DONUT 1: THE OVERVIEW ...
Chris Kaman made his regular season debut as a Maverick, playing very well (16 points, 8-of-9 shooting, 4 rebounds, 2 assists), but the night belonged the starting backcourt duo of OJ Mayo and Darren Collison, who combined to score 48 points on an uber-efficient 18-of-29 field-goal attempts (62.1%), including 9-of-12 behind the arc (75%).
As you'll read below and see here, DC kind of set the tone ...
At least on this night, the Dallas Mavericks showed us one thing conclusively: though few view them as contenders, they also don't appear to have slipped into the realm of the "Also-Rans" ... even without Dirk Nowitzki, who missed his third consecutive game as he heals from knee surgery.
DONUT 2: BIG HEAPING BOWL OF MAYO ...
Mayo doesn't have to be a condiment, it can also be the entree ... and goes remarkably well with a tall glass of OJ.
Okay, okay ... terrible food puns aside, Mayo enjoyed his best game as a Maverick.
We've seen that he harbors no hesitancy to shoot, a trait that served him well as he set a new career high with seven made 3-pointers, needing only ten attempts to do so. For the game, he finished with a game-high 30 points on 10-of-17 field goals to go with six rebounds and three assists.
To be concise, this is what Mayo has the ability to do. It remains to be seen if he is capable of shouldering the bulk of the offensive load for an extended stretch, but his explosiveness, his ability to put up 30 at any given time is there ... something he did eight times over his first two seasons in the league, but none over the last two ... percolating beneath a seducing well of potential that forces one to wonder: what if?
Is the Robin found? Is he ready, willing and able to step into the role of being this team's second leading scorer? Is there the chance for something even greater?
It's too early to be certain of anything, but it's easy to see why a street-clothed Dirk watched with a smile as Mayo poured in 30 with such smooth efficiency.
“We’re professionals, so we’re trying to put it together rather fast and make sure we have some success here, knowing that Dirk’s out and we’ve had a couple of injuries,” Mayo said. “We’re just trying to go out there and take care of business.''
DONUT 3: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT ...
Are there any Mavs fans that haven't fallen hard for Darren Collison?
This is certainly not meant to disparage Jason Kidd and the wealth of contributions he brought to the Mavs, contributions that were very much a part of this franchise's only championship. We love Kidd, and we're falling in love with Collison ... but ... they're different.
It almost feels alien to watch a point guard show a blinding burst of speed as he traces the thinnest of crevices within a defense, delivering himself in a blink to the lip of the rim for as easy layup.
There's a giddy joy to watching a fast break carried by churning legs rather than long passes predicated on early releases ... though, to be fair, that's not solely on the point guard. Watching Collison, Mayo, Marion, Wright and or Crowder all push quickly against a defense that has yet to find the time to get back or get set just brings a different kind of excitement that hasn't been present in the recent past.
Again, we're not saying it's better (that would be impossible to say when comparing a 2-1 team, or a point guard three games into his Dallas career, with one that hangs immortalized in the rafters) ... just different.
Collison finished with 18 points, 10 assists, 8-of-12 field goals, and one steal ... his first double-double as a Maverick, the 22nd of his career.
What does Mayo believe is the reason for his early success?
"Darren Collison,'' OJ said. "You've got to give him a lot of credit."
DONUT 4: KAMAN RETURNS ...
The release of Eddy Curry to bring in Troy Murphy could have been viewed as a sign that Chris Kaman was ready to return, and Saturday night ... he did.
Carlisle went with the starting front court he's turned to in the first three games, Elton Brand, Brandan Wright and Shawn Marion. This left Kaman to come in off the bench.
With 10:06 to play in the first quarter, after Brand picked up two quick fouls and Crowder collected another (after only eight seconds), Kaman entered the game with the Mavs down 3-0, and being out-rebounded 6-1.
He would get his first points on a dunk after Vince Carter found him with a nice pass under the rim, the clock showed 2:27 to play in the first and the Mavs were now up 24-13.
"Well, you can see (Kaman's) going to help us," Carlisle said. "We won the boards by five - he certainly had something to do with that."
Kaman would go on to make his first eight shots, showing off his offensive prowess, and finished with 16 points, 8-of-9 field goals, four rebounds and two assists.
The rebound total may be a little low, though this may be a tad misleading in itself. From the moment he entered the game until the final whistle, the Mavs out-rebounded the Bobcats 42-32. Obviously, this isn't solely due to Kaman, but he did play a role helping to change the rebounding tone for his team.
"We beat the team we were supposed to beat,'' said Kaman, before turning from team analysis to personal analysis. "I don't want to jinx it, but I felt pretty good."
As far as starts go -- and we don't want to jinx it, either -- this was a nice one for the guy already being billed as the "best offensive center in Mavs history."
DONUT 5: THE GREAT DEODORANT ...
"You make 16 threes," Rick Carlisle said, "you're not going to lose many games, and it was a bit of deodorant for some of our other transgressions."
Carlisle makes a great point: when you shoot 61.3 percent from the floor and 64 percent on your three pointers, you probably are going to win by a fair amount ... say 27 points.
According to Basketball Reference, since the 1985-86 season, the Mavs have only hit at least 61 percent of their field goals and 64 percent of their threes one other time. That came in 1986 against the Clippers in a 131-113 victory.
Lower that to 60 percent in both categories, and you still find only three instances of this prior to Saturday night ... all wins with margins no smaller than 18 points.
