DONUT 1: We salute you, Sarge ...
There weren't many positives to take from the Dallas Mavericks' 110-95 blowout at the hands of the Heat. (Read our All-Access Pass here.)
But tucked inside this debacle was a silver lining: the tough and springy play of rookie Bernard James. With Brandon Wright and Elton Brand both out of the game with injuries (something that might be the case again tonight in Memphis), "Sarge'' answered the bell in a big way.
James actually seemed intent on trying to take advantage of the Heat’s relatively small lineup. He did a good job of getting himself positioned under the basket and catching the ball.
James finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and three blocks ... oh, and rave reviews from a Steve Kerr-led TNT crew that talked of envisioning him being a big help in playing side-by-side with Dirk.
Said coach Rick Carlisle: “He’s been a positive guy all year for us. Whenever he’s been thrust into situations, there’s been a couple times he’s struggled, but he brings energy, he brings force, he brings rim protection. He goes and gets the ball and he’s a little better than a lot of people think at finishing around the basket.”
It's a reason to watch Mavs at Memphis tonight. Does "Sarge'' do it again? Does the coach's level of faith allow him to do it again?
DONUT 2: Speaking of watching tonight ...
It'll be Fish and Coach Ortegel on the Fox Sports Southwest pregame show beginning at 6:30, and then the handoff to Followill and Harp, for Mavs-at-Memphis. Stick around all evening for Fish and Ortegel on the postgame show as well!
DONUT 3: Stay informed on your Mavs! ...
You can catch the details on all the big Dallas Mavericks' stories here in the DallasBasketball.com Archives and here with fans like you on DB.com Boards!
DONUT 4: Lebron’s party ...
Much has been made of the party that Lebron James "hosted'' in Dallas on Wednesday night after flying in from Miami. All of our jokes aside, it would be more accurate to say LeBron "appeared'' at the party at the nightclub Zouk. The appearance -- a commonplace happening in the NBA world -- was arranged months ago. And then, on the fly, the “Fade to Black” event arranged to give 10 percent of the proceeds to the family of the late Dallas Cowboys practice-squadder Jerry Brown.
"Fade to Black''? Isn't that inappropriate? A bar raising money for a person killed in a drunk-driving accident? Isn't that inappropriate?
It's certainly ... awkward. But a) it's not James' fault; he was a well-paid "guest'' masquerading as the "host.'' And b) the club was trying to do a nice thing, a nice thing that included the participation of Brown's mother.
Some would probably be pleased had this event been held at, say, a church. But again, the party was pre-arranged. And the tickets were purchased. And now the 10 percent will be donated.
When you understand the details, it's actually a nice -- if awkward -- gesture.
DONUT 5: LeBron busy being LeBron ...
We have our fun poking at LeBron for reasons that are self-evident. But to be fair -- as it relates to the promotional party and to his personal life -- he has never in his pro career, in our recollection, been in the headlines as an offcourt troublemaker.
No, his trouble is caused on the court. And once we get beyond our sports-hate for him ...
Well, the fact that he was able to come out and drop 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists against the Mavs goes to show that he didn’t exactly wear himself out at Zouk.
Despite what you may think about Lebron James’ personality or demeanor, the fact of the matter is that reigning MVP is having another road-to-the-Hall-of-Fame season.
It might seem like James is having a relatively under-the-radar year, at least for his standards, thus far. But that's because we take his greatness for granted. Fact is, that James is averaging more points, rebounds and assists than any Maverick this season.
James is averaging 25.2 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and 6.9 assists. The Mavericks leading scorer is Mayo at 20.6, Shawn Marion at 7.9, and Darren Collison at 5.3.
DONUT 6: Thanks, Red Rock! ...
The BIGGEST place to watch sports? Red Rock Bar & Grill, with the 200-inch screen and the life-long Mavs passion and live music on the weekends, too! Thanks for the partnership, Red Rock!
DONUT 7: Mayo as a Wade Starter Kit ...
When you look at how the two shooting guards are playing this season, you’ll find it’s not the most ridiculous concept in the world.
Wade is averaging 19.7 points per game, 3.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He’s shooting 51 percent from the field and 31 percent from three-point range.
