Mavs Monday Donuts: Familiarity And Contempt
The Mavs did their familiar thing on Sunday in LA in a 120-106 victory: managing minutes, maybe letting the game get too close for a moment there, and ultimately beating the hapless Lakers yet again for a streak I gleefully hope never ends. (We've got the game story here.)
Meanwhile the Spurs did their all-too-familiar thing, too: Danny Green broke their single-season team 3-point record. Duncan moved past Garnett for 14th on the career scoring list. Leonard kept reaching for the next-level baton. Oh, and the Spurs earned their 11th straight victory and 21st in 24 games, beating the Suns, and they have jetted into second in the West ... and you can almost book this: next weekend, the Mavs will jet to the Alamo city for Game 1 of Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs.
The simplest who's-who explanation for the West as it relates to Dallas: the Spurs have just one game left, at New Orleans, on Wednesday. The Spurs have a half-game lead over the field. Pop will effort to win that game, will do so, and then will be rested and ready and rolling, working a dozen-game win streak and a 22-wins-in-25-outings streak.
Will Dallas be rested? Should be. Carlisle sent a trio of the fellas (Dirk, TY and Monta) home from LA, taking Cuban's private jet straight to DFW thus avoiding the wear-and-tear of tonight's all-but-meaningless visit to Utah. (An 8 p.m. tip on TXA-21.)
Will Dallas be ready? The Mavs have had ample time to nurse their "funkiness,'' (a form of the word Cuban used to describe Monta's decision to physically disengage from the rest of the guys on Friday) to focus on what matters and to familiarize themselves with each other via the integration of Rondo and Amare.
And speaking of familiarity: Next weekend. Again. Probably Mavs-Spurs. (Though SA's present lead doesn't guarantee that, three-way ties being what they are.) And all that lived-in familiarity and all that far-out contempt.
It's funny/frightening to suggest that Rondo's work against the Lakers (11 points, eight rebounds and 11 really sharp assists) was motivated by the free-agent-to-be's desire to show off for Lakers GM Kobe Bryant. But in reality, this is something Mavs-watchers are growing accustomed to. ... and this needs to be an "audition'' for the Mavs, too. (Though I believe the owner is sold on the idea of retaining him and we know the Assets Management Department is, too.)
“Rondo was terrific,” coach Rick Carlisle said.
In Rondo's last six games he's recorded 49 assists to only 10 turnovers. Combine that with the assumed crank-up defensively when the playoffs arrive and maybe, just maybe, the Rajon Rondo that Dallas coveted for two years before trading for him in November is arriving.
In the last seven games, Dallas is giving up an absurd 117 points per game. Obviously, the double-OT win at Denver on Friday warps that ... but still.
Tyson Chandler looks to be in springy playoff form heading into the final stretch of the season. TY led the way, scoring 20 points and grabbing nine boards on 90-percent shooting.
*He is one of the real big time difference makers in this league,” Carlisle said of his starting big man. “When he’s healthy there are very few guys that are better at what he does, if any.”
Raymond Felton also looked impressive once again, scoring 15 points on 70-percent shooting in 18 minutes. He might not figure as a playoff rotation guy, and Charlie V might not either, but Villanueva was good for 14 points. Aminu does figure and he was a 10/10 guy. Richard Jefferson is starting temporarily in place of CP and he scored 17.
So, who deserves "The Dirkie''? You vote!
So Rondo will be available and Amare will likely play ... but Chandler Parsons probably won't and you've got the other three dudes already back in DFW ... so tonight's bid for 50 might be harder than it seems due to the additional fact that while the Jazz are a have-not, they are 18-9 since the All-Star Break (the sixth-best winning percentage in the NBA during that time). Oh, and since they Break, they are allowing just 87 points per game, too.
If the Mavs put effort into Game 82 Wednesday at home against Portland, that seems far more likely the 50th win than this game seems ...
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If you read this space you are aware of my loathing of the Lakers. It is a sports hate, and yes, it's born of jealousy, but it's nevertheless very real and very pure. And it's a comical hate now that we're watching the losingest lakers team ever ... and all those "celebrity fans'' increasingly find themselves fading into the darkness of the sidelines -- if they are showing up at all.
Twitter last night seems shocked -- shocked, I tell you! -- that attendee Eddie Murphy has lured himself an attractive girlfriend. And that was about all there was to offer from the LA side last night at Staples.
Well, that and an uneasy feeling that the Mavs -- who really did let LA back into the game -- were not the surest of bets to manhandle the cartoonish, buffoonish Lakers. They did so, though, for the seventh straight time ... a streak that would cause me to have some empathy for the woeful "other team from LA'' if my heart wasn't already overflowing with hate.
“A, it’s always good to win 50 games in a season – that’s a successful season,” said Tyson Chandler of a target of the 49-win Mavs. “B, we want to be playing great basketball going into the playoffs. If we can play great basketball, you know that means we’ll be still continuing to win basketball games.”
Monta wants his place on the totem pole and Rondo wants the keys but fellas, when in doubt? Follow Dirk's lead.
He said the other day that during a three-day period with no games he mostly occupied himself by changing Baby Nowitzki diapers. But what he's also done is ... ramp up: He came into LA on a six-game run during which he'd averaged 20 points and 52.5 percent shooting. On Sunday, he participated in 28 very precisely calculated minutes, shooting 5-of-10 for 16 points.
Mavs Men, follow this guy up that ramp.
Whether you root for the Mavs or any other team in any other sport at any other level, there is a great value in your ability to separate the "art'' from the "artist.'' It's how we're able to enjoy "Annie Hall'' without "supporting'' the fact that Woody Allen essentially married his own daughter. It's how you can like music by The Beatles while not concerning yourself too much with the fact that John Lennon was an admitted and chronic domestic-violence perp. It's why my buddy Dale Hansen is twisted and wrong to think the Cowboys signing of Greg Hardy somehow means Jason Garrett's dad and Jerry Jones' daughter are soft on crimes against women.
And it's how you and I can marvel appreciatively at the athletic brilliance and Mavs-centric importance of Monta Ellis or any other jock while still allowing ourselves to be troubled by any jock's moodiness.
I've written about and talked about it since March 10th. There is a crack in the foundation ... And you saw what can be construed as evidence of that crack on Friday when Monta seemed disengaged from the fellas during that second OT.
Was it just that he disagreed with Carlisle's decision to pull him, Dirk and TY from the game to start the second OT -- because Monta's "stubborn valor'' meant a desire to play 100 minutes if needed, and to take 100 game-winning shots if needed?
I love that about him. But ...
If you've followed my work covering pro sports for 33 years, you know I am far from a "hater'' or a "basher.'' My job allows me the freedom of Mavs homerism and I exercise that freedom daily.
However .. this is a bubbling cauldron of ego and emotion and enigmatic behavior ... And yet the cauldron can be poured in a positive flow. This can still end well.
Artists can be moody. And Monta Ellis The Artist may be too proud to bow to everything his bosses and co-workers say and do. But the Artist can send a message -- not to the consumers as much as to his own Dallas Mavericks team -- by seeming engaged with his own artistic community, shall we say. Not "bow"; just "engage."
I've got more on this subject -- "The Many Moods Of Monta'' -- here.
“It’s always great for a franchise to get 50 wins, especially in a tough Western Conference. We’ve got two chances to get one win. But if you ask me, it’s obviously more important to be healthy and get some more guys rested than to go for a 50-game winning season.'' -- Dirk.
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