DONUT 1. Rick's Beer
They are pivotal to Dallas' present and future and they are tied together now after Dallas' 103-93 win Sunday night at the Lakers.
Rick Carlisle came into the game tied with Don Nelson for the most wins as a Mavericks coach with 339. Now, after shutting down the Lakers in the Staples Center behind good guard play and a vintage performance from Dirk Nowitzki, Carlisle stands alone atop the Mavs coaching hierarchy with the most wins in franchise history.
"Nellie is one of the greatest coaches ever,'' Rick said. :And in his honor, I’m going to crack open a beer and drink one to him, ‘cause he’s one of the all-time greats.''
Nellie, of course, would famously do just that with a cold one ... sometimes while standing at the podium addressing the media.
We call this a "Vintage Dirk'' night and we'll get to it in a minute. But we also think we'll remember this as a Rick/Chandler night because ...
DONUT 2: Parsons' Debut
Chandler Parsons returned to the Mavs lineup on Sunday night and looked healthy in his debut. He only played in the first half, but Parsons moved well without the ball, and drove hard to the basket a few times with no issues. Coach Carlisle will undoubtedly ease him into more minutes moving forward, but this is a great sign for Dallas. CP finished with a mini-balanced two points, three rebounds, and three assists in 12 minutes. \
“It felt good,'' Parsons said in his first game since knee surgery six months ago. "It’s been a long time coming and a lot of countless hours of rehab. I got my feet wet a little bit today.''
Parsons said he could conceivably take bigger bites of playing time but isn't going to push that.
"Obviously, I could have kept playing,'' CP said, "but it’s going to be like this for bit.”
DONUT 3: Dangerous Due to D-Will?
We're increasingly open to the idea.
With all the offensive arrows back in the quiver, Dallas looked like a dynamic scoring machine here. (Yes, we know it's "just'' the Lakers, but still.) The Mavs jumped out to a 15-0 run to start the game thanks in part to excellent spacing and the efficiency with which they moved the ball. ... and they did so under the command of Deron Williams.
D-Will returned from his knee injury on Sunday and looked 100 percent, with no lingering problems from what can now be called a minor scare. He was efficient, taking good shots and finding open guys all night. Deron brings something to the point guard position that the Mavs really haven’t had the last few years -- a Rondo-lite constant that too rarely happened when he was here -- and it’s paying dividends early in the season.
D-Will finished the game with 11 points and eight assists to just one turnover.
Point guard play continues to be the key for Dallas so far this year. All four of the point guards have been efficient with the basketball and finding open shooters. Dallas had 28 assists to just 11 turnovers in this game, while the Lakers were much less efficient taking care of the ball, finishing with 18 assists and 12 giveaways.
With the game on the line the Mavs went to their three-guard lineup of D-Will, Barea, and Felton and it paid off. This lineup put good decision-makers on the floor for and allowed them to move the ball very efficiently. Even though we've never loved the idea, personnel presently dictates it; Dallas has strength in numbers in guards, so expect to see more of this going forward for Dallas.
DONUT 4: IronMan on the Perimeter
Wes Matthews has been invaluable to this teams success early on in the season. He is easily this teams best defender on the perimeter, and his shooting has been there as well.
Kobe Bryant was frustrated on the perimeter for the majority of Sunday's game due to stifling defense by Matthews and Co. The Mavs held Kobe to three of 15 shooting (his only real contribution was his 7-of-7 from the line) and scored just 15 points.
That's 15 shots to score 15 points. Inefficient. Ineffective. Insignificant.
"I suck right now," said Bryant, photographed above in a way that makes him look silly, which we enjoy very much here at DB.com. "I'm the 200th-best player in the league right now."
It’s sad (but not really too sad) to say, but Kobe looks done. He just isn’t the same player he used to be, and it is painfully obvious at this point. And in true Lakers fashion, he’s also the highest paid player in the league, so there’s that.
Meanwhile, it looks like Wes Matthews is beating the Achilles odds and is just getting started.
DONUT 5. Randle Vs. Dirk
Dallas native Julius Randle was a menace inside for the Lakers all night. Dallas had absolutely no answer for him defensively for his aggressive style of play and his strength and athleticism gave the Mavs fits all night long. Randle finished with 22 points and 15 boards. The Western Conference is going to get a mean introduction to this kid in 2015.
