Mavs Crush Warriors: Fear The Beards?
DONUT 1: Foreward ...
"The beards are great," Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before Saturday's game, "but growing a beard is not going to make you play well."
With a 116-91 victory over the Golden State Warriors, playing their fourth game in five nights, Dallas is now 2-0 since the ".500 Beards" proclamation became public knowledge, and has won three of the past four games in total.
This 25-point victory marks their second largest winning margin of the season (the previous high coming with a 27-point rout of the Bobcats back on Nov. 3rd, the third game of the season).
Maybe a beard can't make you play well, but if it can play any role in a solid victory over a good Warriors team, we'll take it.
At 22-28, the beards are here for at least six more games.
DONUT 2: Shawn Marion is good. ...
Marion finished with 26 points, the second highest point total he's had as a member of the Mavericks (the high is 29, which he's done twice), 11-of-16 field goals, 2-of-3 behind the arc, 11 rebounds, two steals, one block and no turnovers in 30 minutes of action.
This was Marion's team-leading 12th double-double of the season, and his plus/minus of plus-21 is his second best of the season (best was +22 against the Timberwolves Jan. 14th).
Over the last seven games, ‘Trix is averaging: 17.7 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 1 block, 1.4 turnovers, 56 FG%, and 36.4 3PT%.
"He has been playing great all year, so it isn't really anything new,'' Carlisle said of Marion, who in the last five games is averaging 18 points and 10 rebounds per. "He hasn't had the huge stats all year but he has given us big games in timely situations and so it was one of those.
Like we said: Shawn Marion is good.
DONUT 3: "Trade Rumor Traffic'' ...
We've launched one of DB.com's most popular and important features, Mavs Trade Rumor Traffic,'' and we begin with a pair of Josh Smith-related angles.
Included: The exclusive answer to the question of whether Smith-as-a-Mav would be a lure, or a blockade, to acquiring Dwight Howard.
Also on the site in DB.com Archives: The truth about what Vince Carter's been told about a trade, our "Normandy Beach'' Q-and-A with Donnie Nelson, and why the Calderon talks broke down.
Premium stuff, 14 years running, the best in the business. DallasBasketball.com.
DONUT 4: Spread the Mayo ...
OJ Mayo led or tied for the Mavs high in assists for the 18th time this season, tying his season-high with nine to go with 19 points, 6-of-13 field goals, 2-of-4 3-pointers, three rebounds, two steals, one block and only two turnovers in 36 minutes.
Going back to training camp, Mayo has continually stated his desire to become a player that can positively impact a game even when his shot isn't falling. Gradually, we're seeing signs of this trickling towards becoming a truth.
Despite the fact that Mayo has seen the law of averages catch up to his 3-point percentage, he has improved in almost every other facet of the game.
DONUT 5: Old Mayo vs. New Mayo ...
Mayo's numbers through Dec. 31 per 36 minutes: 18.7 points, 45.9 FG%, 45.5 3PT%, 3.8 assists, 3.3 turnovers, 1.3 steals and a plus/minus of minus-4.3.
Mayo's numbers since Jan. 1 per 36 minutes: 17 points. 48.0 FG%, 37.0 3PT%, 5.5 assists, 2.1 turnovers, 1.3 steals and a plus/minus of plus-2.5.
His scoring may have dropped, but this is merely a product of taking less shots and converting his 3-pointers at a more sustainable rate as he has been a more efficient scorer overall.
It's also worth nothing the drop of 1.2 turnovers per 36 minutes, paired with a rise of 1.7 assists. He's making fewer mistakes even as he's been relied upon more as a creator for his teammates.
DONUT 6: Quoteboard ...
"Anything to help the team,'' said Elton Brand (11 points/11 rebounds) of both his role and his willingness to grow his facial hair despite the protests of his wife. "I'll put fire ants in my pants if it'll help.''
DONUT 7: What, me worry? ...
Dirk Nowitzki finished with 15 points and six rebounds, but hit only three of his 12 shot attempts, including missing his first six, and continues to look a step slow on defense.
How worried should we be?
Our answer, we're not … at least not yet.
Perhaps there are lingering effects of the strained right adductor, perhaps he's still working his way back into shape after missing the first 27 games of the season, perhaps he's still trying to find his place within the constructs of a team designed to forgo the need to lean so heavily on him for scoring … a team with nine new faces that grew together for 27 games before sharing the court with him … and note the fact that this roster does not feature a player who has shown the ability to consistently get the ball to Dirk at his spots, within the most opportune windows.
It's not any single one of these factors, but the product of the whole.
There stands a chance that we'll only see glimpses of Dirk this season, but that doesn't mean he's destined to never be capable of anything more than contributing 15 points per game.
There's a difference between being on the decline of one's career, which Dirk certainly is, and having declined to the point of mediocrity.
If Dirk is playing poorly a month into next season, then we'll be officially worried.
DONUT 8: Want more Mavs? ...
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DONUT 9: Who Deserves 'The Dirkie'? ...
Does Trix 'Deserve The Dirkie'? Mavs fans vote here!
DONUT 10: Mavsellaneous...
*Dallas was 6-22 against teams entering the night with a record over .500 … they are now 7-22.
*The 25-point win was the second largest margin of victory of the season for the Mavs. The first came back in the third game of the season, when Dallas beat the Bobcats by 27.
*The Mavs are now 5-0 when scoring at least 25 fastbreak points, with all five instances having come at home. Their 29 fastbreak points Saturday night is the third highest of the season. The season high was 35 against Detroit, Dec. 1.
*Dirk was 8-of-11 from the free-throw line. With those makes he now has 6,059 for his career and has moved into the 15th spot in all-time free-throw makes in NBA history, passing Wilt Chamberlain. Next up: Bob Pettit at 6,182.
DONUT 11: Marion as trade bait? ...
"I'm just playing ball," Marion said. "When (trade) situations arise, I'm going to let it take care of itself. But right now, I'm a Dallas Maverick and that's what it's about."
Trix is going to attract fisherman. It's the sort of thing that can happen to a seeming non-contender like Dallas with a roster member like a seeming over-the-top player like Marion.
Proof, beyond what he did Saturday, of his long-standing value? Marion now has 1,607 steals for his career. With his next steal he will tie Mark Jackson for the 26th most in NBA history.
Marion has the fourth most career steals of all active players. Those ahead of him are: Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and Metta World Peace.
So yes, other clubs will be attracted. But if the Mavs achieve their goal, the idea of trading Marion won't be in play -- because Dallas will surely need him if it is serious about a late-season run at the playoffs.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
Sure, the Warriors were playing their fourth game in five nights, but records show no quarter for circumstance. There is no accounting for "degree" of wins. There are only wins and losses.
And the fact is, Dallas played one of their most complete games of the season, holding Golden State to 38.2-percent shooting, scoring 15 points off of turnovers and outscoring the Warriors 29-8 on fastbreak points … in other words, they did exactly what you would want them to do against a team that could be facing the constraints of fatigue: Dallas attacked.
This was a strong win at a time when any win would do.
Since the calendar flipped over to 2013 the Mavs are 10-9 and have a point differential of plus-2.2. It's not ideal, but it is a marked improvement over the 12-19 record and minus-3.5 point differential prior.
""Everybody has been counting us out,'' said Darren Collison. "We're the only ones that believe that we feel that we can still make the playoffs.''
It's a collection of baby steps in the right direction in need of many more … but they can only come one at a time.