Mavs 'Tough Enough' In Torturing Of Sixers

DALLAS - Rick Carlisle concedes his team isn't 'physical.' But that doesn't mean the Mavs can't exhibit 'toughness,' as they demonstrated Thursday in an almost sadistic 123-70 home win over the tanktastic Sixers. And I mean 'sadistic' in the nicest possible way ...

The Dallas Mavericks lack bruising physicality, are struggling at the starting point guard spot, and continue to work on the chemistry needed to meld nine new team members into a cohesive unit.

But when you play the Sixers, your worries seem to melt away, leaving your only test one concerning whether you are ruthless enough to torture the tortured, to brutalize the defenseless, to steal from the beggar.

In the most lopsided victory in team history, Mavs 123, Philly 70 means Dallas is ruthless enough.

"We never let up there for the entire night,'' Dirk Nowitzki said. "I thought we kept coming all night long, so that was definitely a good win for us.”

The numbers here are mind-boggling. Dallas opened with a 45-10 lead in the first 15 minutes! At halftime, the Mavs were up 73-29! For the game, the Mavs outscored the Sixers 20-3 in fast-break points and 24-8 in points in the paint! The Mavs could've gone scoreless in the second half and still won by three! The Sixers finished with more turnovers (27) than field goals (23)! A typical line from this clip-and-save score? Let's go to Dirk Nowitzki, who took eight shots and made seven of them to score 21 points in 20 minutes.

That sort of efficiency can mean "toughness.'' So can the focus of Dallas' deep bench, which was given ample opportunity here and never relented. And while the Mavs might be shy in the "enforcer'' department, what if the undersized 2-guard Monta Ellis not only does a little bit of everything in that aforementioned wild boxscore (17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals) but also decides to slide in front of a freight-training Tony Wroten to draw a charge ...

At a point in the game when Dallas was up 40.

As this season goes on for the now 6-3 Mavs, we may find ourselves lamenting the absence of a big defensive-minded 2-guard and the absence of a true power player upfront, the sort of guys who could calm Carlisle's concerns about "physical'' style. We might also keep scratching our heads at the struggles of Jameer Nelson, the starting 1-guard whose struggles now include an 0-for-6 effort against the Sixers -- truly the only Mav on the floor they experienced any success with. (Heck, Jameer might be the only Mav who isn't a candidate for your vote for "The Dirkie.'')

But this success against an 0-8 team counts because it would've been easy to cruise here -- and cruising is, in a sense, a sign of weakness, mental weakness. Oh, it's not as weak as what Philly is doing, which is, essentially, intentionally allowing itself to be non-competitive because it foolishly believes there is a pot of gold at the end of the tanking rainbow. (History lesson: It worked for the Spurs in 2007. But when else has it worked? And considering how a true franchise-changer seems to come out one every five years or so -- Shaq in 1993, Duncan in 1997, LeBron in 2003 -- how rewarding, really, is the reward?)

What the Sixers get for their effort here is another step toward challenging the NBA record for futility. That would be a 9-73 record cobbled together in 1972-73 by ... the Philadelphia 76ers.


Said Sixers coach Brett Brown: "The bad news is it doesn’t go away. It’s like water dripping on your forehead, and there’s no place to hide."

What the Mavs get for their effort? Tangibly, the surpassing of the previous franchise mark for a blowout (a 128-78 victory over the Knicks in 2010). But less measurable, but just as real, I think, is the fact that the effort is its own reward. This win is about a flexing of a muscle Dallas needed to learn it possessed. ... a "toughness'' of an unusual but important sort.

"The sum total of the whole thing,'' Carlisle said, "was that our guys played hard."

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