Mayo is averaging 20.6 points per game, 4 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He’s shooting 49 percent from the field and 52% from three-point range.
It’s true that Wade likely has a higher level of play that he might be saving for later in the year while in order to not wear down too early. But on the other hand, Wade has the advantage of playing alongside the best player on the planet, while Mayo has been asked to be the primary scorer and creator for the Mavericks in the absence of Dirk Nowitzki.
But ... in this game, Wade finished with 19 points, 5 rebounds and six assists. He shot 7-of-13.
Mayo finished the game with 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. He shot 3-of-14.
After the game Rick Carlisle talked about what the Heat did to keep Mayo in check.
“They were trapping him,” Carlisle said. “In those situations he’s got to be a guy that creates an advantage by being trapped and move the ball quickly.”
Mayo has moved his way up the rankings of shooting guards this season, but he didn’t exactly show it Thursday as he continues to adjust to the responsibilities of being the No. 1 go-to guy.
Wade talked about O.J. Mayo being a focal point of the Heat and how he defended him.
“O.J.’s an unbelievable talent,” Wade said. “He’s been having a great season shooting the ball. The challenge for myself early on was just trying to make it tough on him. Our big guys did a good job of when he ran pick and rolls they were there and he saw two bodies.”
It's the sort of thing Wade sees often. For Mayo, the process continues ...
In fact, it continues tonight, as Memphis is OJ's old stomping grounds. Juice pulled a change of direction all in one quote when asked about the special meaning of the visit to his former employer.
“Not at all,'' he said when asked if beating Memphis is a special point of emphasis to him, given the circumstances. "It’s another game on the schedule ... I think the guys understand how bad I want the game, how much I want to play well and the team to play well.”
DONUT 8: Follow Fish and Jonathan and the Mavs on Twitter ...
DONUT 9: What's the problem with Johnny Football? ...
We're seeing lots of criticism of Johnny Manziel because he has front-row seats to the game. (And was among the many footballers in the gym to see Mavs-Miami.)
We don't get the criticism.
The Heisman Trophy winner gets tickets. He's out of school. He's not missing a class or a practice (not that it would be much of an issue even if he was). Why can't a college freshman with tickets attend a pro basketball game?
DONUT 10: Pre-Dirk Identity: Persistence ...
Before Wednesday’s game, Carlisle was asked what the identity of this team was without Nowitzki.
“Persistent,” Carlisle said. “Up-tempo. A team that really has to out-scrap their opponent. That’s our identity without Dirk.”
That persistence was not exactly on display Thursday night against the Heat. Oh, that the first-quarter run that kept things interesting is a matter of record. And what could've been a 40-point loss, maybe, settled in at a fake-respectable 15-point margin.
But this outcome was almost never in doubt. And there were pockets of lack-of-effort disappointment over the course of 48 minutes.
DONUT 11: Things Will Change ...
Carlisle followed up these comments by saying that identity will not remain the same when Dirk Nowitzki returns to the lineup.
“When Dirk comes back things will change,” Carlisle said. “I would say (change) significantly. But that is our identity.”
So in other words, the Mavericks Of Now have to hustle. They have to scrap. They have to play hard. And if they don’t they probably won’t win. With all due respect to the terrific work of Mayo ... There’s no LeBron James or Kevin Durant on the team to rely on to fill up the stat sheet.
This team was built with Nowitzki as the cornerstone. (And built, as much as we may not like it at this moment, with "Plan Powder'' as another cornerstone.) Every piece was acquired to complement him (and that). They are going to be out-talented some nights, like against Miami. They have a chance to stay in games if they don't get out-worked, something to avoid tonight in Memphis.
But when Nowitzki returns their identity will change, as Carlisle said. Playmakers might become spot-up shooters. Cuts to the basket will be open up as Nowitzki draws double teams. The floor will open up.
Things will change. Things must change.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Carlisle’s not the only one who believes that.
“First of all, Dirk’s not out there, which makes it hard (for Dallas),” said none other than D-Wade. “I think they’ve been pretty damn good not having their man guy here. The guy who really understands what it takes to win here in Dallas ... They have great talent. When Dirk comes back they’ll have an adjustment period, but what they’re doing right now is building confidence in other guys.”
That's a highly optimistic take ... and we'll take it.