Mavs Edge Sixers; Life Without Dirk
The Dallas Mavericks, someday, won't look the same as they've looked during Dirk Nowitzki's long and extraordinary career.
But gosh, we hope that post-Dirk doesn't have to look like this.
Life without Dirk is a nightmare to all of us but it was a reality to the Mavs in Saturday's 110-103 victory over the winless Sixers. Is Dirk Nowitzki really worth 46 points to this Mavericks team?
That is the difference in the winning margin for the Mavs from 16 days ago, when they put a 53-point thumping on these same 76ers in Dallas. Other than it being an away game and the second game of a back-to-back after arguably the most impressive win on the season at Toronto about 24 hours previous, not much was different.
Except for one thing.
"He needs to sit tonight,'' coach Rick Carlisle said before tipoff. "It wouldn't matter who we play. It'll happen again.'
Added owner Mark Cuban: "Hopefully, it doesn't come back to haunt us."
It didn't "haunt'' in terms of the game's results. But it haunts when we ponder Life without Dirk.
Even though the Mavs were going against a clearly inferior team, they were not able to mask their recent troubles. As has been the theme as of late, the Mavs once again struggled from the three-point line, shooting 26.7 percent. It was better than recent nights, but still not where one would expect them to be after acquiring sniper Chandler Parsons in the offseason along with role-playing shooters like Charlie Villanueva and Richard Jefferson.
Also, the Mavs lost one quarter to the 76ers in the game and -- surprise, surprise -- it was the third quarter. Coming out slow out of the halftime break has been a common theme for the Mavs this season, one that needs to be addressed, especially when they play better competition.
And they are all better than Philadelphia, which becomes the fifth team in league history to open with at least 16 straight losses, joining the 1994-95 Clippers (0-16), 1998-99 Clippers (0-17), 1988-89 Heat (0-17) and the 2009-10 Nets (0-18).
One night after going on a personal 10-0 run to help close out the Raptors, Monta Ellis once again took matters in his own hands down the stretch. After starting the game 0-of-7 and tallying a couple of turnovers, Ellis went 6-of-7 the rest of the way, including three clutch shots in the final five minutes.
After the 76ers cut the Mavs lead to four, Ellis scored on a layup, then a jumper. to put the Mavs up by eight. Then, following a three-pointer by each Chandler Parsons and Richard Jefferson, Ellis provided the dagger, scoring the last two points for the Mavs to finish off the 76ers.
There was absolutely no answer for Tyson Chandler down low. He had a team-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting and dished out three assists as well. He also had 13 rebounds (seven offensive and six defensive) and four steals on the defensive end to post one of his more complete performances this season.
The 20 points and 13 rebounds mark his ninth double-double of the season, and after TY did it right, he also said it right:
"It's a team you feel like you're not supposed to lose to, no offense to them," Tyson said.
The Mavs get a couple days off after reaching the halfway point of their four game road trip before they travel to Chicago to take on one of the Eastern Conference’s best Tuesday night at 7 p.m.
One thing that worth keeping an eye on leading up to that matchup is the Mavs health at the point guard position. Jameer Nelson has missed the past few games with back spasms and Raymond Felton has yet to make his Mavs debut due to a bum ankle. These Mavs face a tall task going up against Derrick Rose and company.
"We were going to be up against a team playing like their pants are on fire the whole night and they did,'' Carlisle said. "The best compliment you can give our guys is they played a game where they kept their poise ..."
"If you had your choice to play Dallas with Dirk or without Dirk, you'd choose without." - Sixers coach Brett Brown.
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