Mavs Holiday Donuts: Dirk's Feel-Good Christmas In LA

'It feels good to sit on a two-game winning streak before Christmas,' said Dirk after Friday's shocking win at the Clippers, 'and we've just got to keep grinding it out.' Inside, your feel-good holiday Mavs Holiday Donuts!

DONUT 1: Mavs 90, Clippers 88

The Mavs weathered an amazing game from Jamal Crawford and got a win on the road on Friday, the eve of Christmas Eve..

A well-timed jumper from Barnes—one in which he refused to settle from the outside and got to the interior with 3.7 seconds to go—gave the Mavericks a 90-88 victory over the LA Clippers IN Los Angeles.

The Mavericks kept the game close most of the way—even during a rough-shooting second half—and found a way to win.

Do that too many times, and they’re going to start climbing up the standings.

DONUT 2: Streaks

The Mavericks broke and started a few streaks here. Let’s talk about a few of them:

  1. The Mavericks won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
  2. The Mavericks hadn’t won a single game this season when trailing going into the 4th quarter—last night changed that too.
  3. The Mavericks hadn’t won a single game that I covered this season—you won’t find that one in the official NBA stat book, but that’s an oversight on their part, and I’m keeping you informed.

Oh, and then there’s my favorite streak that got busted:

DONUT 3: It’s Great to Be Back

After missing 14 games in a row, the big German, Dirk Nowitzki, was back on the court for the Dallas Mavericks. 

Normally, I would discount how much impact 15 minutes from a rusty player had on the Mavs victory—but the man shot a super-efficient 7 of 12 from the floor last night, pulled down 4 boards, and had 17 points. 

Said The UberMan: "It feels good to sit on a two-game winning streak before Christmas, and we've just got to keep grinding it out.'

The idea that old and banged-up Dirk still has the engine that lets him come in and score more than a point-per-minute in the NBA—well, that gives me hope for a better finish to his career than I’d started to fear lately. 

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Who Deserves 'The Dirkie'? You vote ... and it might be fun to vote for Dirk himself! 

DONUT 4: Perspective

Whether you’re part of team draft-pick (that’s me) or team 8th Seed (I know you’re out there doing the math for the 32-5 streak the Mavs would need to tear off right now)—you probably see games like this and overvalue them.

If you’re one to over-value Friday night’s game, you might see a team that just got back a key player and then won on the road vs. one of the NBA’s best teams. That’s great news if you’re hoping for a last gasp playoff spot—and terrible news if  you’re hoping for a top 5 pick. Right?

Wrong.

Please don’t make-believe this game into something more than it was.

Is it nice to see this hard-working Mavs team get a victory? Yes. But, let’s not forget that Blake Griffin is out for several weeks after surgery and Chris Paul didn’t play last night either.

Those aren’t just the two best players on that Clippers roster—they’re two of the best players at their respective positions in the entire NBA.

I love Ray-Ray, and I miss seeing him in a Mavs uniform—but he’s a hell of a drop-off from Chris Paul.

The cynical reality is this: If the Mavs were ever going to beat the Clippers this season, this night was the perfect storm. Even then, they needed a last-second shot to get there. Relax. Everybody.

DONUT 5: Jamal Crawford

Not a lot of people know this about me, but for the last decade, every time Jamal Crawford wound up back on the open market, I wondered why he didn’t end up in Dallas. 

When my Mavs squad traded for him in NBA 2K16 last year, I was ecstatic.

Incidentally, this is the same way I felt about Jose Calderon for years ... and I got to watch him play ball in DFW for a short time ... though I’ll admit that experiment didn’t work out too well.

The fact is, I always thought Jamal would’ve been the perfect secondary scoring option for a team with Dirk on it. The guy has won Sixth-Man of the Year three different times this decade—and probably could’ve made a case for himself most of the years he hasn’t started.

Here, he reminded us that he’s probably a starter in a sixth-man’s body, because he elevated his game when it became clear that he was his team’s number one option.

Crawford hit 10 of 16 shots, a lot of them right in the face of perfect defense, and had 6 assists to go with his 26 points. At times, last night, I watched the man take shots that no other human would attempt, and he buried them. I’m glad he didn’t manage one last shot—although it would’ve been great for Team Draft Pick.

DONUT 6: So Much for Second Chances

The Dallas Mavericks, and I can’t believe I’m typing this, dominated the offensive glass. The Mavericks hauled in a ridiculous 14 offensive rebounds.

