First Impressions: Mavs 124, Cavs 107
The Dallas Mavericks are 28-21 following Monday's dominant 124-107 crushing of the Cavaliers, a team increasingly incapable of putting up a fight. ... except maybe with one another.
While Dallas' top guns played with efficiency -- even with Shawn Marion (shoulder) out, the Mavs shot 55 percent and got double-figure scoring from six guys -- the Cavs often looked like five guys searching to take five different taxis out of here.
Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting and did his work in only 29 minutes (a nice benefit with the eighth-place Mavs' Wednesday visit to charging Memphis next on the schedule). Monta Ellis was also crisply productive, shooting 9-of-12 for 22 points and seven assists. And by now we should not be surprised at the work of Devin Harris, who here scored a season-high 16 points to go with his four assists in 18 minutes.
Meanwhile, Vince Carter scored 14 and Jose Calderon contributed 11 points and 10 assists.
And then there is the effort of center Samuel Dalembert, who scored 18 points on on 7-of-8 shooting and also grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots.
"He's proven he can take us to a higher level,'' coach Rick Carlisle said of Dalembert. "Tonight he did."
(More from the Dallas locker room in Mavs Quoteboard.) And here, Your chance to vote for Player of the Game; Who Deserves "The Dirkie''?
Well ... yes. But his lack of consistency in doing so contributes to the Dallas-in-Disarray motif ... until we watch the Cavs perform.
Gifted young Kyrie Irving scored 27 points amid rumors he's dissatisfied with the direction of the franchise he is supposed to lead. Luol Deng had 18 points and seven boards amid rumors that his recent trade to Cleveland has caused him to be surprised about the franchise's overall ineptitude. Dion Waiters is apparently on the trading block and responded by going scoreless.
There are whispers out of Cleveland about team members threatening not to play for coach Mike Brown, about guys getting thrown out of practices, of fistfights between standout players ... all of that is what 16-32 looks like.
And yes, on a night when Mavs owner Mark Cuban re-confirmed his distaste for tanking, being 16-32 Cleveland is far more awful than being Dallas, having something to fight for, scoreboard-watching as Memphis lost Monday at Oklahoma City Thunder, packing bags for a stint during which Dallas will play seven of its next nine games on the road, accepting a really compelling quote from Devin, who said:
"Offensively, we are gifted. But we have to step it up defensively.''
All that, and enjoying the brilliance of Dirk, always capable of rising above the fray and repairing the disarray.
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