Mavs Over Wiz & Dirk's 'Great Ride'

After passing Jerry West, Dirk finds himself in a reflective, big-picture mood. 'It has been a great ride,' he said following the momentous night and the win over the Wiz. 'This is my 16th season and hopefully I can pass a couple more guys and win a couple more games and hopefully help this franchise make the playoffs.' We take you into Dirk's locker room with your All-Access Pass:



Thoughtful pregame ...

The Mavs are busy right about now not only with challenging opponents but also with historic names. Before the Tuesday tip, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle mentioned a couple of those names in classifying Dirk Nowitzki as a mid-range weapon.

"Him, Bird, Jordan,'' said Carlisle, noting of Nowitzki's legendary efforts in the practice gym: "It's religion for him.''

Carlisle's thoughtful pregame presser:



It's "basketball religion'' for us, too as we present Your All-Access Pass ...

Mavs 105, Wiz 95 ...

It was a historical night in some respects, a nice continuation of what we've already begun to grow accustomed to in this young season in others. The Great One further cemented his place of prominence in the halls of basketball mythology, while the New One's, at least in Dallas, helped to ensure Dirk Nowitzki's "massive achievement" came in a win.

The Washington Wizards kept hanging around, creeping back each time the Dallas Mavericks pushed their lead to 12 or 15, as they did in the third quarter. Behind 10 from Dirk in the third quarter (including taking one more step up the ladder of the immortals) and 10 from Monta Ellis in the fourth, the Mavs start the season 4-0 at home for the first time since 2007-08 with a 105-95 victory Tuesday night.

The Greatest Dallas has ever Known …

With 1:38 to play in the third quarter Dirk rose behind the arc and pushed the Mavs lead to nine. The next trip down the court, Gal Mekel drew the defense and kicked back to Dirk, once more lurking from deep he drained 3-pointer number 1,353 (eight from taking the 25th spot on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers made from Dan Majerle) with 59.9 seconds to play in the period.
Smile
The Mavs were up 12 and Dirk had moved passed Jerry "The Logo" West and into the 16th spot on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

"Jerry is the man, he is the logo and that says it all,'' said Dirk. It has been a great ride, this is my 16th season and hopefully I can pass a couple of more guys and win a couple more games and hopefully help this franchise make the playoffs. "

There's some global perspective. Here's some game-specific stuff: Dirk finished with 19 points, 8-of-19 field goals, 2-of-5 3-pointers, eight rebounds (tying his season high), two assists, two steals and one block. He ended the game with 25,197 points … or 83 from surpassing Reggie Miller for the 15th spot.

And here's the Video Visit with Dirk in the locker room:



We're witness to a player to be relegated to legend far too soon, a man already granted pass to roam the realm of the basketball immortals. Every step is now a journey into increasingly rare air. Take a moment to appreciate these fleeting gifts, for as massive as they are they cannot continue to unfurl forever.

Take joy from the greatest the Mavs have ever known, from one of the greatest basketball has ever seen: Dirk Nowitzki.

And take a look at Dirk's work:



MontaBall …

With 8:38 to play in the fourth quarter, the Wizards cut the Mavs once significant lead down to five. Dallas was stagnant on offense and looking for a spark of any kind to keep a game they had flirted with running away with from getting away from them.

Dirk headed to the bench for a short rest and Ellis stepped up.

Sure, in this instance, Ellis got hot with a handful of "no … no … no … YES" shot attempts -- jumpshots outside of the paint, including one only a step inside the arc with Trevor Ariza guarding him -- but they were falling.

In the final 8:30, Ellis scored 10 points, hitting 4-of-6 shots and ending any lingering doubts over the outcome of the game.

When Dirk checked back in with 4:20 the Mavs were up 12 and the lead would never again shrink below eight.

Ellis finished with 19 points, 7-of-16 shooting, seven assists, four rebounds and four turnovers.

Smile

"Huge, huge,'' Rick said of Monta's explosion. "We were struggling during that point in time. We were in the bonus, so we wanted to get the ball in his hands. He made four or five consecutive shots or drives that gave us momentum and helped us get stops defensively."

The Center Duo …

In the first quarter, it seemed we were on the verge of watching Samuel Dalembert taking over the game. He scored 11 points, hitting all four of his shot attempts, in just over seven minutes of action … as Washington burst from the gate, hitting 12-of-18 (66.7 percent) in the quarter, it was Dalembert that helped keep the score manageable as Dallas found their footing, using a 7-0 run on single offensive possession (we'll give a little more detail on that below) causing a six-point lead for the Wizards to morph into a one-point deficit without Washington's offense ever touching the ball.

He would not maintain that scoring rate, but would add a couple of big plays late, including an offensive rebound and a pair of free throws, to help seal the victory.

Dalembert finished with 15 points, 5-of-7 field goals, five rebounds and two steals in almost 23 minutes.