On the other hand, the Mavs also shot incredibly poorly (especially in the second half) and didn’t always convert on those second-chance opportunities.

The extra misses meant they had extra shots at offensive boards. The close score means they didn’t convert those second chances nearly enough.

DONUT 7: Harrison Barnes, Assassin

Friday night, a reporter asked Harrison Barnes if he realized his game-winning shot looked a lot like the kind of shot Dirk would’ve made. Barnes joked that Dirk reminds Barnes constantly that he wrote the playbook that makes Harrison so successful.

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Here, after the game, Dirk referred to Barnes as a, “mid-range assassin,” and that’s exactly how I’ll phrase it when I get this hip-hop career off the ground.

For now, let’s appreciate that the man the Mavs have turned to for scoring shot 11 of 19 last night, grabbed 6 boards, scored 24 points (again) and hit the game winning bucket with 3.7 seconds to go on the road.

Barnes is shaping up to be a steal, even before the new CBA makes his contract look quaint.

Coach Rick Carlisle's thought on the shot?

“You get the ball in the hands of your best player, and you give him the opportunity to win the game. And that’s what Harrison did,” Carlisle said.

DONUT 8: Against All Odds

The Mavericks are lucky that they’ve embraced defense, because they’d be lost without it. Here, despite starting the 3rd quarter shooting 1 of 12, they were still within a couple of scores.

Going into the Mavs' final possession of the fourth quarter they’d shot 8 of 21 in the 4th, while the Clippers had shot 7 of 14. The Mavs would finish 9 of 22 in the quarter and the NUMBER of makes—rather than the quality of makes—wound up being the difference.

It’s so hard to know how much luck the Mavs needed to win that game—but the numbers suggest that the only reason Dallas managed a victory is because they grabbed offensive rebounds and they kept the other team from getting up enough shots.

The 1 for 12 stretches and 8 for 21 stretches are rarely going to cut it in the NBA. Somehow, last night, they cut it—but the cut it close.

DONUT 9: Three Pointers Again?

Hard numbers: 7 of 29 (24.1 percent) from beyond the arc. 30 of 58 (51.7 percent) from everywhere else.

Drive the ball. Get guys like Jordan and Crawford in foul trouble. It works. It helps. It makes you a better team. 

It also helps you avoid terrible regressive games like the one Finney-Smith had here, where he missed all eight of his shots and took six of them from beyond the arc.

DONUT 10: Justin Anderson Play of the Game

One of the most egregious moments, however, belongs to the 1 of 8 Wes Matthews. He got the ball on the wing, delivered a perfect pump fake, had his man in the air, drove past him for what would’ve been an open mid-range shot (or better).

Instead? Matthews plants and LEAPS backwards so that his feet are behind the line, gives his defender plenty of time to recover, and either air-balled the three outright, or had it swatted by a defender.

Either way, he took a beautiful play and turned it into garbage, and that’s what this award is all about.

DONUT 11: Free Throws

The Dallas Mavericks get to the line a league-low 17.7 times a game. Detroit is 29th in the league with 19 attempts per game.

A lot of that has to do with the reputation you build when you take 29 threes and you look terrible doing it.

It’s a shame, though, because when they actually get to the line, the Mavericks are pretty fine compared to the rest of league at CONVERTING those chances (79.3 percent).

Here, they were worse than usual in both categories.

The Mavericks managed only 15 trips to the line (yes, 2.7 fewer than their league-worst 17.7) and they converted only 60% of them.

Any other night, and those numbers could’ve been the difference in a 2 point win vs a 2 point loss—but luck favored the Mavs last night.

DONUT 12: DeAndre Jordan Apology Tour?

Jordan stank on Friday. 

Yeah, he had 17 rebounds and 2 blocks, but he also scored only seven points against a Mavs team with a shallow interior defense. 

The almost-Mav committed a few really-costly fouls, he was 1 of 4 from the free throw line (and looked rookie-quarterback scared while he took the last two), he managed a completely unnecessary goal tending violation on a ball that was nowhere near going in, and he got stuffed by Seth Curry.

Last night the Clippers got to see what their team looks like with Jordan as their best player on the court. 

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It looks a lot like a first-round playoff exit.

DONUT 13: The Final Word

“It felt good. I thought this team has done a good job of just continuing to fight this year. We got off to a rough start and road wins have been difficult, so to get this one was huge for us.” - Harrison Barnes.


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