DONUT 1: A 'Must' 92-90 Win
In desperate need of a win, without their best big man, and 24 hours from facing the NBA’s best team, the Mavs walked into the Staples Center with their proverbial backs against the wall.
Can your back be against a wall before a game even starts? Yeah, this had that feel, with the added "trap game" motif due to the late-day decision to have Kobe beg out of the lineup along with the looming Wednesday trip up the coast to Golden State.
So ... It’s not often that you talk about a ‘must-win’ game in late January in the NBA, but after dropping two in a row, if you had to pick one for the Mavs so far this season, this was it.
DONUT 2: Quotable
Fortunately, what looked for a time like a path to a disastrous loss in The City of Angels turned into a much-needed W for Dirk and the Mavs.
"He lives for those moments," said JJ Barea (a team-high 18 points) of Nowitzki in a most insightful post-game reflection. "That's why he's still playing."
DONUT 3: Fat Lead
Thanks to Chandler Parsons' hot start, the Mavs jumped out to a 32-25 lead to end the first quarter. Parsons would end the quarter with 11 points on three-of-three shooting, including a pair of 3s early on. In a surprise move, Salah Mejri got the starting nod at center in place of the injured Zaza Pachulia, contributing six points of his own in the first period.
DONUT 4: Lead Lost
The Lakers would close the gap, and end the second quarter on top of the Mavs 58-56, thanks in large part to eight points from Swaggy P, and a plethora of free throws. It was a very frustrating quarter for Dallas due to poor rebounding and several breakdowns on the defensive end of the floor. It was also a quiet quarter for CP, who managed just two points on two attempts. (Parsons finished with 17.)
DONUT 5: Numbers Balanced
Statistically, these teams were about as even as it gets in most facets of the game. (No compliment to Dallas against what is now a 9-38 LA team.) The Mavs shot 43 percent from the floor, including six-of-25 from three, with the Lakers shooting 41 percent and seven-of-25 from the field on their end.
The Mavs would also shoot 20-26 from the line, with Los Angeles shooting 23-of-28.
The Lakers edged the Mavs in points in the paint 30-26, while Dallas turned the ball over just six times to the Lakers' 12. And how does the scoring reflect the closeness of this game? Neither team ever managed a double-digit lead. And in the fourth? The biggest lead either way was three. Too close for comfort ... until the 2.1-seconds mark, that is.
DONUT 6: No Zaza
The one area of the floor that Los Angeles had a significant edge however, was rebounding. The Mavs obviously missed Zaza inside, as evidence by the Lakers advantage on the boards. Los Angeles out rebounded the Mavs 47-35, including eight on the offensive end of the floor. The Mavs have struggled on the glass in their last few outings, and against a team like the Lakers, they could ill-afford to give those young players second and third scoring chances.
The Mavs continue to list Zaza's injury as one of the "lower leg" variety. We continue to have some concern that this is about the Achilles, which Zaza had surgery on in the 2012-13 season.
DONUT 7: Dirk is Dirk
Ultimately, just when it seemed like the Mavs were going to drop an inexplicable loss to a team that was 28 games under .500 coming in, The Tall Baller From The G came alive.
In the fourth - with Kobe and boxing champ Floyd Mayweather among the trash-talking observers, Dirk scored eight (of his total of 13) points, including a back-breaking fadeaway over Julius Randle with just 2.1 seconds to go in the game, giving the Mavs the 92-90 win over the Lakers.
“Obviously, the play was get the ball right there, either high elbow or somewhere in between,” Nowitzki said. “You know, just wait till the clock goes down and make a move either way. And obviously, the entire league knows I like going left, so he was really high side on me. And all I had to do was kind of rip through, take a dribble and shoot. It felt good leaving my hands, so I’m kinda glad it went in.”
Kinda? Yeah. We are, too.
DONUT 8: Respect
In what was supposed to be Dirk and Kobe’s final showdown, the Big German and the Black Mamba were at least able to show their respect to one another after Dirk hit the dagger.
Said Kobe: "He and I have had a lot of battles, and I'm sure we'll have some more when the cameras aren't around."
(We're not sure what that even means, but OK.)
Said Dirk, who makes your voting for "The Dirkie" rather obvious, we think: "I heard him talk some noise during the game. So that was fun."
Hey, Justin Anderson is but a rookie yet he knows what he's witnessing here.
DONUT 9: Time to Party!
Thursday is the day of our one-year anniversary party for The Maverick Bar! We're at 1616 Hebron in Carrollton, open for lunch at 11, with "Ben & Skin" broadcasting live at 3 and the whole 105.3 The Fan gang hanging out all day and night, plus prizes, celebrity guests, classic cars on display from PM Standley Motorcars and live music at 8 with the Rockaholics.
It's gonna be a blast and I'd love to meet you Thursday at my place, The Maverick Bar, 1616 Hebron in Carrollton!
DONUT 10: Clutch DNA
It was yet another win in clutch time for the Mavs, and it came at a time when they needed it desperately.
Now, heading into Oakland to take on the juggernaut that is Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors (41-4), the Mavs have a much-needed win in their back pocket, as well as some momentum moving forward.
And they have Dirk, and his DNA, and his incomparable grasp of The Moment. Example? Said little buddy JJ Barea, who helped out late, too, with a controversial charge drawn on Lou Williams with 13.5 seconds left:
"Dirk knew exactly where Kobe was sitting."
DONUT 11: Golden Road
That "path of disaster" avoided in LA? It now turns golden -- that is, Golden State, where everything the defending champs touch turns into ... success.
The Mavs (26-21) did defeat the Curry-less Warriors in their only meeting of the season, but with the NBA’s ‘golden child’ back in the lineup for their second meeting, the Mavs will need play much better game on both ends of the floor if they want to head back to Dallas on Thursday on a positive note.
DOUNT 12: The Final Word
“It was a great shot. It was extremely well-timed, and I noticed after he hit it he went and gave Kobe a little tap. Hey, you’re looking at one of the all-time great clutch players doing what he does, and it’s just amazing that he keeps doing it the way he does it.” - Coach Rick Carlisle.