So, yes ... shooting at such a remarkably high rate can mask some negatives.
DONUT 6: TRANSGRESSIONS? WHAT TRANSGRESSIONS? ...
What were some of those "transgressions" Carlisle was referring to in this 27-point victory?
For one: turnovers.
Dallas finished with 22 giveaways, while forcing only 10 from the Bobcats. You can go back to Feb. 4, 2012 to find the last time Dallas won a game with a net 12 in turnovers (meaning, 12 more turnovers than their opponent), but then have to go back to Dec. 14, 2009 to find the next such instance.
Since 1985-86, the Mavs are 6-14 (including Saturday's result) when ending a game with 12 or more turnovers than their opponent.
Another area Carlisle could be alluding to would be this team's inability to get to the line three games into this season, particularly in comparison with how often they are sending their opponents there.
The Lakers attempted 31 free throws to Dallas's 18. Utah had a 42-26. And, now, Charlotte took nine more attempts from the line: 24-15.
Dallas has been -13, -16, and -9 in free-throw attempts this season. This is a product of their style of play, which includes a heavy portion of jumpshots, but could also be a trait that comes back to haunt them.
DONUT 7: A TRANSGRESSION IN ITSELF ...
Carlisle opened the second quarter with a lineup of Dominique Jones, Vince Carter, Shawn Marion, Jae Crowder and Bernard James. 41 seconds in, he subbed out Carter and replaced him with Jared Cunningham ... meaning you had a lineup of your three rookies, Marion, and DoJo ... against an NBA team with two starters and their top three bench players in the game.
Not surprisingly, a 12-point lead turned into a two-point lead in only 3:31 of action. The starters returned, but this would still turn into a one-point deficit 41 seconds later ... and seemed to breathe life into a Charlotte team that appeared vulnerable to slipping away into the slumped-shoulders world of blowup only moments before.
Thankfully, an 8-0 run by the Mavs over the final 1:01 of the half, capped by a running 34-foot 3-pointer from Darren Collison as time expired, allowed Dallas to head into the intermission with an eight point lead they would not surrender again.
DONUT 8: MAVSELLANEOUS ...
After a very poor first half (and, as Premium Mavs Fans know, after a Friday practicing without shoes!), Dominique Jones played well. He finished with six points and six assists in 16:06. The same issues of failing to finish inside and sporting a subpar jumper were present (see his 1-of-6 shooting), but we were pleased by the six assists, several of which came prior to garbage time ... Dahntay Jones did not play until the final 5:15 of this game, when the outcome was well in hand. Has he slipped from the guard rotation, or was this simply matchup driven? Either way, it may be worth watching ... Dallas led Charlotte 11-0 in fastbreak points in the first quarter. Over the final three, the Bobcats led 12-5 ... Rodrigue Beaubois twisted his left ankle in Friday's practice and did not dress for this game ... This marked the regular season return of amnestied Brendan Haywood, who finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds, and at least one quick stare down of the Mavs bench after a hook shot went in ... Carlisle got his 200th win as Mavs coach.
DONUT 9: A BRAND OF A SLUMP...
Elton Brand has begun the season with a small shooting slump. After three games, he is shooting a paltry 26.1 percent from the floor (6-of-23).
His shots have almost all appeared somewhat flat and found their way to harsh contact with the front of the rim, implying he's not getting his legs into his shot.
At 34, is he tired? Are "dead legs'' a real thing? Are we reading too much into this? Regardless of what we've seen, Brand is a good shooter and we're still confident that this will come around in time.
Like, say, Monday.
DONUT 10: CURRY OUT, MURPHY IN ...
Troy Murphy suited up and played 8:43. During that time he grabbed five rebounds. Eddy Curry grabbed four rebounds total in his two games as a Mav over 24:45.
Fish noted this on Friday in his Premium coverage of practice: Curry was not dumped because he did anything wrong that was out of the ordinary. Indeed, Mavs owner Mark Cuban on Saturday complimented Curry for being a "beast.''
But Eddy is not a beast on the boards. Curry is out because even as a low-post 7-footer, he's not a talented rebounder. Murphy better fills that gaping need.
DONUT 11: FOLLOWILL INJURED ...
Mark Followill, the DB.com columnist and play-by-play man for Mavericks TV, missed the game after sustaining some injuries Saturday while on a bike ride. No timetable has yet been set for his return.
“We wish Mark a speedy recovery,” said Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. “He has been an anchor on our television broadcast for many years and he will be greatly missed.”
Chuck Cooperstein made the move from radio to TV. Victor Villalba, the Spanish radio play-by-play voice, moved up to replace Coop on radio, with Gabe Cabarrouy taking over the Spanish broadcast.
DONUT 12: THE FINAL WORD ...
The Bobcats were trying to start their season with two wins. They were trying to end their complete submission to the Mavericks, to win their first game against Dallas in 16 attempts.
They would do neither.
A game after watching a solid first half unravel in the third quarter against Utah, Dallas came out of the intermission and put the game away by hitting 71.4 percent of their shots, including 75 percent behind the arc. The Mavs also out-rebounded the Bobcats 11-5 in the quarter.
This team has been fun to watch. They've shown their youth. The age (as you see from Vince below) hasn't been too bad, either. And, in three games without Dirk, they've managed a 2-1 start.
Playing without their best player, and having had Kaman for only one game in three, we can't know what this team will be ... but we can say they've been a joy to watch thus far.