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A Mavs Win, Dirk's Knee & Delonte's Conduct
DONUT 1: Down goes Delonte ...
Delonte West has been suspended for "conduct detrimental to the team'' after a late Monday locker room incident in which the guard "cut it loose,'' according to a source.
"Cut it loose'' would seem to be a polite way to describe an action so negative that Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said was obligated to announce the suspension shortly after the team's 124-103 preseason home-opening win over Houston. Carlisle neither described the incident nor specified a timetable for West's return.
West participated in the game, playing 17 minutes (scoring two points with two assists). It is not known if playing time is associated with his locker-room behavior, but he is part of a crowded backcourt in which newcomers Darren Collison and OJ Mayo start ahead of him. Younger players Dominique Jones and Jared Cunningham played most of the fourth-quarter minutes as the backcourt combo in sealing the win.
For what it's worth: Via Delonte's Twitter account, Monday seemed an emotional day for him as it was his mother's birthday.
The veteran West has been forthcoming about his bipolar disorder, which he manages with the help of medication. For the most part, fan-favorite Delonte has been a positive for Dallas – and cited by Carlisle as such – in part due to his openness about his hard-knocks background.
DONUT 2: O.J.'s home debut ...
Guard OJ Mayo's game wasn't right in the two games in Europe as he contributed a total of nine points, five rebounds, six assists, four steals, four turnovers and, most alarmingly, was just 2-of-13 from the field in 50 minutes. Part of that was the 0-of-7 shooting in 24 minutes in Barcelona, which we now know might've been the result of a hand injury he bandaged up and played with.
His hand seems OK.
Mayo scored 20 points, including a cluster of 3's bridging the second and third quarters, to lead a rout of the Rockets. Said Carlisle: "O.J. did a terrific job. There are some defensive things he needs to do better, and a lot of guys need to do better, but offensively, we play the kind of game that we want to play-aggressive, stepping into open shots, attacking when it's there, and when it's not just keep moving the ball. The ball movement is going to be really important."
That fits Mayo's overall game, as he is a talented passer from the 2-guard spot. But as a shooter, he enjoys getting the "green light'' -- though this light is a different shade from the one that sometimes got him in trouble in Memphis.
"It's (still) a green light, but a responsible green light," OJ says, smiling.
Dirk, for one, never was concerned about the Euro misses.
"He'll be all right,'' Nowitzki said. "He's been working since July when I was here, running in the gym, shooting, so he put in a lot of work in the summer and has just got to put it together with the new teammates. I'm not worried about him. He's a hard worker.''
DONUT 3: Speaking of "Dirk'' and "worry'' ...
Dirk Nowitzki declined to speak before the game and declined to play in the game as well. Why? That troublesome swelling has returned to his right knee.
"I'm doing everything I can not to have surgery," Nowitzki said, stressing his wish to be "conservative.'' "I guess that's obvious that I really don't want it done now. If I want to do it, I would love to do it after the season, get through the season somehow.''
Frankly, though. this is the second Dallas Mavericks training camp in a row Dirk's endured a sore right knee. Last year -- maybe in part due to Nowitzki not coming into camp in prime shape -- it took nearly two months to get fully healthy.
After openly discussing how great his legs felt entering training camp, it is a bit surprising to see Nowitzki miss a second preseason exhibition with a knee issue. ... and now it's a bit surprising to see him attempt to delay the seemingly inevitable.
It's to his credit, though, and typical UberMan: He simply doesn't want to miss time with "his boys.'' The full and inside story here.
DONUT 4: The Young Star of The Game ...
If Mayo was the most impressive among the new vets, Mavs forward Jae Crowder gets the honors for the group of new kids. He demonstrated remarkable range as a shooter, scoring 20, and drew the love of the AAC crowd for his defensive intensity and obvious joy in playing.
"It was a good moment for me to come out in front of the home crowd and play free,'' Jae said. "The first group set the tone early in the second half so we just came in and played loose and played good basketball."
So loose that Crowder was unleashing shots that might have been less advisable in a tight and/or meaningful game. And yet ... Maybe his offense is the real deal?
"I came into camp knowing I had to improve on my outside shooting and be more consistent,'' he said. "To get minutes on this team I need to be able to stretch the floor and that's what I've been trying to work on and that's what the coaches have been working me with and trying to get better every day."
DONUT 5: It's Halloween! Time to check out Frisco Party Station! ...
Robert and his family-owned Frisco Party Station has long been the go-to place for Halloween, for celebrations and now, even for Mavs-themed parties! They are the best in the business, are long-time DB.com readers, Mavs season-ticket holders and excited to help you with your Halloween!
DONUT 6: Deep depth ...
Off the bench, the Mavs got the 20 from Crowder, plus 15 from Vince Carter and 10 from Brandan Wright. Does it speak to the Mavs' depth? Maybe. Does any of it add up to regular-season success?
"We were going to play a lot of guys tonight,'' Rick said. "I don't want to run anyone's minutes up because we are going to practice (Tuesday). But, beyond that, it's been a competitive camp, we've talked about our depth and it showed tonight.''
In other words, playing this many guys and allowing this many minutes to the kids isn't exactly the plan. But in a preseason game featuring no Dirk, watching Jared and Bernard in particular flying up and down the court ... big fun.
DONUT 7: Can B-Wright stretch? ...
We know he can "stretch'' in the physical sense, as B-Wright is almost elastic when it comes to hops. But can he "stretch'' in the basketball sense -- that is, be a forward with enough shooting range to stretch the floor?
"We've worked with him and he's worked on stretching out his range a little bit,'' Rick said after Wright did some of that against Houston. "We want him to be aggressive to look for 16-to-17-foot shots when they're there. ... He's a skilled guy and plays above the rim.''
As with the aforementioned Crowder, this is the point in a big's development when he often hits a roadblock. Wright does indeed "play about the rim''; that's a skill that is God-given and he's had it since being a teenager. Now comes another level of development, hopefully: Stretch.
DONUT 8: Thanks, Esparza's! ...
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DONUT 9: Your game highlights package ...
DONUT 10: A Hand To The Ground ...
I enjoy dispelling sports myths and goofing on sports platitudes, so I got a laugh when Carlisle referenced the difference between Dallas' approach in the first and second halves.
"We stepped up and played at a higher level of physical capacity,'' he said. "Our effort wasn't where it needed to be in the first half, but the second half it was there. No tricky, strategic things or anything like that. Like they say in football, 'You put your hand to the ground and play,' and that's what we did in the second half.''
And that's how a 58-57 halftime deficit because a 77-62 lead. A 20-0 run, an up-tempo and a figurative hand to the ground.
In related news, "halftime adjustments'' are overrated.
DONUT 11: Where's Lin? ...
If you went to the AAC expecting to see Dirk ... sorry about that. If you went to see Jeremy Lin ... sorry again.
"We had planned on this already,'' Rockets coach Kevin McHale explained. "This was his day off.''
Lin, once upon a time a Mavs Summer-Leaguer, signed a three-year, $25 million free agent contract with the Rockets this summer. He had knee surgery in the offseason (not dissimilar to what the Mavs might hope for with Dirk). He played in the Rockets' first three preseason games but has totaled just 16 points and 14 assists in 68 minutes.
"He's finding his way,'' McHale said.
DONUT 12: The Final Word ...
It's been an eventful preseason for Dirk, and "eventful'' includes the odd joy of dealing with certain Mavs fans ... including the gentleman pictured below who requested a Dirk autograph placed ... just so.