'Are You In Or Are You Out?' Mavs Donuts
DONUT 1: ARE YOU IN OR ARE YOU OUT? ...
Attempting to calculate which Lamar Odom misdeed constitutes the final straw of his four-month experience with the Dallas Mavericks is like trying to state definitively which drop started a rainstorm. Was it one of many incidents of on-court loafing? Was it Friday before the Portland loss, when as DB.com first reported, Odom strolled into the gym late despite the fact that he lives across the street from the American Airlines Center at the W Hotel? Was it a verbal confrontation with teammate Dirk Nowitzki after Saturday's loss at Memphis?
Or was it an exchange with owner Mark Cuban at halftime of that game – what turned out to be Odom's final contest before being put on Dallas' permanent "inactive'' list for the rest of the season – that served as the tipping point?
Before we dig into the handling of the Kings and beyond, let's put the raindrops behind us.
"Well, yeah," said Cuban on Tuesday before his Odom-less team took on the Sacramento Kings. "Just his response to (Cuban's question about his readiness). Everybody goes through ups and downs. Every player does. We tried to put him in a position to succeed. You guys saw it, saw what we did. It didn't work.''
The specific exchange between an emotional Cuban and a lethargic Odom:
Cuban: "Do you want to go for it or not? Are you in or are you out?''
Odom: "Stop playing games.''
Cuban: "I guess that means you're out.''
Odom was slow to get from the locker room to the bench to begin the second half in Memphis and after the game, a source told DallasBasketball.com early Tuesday, was verbally confronted by team leader and MVP Nowitzki. Cuban says no Mavs player approached him asking for Odom's dismissal, but that sounds like an owner taking bullets for his players -- just as so many of the Mavs have so frequently taken bullets for Odom, a practice that ended late in the night in Memphis when Nowitzki was asked an Odom-related question and replied with exasperation.
"I'm done talking about that,'' Nowitzki said. So it is left to Cuban to explain what at the time seemed like a no-brainer, a cheap acquisition of a secondary star destined to be bought out in the summer of 2012 for cap room that would aid Dallas in its pursuit of Deron Williams.
"In any deal, sometimes you're on the right end, sometimes, you're on the wrong end,'' said Cuban, stubbornly insisting he'd make the same trade again.
And then the owner essentially shared the blame with the deposed Odom.
"It's my team. It's my responsibility,'' he said, adding, "It's not that (Odom) can't play. He just has to choose to.''
And obviously, he chose not to.
Odom, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year acquired for a draft pick from the Lakers during training camp, is statistically half the player he's usually been. He's averaging career-lows in points (6.6), rebounds (4.2), assists (1.7), shooting percentage (35.2) and minutes (20.5) this season.
That Saturday game at Memphis was an important one in Dallas' chance for the playoffs, Cuban noted, "And he wasn't connecting to that. And if you're not positive energy, you're negative energy.''
DONUT 2: WHAT'S NEW? ...
Risen from the ashes of a bridge left crumbled and burnt, comes the After-Odom portion of the 2011-12 season. Perhaps there were a few extra smiles during pregame warmups, a slightly lighter tone to Rick Carlisle's press conference that he opened appropriately enough with a quick, "What's new?", and a team ready to "move on" from the drama that seemed to emanate primarily from one player.
It may have taken a moment to get the engine beyond idle, as the Mavs fell behind early by seven points, but it's hard to deny something seemed different. It wasn't an absence, but a presence. Despite a wealth of turnovers that often seemed to keep the Sacramento Kings in the game, there was an improved ball movement and a deity bearing some resemblance to the spirit of a team as the Mavs claimed a much-needed victory by the final of 110-100.
DONUT 3: MUCH-NEEDED VICTORY? ...
Yes, against the now 18-39 Kings in April, this had become a "needed" win. Only two teams from the Western Conference took part in a game Tuesday night, and both were in Dallas. With a loss, the Mavs would have slipped to the eighth seed and matched the ninth (Phoenix Suns) in losses ... setting their already delicate playoff hopes in an extremely precarious position.
With the win, Dallas (32-26) maintains the thin grip on the seventh seed, moving a half-game up on Denver (31-26) and a half-game behind the sixth-seeded Houston Rockets (32-25).
This is no time to be doing cartwheels at the precipice ... to be dancing at the lip of the abyss.
Considering the recent difficulties in claiming the wins they are "supposed" to, the much publicized part with Lamar Odom on Monday, and the fact that Dallas now heads on the road for a four-games-in-five-nights stretch, this was a win that had become essential ... and a win they, as a complete team, made sure they got.
DONUT 4: THE RETURN OF KIDD:...
We'll begin with the simple numbers for Jason Kidd in 22:19 of action (pegged squarely at the pregame stated goal for his minutes by Carlisle, in the "low 20's"): seven points, 2-of-5 field goals, 1-of-2 3-pointers, seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks, one steal and four turnovers.
Kidd did not lack for energy as he moved freely over the court and showed no signs of the hamstring issue that had sidelined him for the last four games. What rust he may have shown did not appear to be physical, but rather came in a couple of misread anticipatory passes to teammates, tossing the ball where they were headed instead of where they ended up. These doesn't worry us too much.
"I thought, for a guy that's been out for 10 days, it's remarkable how he comes back and plays," Carlisle said, "almost always plays well the first game back and has a real impact. It's a sight for sore eyes to see him out there and see him moving well, not be in pain."
Outside of those turnovers, Kidd spread his impact across the boxscore as he totaled at least 7 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds for only the third time this season ... but did so in less than 30 minutes for the first time ... and added his season high of two blocks, one of which came when he met Donte Greene at the rim to turn him away.