Dirk on Dalembert's performance: "We need his length and athleticism. We need some basket protection and rebounding. And offensively he needs to catch the ball, take his time and finish. If it isn't there he needs to pass the ball back out to the shooters and run another play, keep some possessions alive, and get some offense rebounds.

Smile

"I think ever since he was called out by coach that first game he has been phenomenal. He is adjusting to his role and has done everything we asked him to do and he has been fun to play with because he is active and he wants to win."

The other half of the Mavs center duo, DeJuan Blair, continued his strong play, with nine points and 11 rebounds, including four offensive boards.

Once more, Blair entered like a bowling bowl through tall grass and seemed to almost instantly get under Nene's skin, helping to change the feel of the game … Nene had eight points in the first quarter, six for the rest of the night.

While his size may limit his defensive impact in some matchups, it's impossible to deny the effort and near relentlessness on the offensive glass Blair drags to the court with him. He only has one double-double this season, but has missed having three others by two rebounds, three points and one point.

Quoteboard ...

"It's a monumental achievement to pass a player like that. He's going to pass more big names in the weeks and months to come. This has been a fantastic career that Dirk has had. We're going to do everything possible to extend it as long as possible." - Carlisle on The Uberman.

The Jose J ...

There's something extremely fun to watch in Jose Calderon's jumper … like watching a perfectly delivered "How To" manual brought to life. It makes you wonder how he's averaged "only" 10.1 points for his career … which also happened to be his precise scoring average with Dallas entering Tuesday night's game.

Calderon finished with 11 points and four assists. Since that 1-of-15 start through the first two games, he's hit 25-of-50 shots (50 percent) … since going 1-of-8 behind the arc, he's 20-of-35 (57.1 percent).

Who deserves "The Dirkie''? ...

A number of fine performances here. But we think we know who you will cast your vote for regarding "The Dirkie.''

Mavsellaneous …

*In the first half, Vince Carter had 11 points … matching the total of the entire Wizards bench.

For the game, Washington's bench scored 19. The Mavs' bench scored 33, 16 of those coming from Carter, who also added four assists.

The Dallas bench has outscored opponents in five of eight games. They are 3-2 in those games.

*The Mavs did a fair job of limiting the scoring of the young Wizards' guards: John Wall (14 points, 10 assists) and Bradley Beal (nine points, 2-of-10 field goals, seven assists) … though they could not keep Washington from running.

Dallas gave up a season-high 28 fastbreak points, countering with a season-low five … obviously resulting in a season-worst differential of minus-23 fastbreak points.

The Mavs entered the game allowing 19 fastbreak points per game, ranking 29th in the league.

*We should note the black sleeve on Dirk's left knee. The right knee is the one he had work done last year and he says this is no big deal. For now, hopefully, we'll view it not as an ominous sign, but rather just precaution after a stretch of four games in five nights.

*For only the second time this season, Dallas posted more second-chance points than their opponent: 17-to-9.

This was one off the season high for second-chance points from the Mavs … and sets a season low by an opponent, resulting in a season-best differential of plus-8.

It's only happened the two times, but Dallas has not lost when scoring more second-chance points than their opponent (Memphis and Washington).

The Matrix speaks ...



Now, what is that we're wearing, 'Trix? A head-to-toe white fishnet stocking?

That was fun …

With 2:58 to play in the first quarter, the Wizards were up six and riding a hot offensive start.

Jae Crowder passed up a jumper and went hard to the rim, using his considerable bulk to crash into Kevin Seraphin, making the 7-foot shot off the glass and drawing the foul. He would miss the free throw … Blair slapped the board away from Washington … a moment later, Blair had the ball again and hit a 5-foot turnaround as Seraphin again delivered the foul … Blair would miss the free throw.

Vince Carter would end up with the rebound, and would end up draining a 3-pointer.

Without Washington's red-hot offense ever touching the ball, the Mavs turned a six-point deficit into a one-point lead.

And, that's how the momentum of a game can shift … how a loss can begin to become a win, even in the first quarter.

Carlisle postgame ...



The Final Word ...
Smile
After game eight a season ago, the Mavs were riding a three-game losing streak and the early optimism over an offense that averaged 108.4 points in the first five was already beginning to erode after averaging 91 during the losing streak. In eight contests, they were getting almost doubled up on the offensive glass (15.3 to 8.4) and getting out-boarded by 5.1 per game. There were hints at the cracks that would ultimately fracture the playoff hopes of that roster.

This season, the offense has shown there may be hope for sustainability. They are managing to hold their own on the glass, having a positive rebounding margin (by a fraction of a rebound per game in both total and offensive rebounds), though it may be hard to argue they've controlled the boards in timely moments. The issue of the defense is undeniable.

This isn't to throw too much praise, or hide the obvious warts, only to say that there seems to be a stronger whiff of hope lingering around this roster than we knew a season ago … and at 5-3, there are only four teams in the West with a better record at the moment.

So, take this moment to smile, to appreciate Dirk's greatness … and push off thoughts of Dallas heading to Miami to play the Heat on Friday.




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