All-Access Donuts: Mavs 104, Warriors 94
DONUT 1: FOREWARD "The approach is to play well and win," Rick Carlisle said before the game.
While it may be debatable as to whether or not they truly played well for the majority of the night, the Dallas Mavericks did claim the 104-94 win over a seemingly random set of guys given Golden State Warriors before the game.
With little more than seeding-order on the line, Dallas did what they needed to in order to get a victory while keeping everyone but Delonte West under 30 minutes and finally pulled away in the fourth quarter for the easy win.
Under the circumstances, that's enough ... right?
That's Rick's pregame. Here's Carlisle's postgame presser:
"Our team is pretty battle-tested,'' Rick said. "Our guys know what this time of year is about. ... We're going to need every guy on the roster to play as good as we need to play."
DONUT 2: PLAYOFF SEEDING Of the team's with a direct impact on the Mavs seeding, only the Memphis Grizzlies were in action. Via their five-point win over the Charlotte Bobcats, Memphis eliminated the Mavs from contention for the fifth seed. And, thanks to their 10-point win over the Warriors, Dallas removed the possibility of finishing with the eighth seed.
It's down to six or seven ... and most likely a first-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder (the current second seed) or the Los Angeles Lakers (the current third seed), though the Clippers are still within range to knock the Lakers down to the fourth spot, as the Spurs crushed the Lakers, giving 24 losses -- the same number as the Clippers.
Again, we're forced to ask the question: rest or momentum?
Carlisle settled somewhere in the middle against Golden State, playing everyone but keeping their minutes very reasonable; chasing the win, but keeping a mindful eye on minutes and pursuing rest simultaneously.
Meanwhile, Dirk has his plans and thoughts.
I'll probably take one day completely off," said The UberMan, who played 27 minutes here. "I'll probably spend the other three in the gym working the jump shot and getting ready for the playoffs."
That readiness will be aided by mentor Holger Geschwindner, who is prepping for the playoffs, too, we're sure, having packed his one good brown-plaid flannel shirt for the workouts.
In other words -- Dirk's words -- "no lollygagging.'' Nowitzki's Video Visit:
DONUT 3: WRIGHT! ARE WE RIGHT? Brandon Wright played 10:25 in the first half, leading the team in scoring at the time with 13 points by hitting all six of the shots he had taken while also grabbing five rebounds. He had made a clear impact on the game.
Oddly, he would not play in the third quarter and not check back in until 6:53 remained in the fourth ... and picked up where he had left off.
Wright finished with a season-high 17 points, hitting 8-of-9 field-goal attempts to go with seven rebounds and a block.
There are a few lines of reasoning that may have played into his somewhat limited minutes despite his offensive excellence. First, of players to be on the court for at least 10 minutes, he was one of only two Mavs not to post a positive plus/minus (-4) ... implying Golden State matched his offensive contributions with that of their own, though it seems unlikely this was a direct result of Wright's defensive input.
In light of that, perhaps Carlisle saw something and took the opportunity to use this game as a teaching lesson for Wright ... using minutes as the carrot ... or it was nothing more than letting Ian Mahinmi, who was having a strong game, stay on the court.
Or, it was based purely on match-ups.
Another possibility, and this comes as much from some of the lineups we saw on the court (note that Kelenna Azubuike say his first action since 2009 in an NBA game, playing six minutes) as it does from the "feel" of the game, but it often felt like an opportunity to practice against a live opponent was being embraced ... specific mixes or plans of attack were being tested out with slightly more freedom than in a standard game.
In that construct, perhaps Wright's minutes weren't precisely tied to his performance, but to a bigger picture Carlisle was attempting to take in.
DONUT 4: VINCE ONCE MORE REVVING IT UP When the game threatened to lull into a dangerous area in the fourth quarter, after Golden State had continued to claw their way back after each lead Dallas had built, it was Vince Carter who turned it up a notch and helped put the game away.
It may not match the 21 Dirk had in the final period against Houston, but Carter scored 13 of his 19 points in the fourth by hitting four of his five shot attempts and earning four turns at the charity stripe, not to mention adding four rebounds, two assists and a steal ... again, all in the fourth quarter.
Carter began the night slowly, going 0-of-3 in the first half for zero points, found his footing in the third period and reached for an extra gear in the fourth ... sound familiar? It should. It's almost the precise pattern Dirk unfurled against Houston Wednesday night.
Carter finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block ... and four turnovers ... he also finished with his second highest number of free-throw attempts this season (8). Is it too far fetched to dream that he's raising his level of aggression as the playoffs arrive?
