Donuts: Spurs vs. Mavs: Sam, Wright Ill

The Mavs get back to work today with a morning shootaround and then, of course, tonight's 7:30 visit to the AAC from the hated Spurs. We get you ready for the tip with DeJuan stuff, a J-Ho update, a Dirk Video Visit and a spin around the 'wheel' and in Thursday Morning Mavs Holiday Donuts ... Where there are illness issues with Dalembert and B-Wright ...

DONUT 1: Previewing tonight ...

The Dallas Mavericks get back to work today with a morning shootaround and then, of course, tonight's 7:30 visit to the AAC from the hated Spurs.

The Spurs are 22-7 and damn them if once again, they aren't doing almost everything right ... except for their Christmas Day work, where they lost to Houston, 111-98.

This provided a scheduling break for the rested Mavericks (16-12). Unfortunately, San Antonio keeps slaying the schedule dragon as well; the Spurs share the lead for the NBA's best road record (12-3) and are untroubled enough by the butt-end of b-2-b's that they are 6-2 in those games.
They have added to their familiar-faced arsenal Marco Belinelli, who gives them bench depth with his 10 points per and his 50.5-percent shooting from the arc. But he seems to be benefiting greatly from the trademark ball-moving unselfishness of Duncan, Manu and Parker ... and in the end, Dallas' attempts to match those three will tell the tale here.

DONUT 2: In the Mavs' huddle ...

If the "tale'' is a fairy tale, DeJuan Blair dominates tonight.

Blair started his career as a Spurs "steal'' and spent four mostly-productive years there as a part-time starter before slipping into coach Gregg Popovich's doghouse last season. He has long had this date circled on his calendar and an impact-making Blair would be a cool storyline tonight ...

But on Monday against Dwight Howard and the Rockets, Blair received a DNP. That was the night the Mavs snapped a two-game losing skid with a 111-104 victory at Houston. It was Dirk's night to score (his 31 points pushing him to No. 13 in NBA history in scoring) and it was Sam Dalembert's night to start.

Here's our review of that game and the key numbers on the center play ...

DONUT 3: Starting at center for the Mavs ...

To begin the week, we asked the question "Who should be the Dallas Mavericks' starting center?'' We feel like we answered the question here with a detailed breakdown of Sam vs. DeJuan vs. B-Wright.

Again, Samuel Dalembert was the right guy against Dwight. He made his first start since Dec. 3 and managed 29 minutes, seven rebounds, three steals and eight points.

Meanwhile, B-Wright came off the bench for 19 minutes and got three rebounds, two steals and six points.

But we contend, especially as we look forward to the Spurs game, that the most interesting center development of all is DeJuan's DNP.

Blair had been holding down the fort as the starting center. He's been frequently praised by coach Rick Carlisle. If that wasn't his night because of Dwight's presence ... can this be DeJuan's night (off the bench) just because it's the Spurs?

We will suggest that when DeJuan enters the game, he make certain to manage his emotions. No need for a five-run homerun here. Just set a screen. Get an offensive rebound. Bully somebody.

Or, now that we know Brandan Wright and Samuel Dalembert missed shootaround with illnesses and are both questionable for tonight ... Maybe be asked to do substantially more.

DONUT 4: We need a time machine ...

Mavs beat writer Dwain Price ?asks, "At what point do we call Dirk Nowitzki one of the greatest players of all-time instead of just one of the greatest power forwards of all-time?

To which we assume a million MFFL's responded, "Um, June 2011?''

DONUT 5: The Wheel of Fortune ...

Our man David Lord has for years kicked around the idea of changing the NBA lottery system in a way that is now reflected in something the NBA world at-large is now kicking around. How would a "Wheel of Fortune'' change the NBA landscape? Is it a fix for tanking? Is it inequitable?
Oh, and one more thing: Is the reason it's floating nearer the surface of the idea pool because the two NY-based teams could benefit from a change in NBA system?

DONUT 6: Hurry up and slow down ...

Just as other teams wish Dirk would hurry up and slow down, there is Tim Duncan. Against Houston, Duncan had a season-high six blocks to go along with 11 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

That's an astoundingly full boxscore for "an old man,'' but the Spurs tell us Wednesday marks the 23rd time in Duncan's career he's posted a 10/10/5/5-plus.

And who among us would be shocked if even on the second night of a b-2-b he does it again at the AAC?

DONUT 7: The Rosas Error, err, Era ...

Glad to see Gersson Rosas land on his feet after his weird, short stint in charge of something/nothing in Dallas. He's returning to Houston to be in charge of something/nothing ... amid charges that all along he was a DOUBLE-AGENT!

The notion reeks of paranoia (an MFFL trait, of course). Better to just chalk it up to another odd twist in "The Rosas Error,'' err, "Era.''

DONUT 8: Home for the holidays ...

Good to be home for the holidays? Sure. And Dallas is 11-3 at the AAC, so there is a friendly-confines factor. But the Mavs did lose in the last instance when we saw them at home when they gagged up a 19-point lead and dropped a 109-108 decision to Toronto in overtime. (Our All-Access coverage of that game, complete with locker-room Video Visits, is here and free!) And that's the third time this season Dallas has lost a game in which it once led by at least 17 points.

Dirk's Video Visit on the subject:

"We've got to be the team that loses leads quicker than any other team in the league," Dirk said that night. "We gave up a 19-point lead within a couple of minutes … We've got to learn if we do have a lead to keep it a little longer and not lose it within three or four minutes."

DONUT 9: Oh, those steaks and burgers!

Thanks to Dee and the incredible staff at Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar for our incredible Mavs pregame dinners ... the legendary DFW restaurateur has done it again.

Dee Lincoln Steak and Burger Bar is becoming THE "upscale casual'' place to dine before you attend events in Dallas ... And the gang from looks forward to seeing you there this holiday week!
DONUT 10: Quoteboard ...

"Call me old-school, but these jerseys with sleeves are awful.'' -- Dirk, on Twitter, while watching the NBA's odd on-game fashion show on TV.

DONUT 11: Catching up with J-Ho ... has had two opportunities to visit with Josh Howard on his visits to Frisco as a member of the D-League Austin Toros.

"It's the card that's dealt and I love playing cards,'' Josh says pleasantly. "So I'm going to go ahead and play these hands.''

It's Spurs-at-Mavs tonight, but it's Spurs D-Leaguer J-Ho who gets a moment back in the spotlight here. That story is here.

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

An oldie-but-a-goodie: "Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Spurs Fans'':

DONUT 13: The Finest Dentists in North Texas! ...

At, Dr. Berlin, Dr. Markham, Dr. Lynch and Dr. Wood have been providing the finest in everything from technology to chair-side manner for years, to our family and to so many of you. Their great work has part of us bringing our Mavs coverage to you since 1995 ... And we're proud to be associated with The Finest Dentists in North Texas ...!

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