DONUT 1. Backs Against The Wall
In the midst of their longest losing streak of the season, the Mavs came into Charlotte with their backs against the proverbial wall, in desperate need of a win to right the ship. ... and not just in the standings, but also in their psyche. These two teams could not have been on more opposite ends of the NBA spectrum coming in, with Charlotte riding a seven-game winning streak, and Dallas dropping five in a row. But, as often happens in the game of basketball, the script did not go according to plan for the team most expected to win, as the slightly-remade Mavs walked out of Time Warner Cable Arena with a 107-96 victory.
"We changed the lineup because we just needed a shakeup," Carlisle said. "But everything is on the table from game-to-game. ... We have to play with persistence. That's our best chance."
DONUT 2: Scary Horizon
One of the biggest problems for the Mavs during this losing streak has been the inconsistency of anyone not named Dirk Nowitzki to put points on the scoreboard. With the multitude of shooters on that end of the floor, it’s a major issue that this many players have been struggling. The good news is, they’ve got some time to figure it all out. The bad news is the Mavs have a brutal five-game stretch on the horizon, in which they face LeBron, as well as the defending NBA Champion Golden State Warriors, twice. It is a very real possibility that the Mavs could be sitting even with or below the Utah Jazz by at the conclusion of this six-game stretch.
But before we worry about the next one, let's have fun with this one. ...
DONUT 3: Quarterly
The Mavericks held a 22-18 lead after one quarter of play, thanks to some solid D, plus six points and five boards from the Big German, who started the game at center. (Our analysis of the Mavs lineup change in Charlotte is here. Stay tuned for Jonny Auping's suggest of two more rotation changes in Mavs Premium, coming up.) Devin Harris also contributed five points of his own, and nearly made a buzzer beating three to end the period from 31 feet out.
Dallas took control of the game in the second quarter behind great production from Devin Harris and David Lee off of the bench. Holding a 52-33 lead going into the locker room, the Mavs were in prime position to break their losing skid, despite their starters lack of offensive production.
Much to the Mavs' chagrin, the Hornets made a serious push in the third quarter, cutting the once-19-point Mavs’ lead to just six, giving the Mavs a 71-65 lead heading into the final 12 minutes of play. The Hornets’ push was lead by Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams, who combined for 16 points in the quarter.
Just when it seemed like the Mavs had blown yet another double-digit lead in route to a sixth-straight defeat, they exploded out of the gate in the fourth, scoring 36 points thanks to a combined 22 from CP and D-Will.
This was a massive win for the Mavs, who could ill-afford to drop another game before embarking on their frightening five-game slate on Wednesday. With this win, the Mavs will (for now) hold on to their eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race, and stay within striking distance of Portland for the six seed. (See our projection of The Week That Will Be in the West here.)
DONUT 4: Arc Madness
The Mavs continued to struggle from beyond the arc in this one, hitting just 1-13 in the first half and 30-percent for the entire game. This will have to work itself out eventually one would think, but the fear from Mavs supporters that it will not is palpable. This is supposed to be one of the Mavs strengths, not a glaring weakness.
Better shot selection? Better design through "flow''? Better fortune? Something.
DONUT 5: Point-Guard Talk
*Devin Harris came to play here. He was the Mavs' leading scorer in the first half, and provided them with some desperately needed offensive production and energy off the bench.
*We don't have to love Raymond Felton in Rick's starting lineup, the changeup that put Dirk in the middle and put Zaza on the bench. But we have to acknowledge its effectiveness.
*Jeremy Lin’s hair continues to be a crime against humanity. Somebody desperately needs to plan an intervention for this guy soon.
DONUT 6: About Zaza
Despite the limited play of Zaza Pachulia in the middle, the Mavs dominated the paint for a significant portion of this game, outscoring the Hornets 38-26 in the paint, and winning on the glass 42-40. Charlotte doesn’t have much in the way of interior defense, but it’s still an encouraging sign for the Mavs moving forward.
Now, what to do with Zaza? Well, for now, ride and rely on his contributions to team chemistry.
Said Rick: "He's the best. I thought his minutes out there were very important. It just goes to show the kind of leader he is on this team. He hopped out there and played six hard minutes and was ready if we needed him again. The message to everybody was, regardless of what we're doing with the lineup, we need everybody."
Said Zaza: "If you ask me, I want to play against all kind of centers -- big, small, all of them. But I don't look at it like I did something wrong. Nobody does. Talking to the coach, he feels the same way. We're playing small ball more, and whatever works. This is a team sport. And everybody needs to be ready."
DONUT 7: A Hornets Glance
The Hornets have performed above expectations for the majority of this season in the Eastern Conference. Coming into Monday’s game against Dallas, Charlotte sat at 37-28, just half-a-game back of the Miami Heat for the Southeast Division lead and the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference Playoff race. They are a young team, with a couple of very exciting pieces on their roster. Michael Jordan won’t win Executive of the Year anytime soon, but he has done a much better job in the last two seasons of putting this team in position to compete.
And Kemba Walker is one of the more exciting players the NBA has to offer these days. He’s quick, explosive, clutch, and has turned into one of the NBA’s deadliest scorers. The Hornets’ prized young guard is averaging 21.4 points, 5.3 assists and has a PER of 21.74 according to ESPN.com. MJ got this pick right, which is something that can’t be said very often. But Walker is now Charlotte’s franchise player, and they will be able to build around him for years to come.
In summary? We've said often that "Dallas never beats anybody good.'' But Wes did some good work against Kemba (working hard for his 25 and they beat somebody here.
DONUT 8: Vintage Dirk
Dirk has been in absolute vintage form over the last five games, averaging 25.6 points and 7.4 rebounds on 54-percent shooting over that stretch. And yet somehow, the Mavs have not been able to take advantage of it until this game. If the Mavs can’t put away opponents when The UberMan is playing at this level, they are going to be in serious trouble.
But if Dirk continues to play at this level? Well, it adds to his legend and that is something.
DONUT 9: The Dirkie/Player of the Game:
Dirk (23 points and 11 rebounds), with the help of his bench in the first half, carried the Mavs until CP and D-Will decided to wake up in the fourth quarter. Without Dirk’s consistency throughout the first three quarters, Dallas may have been toast before this game even entered the final 12 minutes. But this is a democracy, so head over to the DB.com Boards and give us your choice for the Dirkie!
DONUT 10: Mavsellaneous
The Mavs outscored the Charlotte bench 31-19 in the game. With the Mavs starters (outside of Dirk) struggling on the offensive end, the bench, led by David Lee and Devin Harris, helped keep the Mavs on top. ... The Mavs outscored the Hornets 38-26 in the paint in this game. With the Mavs struggling as a team from mid-long range, they were able to find some offense by attacking the basket, which paid major dividends down the stretch. This game was over when Chandler Parsons hit a midrange jumper to put the Mavs up 105-92 with just over a minute to go in the contest. His 24/9 was huge ... After scoring just 19 points in the third quarter, while struggling to score and Charlotte seemingly carrying all of the momentum, the Mavs exploded for 36 points, while shooting 68-percent from the floor in the fourth quarter, effectively burying the Hornets for good in the process. ... The Mavs improve to 11-2 playing at Charlotte since 2000.
DONUT 11: What's Next?
The Mavs travel to Cleveland to Take on LeBron and the Cavs at 6 p,m. from Quicken Loans Arena.
This matchup will be the second game in a brutal stretch for Dallas, that honestly could not have come at a worse time for a struggling team.
DONUT 12: The Final Word
"We're fighting for our playoff lives." - Chandler Parsons.