We get the Video Visit with Vinsanity:
DONUT 5: WHAT'S FRENCH FOR "NOT GOOD"? Before the game Carlisle noted that Rodrigue Beaubois should get a lot of burn over the final three games, and that Carlisle was particularly interested to see how Roddy would perform against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Carlisle noted that they wanted to see "more of the same, of the good things (Roddy's) done" in order to cement his place in the playoff rotation. If this game becomes the measuring stick, Roddy may not see a lot of action in the postseason. The numbers: 0 points, 0-of-4 field goals (with three of those shots qualifying as what we'd label as being of "poor" selection), three rebounds, two assists and one steal. Roddy was not aggressive to the rim, though he did make a couple of nice passes based on his penetration, and lacked a real defensive presence. On the positive side, he also didn't have a turnover ... on a night when the Mavs had 18 as a team, that's a good thing.
DONUT 6: WHAT'S FRENCH FOR "GOOD"? Ian Mahinmi received the bulk of the minutes at center and played well. In 20:42 he totaled nine points, nine rebouds, two steals and a block.
Mahinmi also made himself available by cutting into space in the interior, either finishing or earning trips to the free-throw line, looking more assertive than he has at times recently ... a pleasant sight, and a reminder of his strong start to the season.
"(The backup centers) had good energy, both guys," Carlisle said. "I thought Haywood played well, too. It's a good example of a game where we need all three centers; they all fill a specific role. Three different kind of body types, three different kind of games, and we needed all three guys tonight."
DONUT 7: BUIKE'S DEBUT Kelenna Azubuike played in his first game in the NBA since November 2009. Azubuike, recovering from a series of knee problems, missed two good looks, both of his shots rimming out, and finishing 0-2 in six minutes.
"I was nervous,'' Buike said. "I'm just thankful to the Lord that I even got back to this point."
DONUT 8: PLAYER OF THE GAME IN THE AAC Delonte West once more got the start at shooting guard ... and once more, he played very well.
The numbers: 16 points, three rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block.
"I really like the way West played tonight," Carlisle said. "Defensively, he was a big factor, made key plays, key baskets; they made runs at us and he was involved in a lot of the play that kind of stem the tide."
West has continued to show a very real ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense for himself or others. Match that with his defensive skills and you may have another reason Roddy Beaubois could become scarce in a constricted playoff rotation.
Delonte's Video Visit:
DONUT 9: MAVELLANEOUS Dallas had their biggest rebounding advantage of the season, out-rebounding Golden State by 17 (52-to-35) ... Shawn Marion joined Ian Mahinmi (9 points, 9 rebounds), Wright (17 points, 7 rebounds) and Vince Carter (19 points, 9 rebounds) in the "Almost Double-Double Club" for this game. The Matrix finished with 14 points and eight rebounds ... When Vince Carter made his first 3-pointer he became only the 18th NBA player with 1,500 made 3-pointers in their career ... Dallas had their best second-chance point differential since January 30th, outscoring the Warriors 16-2 in second-chance points. It is their third best differential in this category this season ... The Mavs missed their first 14 3-pointers of the game, before West closed the 3rd quarter by hitting one, which came as the product of Marion's hustle and a fortuitous bounce that led the ball to West's hands where he stood wide open in the corner.
DONUT 10: ANOTHER SLOGAN? During the game the Mavs played an inspirational video for the crowd, sporting the slogan "Are You In?" - coincidence or not, the same thing Cuban said to Lamar Odom in their final altercation in Memphis ... when LO wasn't all in.
DONUT 11: LIKE A KIDD AGAIN Carlisle doesn't plan for Jason Kidd to play Saturday night in Chicago. It's a chance to rest the 39-year-old guard, and again, we're back to "rest vs. rust.'' Less so in Kidd's case, though, as he knows his body like no other and says he feels just as fresh as he did a year ago at this time. And you know how that worked out.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD It's hard to take too much from this final regular-season home game. A playoff berth is clinched and all that remains to be seen is the seeding and the resulting matchups. We can debate the benefits of rest versus momentum all we want, and we wouldn't be surprised to see Carlisle pull a guy or two complete from one or both of the remaining games, but as long as health is retained there's little to get upset with.
Somewhere inside of these Mavs, though, maybe there is some of Delonte's hot sauce. Just as was the case in last year's title run, it can't just be all Dirk and Kidd and Jet ...
"You're going to have to drag me off the floor before I sit down," said Delonte.
See? No lollygagging.