Kidd appeared rested, spry and ready to be ... Kidd.
"He's amazing," Shawn Marion said, "and he just needs to be Kidd on the court and help us win ballgames."
And, that's he did.
DONUT 5: DPOY AND MORE ...
For the first time this season, Shawn Marion posted a double-double in consecutive games as he finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds -- including an impressive eight offensive boards.
With Odom gone, Marion also drew the first assignment as the backup power forward.
He was also one of the four starters to play less than 23 minutes, as Carlisle expertly spread the minutes around, handing out at least 16 minutes to nine players, including four from the bench ... of those nine, six scored in double digits.
Matrix did his part, but there was a team of support around him ... proving more than enough to make up for Dirk Nowitkzi's poor shooting night.
DONUT 6: MR. BUBBLES ...
Roddy Beaubois led the Mavs with 15 points to go with five rebounds and two assists ... and zero turnovers.
Roddy was once more assertive in his efforts to penetrate, doing so without losing control and while holding his focus at the defensive end of the floor (for the most part). We'll continue to say it as long as it continues to be true: when Roddy is under control while consistently being aggressive as he uses his natural abilities to break down the defense, he is a different player, a dangerous player.
His athleticism, while no longer unique on this roster (thanks to Brandan Wright) still adds a dimension that must be accounted for by the opposing defense. The stats say he was 5-of-13 on his shot attempts, but several of those misses came on layups he'll make far more often than not. This version of Roddy B may not only be a treat, but a necessity as this team fights to reach their year-long stated goal of just making the playoffs.
DONUT 7: MAVSELLANEOUS ...
Dallas is now 6-4 when Shawn Marion has a double-double ... Part of the reason Yi saw minutes was the foul issue that continues to plague Ian Mahinmi, who had four fouls in only 8:14 ... This was the Mavs 16th straight home victory over the Kings ... The Dallas bench outscored their Sacramento counterpart 54-23 ... Dallas dominated on the glass, out-rebounding the Kings 56-40, their largest rebounding advantage over an opponent this season. ... The Race To The West Playoffs … updated daily to keep y'all posted on where the Mavs stand! ... Vince Carter had a nice line of 7 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks and 1 steal; but most will likely remember his powerful dunk late in the third quarter:
Or maybe they'll also remember Vince's Finger-Roll to Nowhere:
DONUT 8: FOLLOW THE MAVS TWITTERVERSE ...
DONUT 9: MEETING MR. WRIGHT ...
Depending on the redistribution of Odom's minutes, the two guys that may stand to gain the most are Roddy Beaubois and Brandan Wright. If Marion starts to pick up a considerable share of the backup power forward minutes with Vince Carter handling a bit more small forward, that likely leaves a window for Roddy to see the court.
The other option Carlisle will have is to directly hand a good chunk of Odom's power-forward minutes to Brandan Wright, though Brian Cardinal and Yi Jianlian may also be options.
Tuesday night, Wright played almost 28 minutes and finished with nine points, four rebounds, two steals, two blocks, one assist and two turnovers ... for a solid all-around performance. We wouldn't be upset to see a few more rebounds, but love the energy and athleticism he is sure to bring.
Meanwhile, the other backup 4, Yi Jianlian, played a total of 8:31, scored eight points hitting 4-of-5 shots and grabbed a pair of rebounds.
Out of the 50 games he played for the Mavs, Lamar Odom had at least 8 points and 2 rebounds exactly 15 times, never doing so in less than 18 minutes. The home crowd may love to cheer for Yi, but there's a reason their reaction to him is the antithesis to what it became for Odom.
"(Yi's) in the mix," Carlisle said before Tuesday's game. "I like the way he prepares himself everyday."
A sentiment that is so simple, yet so important.
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DONUT 11: WEST'S PULL-UP ...
Delonte West got the start on shooting guard beside Jason Kidd, moving Vince Carter to the bench. We've not been shy about our preference for either West or Roddy (a smaller, quicker guard) to start beside Kidd. They are able to defend the opposing point guard, allowing Kidd to take the shooting guard, and generally contribute to a more directly fitting matchup.
West finished with 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting, two steals, one rebound and one assist ... including tying Dirk for a team-high seven points in the fourth quarter. Two of those points came when West drove and dunked the ball hard with 3:07 to play in the game, putting the Mavs up 101-91, and hanging on the rim momentarily ... meaning, his injured finger was wrapped around a slender metal rod while being forced to share the weight of his body dangling beneath.
"When he went and dunked the ball and did a chin-up on the rim," Carlisle said, "if you have a broken hand, it's going to hurt. But look, the only way he knows how to go is all out. That's who he is ... I made the observation and then (Jason Terry) immediately said, 'That's the only way (West) knows how to play.' - and he's right."
This is how you want to hear a player described. In fact, we know first-hand how much Delonte likes being described that way. The other day, after we tweeted that Dirk said Delonte has "stones,'' the first follower to retweet the quote was ... a proud Delonte himself.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
Lamar Odom is gone, a Maverick by technical standards alone. He's gone, and taken with him are any excuses he provided, and doubts he carried and any frustrations he may have delivered. All that's left ... is the Dallas Mavericks as they are and as they will be for the duration of this season.
While we may have noticed a lighter demeanor from different corners of the Mavs space, only the outcome is of consequence. Without the necessary wins, the season will come to a close with a whimper.
"This is the first time we've had this compliment of players healthy, I think," Carlisle said. "It's a beginning. We don't have a lot of time to be experimenting and this and that. We hit the floor. Every second counts from here on out, and we know that."