Tuesday Mavs Donuts: Lakers In Town

The Kobe-less Lakers are in town for a tip tonight at the AAC. But really, for the Mavs - losers of two straight, four straight at home and five of the last 10 - this isn't about fixing up a way to beat an enemy. This is about fixing themselves. Tuesday Mavs Donuts!

DONUT 1: Not just a coach ...

The Dallas Mavericks' "coach'' is Rick Carlisle.

But he's actually so much more than that.

There is the "strategist,'' the "motivator'' and the "teacher.'' There is the "PR face,'' the "CEO'' and the "high-finance guy.'' There is the boss deeply-involved enough in personnel to have clearly been "the decider'' on the Ricky Ledo call-up. (See below.) And the man who, while he publicly feigns ignorance when it comes to medical matters, works hand-in-hand with trainer Casey Smith on issues like Shawn Marion's ankle. (See below on that, too.) And there is that University of Virginia psych training, as it applies to his team and it's recent 0-for-4 record at home and as it applies to "Somnambulant Sam.'' (Yes, you guessed it. See below.)
The Mavs initially announced that the Monday workout would feature Carlisle's media presence only. No interviews with players. That's abnormal, and I took it as a "One-Voice'' sort of gesture from the boss, and figured the one voice would be a short and terse one.

You know, like, "We've flapped our gums enough as a team. Today the coach will make the NBA-mandated appearance and we'll return to focusing on not sucking.'' Something like that.

And then the Mavs changed gears and went back to normal. But the One Voice (That Matters) was short and terse.

"Today's a day we've got to get the wheels back on the wagon,'' coach Carlisle said.

Shortly. And tersely. Just as I believe the job required of him.

DONUT 2: The critical Matrix ...

Over the four games preceding "The Cesspool Game'' against the Knicks, Shawn Marion averaged 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 62.3 and 54.5 field-goal and 3-point percentages, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.5 turnovers.

His offensive rating during a span that included the three-game road sweet and the weird loss to the Clippers (in which he had 20 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals) was 113.2. He had a 98.9 defensive rating.

Those are the sort of numbers that are almost cherries on top of Marion's work, as he's generally gone about setting a tone of aggression, hustle and effectiveness.

And of course, we keep arguing that he's done all of this in history-making fashion.

DONUT 3: Future HOF'er? ...

In the first quarter against the Clips on Friday, Marion went over 17,000 points for his career, the 82nd player in NBA history to do so.

More exclusively, as our man Followill points out, Marion joined a truly elite group with at least 17,000 points, 9,000 rebounds, 1,500 steals and 1,000 blocks.

There are only four members of that frat: Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone and Kevin Garnett.

Marion is one of the most under-appreciated players of our time. The mere fact that there will be a debate about his Hall-of-Fame worthiness is an insult … there should never be a doubt.

Of course, that all points to where Dallas is if they don't have Shawn Marion, who without having any plays run for him and while so often guarding the opponent's best scorer almost regardless of position, is almost always one of this team's three best players on the floor.
DONUT 4: Without 'Trix ...

And maybe they didn't really have him Sunday against the Knicks. He opened the game against Carmelo Anthony but twisted his ankle early on as 'Melo went on to score 15 in the first quarter and 19 in the game.

Meanwhile, Marion was able to contribute 31 minutes but just four rebounds, two steals and two points on 1-of-6 shooting.

We'd like to see all of that four-game-run stuff -- 18.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, 62.3 and 54.5 field-goal and 3-point percentages, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and just 1.5 turnovers -- that we saw during a terrific four-game run. But that's not happening tonight if 'Trix isn't fully well ... an important aspect to the Lakers-at-Mavs meeting that I'll keep you posted on throughout the day here and on Twitter.

DONUT 5: Monta's burden ...

Our friend Tim MacMahon notes that the last 12 games, Monta Ellis is averaging 17.3 points, shooting 41.9 percent, making just 20 percent of his threes ... and the Mavs are 6-6 during that span.

