said. "We only allowed 24 points in the second half, which is a phenomenal job defensively. They missed some shots, but our guys were into it. Right now, that's our identity as a team. We're a defense-first team."
MAVSELLANEOUS: The Sixers missed 13 of 14 attempts from 3-point range. ... Did you want DoJo to simply hold his own when in for Jason Kidd? Kidd was a +28. DoJo was a -21. That's a seven-point difference and Dallas won by seven, so? He held his own ... Dallas did this without Jet (personal reasons) and without Roddy B (absent due to the death of his father and without Delonte, too. "We took advantage of our depth and our experience," Dallas owner Mark Cuban said, but really, it was about something different than that: It was about winning despite a lack of depth. There was no depth. And Dallas won anyway, against a Philly team with the NBA's most productive bench. ... Yes, we noticed Dirk shoving Lamar during a fastbreak chance, trying to get Odom up and into offensive position. That's leadership! ... We know that Philly doesn't have a go-to star. But the final scoring numbers -- rookie Nikola Vucevic scored a career-high 16 points to lead the Sixers -- make them look sort of anemic. ... In addition to the Mavs Video Visits you see here, we'll have Vince and Rick in the Morning Donuts. Also, we'll be at Madison Square Garden for more of the same on Sunday!
JASON KIDD 'JUST TRYING TO HOLD ON': Kidd goes all modest in this Video Visit from the locker room in Philly:
ENTER THE DOJO: How'd Dominique Jones do?
"Dominique Jones filling in did a terrific job, all things considered,'' Rick said.
The offensive numbers are there: Jones scored 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting and had two rebounds. No, he didn't have an assist and he did commit five turnovers. But he still fights his way to the hole and he does look like a legit NBA rotation-level player. And oh yes, he looks like a PG, too.
What does DoJo have to be for the next few weeks? A candidate to take some of Delonte's minutes. A guy to hold down the fort. A player who deserves to be in the rotation. That would be enough.
THE FINAL WORD: After the game in Philadelphia, the Mavericks traveling party loaded itself onto a charter train and made the 90-minute trek to New York City. There was pizza, and bonding, and almost certainly talk of Lin and the Knicks.
We bet, too, though, that there was reflection on some special things accomplished in Philly. Things that are too frequently taken for granted by some.
Things like Dirk.
Things like Defense.