DONUT 1: Signs of Life
With Dallas' 104-94 victory over Phoenix on Monday, the Mavericks moved to 14-11 overall ... and showed more promising signs of life on the offensive end of the floor. Chandler Parsons played 28 minutes and had 17 points, including a big 4-point play in the fourth quarter as Dallas tried to stave off a final frantic Phoenix run. ... also controlled because of Deron Williams' perimter work ...
We get you started with Rapid Fire here ... and then lots to discuss in Donuts here at DB.com. Let's get to it.
DONUT 3: Iron Man powering up?
That's 23 threes in the last five games for Wes Matthews as he's now shooting 35.2% from beyond the arc ... but still a troubling 37.4% from the field overall. The Mavs'70-million Dollar Man is trending up, however, shooting 42% from deep in the last three games. Oh, and he's 86.5% from the stripe this year and still Dallas' go-to defender.
Lots to like here if this keeps up. And let me do myself a favor: I'll dump the "70-million Dollar Man'' bit. It comes across as unfair as the contract itself might've been "overly fair'' ... And I want nothing more for the hard-working Wesley to live up to his fine payday.
DONUT 4: Quotable
We’re happy to stop the bleeding after losing two at home, and now going on the road to play a tough, tough Indiana team. We needed this one, and we’ll take it any way we can get it.” - Dirk Nowitzki.
DONUT 5: The Big "D"
After letting Phoenix get off to a semi-blazing start in the first quarter (see Brandon Knight's 10 points and two early triples), Dallas limited the young star PG to just two points over the rest of the game. Dallas has been a much-improved defensive team this year ... and it was encouraging to see the Mavericks limit a young, athletic and dangerous team like Phoenix. Well, until the fourth quarter.
But despite whatever struggles, there is this: “I thought we played extremely hard from start to finish,'' said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle. And if you've paid attention to Rick's remarks in recent days, you view this as an accomplishment.
DONUT 6: Thanks, LS Wealth Strategies!
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DONUT 7: Dirk closing in on Diesel
Dirk Nowitzki's 14 points on Monday has him closing on Shaquille O'Neal for sixth on the all-time NBA scoring list. Despite our most optimistic of predictions here at DB.com, it's highly likely Dirk will claim the spot for himself in the next two weeks as opposed to the next two games (Wednesday at Indiana or at home, Friday, against Memphis).
For the moment, Dirk has his eyes on the more immediate prize. Like, the actual game at hand. Starting with the start.
“Our goal is play well in the first quarter,'' he said. "We always think when we start games off well, we put ourselves in position to finish strong. This is another first quarter we won. Not by much, but at least we got a lead.''
DONUT 8: Bombs away
Monday marked the fifth straight game and the sixth in the last eight contests that Dallas has jacked up 30+ three-pointers. In fact, here are the attempts in the last five games: 32, 33, 31, 31, 31.
The Mavericks' struggles from deep have been well-noted this season, but Dallas has actually shot better than 37% from beyond the arc four times in the last five games. Saying that the Mavericks have a high offensive ceiling, when they finally get 100% healthy, doesn't sound as homerish as it might have two weeks ago.
And speaking of shooting ...
Dallas is seventh in the league in free throw percentage at 78.7% and was 16-of-21 from the stripe on Monday night. That 76.2% mark against Phoenix broke a four-game streak that saw the Mavericks shoot 84% or better from the line. There have been times this season where Dallas saw inconsistency at the stripe (see a 94.1% effort at home against Utah on Nov. 20 followed two days later by a 57.1% offing against the Thunder), but the Mavericks seem to have finally found steady rhythm at the line ... another positive sign moving forward.
The guy who can be a huge part of getting all these numbers up and right? Chandler Parsons, who against the Suns scored 17 points, an uptick that maybe can be traced to coach Rick Carlisle's one-on-one work with CP in the gym.
Said CP: “It’s all about confidence right now. am going to be rusty, and I’m going to miss some shots and go through some slumps. I’ve just got to stick with it. It’s a long season, and I’ve just got to keep taking open shots. And no matter if I miss 10 or make 10 in a row, I’m going to continue to shoot the next one like it’s going in. So, I was fortunate enough to hit some (Monday night) in the fourth quarter and help us get this win.”
Said Rick: “He’s aggressive. He’s been working harder than he’s ever worked. He was in here (Sunday) on an off day working. He’s going to outlast this situation. ... You can’t get seduced into thinking that one good stretch of shotmaking can get you there. And he knows that. He and I have been talking about it. There’s a big rock, and he’s got to keep chipping away at that rock. That’s how you do it. It takes an amazing amount of persistence and wherewithal to get through something like that. Ask Wes Matthews. Ask Parsons. Ask Dirk (Nowitzki) when he came back three years ago. It’s extremely difficult. These guys are all strong-willed guys. Parsons is a lot tougher guy than a lot of people think.”
DONUT 9: Stay in Touch!
Please visit me, Zack Cunningham, on Twitter here. You can catch The Fish on Twitter here, and we invite you to also check out Matt Galatzan and Jonny Auping. Meanwhile, get more Mavs stories in our Archives section -- all the interviews, columns, videos, game coverage, breaking news and scoops individually stacked for your protection!
DONUT 10: See you at The Maverick Bar!
A great place to watch the NFL games this weekend and the Mavs every night is at Fish's place, The Maverick Bar at 1616 Hebron in Carrollton. The best Texas-flavored burgers in town, a staff that will remember your name and your favorites, a 200-inch screen and 30 other brand-new HDTVs are all at your service!
DONUT 11: More points = more wins? (who knew)
From Nov. 25 - Dec. 04, Dallas had a stretch of five sub-100 point performances in six games. They went 1-4 in those contests. If you're keen on overlapping comparisons, from Dec. 1 - 14 (that includes last night's game), the Mavs have topped the century mark in five out of seven games ... and have gone 4-3 in that span.
DONUT 12: Turnovers, turnovers
Dallas has, by and large, been a team that takes care of the ball this season (third-fewest in the league with 13.6 a game). However, Monday's 16 miscues marked the eighth time in 25 games this season the Mavericks have had 16 or more turnovers. Their season high is 19, a mark they hit against Memphis and Philadelphia, but the scary thing for opponents is that in those eight games of 16+ turnovers, they've scored 100 or more points four times and 110+ twice.
As Dallas continues to gel offensively, those TO numbers figure to only go down ... and maybe the point totals will rise correspondingly.
DONUT 13: The Final Word
Now we get ready for another "put butt-hurt behind us, with Dallas at Indy on Wednesday.
That means Monta Ellis.
"I know all too well what he does to his former teams,'' Carlisle said. "When he was us, he killed Milwaukee and Golden State.''