In what might have been the ugliest game of the season, Dallas eked out a 90-82 win over the hapless Lakers on Friday night to complete game No. 3 in their only 4-in-5 night stretch of the season. (Your All-Access Pass to the game is here.) Deron Williams and Zaza Pachulia combined for 31 points to lead Dallas in scoring and both hit big baseline jumpers down the stretch to help Dallas hold off a Lakers’ team that wouldn’t go away. Now, hold your nose … and let’s dig in. ... and then let's prep for The Transition Game to tonight in Houston.
Clippers hangover – As some feared, the Mavs were slow out of the gates on Friday night … two nights removed from their thrilling win over the Clippers. (Our coverage of that signature win is here.) The Lakers jumped out to a quick 19-9 run behind seven points from Kobe Bryant (on 3-of-3 shooting) before Rick Carlisle called a timeout … and Dallas promptly went on a 20-5 spurt to end the quarter. It remains to be seen if the whole playing-down-to-the-level-of-the-competition trend will stick as the season continues, but it was nice to see Dallas rebound after a bad start until, you know, the third quarter (but more on that later).
Farewell to Kobe? – After being stifled by Wesley Matthews in the two teams’ first matchup in L.A., Kobe Bryant, in perhaps his last appearance at the AAC, came out with a hot hand while being guarded by Chandler Parsons, for some reason. He had nine points on 5-of-6 shooting … and got juked by Dirk Nowitzki on a finger-roll that had both superstars enjoying a laugh in the middle of the second quarter.
Plenty of Kobe supporters were in the stands for Friday night’s bout … and it was a worthy send off for one of the NBA’s best ever.
Parsons’ progression – It seems we’re doing this every game here at DB.com, but that’s because Parsons’ participation is absolutely critical to how the Mavs’ offensive machine rolls. He started the second half for the first time all season and looks to be continually rounding into form.
The minutes restriction could be gone as early next week according to Parsons himself ...
“It’s the first time I’ve played in the second half,'' CP said, "but it felt good. Definitely different, but as you can see, my minutes are continuing to go up and up.”
Pachulia a workhorse – Another night, another double-double for the Mavs’ bargain big. Midway through the third quarter, Pachulia already had 11 pts to go with 11 boards along with a nifty freak hook shot that led to a successful and-1 opportunity. If you had asked any of us here at DB.com if we thought Pachulia would have five double-doubles in the Mavs’ first nine games … well, let’s say you might’ve been laughed out of our luxurious meeting room.
“The good thing is we won,” Pachulia said. “Honestly, I don’t know any other way. I’m a big believer in team basketball. My numbers don’t count and don’t matter without the win. These guys made it so much easier for me. … It was a total team effort, and we’ll take this win and move on to the next one.”
Although his pick-and-pop elbow jumper hasn’t been falling as often as hoped, Pachulia still has been tremendous for Dallas in the early going.
Trouble on the boards – The Lakers were actually a good rebounding team last year and while they haven’t performed very on the boards this year, their size figured to present a significant challenge for Dallas on Friday night. The Mavs had been exceeding even the most optimistic of expectations on the glass this year, they still were outrebounded by L.A. in this one, 57-48, because of the likes of Julius Randle and Roy Hibbert. We’ll give the performance a mulligan, but Dallas will need to keep exceeding expectations next week as the schedule toughens up.
About that third quarter … - Yeesh. The two teams were a combined 10-of-39 from the field. Each team made five shots. Dallas forced more Lakers turnovers (6) than the number of times either team put the ball in the hoop. We know Dallas is predominantly a jump-shooting team and prone to cold streaks (as all teams not named Golden State apparently are) … and the Lakers are just … the Lakers. When you combine the two things, you get the hot mess that was the third quarter. Amazingly, the Mavs were still on top when the collective 19,000 on hand uncovered their eyes. Dallas can ill-afford to have many more performances like that again next week against the likes of the Thunder and Spurs.
Dwight Powell … the consistent one. – After picking up his second double-double of the season, can we trust that Dwight Powell has improved so much in just one season of work that he’s a reliable backup big off the bench for Dallas? Powell scored 10 points and had 12 boards all in just 22 minutes of play on Friday night, taking the sting away from Dallas’ otherwise poor performance on the boards to a Lakers’ team that entered the night last in the league in rebounding margin. With his energy and improved jump shot, Powell figures to play an even larger role in the Mavs’ plans as the season continues.
The Transition Game ... - Now it's a chance for the 5-4 Mavs to close the four-games-in-five-nights gauntlet that we previewed at week's start with a 3-1 record during this stint ... a chance for another "signature win'' to match what happened against the Clippers ... and a chance to go get the 4-4 Rockets team that ousted Dallas in last year's playoffs. Wes Matthews insists he's going to play in the 7 p.m. tip. You can be sure Parsons wants to. You need all hands on deck but as coach Rick Carlisle keeps saying you need to be smart about it, too. At least while you have to take on James Harden (second in the NBA at 28.8 points per game) and Dwight Howard (16.7 points and 12.7 boards), you can take some solace in the fact that they're traveling from Denver, where they lost on Friday.