It's a good note that asks for more. What's the "why''?

A minutes burden? So much responsibility? Waning intensity?

Or, the most common assumption: He's settling for perimeter shots.

But we've discovered that's not the problem. And we invite you to discover it, too, in our Premium analysis from inside Mavs HQ. C'mon inside!


DONUT 6: Thanks, Studio Movie Grill! ...

I'm so proud to be associated with Barrett and the gang at Studio Movie Grill, where they now not only have a DB.com connection but are involved with the Mavs on a grass-roots level in a way that connects with kids in the DFW community.

'Preciate you, guys!

DONUT 7: Monta's feel-good talk ...

A good NBA.com Q-and-A with Monta Ellis in which he says thing about Dallas that make you feel a little more secure about the setup.

"I knew once my deal was up, that was going to be my main focus, to get somewhere where I could win,'' Ellis said. "Be happy and be comfortable, so I could just play my game. ... So coming here, I loved the team that they put together. I get to know Rick. And I understood that he was with me. He had my back. So I wanted to come here with a whole fresh mindset, and be positive about the situation that I was in.''

Feel better?

DONUT 8: In come the Lakers ...

That team has its own problems, of course. LA has dropped seven of its last eight, is without not only Kobe (knee) but also without Steve Nash and Steve Blake and Jordan Farmar, and now essentially had two go-to guys: recent trade-bait Pau Gasol and recent D-Leaguer Kendall Marshall.

Oh, and they still have Chris Kaman, who never plays and now never gripes about playing time because nobody cares.

DONUT 9: Devin's target ...

I'm now hearing a possible full-contact practice for our man Devin Harris preceding Jan. 13, with a possible debut on that night against Orlando.
But don't hold me - or him - to that, OK?

DONUT 10: Ledo up ...

The Mavericks recalled guard Ricky Ledo from the Legends on Monday. There is certainly an insurance-response factor to Marion's ankle in play here. But it's also a reward for Ledo's fine play in the D-League.

I've seen almost all of the rookie's games in Frisco and ... even as Dallas might need the extra practice body right now, the reward is deserved.

The numbers are there: In 14 games for the Legends, Ledo's averaged 14.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.14 steals while playing 30 minutes per. He's a wing and the ball goes through him on offense and while he's not jump-through-the-gym explosive, he's longer and stronger than a lot of his D-League competition.

Again, this call-up of the 6-7, 200-pound second-rounder means nothing to Dallas' rotation. He'll go back to the end of the bench, just like at the start of this year, when he averaged 1.2 points in 2.6 minutes per game.

But his Frisco work has been a positive as he gets minutes, gets coaching and gains maturity ... all of which surely happened with the Legends.

DONUT 11: "Somnambulant Sam.'' ...

We've got the Video Visit with "Somnambulant Sam'' mumbling something about having a sleep disorder here.

And I know it sounds funny and I know it sounds fishy. Yet it's something the organization must take seriously enough to examine.

Meanwhile, let me break this down ... while leaving Dalembert out of it and simply talking about more than a few habitually tardy pro football and pro basketball players I have known.

Human behavior tells us they almost certainly are dealing with one of five circumstances. They either:

*Really do have a sleep disorder.

*Have a behavioral disorder, a social disorder or a learning difference.

*Are dealing with a personal matter or a disruptive home life.

*Are involved in substance abuse.
*Or just don't give a crap.

Again, I'm not talking about Dalembert here. I'm talking about pro athletes and I'm talking about people. ... and the ease with which we can all usually be diagnosed.

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

Brandan Wright is bright enough and calm enough to get away with offering a big-picture take on where the 19-15 Mavs stand -- and to do so while bypassing the normal one-game-at-a-time platform.

"We'll see what we're made of with four games in five nights coming up," said Wright as Dallas beings that stretch with the Lakers in town tonight. "We got to right this ship."

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