Dirk on the other hand, took the youngster to school on the other end of the floor. Dirk used his old-man-strength to torcher the younger Randle from midrange, and was hitting from all over the court. The Big German closed the game with 25 points on 77-percent shooting to go along with nine rebounds.
Nowitzki said the two-day break helped him to his 10-of-13 shooting night.
“Obviously, two days off is good for me at this stage,” Nowitzki said. “I felt good today. I felt good in warmups. I didn’t feel stiff or anything, and I shot the ball well there. It kind of carried over.''
When Dirk is playing the kind of basketball he played his this game it is exponentially difficult to beat the Mavericks. It is a little dangerous. And damn is it beautiful. We've said this for about a half-decade here and we say it again: Mavs fans need to appreciate nights like this one because we probably don’t have a whole lot of them left in the future.
DONUT 6. Big work from Bigs
Zaza Pachulia continues to be a serviceable piece of this lineup. He scores when he’s asked to, and he has been very tough on the boards. Zaza had his second double/double in three games with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He's joined here by Dwight Powell, who continues to be very impressive on the pick-and-roll with J.J. Barea and in fighting for rebounds. He moved quickly off screens and showed the strength to finish around the basket. Powell scored eight points and had eight rebounds (and the team-up helped Barea had another solid performance with 10 points and seven assists.)
For the second straight game the Mavs won the battle on the boards. Limiting second chance opportunities for shooters like Kobe and D’Angelo Russell was a big key to the Mavs success in the win, as they held the Lakers to just eight offensive rebounds.
DONUT 7: On both ends
This was the best defensive performance of the young season so far for the Mavs. Dallas held the Lakers to just 36.7 percent shooting, including 10 of 34 from three. The Lakers made a late push towards the end of the game -- “I think we failed to close the game out early a little bit,'' said Dirk, ever the perfectionist -- but Dallas was able to ward off the LA run.
Meanwhile, on the offensive end ...
When it comes down to it, the Mavs are a totally different team with D-Will, CP and Wes on the floor. Seems like an obvious statement, but the three of them give the Mavs a totally different dynamic offensively. With Williams’s vision, Matthews three-and-D, and Parsons’ versatility, the Mavs have a very balanced attack. Combine that with Dirk and a plethora of other offensive weapons, and the Mavs are at the very least competitive and not yet obliged to agree with critics who see them as non-playoff-worthy.
DONUT 8: The Dirkie/Player of the Game
We lean toward The Big German. Dirk was in vintage Dirkie form on Sunday night, hitting 77 percent from the field en route to a 25-point performance.
But this is a Democracy. You vote here for "The Dirkie'' winner on DB.com Boards!
DONUT 9: Stat O' the Night
Rick Carlisle moving in front of Don Nelson to become the winningest coach in Mavs history with 340 wins is the headliner here. And all we need to cap it off -- to put a head of foam on the beer, if you will -- is more positive news about Carlisle re-upping with an extension that keeps him in Dallas for five more years.
DONUT 10: Could Have and Couldn't Have
At exactly which point in Raymond Felton's Mavs career did you envision us writing that he iced to game with a 16-foot jumper to put the Mavs up 99-91 with 2:04 to go in the game? But he did.
At exactly which point in Dwight Powell's Mavs career did you envision us writing that he grabbed the rebounds at game's end to help seal it, and that he's enough of a contributor to quit calling it "The Rondo Trade'' and to instead stick Dwight's name in there?
And speaking of things you didn't see coming? Rebounding. Dallas outrebounded the Lakers 49-42 on the night against the likes of two of the more talented rebounders in the league in Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert. Combine that with efficiency -- which you did see coming with all these guards -- and you've got a nice recipe. The Mavs had 28 assists to just 11 turnovers in this one due to outstanding guard play.
DONUT 11: Quotable
"You’re going to be a little rusty and you’re going to be tired. You can do all the conditioning that you can in the pool and on the treadmill and everything, but you can’t ever simulate a game. It’s going to take some time, but the good thing is my knee felt fine.'' -- Chandler Parsons.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
The Mavs (2-1) have today off and will head back to the AAC for their home opener on Tuesday night at 7:30 pm against the Toronto Raptors.
We'll meet you there ... and maybe "crack open a beer'' -- Nellie-and-Carlisle-style -- when we see you!